Fix Windows Explorer crashes when opening a folder


Windows Explorer seems to have a problem with certain types of photo or video files and it can crash when certain folders or files are accessed. This can happen when opening a folder in an Explorer window and it may be related to a problem that some people have with Windows Media Player constantly updating the library and never finishing.

This happened to me recently and a folder was impossible to open. Double click the folder in an Explorer window and Explorer crashed. This closed the Explorer window and restarted the windows desktop, which is Explorer-based.

It was obvious that there was something wrong with the folder or its contents, but as it could not be opened, it was impossible to see what might be causing the problem.

The folder was the OneDrive\Pictures\Camera Roll folder although I don’t think OneDrive is the issue here because I have seen it with other folders. The folder contained videos, photos and screen shots auto-uploaded from my Android and iOS devices.

There are several possible ways to proceed when this happens. One is to delete the folder, but that is not an option if it contains valuable photos and videos. You don’t want to lose them. Another option is to try and alternative file manager and there are a few to choose from, such as Q-Dir and Multi Commander.

The method I used was to go to the folder above the problem one, in this case the Pictures folder, and to open a command prompt window. Click the File menu in the Explorer window and select Open command prompt.

 Open a command prompt window

In the command prompt window, I changed to the Camera Roll folder with cd “camera roll” - you have to use quotes when folders and files have spaces in their names. Typing dir /w then displays a list of the files in the folder - the /w means use two columns for the list.

 Using the command prompt window

Using Explorer, a temporary folder (c:\a - short names save typing) was created in the root of the disk drive. This allows files to be moved from the faulty Camera Roll folder to the \a folder. The whole contents could be moved with move *.* \a, but I really wanted to find out which file was causing the problem. For example, entering move *.mov \a will move all the .mov movie files to the \a folder.

 Use the command prompt to move files

After moving a bunch of images, it was only when I moved the movies that I could open the Camera Roll folder in Explorer. The fault with Explorer crashing was obviously caused by a video taken on my mobile phone.

It is strange, but the \a folder can also be opened in Explorer too. Moving the file seems to have cured the problem. This is similar to the problems some people have with Windows Media Player when it gets stuck in a never-ending loop updating the library. Moving all the photos and videos out of the Pictures and Videos folders cures the problem. Sometimes though, they can be put back and the problem does not return.

It is a mystery what the problem is, but at least there are solutions.

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