Right-clicking on .EXE Files cause Microsoft Vista’s Windows Explorer to Crash CodeUnit 23 JAN 2009

If you’ve ever come across the problem of your Windows Explorer process falling over every time you right click on an executable (.exe) file in Vista or XP, chances are pretty high that you recently installed some game or application that comes bundled with Sony’s notorious SecuROM anti-piracy (or rather anti-CD copy) tool used by manufacturers to combat the illegal copying and redistribution of their product.

The problem lies with the fact that some versions of SecuROM install a shell extension named CmdLineContextMenu Class which checks every executable file when an associated context menu is opened. If the file has a path non-native to the system local, the extension malfunctions and blocks the Windows shell execute. This then makes Windows Explorer unresponsive and in Vista’s case, even causes it to crash.

So how do we fix this nasty little problem?

Well the easiest method to achieve this is to simply download and install the tiny little freeware ShellExView application from NirSoft, run it and then locate the CmdLineContextMenu extension that should be displayed on the main screen as an installed shell extension. Simply disable it and there you go – your little right-click problem should now be a thing of the past!


Note that if this still doesn’t solve your problem, try ordering the shell extensions by installation date and then disabling the last installed extension. By recursively using this method you should be able to locate and disable your problem child. Messy, but it works!

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.