While many people will balk and wish that Microsoft wasn’t slowly burying the trusted Control Panel, the Settings app has grown into a key feature of Windows 10. It’s the launchpad into controlling your system – from adding devices to controlling users and gaming features. If Settings stops working, Windows becomes pretty dysfunctional.
So if your Settings app is stalling or just not opening in the first place, here’s a bunch of fixes that should get it back to working order.
A Simple Solution from Our Readers
Sometimes, the best solutions are those that seem too simple to be true. But in tech, that’s often the case, so kudos to our reader nico for leaving a comment with a solution that several other readers have reported back as working.
Here’s the fix:
1. Click the Start button, right-click the cog icon that would normally lead to the Settings apps, then click More and “App settings”.
2. Finally, scroll down in the new window until you see the Reset button, then click Reset.
Settings reset, job done (hopefully).
Alternative Ways to Open Settings
If you’re just looking for a quick workaround to a misbehaving Settings app, then your best bet could be to try and open it another way.
One method is to press Win + I to try and open the Settings app.
Alternatively, you can click the Action Center icon in the taskbar (the speech bubble at the bottom-right), and then click “All Settings.”
If these methods don’t work, or if your Settings app still can’t be accessed the normal way via your Start menu, then it’s time to try something a little more involved…
Reinstall and Re-Register Windows Apps
The Settings app in Windows 10 is counted among the official built-in Windows apps, so reinstalling it (along with every other Windows 10 app) should fix whatever problems you may have with it.
To do this, open the PowerShell (just type “powershell” into the Start menu Search, then right-click it and “Run as administrator”) and enter the following command:
That will re-register and reinstall all Windows apps, hopefully getting the Settings app (and others) back to full working order.
Run an SFC Scan
Before trying the more elaborate method of fixing the Settings app, here are a couple of quick fixes that might do the job:
- Scan your hard drive for errors – go to the Start menu, type
cmd, open the command prompt, then type
- That failing, you should try downloading the Windows Update Troubleshooter and see if that helps.
Create a New Windows User
If you still can’t open the Settings app, then it’s time for the more radical solution of creating a new administrator account and transferring your files over to it. Seeing as you can’t use the Settings app to create a new account, you can instead use the Microsoft Common Console Document if you have Windows 10 Pro.
1. Click Start and type
lusrmgr.msc. In the Common Console Document, click Users, right-click users, then “add new user.” Enter your info, then sign out of your current account and into your new one either through the Start menu or Ctrl + Alt + Del.
If you have Windows 10 Home Edition, then you’ll need to create a new user through the command prompt instead.
Click the Start menu, type
cmd, right-click Command Prompt, and then click “Run as administrator.”
In the Command Prompt type the following command but with the username and password that you want to create for the new administrator account:
You should see the message “The command completed successfully” to inform you that the account has been created.
2. Next, go to “Control Panel -> User Accounts -> User Accounts -> Manage another account.”
3. Select the new account you just created, “Change the account type,” then click “Administrator” in the new window, followed by “Change Account Type.”
The new user is now the administrator.
4. Sign out of your current account and into the new user account. Try accessing the Settings app, and it should now be working.
The next step is to transfer your files from your old Windows account to your new one.
Go to the system hard drive (where Windows is installed) in File Explorer, click View in the tab at the top, then tick the “Hidden items” box.
Navigate to your old user account in File Explorer (C:/Users/old account name by default) and double-click it. You’ll see the following prompt.
Click Continue, enter your account password when prompted, then copy and paste all the files from that account to your new one (located at C:/Users/newusername by default).
You’ll see a message asking if you want to merge the folders from your old account to your new one. Click Yes.
It’s not simple, but creating a new Windows account is sadly the best workaround to this problem that’s managed to persist for some despite patches that have been released to tackle it. It’s worth stressing again that you should try the two simpler solutions at the start of this article before going through the hassle of creating a new account.
This article was first published in September 2016 and was updated in April 2019.