How to Fix: Right Click Desktop Not Working (Spinning Circle)

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Jared P. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

The right click on my desktop is not working. When I right click on the desktop, all I get is a spinning blue circle. What normally appears is a dialogue menu that shows Display Settings, Personalize (the desktop), View, Sort by, and New (to create a folder, shortcut, text document, etc) - but instead, the cursor circle keeps spinning forever. I've left it alone for an hour but the right click keeps loading forever and never produces a menu like it should. Update: Since I've emailed you, I've found a few so-called guides online to fix my problem (the menu now appears instead of the blue circle); however, the 'New' submenu which is normally part of the right click menu is now absent. Now I can't create folders on my desktop or create a new text document on the desktop. Is there a proper way to fix this? "

My response:

I asked Jared if he would like me to connect to his machine using my remote desktop support service in order to have a closer look, and he agreed.

Below I will discuss my findings.

How to Fix: Right Click Desktop Not Working (Spinning Circle)

After researching this issue, it appears that the 'right click desktop menu broken with a spinning blue circle forever' issue has to do with a corrupt registry value.

The guides I've come across on the Internet state that the best way to deal with this is to manually edit the registry using regedit in order to wipe out all the corrupted registry subkeys, but this is a very obfuscated approach to fixing the problem. It also introduces yet another 'side effect' issue which Jared has accurately described - the 'New' submenu is now missing.

I've written a small script to fix the right click desktop menu issue, plus it will preserve the 'New' submenu. Unlike most 'how to' tutorials online regarding this issue, you won't need to navigate through the registry editor (regedit) to make it work. This script will also reset the Explorer.exe task which will also stop the spinning circle. All you need to do is copy and paste my script onto a command line to fix the problem properly.

To do so:

  1. Highlight the text below with your mouse:

    reg delete HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers /f
    reg add HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\New /VE /T REG_SZ /F /D {D969A300-E7FF-11d0-A93B-00A0C90F2719}
    taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
    ping localhost -n 5 >nul
    start explorer.exe
    echo this is a dummy line
     
  2. Right click over the text above and select "Copy" from the dialogue menu.
     
  3. Next: click Start, then type in "CMD" (no quotes); wait for "CMD.EXE" or "Command Prompt" to appear in the list, then right click it and select "Run as Administrator". A black window should appear with the title "Administrator: CMD" or such. This is known as an administrative command prompt.
     
  4. Right click in the middle of the administrative command prompt with your mouse and select "Paste" from the dialogue menu. The text you highlighted in Step #1 should now be output to the command line. You may receive an error such as: "ERROR: Delete request is partially completed" - you can safely ignore this error message.
     
  5. Now, test your right click menu on the desktop. It should now be working, and should also include the 'New' submenu.

I hope that helps.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas

Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Comments

JStuart888_13315's picture

Steps 2-4 all use the right click - to fix a non-working right click.
Here are workarounds to these three right clicks.

Step 1 - highlight the text

Step 2 - Ctrl-C (which will copy the highlighted text if you haven't done anything in between) - Dennis' method is better - IF your right click is working

Step 3 - Depends on your version of Windows (and some other things).
Win 10 - Click Start then start typing CMD (or cmd). When Command Prompt or CMD.EXE shows up, look slightly to the right and you may see Command Prompt, and below it several options, including Run as Administrator.
If that list doesn't show up, then treat it like Win 7, next:
Win 7 - Click Start then start typing CMD (or cmd). When Command Prompt or CMD.EXE shows up, carefully hit the following three keys simultaneously - you may have to try a few times - Ctrl-Shift-Enter. On some computers it HAS to be the three to the right of your spacebar, so start with the ones on the right. For full keyboards, the three keys are in a column, one above the next (Ctrl at the bottom, Shift just above it, and Enter just above that).
You have to hit the three keys simultaneously - I turn the keyboard (or myself) sideways so I'm hitting the three keys with my three middle fingers, all three at the same EXACT time. You know you did them simultaneously if the UAC asks if you want to allow the program to change things. Say Yes, and you should see the 'DOS box' with Administrator &/or Admin in the title bar.
Obviously, Dennis' right click method is better - IF your right click works.

Step 4 - If the right click isn't working, (left) click the Control Box (the little black icon in the upper left corner of the Command Prompt window) and pick Edit Paste to paste the text onto the command prompt.

Step 5 - Test - His solution is better than most that are out there because he lets you keep the New submenu.

Dennis could probably make my directions more succinct. Hopefully some people can figure them out as is, or he takes the trouble to word them better.

By the way, Start + a program name (like notepad) + Ctrl-Shift-Enter would run the program in Admin mode, but some people have the UAC turned off, and some programs don't display the UAC box, so it's harder to know for sure if you're in Admin mode for some of them.
But if your right click doesn't work, or if you don't have a working mouse, Ctrl-Shift-Enter can help. You can also highlight a program name in Windows Explorer and use Ctrl-Shift-Enter.

Dennis Faas's picture

You are correct: the right click on the desktop does not work, however it works everywhere else including the task bar and command prompt which is needed to roll out the fix. Therefore there is no need to rewrite the solution.

swreynolds's picture

Interesting, the most common thing I see is that the right click is the only thing that works on the Start Button. There are myriads of fixes for that and most of them don't work.

dew6000's picture

worked.. even though HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\New value was already set to {D969A300-E7FF-11d0-A93B-00A0C90F2719}

MS Version 1909 (OS Build 18363.720)

Thank you