Monitor, enable, and disable shell extensions with ShellExView

Keep tabs on context menu entries with this handy, free shell extension viewer.

Shell extensions add useful capabilities to context menus in Windows. For instance, when you right-click a file, you might see icons for your anti-virus program, or graphics app, or Zip tool on the context menu. Those are created by adding shell extensions to your system. As more and more programs take advantage of this useful capability in Windows, it becomes harder and harder to keep tabs on them. NirSoft's ShellExView displays the details of all the shell extensions installed in your computer. It also lets you enable and disable shell extensions. This free tool is available in specific downloads for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows. We tried the 64-bit version in Windows 7.

ShellExView is portable freeware that requires no installer. It opened with the main list view common to NirSoft's wares; an efficient, compact, no-nonsense design suitable to a wide range of tools. ShellExView displayed our installed extensions, and ... how many? 225? No way we'd have guessed that many! But already ShellExView proved its worth by clueing us in to how many shell extensions our system has. Granted, most of the extensions were native to Windows, but we still found more extensions installed by third-party programs than we expected. Fortunately, we didn't have the extra special pleasure of finding mystery extensions, but let's face it: it's best to know what's installed in your system, and you can't disable spurious, unneeded or even harmful extensions if you don't know about them.

ShellExView displays a lot of data about each extension in a series of customizable column headings. Selecting and right-clicking any entry opened a detailed menu that let us enable or disable the item, open it in RegEdit, create reports, and much more. We could also remove specific items from My Computer, the Desktop, or Control Panel, leaving other menus intact. We could search Google for information on specific items, handy for "should-it-stay-or-should-it-go?" calls. The Help file includes the option to send reports to ShellFix, a NirSoft Web site for diagnosing and fixing shell extension problems. ShellExView 64-bit maintains the high standards of value and performance we've seen from NirSoft.

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