Start Menu Not Working in Windows 10? Here’s How to Fix It

The Start menu in Windows 10 is one of the most cherished and iconic features of Microsoft’s operating systems. And while it seems strange to have such powerful emotions for a mere software feature, the mass opprobrium against the Start menu-less Windows 8 shows that people will viciously argue for their right to use it. But what if the Start menu stops working?

Whether your Start menu has disappeared, simply isn’t responding to your clicks, or you get the dreaded “Critical Error” message, we’re here to help you with you Start menu woes.

Whenever you get any kind of error relating to various features in Windows not working, the first thing to do (aside from rebooting your PC) is check for corrupted files using the system file checker which will automatically try to fix any errors in Windows’ system files.

To do this, open the Command Prompt (Win + R, then type cmd) and type sfc /scannow. A scan will check Windows for corrupted files, then repair them if possible.

If that fails, still in the Command Prompt, use the “Deployment Imaging and Servicing Management” tool which can repair corruptions that were preventing SFC from doing its job. In the Command Prompt, type:

This will run the DISM tool. After, run another SFC scan to fix any outstanding errors.

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If your Start menu’s still not working after this, it’s time to dig deeper.

A solution to the Start menu not working cropped up some months ago, and quite a few people are reporting success with it. It’ll require you to tweak your registry, so make sure to back up your registry first.

Once you’ve done that, open the registry editor by hitting Win + R and entering regedit into the box.

In the registry editor, navigate to the key:

Double-click “Start” in the right-hand pane and change the “Value” here to 4. Reboot your PC and you’re good to go.

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The next simplest thing to try is restarting the Windows Explorer process which is responsible for the Start menu, among plenty of other things, on Windows 10. Press Ctrl + Shift + Escape on your keyboard to open the Task Manager. Next, click “More details” if you’re in the simple view, then under the “Processes” tab scroll down to “Windows Explorer,” right-click it and click “Restart.”

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The Application Identity Service in Windows 10 uses a service called Applocker to decide which applications are and aren’t allowed to run on your PC. For the most part you don’t need to touch this, as it generally knows what’s right for your PC, but forcing it to run when you’re experiencing the Start menu problem can help fix them.

To run the Application Identity Service, press Win + R, type services.msc into the box, then in the Services windows right-click Application Identity and click Start. Reboot your PC, and your Start menu should be up and running again.

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If you’ve noticed a pattern of your Start Menu misbehaving each time you have a Windows Update, or simply when you restart your PC, then a couple of people have suggested that this could be the solution.

Go to “Settings -> Accounts -> Sign-in” options then scroll down to “Privacy” and switch the “Use my sign-in info…” slider to “Off”. As you’ll discover in the next fix, your Start menu not working could be connected to your Windows account, oddly, so separating your account from your PC startup process can help.

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Some people find that their Start menu stops functioning properly after bigger Windows updates. If you’re one of these people, then a tried and tested solution is to create a new Windows admin account, make sure that the Start menu is working on it, then transfer all your files over.

To do this, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager, then click “File -> Run new task” and type

into the box, where “yourname” is what you want to name the account, and “yourpassword” is the password you want for the account. Tick the checkbox to make it an administrator account, then click “OK.”

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Log in to the new account. If the Start menu is showing, you’re in business. To transfer your settings and apps over to the new account, log back in to your old account, then go to “Control Panel -> System -> Advanced system settings.” Click the “Advanced” tab, then under “User Profiles” click “Settings.” Select your newly created account from the list and click “Copy To.”

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Windows apps may have nice features like Skype’s mini-window that lets you talk to people while getting on with other stuff, but they’ve been known to bug out Windows from time to time. Pinning down the app responsible for the mess can take a while, so there is a convenient command in Windows that lets you reinstall every Windows app simultaneously. (It’s almost as if Microsoft was prepared for people to have this problem!)

This is a good chance to get acquainted with the PowerShell, which is essentially a supercharged version of the Command Prompt. Click Start, type powershell, then right-click PowerShell in the search results and click “Run as administrator.”

