If you see 2 explorer processes running when you open the task manager, you might think there is something wrong with your Windows installation. However, this is a normal behavior for Windows and you might have inadvertently checked a box that causes folder views to run on the second process.

Unless you have a rogue program installed that actually forces Windows into launching additional explorer.exe processes, you simply need to uncheck a box in your Folder Options settings to get back to using 1 explorer.exe process.

If you are unfamiliar with the “Folder Options” window, it is under the Control Panel. You can also navigate to it from any open folder window (explained below). Simply uncheck the box shown below to disable this behavior.

Windows explorer

Uncheck this box

Step-by-step instructions

Solid Tip: If you disable this feature, either reboot or manually kill and restart explorer.exe to have it take effect.

  • Open any folder window
  • Click “Organize” in Windows 7 or “Tools” in XP
  • Select “Folder and Search Options”
  • Click the “View” tab
  • Under “Advanced Settings,” scroll down a couple rows
  • Uncheck “Launch folder windows in a separate process”

Do you really want to do this?

As I said above, this is a normal Windows behavior. This option exists so that your folders can run separately from your desktop. Therefore, a problem with one (such as hanging), won’t cause a problem with the other.

This can be a common problem and headache in Windows systems that run all of explorer.exe on one thread. Unless you find yourself in a situation where you really need 15-20 Megs of RAM, you might want to consider leaving this box checked.