Windows 10 Tips

Windows 10 Explorer opens but Closes / Crashes again soon afterwards:

There can be a few reasons for this but none of the other pages I looked at had the right solution in my case.

I would open a windows explorer window either from the desktop or as part of a save or attach file process. Then the darn thing closed after a second or two making it a race to do what I needed to do if it was possible at all.

After a while I tracked the cause down. I had ‘saved a website’ by printing the page using Microsoft PDF as the destination instead of the printer. This creates a nice copy of the website in a portable format. It had worked for me 100’s of times before and is a basic Windows feature.

I had saved the webpage from one major company site a few days before and it seemed to go well. The problem emerged later when even approaching the folder the pdf was in caused Explorer to crash. I didn’t connect the two for a while as I never even got to see the exact folder or file.

Website titles can be quite long these days (up to then I guess) BUT they can also contain characters that are illegal as Windows filenames (like Web links or other non-windowsy things). Print to PDF automatically uses the website title as the first part of the file name, followed by the .pdf
Explorer would have rejected this as a proposed ‘save’ filename yet ‘Print to PDF’ does not. Ridiculous bug ! (And Seriously crazy of Windows !!!) .

As Windows helpfully tries anticipate your next moves it gets ready to display a list or preview of the ——.pdf file as you approach its folder. So it tries to start the pdf reader or even start to open an internet browser ‘in case’ and . . then it crashes. Dead. . . No helpful clue or message !!

The solution is, with hindsight, to save as another name in the first place (too late now) or rename or delete the saved file.
Sadly I didn’t find an easy way to do either in Windows 10.

  • Explorer won’t stay open to do anything
  • Command prompt can show the file in a directory but asking it to move or delete it returns messages like ‘File can’t be found’
  • Addressing the file using wildcards etc. still wouldn’t work.

I found the way to do it was to boot my system using a Linux boot disk and then find/delete the file that way (Linux allows more variety of file characters and cares little about Windows rules).

Possibly Safe mode might have worked but I doubt it. There are commercial software programmes that claim to delete undeletable files but I suspect they still have to work within Windows rules.

Once back in windows you can get to the directory just fine now – but running a search for say *.pdf (any pdf) can still crash Explorer as the bad file name / location re-appears. This ‘ghost’ is because the illegal file name is still stored (in it’s dangerous form) in the Windows Explorer Search-Index Directory (Another Seriously crazy job Windows !!!)

You can solve that one by selecting the disk or directory where the problem was and :

  • Opening the Control Panel (icons view), click/tap on the Indexing Options icon, and close the Control Panel.
  • Click/tap on the Advanced button.
  • In the Index Settings tab, click/tap the Rebuild button under Troubleshooting.
  • Click/tap on OK to confirm.
  • Indexing will now be re-done – this time without the troublesome file in it.
  • When indexing has completed, click/tap on Close.

Hopefully they fix this bug/mess soon. Until then I hope this helps someone else