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On my Windows 11 Pro 22H2, the File Explorer is prone to become unresponsive. In severe cases, it freezes after just two or three operations, such as opening a directory or selecting a file. No matter how long I wait, it cannot recover. Even reinstalling doesn't solve the issue either, and the issue immediately occurs even after reinstalling the system.

To give more useful information, a general troubleshooting method has been used to find the essential reason, which involves using Task Manager to identify the Thread ID (TID) of the unresponsive explorer.exe process and then using Process Monitor to capture all operations of that TID. By this means, it is found that the unresponsive file-explorer thread is keeping querying the registry repeatedly as the following way:

11:44:09.8288925 explorer.exe 3904 RegOpenKey HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitutes SUCCESS Desired Access: Read 17056
11:44:09.8289519 explorer.exe 3904 RegQueryValue HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitutes\Segoe UI NAME NOT FOUND Length: 76 17056
11:44:09.8289943 explorer.exe 3904 RegCloseKey HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitutes SUCCESS 17056

As you can see, these querying behavior fall into a dead-loop, composed of four commands. The key's name queried "FontSubstitutes" suggest that its value is only used to determine alternative fonts when the system lacks a specific font. However, the related font does exist in my windows system, which can be verified by the font file located in "C:\WINDOWS\Fonts". So, this font should not be involved to find a substitution. What's more, the font causing the dead-loop changes each time. For example, sometimes it's Segoe UI, but next time it may be Microsoft YaHei UI. Hoping someone can provide guidance. The file-explorer has become extremely unusable.

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    Try doing a Windows 11 Repair Install from the Microsoft Media Creation link.
    – John
    Nov 23, 2023 at 12:45
  • Try first to test Windows integrity by running the commands Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth and then sfc /scannow.
    – harrymc
    Nov 23, 2023 at 13:43
  • Thanks. Windows integrity has been tested and the result reports:
    – Bo Wang
    Nov 27, 2023 at 11:52
  • C:\Windows\System32>Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool Version: 10.0.22621.1 Image Version: 10.0.22621.2715 [==========================100.0%==========================] The restore operation completed successfully. The operation completed successfully.
    – Bo Wang
    Nov 27, 2023 at 11:52
  • And even reinstalling a older version cannot solve this problem either. All the versions are released by Microsoft MSDN, with the file name such as "en-us_windows_11_consumer_editions_updated_june_2022_x64_dvd_aec658b2.iso" or "en-us_windows_11_business_editions_version_22h2_updated_oct_2023_x64_dvd_e6b6f11c.iso."
    – Bo Wang
    Nov 27, 2023 at 11:55

1 Answer 1

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Seems like the font "Segoe UI" is missing on your computer.

Specifically for the Segoe UI font, you may find its standard registry settings in the file WindowsSystemFont-RestoreSegoeUI.reg. You may compare these settings with yours, and if yours are missing, then download the .reg file and double-click it to load into the registry.

If something went generally wrong with your fonts, you may reset to defaults by running Control Panel > Fonts, click on "Font settings" and then on "Restore default font settings".

As a precaution, I suggest to create a System Restore point before doing these manipulations, to be able to rollback to the current situation.

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  • Windows integrity test has been passed as follows: C:\Windows\System32>Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool Version: 10.0.22621.1 Image Version: 10.0.22621.2715 [==========================100.0%==========================] The restore operation completed successfully. The operation completed successfully.
    – Bo Wang
    Nov 27, 2023 at 11:57
  • Good to know, but this doesn't relate to my answer.
    – harrymc
    Nov 27, 2023 at 18:24

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