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Troubleshooting Right Click Issues Caused by Shell Extensions

Published: Jun 2004
Updated  : Apr 2016
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  1. When you right-click a file/folder, there may be a huge delay before Windows displays the context menu.
  2. When you try to empty Recycle Bin (from Common Tasks), it opens Quick Finder instead.
  3. When you click Play All in the Music or Videos folder Common Tasks, nothing may happen.
  4. When you select multiple files and right click and open / print nothing happens. Whereas, selecting a single file in explorer and right click and open / print, it works fine.
  5. When you right-click a folder in the Start Menu and choose Open or Explore, nothing may happen. (Whereas, it works fine in Windows Explorer.)
  6. Error message "Windows Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience" when you right-click a folder.
  7. Right-click is extremely slow only when the network card is enabled.
  8. When you right-click on a folder and choose Properties, nothing may happen.
  9. Your image editing program does not start when you click the Edit button in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer.
  10. Data Execution Prevention (DEP) error occurs when Windows Explorer or Control Panel is launched.
  11. Nothing happens when you click Slideshow or Print in the Tasks pane in Windows Vista.
  12. Unable to launch applications (mainly Windows Installer shortcuts) from the recent programs list in the Windows Vista Start menu.
  13. Device Manager link in the tasks pane does not work in Windows Vista
  14. When you click "Set up backup" or click "Change settings" in Windows 7 Backup and Restore, nothing happens or the System32 folder opens.
  15. When you right-click Start to access the Win+X (Power User) menu in Windows 8 or Windows 10, none of the shortcuts work correctly. Whereas they work correctly when run from the Win+X shortcuts folder.


A poorly coded Context Menu handler (added by a 3rd party program) might cause any of the above symptoms. Context Menu handler is a type of shell extension that adds commands to your right-click menu. The entries "Scan with Windows Defender", "Set as Desktop Background" etc you see in the right-click menu are some examples of Context Menu hander that are included by default in Windows. Likewise, 3rd party programs may add their entries to the list.

As context menu handlers can load from many different areas in the registry, it can be a difficult task for a end-user to pinpoint which extension is causing the problem.

Using ShellExView to Determine the Problematic Extension

ShellExView is an excellent tool to view and manage all installed shell extensions. If available, it displays the description, as well as version details, company information, location, file name and more. This tool helps you effortlessly disable an extension that you don't need.

Effective usage of ShellExView to resolve right-click problems

Download ShellExView from and run it. It will scan the registry for all the shell extensions. From the Options menu, click Hide All Microsoft Extensions to enable the tick mark on it. This prevents you from accidentally disabling an extension added by Windows.

This lists all third-party shell extensions...

Since we're dealing with a right-click issue in Windows, we're particularly interested in Context Menu handlers. Sort the results using Type, so that the Context Menu handlers are displayed together.

Next, disable the Context Menu handlers one at a time (or even better, disable first half of the items displayed)... Once disabled an item or group of items, use the Restart Explorer (CTRL + E) option to restart the Shell to verify if that solves the problem. If disabling one or a group of items do not solve the problem, enable the item(s) back, and disable the next non-Microsoft context menu handler or the items in the bottom half.

Do this until the issue is resolved and finally you should be able to identify the culprit.

Even more quicker method is to bisect the list of context menu handlers into two groups, disabling half of the entries at a stretch, rebooting and testing the behavior again. JClarke commented on this article: "You can disable them ...they say "one at a time" and see what effect it has on the problem. I did it a lot quicker by bisecting the list, disabling half of the entries in one fell swoop, rebooting and trying the right click."

"It worked, so I knew I just had to narrow it down, just as we used to do with msconfig. Then I kept bisecting the list until it was just a few and did those one at a time. The problem is that you have to reboot between tries to get accurate testing of the results of your disabling. I didn't find logging off to be consistent."

NOTE:  It's not always the Context menu handler,  but a PropertySheet handler or an Icon Handler may be the culprit sometimes. Some readers have reported that the Property Sheet handler "IIS W3ext Module" was responsible for the folder properties issue (See Case:8 in the Symptoms section above), in a Windows XP Professional system, and that reinstalling IIS from Add/Remove Windows Components fixed the problem.

In one peculiar case, the system file shimgvw.dll (Shell Image Verbs - {e84fda7c-1d6a-45f6-b725-cb260c236066}) itself causing the problem. In case of system files, try running sfc /scannow to fix the problem.

Additional Information

If you decide to troubleshoot this problem without using ShellExView or similar tools, here is some background information on how to go about it. That said, this is only for advanced users who are comfortable with using the Registry Editor. First, observe when does the problem. While right-clicking a particular file type, or on all file types? While right-clicking folders? Context menu handlers can load from any of these areas:

Registry Key Description
HKCR \*\shellex\contextmenuhandlers Files
HKCR\AllFileSystemObjects\shellex\ contextmenuhandlers Files and File folders
HKCR\Folder\shellex\contextmenuhandlers Folders (virtual and real)
HKCR\Directory\shellex\contextmenuhandlers File folders
HKCR\<ProgID>\shellex\contextmenuhandlers File class
HKCR\Directory\Background\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers Desktop & Folder background

If any of the symptoms occur when you deal with a folder, then you may need to inspect the context menu handlers loaded in these areas (AllFileSystemObjects, Folder, Directory). If it's only for a .txt file, inspect the file class of .txt file (HKCR\txtfile). Open Registry Editor and backup the selected branch, delete the context menu handlers one-by-one.

Related article Manage the context-menu entries for folders, drives and Namespace objects

Related articles

  1. Right-click is extremely slow only when Network is enabled
  2. "Play All" link in the Common Tasks does not work
  3. Working with Context menus, Open With and Send To
  4. Problem caused by adding Copy To and Move To as context menu entries

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