Fix: Windows Explorer crashes on right-click and on opening a folder

Problem: Whenever you try to right-click on the desktop or you try to open Windows folders such as My Computer, windows crashes (explorer.exe restarts).

Fix: There is a corrupt Context Menu handler, find it and delete it from the registry.


This problem is caused by a corrupted shell extension created by a program. My exact case was caused by Adobe Reader but others have reported Photoshop, Divx and Spysweeper.

  1. Back up your registry, we will be deleting various registry values one by one until we hit the one that is causing the problem. After we find the bad key we need to restore the others we have deleted.
  2. Open up regedit.
  3. Browse to the following key: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers
  4. There will be a list of context menu handlers here. Delete them one by one and after deleting each one try to right click on the desktop. When you can finally do so proceed to step 5.
  5. Remember which key finally did the trick and using your registry backup bring the registry to how it was before you started deleting context handlers. After that is done delete JUST the one that is causing the problems.
  6. If you delete all those values and the right-click still does not work then you need to move on to a different registry section. Repeat the above steps here: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers and here: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers.
  7. You might want to uninstall/reinstall the corrupted application.

How to explain this problem to the client: It would seem that one of the programs on your computer has become somewhat corrupted. Specifically the part that linked itself to the menu that appears when you right click. We needed to remove that part. Money please.

Good luck and tell me how it goes on the forums.

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