Many times we install a software, shell extension which requires a restart. Sometimes logging off or end task of Explorer does the job and we don't need to restart the whole system. We usually End task of Explorer using Task Manager but Windows Vista and 7 provide a lot easier way to Exit Explorer which is better than using Task Manager to forcefully End task of Explorer.
Its a hidden option in Windows Vista and 7. Do as following to close Explorer cleanly and safely:
1. Click on Start Menu. Now press "Ctrl" and "Shift" keys and right-click on empty area in Start Menu as shown in following screenshot:
As you can see. You'll see a new option "Exit Explorer" which only appears when you use the Ctrl+Shift key combination.
2. Now click on "Exit Explorer" option and Windows will close the Explorer.
3. To get the Explorer back, press "Ctrl+Shift+Esc" keys and it'll open Task Manager. Now click on "File -> New Task (Run...)" option.
4. Type explorer in the text box and click on OK button:
5. That's it. Windows Explorer will be back.
This method is much safe and has been recommended by Microsoft itself.