How to fix the Windows 7 Folder Refresh Bug

I don’t often write posts about Windows, but I decided I would in this case, because the bug in question is a real soul destroyer, and it gives me a chance to have a good rant about the dogfood that Microsoft tries to pass off as software.

The bug in question is described here.

Basically, if you alter/create/delete files or folders in Explorer windows, the window does not refresh to show the update. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but what actually happens is that people get confused with what is going on and inadvertently delete files etc, which is obviously a bigger deal. Its also intensely annoying from a UX point of view, as attested by the 41 pages of comments on the bug thread on answers.microsoft.com.

This bug has been in the Windows 7 OS since 2009!! No attempt has been made to fix it by Microsoft, presumably because they don’t really care if their OS actually works or not. They’re much too busy going to the corporate gym and eating mango salad in their subsidized restaurants, as funded by the millions of mindless drones who buy their software, to worry about trivial items like bugs, etc.

If you refer to the the link above, you will see various suggestions re. a fix, some of which work and some of which do not. From what I can see, those posters who have claimed a particular fix works don’t actually have the bug (which seems to be hardware/software specific) and have in fact fixed something else which is similar in behavior to the bug.

Anyway, the fix (its really a work around) given below, definitely works. I picked it up from this post.

The bug arises in a process called explorer.exe. The fix involves creating a batch script which uses taskkill to kill and restart this process, at which point the bug clears.

So, open Notepad, and copy and paste the following:

taskkill /f /fi "imagename eq explorer.exe"
START explorer.exe

Save this file as refresh.bat to the root of your C:\ drive, and save it as a pdf with https://www.sodapdf.com as well

Next, right click on your desktop, and create a shortcut, and point this to c:\refresh.bat

And that’s it.

Double click the shortcut to test it. When you do this, everything other than your wallpaper will disappear and then quickly re-appear. This is the explorer.exe process restarting.

Whenever you encounter the refresh bug, just run the shortcut and the problem will clear.

Not particularly graceful, but this is Windows were are dealing with here, so lets be realistic.

31 thoughts on “How to fix the Windows 7 Folder Refresh Bug

  1. Mike

    This bug has been annoying me for over a year now on a Toshiba Tecra M11 and finally a fix that works. Not particularly elegant, but it works.
    Thanks

  2. Laurens

    This bug has been annoying me and was very confusing, i.e. hide items like hide a disc didn’t appear on the explorer. Just a hard reboot shows the actual changed information on the explorer.
    Your refresh line works fine, however what you say “Not particularly graceful, but this is Windows were are dealing with her” is unfortunately through! After all those years no patch for this problem, shame you MS.
    Further on, the F5 key don’t fix this problem, only the “refresh.bat” works fine! Thanks.

  3. Frances

    It’s a great fix, and solved my problem instantly! :D

    It’s miles better than the standard Windows debugging process … boot to safe mode , try to isolate the problem one by one, which doesn’t work anyway, and is near impossible for someone who doesn’t have all day to mess with the computer.

    Thank you so much … you’re my hero!

  4. Bob

    This works, but needed to use CTRL-R to get explorer to refresh.
    CTRL-R didn’t work before running the script.

  5. Mark

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! This problem has been driving me crazy for the last year at work every since my company upgraded to Windows 7. It was making my job a nightmare because I am constantly moving files back and forth, renaming, creating/deleting folders, etc. I was clicking F5 hundreds of times a day. I’ve tried 6 or 7 fixes from other forums and none of them worked. It seems like such an easy thing to fix, and yet it’s been an issue for 5 years??? This refresh.bat works perfectly, I wish I had found it sooner!

  6. Sophocles

    Thanks. I thought my SSD was failing. Turns out it’s another bug in so so so many. So sick of all the problems Microsoft has created in the last 2 years. Next time I’m buying a mac to check them out. If they are as smooth as the iphone then its a no brainer switch.

