Encountering an Explorer.EXE blank message with a yellow exclamation mark upon booting your Windows device is not uncommon. Many users have experienced this same Explorer.exe blank error on startup, where only a yellow exclamation mark appears without any accompanying error message. Let’s explore the significance of this occurrence.
What Is Explorer.exe Blank Error with Exclamation Mark?
When this error appears, there is no message that will inform you what it’s all about. All that is visible is a yellow exclamation mark on a box.
According to Windows experts, this error is an indication that File Explorer did not load successfully. And there could be varying reasons behind. It is possible that there are non-existing file entries in the Windows Registry. It could also be a result of a malware attack or a conflicting process or file with the explorer.exe process. Regardless of the reason, the good news is that it can be fixed.
How to Fix Explorer.exe Blank Error with Exclamation Mark at Startup
Below are some ways to resolve the explorer.exe blank error with exclamation mark at startup. You need not try everything we listed here. You may work your way down the list until you find a solution that works for you.
Solution #1: Use System Restore
If the culprit behind the error is a non-existing file entry in the Windows Registry, then you may resolve the issue by using System Restore. However, this solution only works if you have created a system restore point. If you already have created one, then proceed with the following steps:
- Press the Windows + R keys to launch the Run dialog.
- Into the text field, input regedit.exe.
- Hit the Enter key.
- Once the Registry Editor appears, go to this location: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows
- Double-click on Load and clear the existing data by setting it to blank. If you cannot clear the value and an ownership error message is being thrown at you, then it only means you don’t have full control to modify or delete any Registry values. So, you have to take control and ownership first. After that, try this step again.
- Close the Registry Editor.
- Reboot your PC and check if the error persists.
Solution #2: Check if there are any programs that are interfering with the explorer.exe process
Often times, third-party extensions can affect processes and cause them to stop. That includes the explorer.exe process. Thus, if you have just recently installed an application or program prior to seeing the error message, you may want to uninstall it first and check if the error message will still appear. Here’s how:
- Into the Cortana search bar, input control panel and click on the most relevant search result.
- Choose Programs and click Programs and Features.
- Right-click on the program you wish to remove.
- Select Uninstall/Change.
- Follow the on-screen directions to complete the uninstallation process.
- Restart your computer.
Solution #3: Check and disable add-ons
Check if there are any add-ons that could be interfering with Windows Explorer. In most cases, third-party shell extensions are the culprit behind Explorer crashes. To check and disable these add-ons, you may need to download third-party freeware utilities like ShellExView. Once you have it installed, run it and see the extensions and add-ons in detail. And then, you may have to perform trial and error to check if any of them is causing the error.
Solution #4: Run the System File Checker utility
As mentioned, missing or corrupted system files can cause the explorer.exe blank message with yellow exclamation mark to appear. To fix corrupted system files, you may use the System File Checker utility.
- Click Start.
- Into the Search box, input command prompt.
- Right-click on Command Prompt from the search results and select Run as Administrator.
- If prompted for an administrator password, type your password and hit Allow.
- And then, type this command: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth.
- Hit Enter. Take note that this may take a few minutes to complete.
- After that, type this command followed by the Enter key: sfc /scannow.
- Do not close the window until the verification is complete.
- Restart Windows.
Solution #5: Run a complete malware scan
If a malware entity is causing the explorer.exe blank message with exclamation mark to appear, then you need to get rid of it as soon as possible. And to do that, you will need a reliable antivirus suite.
If you are running Windows 10/11, then you are in luck. Your device already has an inbuilt antivirus solution that provides you with comprehensive protection at no added cost. It’s called Windows Defender. This utility protects your device and data in real-time with a suite of advanced functions.
For better results, we suggest that you don’t just rely on Windows Defender. You may use third-party anti-malware solutions as there are new strains of viruses that Defender may not yet be aware of. With a third-party antivirus program, malware, ransomware, Trojans, worms, and other threats won’t stand a chance.
Be careful in downloading antivirus programs, though. There are plenty of developers out there that claim to have the best solution. At the end of the day, you get frustrated as these programs come bundled with unwanted entities that steal sensitive information from you.
If you come across the explorer.exe blank message with yellow exclamation mark on startup, don’t panic. Instead, refer to this article for solutions. You may run System Restore or disable any add-ons on your device. You can also perform a complete malware scan using Windows Defender or any third-party antivirus program of your choice.
Now, if the error message persists after trying all the solutions we have listed above, do not hesitate to seek help from experts. Visit online forums, read related threads, or reach out to Microsoft’s official support website.
Have you encountered the explorer.exe blank message with yellow exclamation mark on startup before? How did you resolve the issue? We’d love to know. Share possible fixes in the comments.