The return of the Start menu is probably Windows 10’s most popular feature. But it doesn’t work on all PCs. You can click the Start button, or press the Window key until Apple, Google, and Microsoft all merge together and switch to Linux, but the menu just won’t come up.

How to fix the Windows 10 Start Menu

If your Windows 10 Start Menu is locking up or becoming unresponsive, then here are several ways you can try to get it working again.

1Back up your PC first

You should back up any files you can’t afford to lose before you try some of the fixes listed below. Obviously, you should back up your files regularly anyway, not just when you come to fix a Windows problem. You already backed up? Great, then let’s continue.

2Turn it off and on again

There’s a reason that Roy in The IT Crowd is famous for his ‘have you tried turning it off and on again?’ catchphrase. In a large number of cases this is all you need to do in order to fix problems with your laptop or PC.

It’s also by far the easiest method. Try restarting your PC, maybe even a couple of times, and see if that cures the problem. Obviously you don’t want to do this regularly, but if it works, then you’ll be up and running within a few minutes.

3Update Windows 10

It’s often the case that bugs like this are solved when the next Windows update is released. Microsoft is constantly improving and tweaking its progeny, so keeping your system up to date is a very good idea.

Your version of Windows 10 will most likely be set to automatically install newer versions, but if this isn’t case you can easily do the updates manually, even without the Start menu.

The simplest way to open Settings is to hold down the Windows key on your keyboard (the one to the right of Ctrl) and press i. If for any reason this doesn’t work (and you can’t use the Start menu) you can hold the Windows key and pressing R which will launch the Run command.

In the box that appears type in the following name;

ms-settings:

and click OK.

Once the Settings application is open you should click on Updates & Security. In the main pane on the right hand side you’ll see an option to Check for updates. Click on this and then install any updates that Windows offers.

You’ll probably need to reboot your machine when this is over, but hopefully it will solve your Start menu problem. If that’s not the case then there are a few other solutions you can try.

Many thanks to reader Robert Garrett for posting the following fix in the comments below. It works, so we’ve included it here first (slightly edited).

4Create new user profiles

  1. Create two new accounts with administrator privileges. They must have admin rights because of the tasks you need to perform. If you don’t have admin rights already and/or can’t create new accounts, then give up now and reinstall Windows and all your apps.
  2. Log off, and log on to one of the new admin accounts you just created. Test to make sure your start menu is working normally. If it doesn’t then something else is wrong and you might try this whole thing again after trying the other fixes below.The point is, you have to get a new account working with a functional start menu before the rest of this procedure will help you any, so if you can’t get to this point after that, it’s time to reinstall Windows. Sorry.
  3. Good news… if you got this far, you will be able to fix the problem.  Now open File Explorer and make sure your folder options allow you to see system files, hidden files, and file extensions.
  4. Log off this account and then log on to the second new admin account you created, and again set your folder options accordingly so that you can see “everything”.
  5. Navigate to your :\users\\Local\TileDataLayer\Database folder.  You should see about 8 files.  Select them all and copy them all to :\users\\Local\TileDataLayer\Database folder, replacing all the files that are there.The reasons you have to create two new accounts to do this are (1) when you first log on to a new account Windows creates a fresh start menu for that account (which hopefully will be working) and (2) when you’re logged on to an account all these files are “locked” by Windows (for the logged-on account) and you won’t be able to copy them.
  6. Log off, log back on to the original account that had the damaged start menu, and it should be working now.  Note that any customisations you had previously made to the menu will be gone and you’ll have to re-do them, but at least now you can.

To create a new Windows account you’ll need to press Win+R then type in control panel. Now select User Accounts>Change Account Type>Add New User in PC Settings. You’ll see a couple of options that that allow you to add users to either your Family or just General use. Set one of these up and see if that solves the problem.

Don’t delete your original user account though, as you’ll want that once the bug has been patched.

