Windows 11 Crashes When Right-Click on Desktop

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

Users on Windows 11 might run into a weird problem where trying to right-click on the desktop makes Windows Explorer (this includes File Explorer) crash. This annoying issue can happen for a few reasons, like messed-up system files, some other software messing things up, or even after a Windows update. This article talks about why this might happen and gives you some ways to fix it and get your PC working right again.

Also see: Can’t Click Anything on Desktop in Windows 11/10 (Fix)

Windows 11 Crashes When Right-Click on Desktop

Clearing the File Explorer cache

One big reason for Windows 11 Explorer crashing might be a messed-up File Explorer cache. File Explorer keeps a cache, kind of like a web browser does, to load stuff you open a lot faster. But, if this cache goes bad, it can make things unstable and lead to crashes, especially when you right-click on the desktop. Here’s how to clean it out:

Go to the C:\Users%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\AutomaticDestinations folder and delete all the files there. These files are the cache, and getting rid of them can often stop the crashes. Don’t worry; your system will make new ones as you use your PC.

Clearing the File Explorer cache
Doing this resets your Quick Access list of often-used folders and files, but it’s a small thing to deal with for a more stable File Explorer. After doing this, restart your computer and see if the problem keeps happening. If it does, you might need to look at other possible causes and fixes.

Linked issue: Windows 11 “New Folder” Missing From Right-Click Menu

Registry edit to restore classic context menu

Some folks have fixed the File Explorer crash by switching back to the old-school context menu with a registry tweak. When Windows 11 came out, it introduced a new, simpler “Show more options” context menu. But, this new menu doesn’t play well with some third-party software, which seems to be why the crash happens for some people.

reg.exe add "HKCU\Software\Classes\CLSID\{86ca1aa0-34aa-4e8b-a509-50c905bae2a2}\InprocServer32" /f /ve

Fix Windows 11 crashes when right-click
This command makes Windows skip the new menu and show the full, classic menu instead. This has helped some people stop the crashes when they right-click on the desktop.

Pro tip: How to Remove Items from Right-Click Menu in Windows 11

Editing the registry can be tricky and is more for folks who know their way around a computer. Always make a backup of your registry before you change anything, so you can fix it if something goes wrong. After you do this tweak, try right-clicking on your desktop again to see if it’s working better.

Related resource: How to Customize Right-Click Menu in Windows 11

To undo the changes and get the “Show more options” item back in Windows 11, you need to remove the registry key you added or changed. Here’s how you do that.

reg delete "HKCU\Software\Classes\CLSID\{86ca1aa0-34aa-4e8b-a509-50c905bae2a2}" /f

Restore show more option in Windows 11

Explorer Patcher: A potential culprit behind crashes

If you’ve tweaked your Windows 11 with third-party software like Explorer Patcher, that might be why File Explorer crashes. Explorer Patcher brings back features from older Windows versions, like the full menu or classic taskbar. It’s great for making Windows work how you want, but it might not always play nice with the latest Windows updates.
Explorer Patcher
If you’re having crashes and you use Explorer Patcher, try these steps:

  1. Turn off Explorer Patcher for a bit and see if that stops the crashes. If things get better, then that was probably the problem.
  2. If turning it off doesn’t help, you might need to uninstall Explorer Patcher. You can do this from the ‘Add or remove programs’ part of Windows settings, or with the uninstaller that came with the software.
  3. After uninstalling, restart your PC and check the right-click thing again. If Explorer stops crashing, then you know Explorer Patcher was causing the trouble.

Third-party software can sometimes lag behind with Windows updates. If Explorer Patcher was your issue, keep an eye out for an updated version from the developer that works better with the newest Windows 11 updates.

Performing a clean boot to identify conflicting software

If you’re still having trouble after trying the above fixes, a Clean Boot might help find the problem. This starts Windows with just the basics, so you can figure out if some other program is causing the crash when you right-click on the desktop. Here’s how to do a Clean Boot in Windows 11:

  1. Type msconfig in the Windows search and open the System Configuration tool.
  2. Go to the Services tab and check Hide all Microsoft services to see just third-party services.
  3. Click Disable all to turn off these services for now.Clean Boot Windows 11
  4. Then, go to the Startup tab and open Task Manager.
  5. In Task Manager’s Startup tab, turn off all the startup programs.Disable Startup Programs in Windows 11
  6. Close Task Manager and click OK in the System Configuration window.

Restart your PC after this, and it will be in Clean Boot mode. Try right-clicking on the desktop now. If it doesn’t crash, then some background app is likely causing the problem. Turn services and startup programs back on one by one, restarting each time, to find out which one is the issue.

Once you know which app is causing the trouble, you can update it, change its settings, or uninstall it to fix the File Explorer crash. Don’t forget to set your PC back to normal startup by turning everything back on in the System Configuration tool after you’re done troubleshooting.

What if right-clicking crashes Windows 11 even in safe mode?

If right-clicking still crashes Windows Explorer, even in Safe Mode, it might mean there’s a deeper problem. Safe Mode loads Windows with just the essentials. If you crash in Safe Mode, it could be a system file or hardware driver problem.
Here’s what to do if it crashes in Safe Mode:

Running System File Checker

System File Checker (SFC) is a tool in Windows that checks for and fixes bad system files. To run SFC:

  1. Right-click the Start button and choose Windows Terminal (Admin).
  2. Type sfc /scannow in the terminal and hit Enter.SFC scannow successful repair Windows 11

SFC will look for problems and fix any bad files it finds. This can take a while, so be patient.

Using DISM to repair Windows image

If SFC doesn’t fix it, or if there’s a problem with Windows image files, try the DISM tool:

  1. Open Windows Terminal as admin like before.
  2. Run these commands one after the other:
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

    Run DISM Windows 11

DISM checks for, scans, and fixes problems with Windows image files. Like SFC, it might take a while.

Checking for faulty hardware

If you’ve tried everything else and still have crashes, it might be a hardware problem. Bad RAM, a stressed-out CPU, or hard drive issues can make your system unstable, including causing Explorer crashes. Use tools like Windows Memory Diagnostic to check your hardware for problems.

After trying these steps, restart normally and see if that fixes the issue. If you’re still having trouble, you might need to do a system restore, reinstall Windows, or get help from a tech person to check for hardware problems.

Summing up

Right-clicking on the desktop crashing Windows Explorer is usually because of bad system files or software conflicts. Most people can fix this by clearing the File Explorer cache or doing a Clean Boot to find and fix software issues. Switching back to the classic context menu with a registry edit can also help, while running scans like SFC can fix deep-down file problems.
If these steps don’t work, keep an eye out for updates from Microsoft that might fix the issue. If the crashes are really messing with your daily work, you might need to go back to an earlier version of Windows 11 or reinstall the operating system.

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

Share via
Copy link