Context Menu Handler (Explorer)
Right-click is slow or weird behavior caused by context menu handlers
- When you right-click a file/folder, there may be a huge delay before Windows displays the context menu.
- When you try to empty Recycle Bin (from Common Tasks), it opens Quick Finder instead.
- When you click Play All in the Music or Videos folder Common Tasks, nothing may happen.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Error message "Windows Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience" when you right-click a folder.
- Right-click is extremely slow only when the network card is enabled.
- When you right-click on a folder and choose Properties, nothing may happen.
- Your image editing program does not start when you click the Edit button in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer.
- Data Execution Prevention (DEP) error occurs when Windows Explorer or Control Panel is launched.
- Nothing happens when you click Slideshow or Print in the Tasks pane in Windows Vista.
These problems are caused by a bad context menu handler. A context menu handler is a shell extension handler that adds commands to an existing context menu (Example: cut, copy, paste, print, Scan with Norton etc). A poorly coded context menu handler may be causing any of the above symptoms. As context menu handlers can be added in different areas (file class, folder, allfilesystemobjects, HKCR\* registry keys), it's a difficult task for an end-user to pinpoint which shell extension is causing the problem.
First, isolate the problem. Observe when the problem occurs. While right-clicking a particular file type? While right-clicking Folders? While right-clicking all file types? As said earlier, 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\Directory\shellex\contextmenuhandlers File Folders
HKCR\<ProgID>\shellex\contextmenuhandlers File class
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.
ShellExView (by Nir Sofer) 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. You can optionally disable/enable any item, which can be very useful to disable an extension, that you don t need or that has been left behind in your right click menu from a previous software install.