Windows Explorer, also known as File Explorer, is the default file manager for Windows 11. It allows users to navigate, organize, and manage their files and folders with ease. However, some users have experienced an issue where the File Explorer doesn’t refresh automatically. This can be frustrating because any changes made to files or folders within the Explorer window may not be immediately visible.
This means that if you create a new file or folder, rename an existing file or folder, or delete a file or folder, these changes may not appear in the Explorer window until you manually refresh it. In this article, we will explore the reasons why Windows Explorer may not refresh automatically and provide some solutions to fix the problem.
Why does Windows Explorer not refreshing automatically?
There are several reasons why Windows Explorer may not refresh automatically. One of the most common reasons is a pinned currently inaccessible network shared folder. When a network folder is pinned to the Quick Access list, and it becomes inaccessible at the moment, the entire File Explorer may fail to refresh.
This is because Windows Explorer may be trying to access the pinned folder when changes are made, even if the changes have nothing to do with the shared folder, but cannot do so because it is inaccessible.
Suggested read: How to Speed Up Search in Windows 11 File Explorer
Another reason for File Explorer not refreshing automatically could be third-party software interfering with how Windows Explorer works. Some third-party software may modify the system settings, which conflict with the default settings of Windows Explorer, causing it to stop refreshing automatically.
Corrupted system files can also cause Windows Explorer not to refresh automatically. If some system files are missing or corrupted, it can cause issues with the functioning of Windows Explorer. In some cases, incorrect folder view settings or other system-related issues can also cause Windows Explorer not to refresh automatically.
How to fix the Windows Explorer doesn’t refresh
Here are some solutions to fix the problem of Windows Explorer not refreshing automatically.
Press the F5 to refresh
If you’re in a rush, you can quickly refresh the Explorer window by pressing F5. This will refresh the view and show any changes that have been made. However, this doesn’t solve the root of the problem, and the Explorer may stop refreshing again later.
Restart Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) or reboot computer
Sometimes, restarting Windows Explorer or rebooting the computer can solve the problem of Windows Explorer not refreshing automatically. To restart Windows Explorer, follow these steps:
- Open Task Manager by pressing the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys.
- Click on the “Processes” tab.
- Locate “Windows Explorer” in the list.
- Click on “Windows Explorer” and select “Restart.”
Unpin shared folder(s) from Quick Access
The Quick Access feature in File Explorer allows users to access frequently used folders quickly. When a network folder or shared folder, or a network location such as a server, is pinned to Quick Access and becomes inaccessible, it can cause the entire File Explorer to stop refreshing automatically (even if the changes you made have nothing to do with the shared folder). To fix this issue, it is recommended to unpin any shared folders from Quick Access that are inaccessible.
Here’s how you can unpin a shared folder from Quick Access:
- Open File Explorer.
- In the Quick Access pane on the left-hand side, right-click on the shared folder that is causing the problem.
- Select “Unpin from Quick Access” from the drop-down menu.
Once you unpin the shared folder from Quick Access, it will no longer be visible in the Quick Access pane. This should solve the issue of Windows Explorer not refreshing automatically.
It’s important to note that if the shared folder becomes accessible again, you can always re-pin it to Quick Access by right-clicking on it and selecting “Pin to Quick Access” from the drop-down menu.
Check if there are any third-party apps that can interfere with how File Explorer works
Third-party apps installed on your computer can sometimes interfere with how File Explorer works, causing it to stop refreshing automatically. This can happen if the app makes changes to the system settings, which conflict with the default settings of Windows Explorer. For example, apps that modify or alter the interface of File Explorer or other Windows 11 elements, such as the taskbar or Start menu, can cause the issue to occur. To identify if any third-party apps are causing the problem, you can disable them and check if the issue persists.
One way to check if there are any third-party apps that can interfere with how Windows Explorer works is to check which apps are set to run on startup.
- Open Task Manager by pressing the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys.
- Click on the “Startup” tab.
- Here you will see a list of all the apps that are set to run when your computer starts up.
- Disable any recently installed third-party apps that you suspect may be causing the problem.
- Restart your computer and check if the issue has been fixed.
If disabling the third-party apps solves the problem, you may want to uninstall the apps or contact the app developer for a fix.
It’s important to note that some third-party apps are required for the smooth functioning of your computer. Disabling them may cause other issues. Therefore, it is recommended to disable only the recently installed apps that you suspect may be causing the problem. If you are not sure which app is causing the issue, you can enable the apps one-by-one and check if the problem reoccurs after each enablement.
Reset folder views and restore folder options to defaults
Sometimes, incorrect folder view settings can cause Windows Explorer not to refresh automatically. To fix this, you can try resetting folder views and restoring folder options to defaults.
Before resetting folder views, it is important to note that doing so will revert any customized folder view settings to their default values. This means that any customization, such as sorting, grouping, and column widths, will be lost. Therefore, it is recommended to only reset folder views as a last resort when all other solutions have failed. Additionally, it may be helpful to take a screenshot or note of your current folder view settings before resetting them so that you can easily recreate them later.
To reset folder views in Windows 11 File Explorer:
- Open File Explorer.
- Click the three-dots menu icon, and select Options.
- In the Folder Options dialog box, select the View tab.
- Click on the Reset Folders button.
- This will reset all the folder views to their default settings and restore any options that were changed.
To restore folder options to defaults:
- Follow the same steps above to open the Folder Options dialog box.
- Select the General tab.
- Click the Restore Defaults button.
- Next, go to the Search tab.
- Click Restore Defaults.
- Click Apply, and then OK to save the changes.
Run a clean boot without 3rd party services
A clean boot can help identify if a third-party service is causing the problem of Windows Explorer not refreshing automatically. To perform a clean boot, follow these steps:
- Press Win + R to open the Run dialog box.
- Type “msconfig” and press Enter.
- In the System Configuration window, select the Services tab, and check the “Hide all Microsoft services” box.
- Click on “Disable all.”
- Click on the Startup tab.
- Click on “Open Task Manager,” disable all startup items, and then close Task Manager.
- Restart the computer and check if the problem persists.
- This will start Windows with a minimal set of drivers and services, which can help identify any third-party apps or services that may be causing the issue.
Run SFC and DISM repair tool
System File Checker (SFC) and Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) are built-in Windows tools that can help repair corrupted system files. To run SFC and DISM, follow these steps:
- Open Command Prompt as an administrator.
sfc /scannowand press Enter.
- Once the scan is complete, type
DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealthand press Enter.
- This will repair any corrupted system files and restore any missing files.
- Once the repair is complete, restart your computer and check if the problem has been fixed.
In conclusion, Windows 11 File Explorer not refreshing automatically can be a frustrating issue, but it is essential to identify the underlying cause of the problem before attempting to fix it. As we have seen, this problem can be caused by various factors, such as inaccessible network shared folders, third-party software interference, and corrupted system files.
To prevent this issue from happening, it is important to maintain a clean and optimized system by regularly cleaning up unnecessary files (such as checking and unpinning any unnecessary network folders that are no longer accessible), disabling unnecessary services, and updating drivers and software. It is also recommended to use reliable antivirus software to prevent malware and other security threats from infecting your system, which could also be the cause of the Explorer not refreshing problem.