Is there any way to open cmd.exe in Windows 7 if explorer.exe has been disabled (which means you can't use the Start Menu)

  • 4
    Welcome to SU! Did you try Googling your question? I did and found this answer on Superuser.com – I say Reinstate Monica Oct 1 '14 at 4:06
  • Use windows explorer string. – STTR Oct 1 '14 at 4:20

Yes. Hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and bring up Task Manager. Then on the File menu, hit New Task... Type cmd in the box and BAM! -- a command prompt window. Although, you could also just respawn the shell by typing explorer in the box too.

  • 6
    A faster but little known shortcut key for accessing Task Manager in Windows 7 is: Ctrl + Shift + Esc. Ctrl + Alt + Del may not get to Task Manager in one step in Windows 7. – Trekker Oct 1 '14 at 11:57
  • or right click the task bar and select Task Manager there. – jwenting Oct 1 '14 at 12:01
  • 2
    @jwenting right clicking on task bar won't work if explorer is dead or disabled – Trekker Oct 1 '14 at 12:09
  • That gives you a cmd, but it is not in elevated mode. Hence pretty useless. – whs Apr 18 '15 at 0:37
  • OP did not say he needed an elevated prompt. If he did, he could use the browse button to find cmd.exe. The Run as Administrator option is on the right-click menu from there. – Wes Sayeed Apr 18 '15 at 0:44

If you cannot start Explorer, or Explorer's run box has been disabled, and Task Manager's run box has also been disabled, but you can still use Word (or Excel &c.) you can often open the macro editor and use VBA to start any executable you want.

  • 3
    Just to complete the answer. The needed command would be shell "cmd" – magu_ Oct 1 '14 at 8:58
  • 1
    Or you could simply use the "open file" dialog – CodesInChaos Oct 1 '14 at 12:29

Just to promote this to an answer (rather than a comment on the currently-highest-voted, but not-actually-the-best-way-to-do-this answer):

Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to bring up the Task Manager. On the Task Manager window's File menu, choose "Run new task". Type cmd in the box and hit Enter or press 'OK'. Alternatively, if you think Explorer would be OK once it's restarted, instead of typing cmd in the box, type explorer.

(In general, if your system has gotten to the point where Windows Explorer has crashed, you don't want to hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete unless you're OK with your computer misinterpreting you and restarting itself. This is especially true if, in the chain of events that led to Explorer crashing, you perhaps have already given the three-finger salute a few times. In this sense, the Task Manager key combination is "safer".)



type cmd -> bam you got a black screen

  • i dont understand how this is not the answer to this quiestion – Aura Oct 1 '14 at 9:53
  • might be because i hate windows .. :D ..thanks for the info BTW – Aura Oct 1 '14 at 9:54
  • If you feel it answers the question perhaps you can explain why it does so? For example, where exactly are you when you type ctrl+r? And how does a black screen help? – DavidPostill Oct 1 '14 at 10:00
  • 4
    @Taemyr I just personally tested it on Windows 7, and Win + R does not work when explorer is dead. It would appear that Ctrl + Shift + Esc is the quickest route, via accessing the Task Manager then creating a new task there for cmd. – Trekker Oct 1 '14 at 12:05
  • 4
    Win+R is a shortcut for the start menu and then the run command. Since explorer.exe is not running, the start menu is not available hence this will not work. – stackErr Oct 1 '14 at 13:01

Go to task manager via Ctrl + Alt + Esc and run a new task.

Type iexplore- IE will open then after type


in the address bar, press Enter. That's all.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.