Tip

Freeware utility manages shell extensions

Shell extensions are add-ins for Windows, which are usually installed by a host application and do things like create right-click context menus in Explorer for a program. Benign shell extensions are useful, but it's entirely possible to craft a malicious shell extension or, more commonly, to have one go bad after a program is damaged or uninstalled incorrectly. A mangled shell extension can cause everything from Explorer crashing on a right-click to random application exits.

Requires Free Membership to View

ShellExView is a NirSoft utility designed to help a user or administrator get a handle -- pun not intended -- on shell extensions. It requires no installer, so it can be unpacked directly from its .zip file and run anywhere, or you can install on and run it from a USB flash drive. When run, it presents a detailed manifest of every shell extension it detects in the host system, along with what type of handler it is (i.e., context menu, property sheet, drag-and-drop handler and so on). Many shell extensions also include a brief description of the handler's function.

Double-clicking on a shell extension gives you a complete manifest of all its properties in one window, with each field broken out into a separate text field for easy marking and copying. If you select a shell extension and press F2, RegEdit opens up at the spot in the Registry where that shell handler has been registered. (This helps you determine if the corresponding CLSID entry in the registry is indeed valid or not.)

ShellExView also makes it easier to single out problem shell extensions in other ways. By default, any non-Microsoft shell extensions are tagged in pink. Sort on the "Company" column to quickly see shell extensions by creator, which can usually flush out any extensions without a digital signature (i.e., possibly bogus). The program also has column displays for file extensions (if any) are handled by a given extension; if you know that right-clicking on a certain kind of file is problematic, you can use this to filter likely suspects.

Please let us know how useful you find this tip by rating it below. Do you have a useful Windows tip, timesaver or workaround to share? Submit it to our monthly tip contest and you could win a prize!

 


Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!


This was first published in September 2005

There are Comments. Add yours.

 
TIP: Want to include a code block in your comment? Use <pre> or <code> tags around the desired text. Ex: <code>insert code</code>

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
Sort by: OldestNewest

Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to:

Disclaimer: Our Tips Exchange is a forum for you to share technical advice and expertise with your peers and to learn from other enterprise IT professionals. TechTarget provides the infrastructure to facilitate this sharing of information. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or validity of the material submitted. You agree that your use of the Ask The Expert services and your reliance on any questions, answers, information or other materials received through this Web site is at your own risk.