  7. bon

    Thank You, Really your answer is the best, microsoft office even can’t found a way to solve. T.T

    very grateful i found your article which help a lot to solve this not crucial, but very annoying problem.
    I use a lot of way also couldn’t solve it, and is very inconvenience when we copy paste, rename as well.

    suddenly it happend after windows update.. =.= , otherwise usually is working fine, the end I do system restore, and it work, but what next is, the latest windows update, it happend again!!!

    Microsoft, what have you done for update? or just find problem for user?

  8. Anonymous

    Your refresh.bat solution does nothing for me.
    It works to refresh, but next file operation still has problem, so in this case, it’s useless.

    PS I agree with you about Microsoft. I have always hated them.
    HH

  9. Appie

    This fixed it for me:

    Open explorer –> right click on Documents –> in the documents library pane click the Restore Defaults button –> click Apply
    Problem solved :)

  10. Mike Tremblay

    So this has not worked for us either. It is an issue on numerous boxes, and to date have only see it manifest on a network shared drive. In the latest case we have a user out of 40 that can’t see the folders that he should via the mapped drive. When he browses through network to the server then the share and the folder he then sees the proper list of folders. But he still can’t see them in his mapped drive. no matter how many times you press F5 and/or Shift-F5 the folders do not appear. Probably in a couple of hours it might actually populate, but until then he has to access these files/folders through browsing the network.

    Why is this going on for so long? It is not that Microsoft doesn’t care it is they don’t have the know how to fix it. To hear that it is still there in 8 and 8.1 is disturbing to say the least. Wonder if 10 is going to have the same bug.

    Thank you for giving me hope.

  11. L R

    Alternatively, you can do the following (Windows 7):
    - Click the start menu
    - Ctrl-Shift + right click on the empty area (above the “Shut Down” button)
    - Choose “Exit Explorer”
    - If Explorer does not restart on its own, do the following:
    - Ctrl-Shift-Esc to pull up Task Manager
    - Select File > New Task (Run…)
    - Type “explorer” and click OK, Explorer will restart

  12. Garbage

    This is not a fix it is a workaround and a convoluted one at that. F5 will do the same thing lol

  13. wam

    This explorer.exe overflow has been around since XP… I typically would see the main explorer process (with nothing else running) go to about 50K (recall Win xp is 32 bit with a more basic mem management) then eventually drop to about 18-27K. Then I’d see weird stuff happen like no refresh, no update in folder view.

    A kill of explorer.exe and restart would fix it.

    So I guess they inherited it from XP… sad really.

  14. Tommy

    Thank you. Nothing else worked, but this does. I actually enjoy using it: analyzing BAT files is a nice way to take a mental break. Great job!

  15. Scott

    For everyone saying it’s easier to just hit F5, fine… But you have to keep hitting F5 over and over again to keep refreshing the screen. This .bat file STOPS the entire explorer process and restarts it so you won’t have to keep hitting F5. It’s basically the same thing as making the problem go away with a reboot, which takes much longer and it’s a PITA in comparison.

  16. Robert

    I’ve found the following solution:
    “http://www.nightbluefruit.com/blog/2012/06/how-to-fix-the-windows-7-folder-refresh-bug/”
    Tried all four, finally No. 4 worked in my case – the refresh problem was gone after I disabled “CContextMenuHandler Object” extension, a part of Intel PROSet\Wireless Blootooth software.

  17. Amy Olson

    This process fixed it for me. You need to change/add a registry key here

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Lanmanworkstation\Parameters

    If the key DirectoryCacheLifetime exists change the value to 0. If it does not create the DWORD value.

    Fix can be applied via GPO for multiple users. My nightmare is over.

  18. Captain Crunch

    For me, all I have to do to see the problem is create a new folder while one or more explorer windows are open (via the command shell). If I do this, the new folder will NOT show up, even with F5 – F5/refresh does nothing.

    In this situation, I don’t need to kill explorer – I can just open a new explorer window. All the older windows will never show the new folder, but it will show up in any explorer window created after the directory was created in the shell.

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