Desktop Icons And Taskbar Disappearby robert on November 28, 2007
Q: I have a computer with Windows XP Pro SP2 and when I turned on my computer the desktop icons and taskbar came up as usual. However, after about 30 seconds the desktop items and the taskbar disappear. They came back after a couple of seconds and then went away again. This continued for a few minutes until the desktop icons and the taskbar were just gone for good. I have done heaps of virus scans with Kaspersky and spyware scans with Spybot but nothing has worked. Can you help me?
A: The problems that you have mentioned all relate to a program within Windows called explorer.exe. Do not worry, explorer.exe is supposed to be part of Windows. It manages many different parts of the user interface in Windows. As long as your antivirus and anti-spyware programs are up-to-date, you can probably believe the results of your security scans. Most often, explorer.exe fails because Windows cannot find where it is physically located on your hard drive. There are some maintenance routines built into Windows XP that should help Windows to find the location of explore.exe and other files too.
The first of these is called defragmentation. This tool helps your computer to make a map of the files on its hard drive so that Windows can find them more easily. You can access this feature by going: My Computer => right click on your hard drive => Properties => Tools. The second maintenance feature, Error-checking, is also located in the Tools tab. Please select both checkboxes in the Error-checking window. The next time you restart your computer, your hard drive will be scanned for errors and repaired. Repeat these routines for all of the hard drives in your computer. For you future reference, neither Linux nor Mac computers currently require the use of such maintenance programs.
I am 99.9% sure that the tools described above will fix your problem. If not, consider creating backups of your important data and reinstalling Windows. Good Luck!
*NOTE: A reader of AskAGeek.com, Tejas, has submitted a solution that might help others so here it is.
After you log on to your computer and your icons/taskbar disappear do Ctr + Alt + Del and then click File -> New Task and when prompted type in regedit.exe. A new window will open up and you will need to go to the folder that says HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> Software -> Microsoft -> Windows NT -> Current Version -> just click on winlogon once, do not expand it.
Then you will need to locate Shell on the right hand side. Right click on Shell and change its value to explorer.exe if it isnâ€™t already. Mine was already explorer.exe but I retyped it and entered it and it works now.
As Robert said originally, the reason this happens is the computer is having a hard time finding explorer.exe so changing this value, even if it looks correct, can help because sometimes there are hidden characters in typing that you cannot see.
Again best of luck and thank you Tejas for the extra help.