Sysinternals Process Explorer – Disappearing process tree (Fixed)

For the past few days, I have had some trouble with my favorite task manager replacement, Process Explorer.

The Problem

Upon initial load, the first column would not appear, somewhat like this (note that now that I have fixed the issue, I cannot actually reproduce the problem, so this is an artist’s rendering of the problem):

Process Explorer without first column

After minimizing the window and restoring it, all of the contents were gone (again, artist’s rendering):

Process Explorer after restore

If I were to close the application and re-launch, I would again get what appears in the first image. Obviously, this was distressing as the information displayed has no meaning without the application names to which it belongs.

I searched around for anyone else who has seen this behavior before, and I found this page, which demonstrates the same behavior (or at least the first part.)

Potential Solution 1

In the comments of the post, I found the following reply by Matthijs van der Vleuten:

If I read this screenshot correctly, the process tree is activated, but the Process
column is missing. That column happens to contain the tree itself.

Try removing the registry keys
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Sysinternals\Process Explorer\ProcessColumnMap



If that doesn’t help, remove the parent key, Process Explorer. Of course, this will reset the settings.

This sounded promising, and given that I only have two settings configured to non-default values, I fired up regedit and deleted away.

I then closed Process Explorer, restarted it, and… no change. Well, that was anticlimactic. So I read on…

Potential Solution 2 (and actual fix)

Further down the page, an anonymous “Alex” posted what I experienced:

In my case, deleting the registry entries didn’t help… because the Process column
was there all along!! SOMEHOW its width had been dragged so small it was totally
invisible on the left of the screen.

I simply hovered my mouse cursor as far left as possible, clicked and dragged it back
out again!

I tried this, unsuccessfully, for a few attempts before I was able to “find” the column. In my case, at least, the column had not been “dragged so small that it was…invisible” as I cannot reproduce the issue in order to gather screenshots for this post. In any case, this resolved the problem.

In the end, I had to maximize the window and place my mouse below the column heading area in order to grab the column:

How to resolve the problem

After doing this, I can now minimize and restore without having to restart the application. Obviously, this information is available elsewhere, but I figured I would put it all in one place, with steps to resolve the issue. Hope this helps.

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