Once you’re in, type the following and hit Enter:

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You’ll see a load of processes begin, and when it ends, you’ll probably see a lot of red, alarming-looking writing underneath. Ignore that and reboot your PC to get your Start menu working again.

A lot of users have reported that booting Windows to Safe Mode with Networking, then booting back to normal Windows, can fix a broken Start menu.

To boot into Safe Mode from Windows 10, press Win + R, type msconfig, and then in the System Configuration window click the “Boot” tab, check the “Safe boot” box, click “Network,” then “OK.”

Reboot your PC, and it will start up in Safe Mode in Networking. Go into the System Configuration window just like you did to get into Safe Mode, uncheck the “Safe boot” box, click OK, then reboot your PC, and your Start menu may live again.

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For a long time Windows 10 users were complaining that Dropbox would clash with the Start menu, blocking certain user account files that were critical to it running properly. Dropbox claims to have addressed this issue in an update released last year, but if you do have Dropbox, it might be worth uninstalling to see if that problem still persists for you.

Problems with AMD cards have been connected to the Start menu not working too, and some users have reported that going to “services.msc” and disabling “AMD External Events Utility” can resolve the issue.

Other users have reported that anti-virus programs like Avast, Malwarebytes, and various third-party Windows Store apps can also cause the problem, so it’s worth uninstalling some of those one by one to see which is the culprit.

These are the best-known ways to get your Start menu back in order, though with the problem having so many different possible sources, there’s always a chance that something else has fixed it for you. Has one of our fixes helped you, or have you discovered your own solution to a broken Start menu? Let us know in the comments!

This article was updated in August 2018.

13 comments

  1. The “Restart Windows Explorer” trick worked!! Thank you so much, otherwise only logging off then back on fixed it.

  2. I don’t understand why Microsoft does not the tests before releasing an update. I formatted my pc 2 times thinking it’s drivers etc.

    I’m done with Microsoft Windows 10. I am going back to 8.1. No need to be a beta victim that you have to face these bugs every day.

    • The last creators update nearly destroyed my personal machine and now this? It’s always something…@Doni I feel your pain brother

  3. Fix 4 worked, after trying everything in multiple articles to fix my search bar on Windows 10! It hasn’t been working for almost 6 months, and I’ve tried fixing it off and on since then to no avail until now. Thank you!

  4. I cut and pasted:
    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)AppXManifest.xml”}
    into the Powershell window and it didn’t seem to like the syntax.

  5. Tried them all. None fixed the problem. I did create the new admin account, but could not copy the profile. Copy To was greyed out. Any way to fix that? I’m manually transferring everything to the new profile, but some software has to be reloaded. Once I get this set up, I think I will copy the new profile to the default profile or something just to have a backup.

  6. Alas, I was stuck with my windows start menu issue since morning I have tried various method.
    Atlast, Fix 3 works for me.. Reinstalling the apps !!!!!!!!

    Bingooooo

  7. I had this problem like many others, after 3 days of trying different steps, I found that somehow the actual window of the start menu shrunk itself to not visible. Easiest way to test is to toggle “Use Start Full Screen” under “Personalization/Start”. If your menu shows up full screen, then it must be working. If it is working, toggle it back to off. If it doesn’t work again, click the icon once so it highlights itself, then move your cursor up a few pixels till you see an arrow cursor and simply resize the start menu back to where you like it.
    *Note, I have a Microsoft Surface and I ran across this problem when disconnecting the Surface from my extra monitors. My guess is that something happened when it entered tablet mode.
    Hope this save someone the trouble I went through.

  8. SOLVED – I leave this here to help others… After trying many complicated supposed fixes, the following worked for me. Same as MitchH (4 Dec 2018).

    SETTINGS > PERSONALISATION > START > toggle the toggles…. I changed them all but I suspect same as Mitch that turning on/off “Use Start Full Screen” kicked the start menu back into gear.

    Start menu is now back working without issue.

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