5Use the Command Line utilities

If the thought of tinkering with code doesn’t chill you to the bone, then there are a couple of utilities you can use to address the Start Menu problem. Before you begin though we strongly advise backing up any files that you can’t afford to lose.

6Scan File System

System File Check is a built-in utility that will, as the name suggests, go through your system to see if anything is corrupted.

The first thing you’ll need to do is open up the Task Manager window, which is achieved by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ESC.

At the top of the new window you should see the option for File>Run new task. Click this and then in the Create new task box type CMD, but don’t press enter just yet. Under the area where you typed in CMD you’ll see a box entitled Create this task with administrative privileges which you need to have ticked. Now click OK.

A new window will now appear with a cursor flashing next to c: \windows\system32>

Type in the following command;

sfc /scannow

and press enter.

Windows will now run a scan on your file system and let you know whether it discovers any discrepancies.

If you see the message Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of them then you’ll need to run another program to see if these issues can be resolved.

At the command line prompt type the following;

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

making sure that you include the spaces after each word.

This might take a little while to run, so leave the PC to its business and go make yourself a cup of tea. You’ve earned it! When DISM is completed you should hopefully receive a message letting you know all is well. It’s a good idea to run the sfc /scannow utility again to check that there aren’t any other errors lurking in the system.

If after all this you’re still experiencing the problem then more drastic measures will need to be attempted.

7Resinstalling the Windows apps

Just like in the SFC section above you’ll need to launch the Command Line interface in Admin mode. To do so press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC, select File>Run new task, then type CMD. Make sure that the Create this task with administrative privileges box is ticked, then click OK.

You’ll see the black terminal window appear with a cursor flashing next to the c: \windows\system32> prompt. Enter the word powershell, press enter and then copy and paste the following command (yes, you can paste into the command line in Windows 10!);

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}

Press enter, the process will run. Don’t be put off by the red error messages which might appear.

This is normal, if a little terrifying, but when the process has finished you’ll see the prompt appear at the bottom of the panel.

1] Download and run the Windows 10 Start Menu Troubleshooter from Microsoft.

2] Run the following command in an elevated command prompt, to run the System File Checker.

sfc /scannow

Restart after the scan is over and see if it helped.

3] Repair Windows Image. Open an elevated CMD copy-paste the following and hit Enter

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

Restart after the scan is over and see if it helped.

4] Make Start full screen and back. Enable Tablet Mode and Start Screen and then go back. See if this toggling has helped.

5] Open an elevated PowerShell window.

Type the following and press Enter:

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}

To open an elevated PowerShell prompt, type PowerShell in taskbar Search, and in the result ‘Windows Powershell’ which appears, right-click and select Run as administrator.

After the November Update, if you use this method  to fix this problem using the Appx PowerShell cmdlet, it caused problems with your Windows Store apps. But if you have installed Windows 10 Anniversary Update, it is working now.

6] Create a new user and see if it helps. To do this, open an elevated command prompt window, type the following and hit Enter:

net user username /add

Here username is your new user name. You will see a The command completed successfully message. Log into your new account and see if has resolved your issue.

NOTE: You may do this, to open a Command Prompt or Powershell window. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Task Manager. Click on File menu > Run new task. To open a command prompt window, type cmd. To open a PowerShell prompt, type powershell. Remember to check the Create this task with administrative privileges check-box. Then hit Enter.

8Fix corrupted files

If the Search bar still works, search for powershell. Then right-click Windows PowerShell in the search results and select Run as administrator.

But if the search bar doesn’t work either, press Winkey-R, type powershell, and press Enter. Right-click the PowerShell icon on the taskbar and select Pin to taskbar. Close the PowerShell program. Hold down Shift and Cntrl while you right-click the PowerShell icon again. Select Run as administrator.

Once you’re in the Powershell command-line environment,  type the command sfc /scannow and press Enter. Then wait. It can take quite a while.

Eventually, the program will tell you either that it found no corrupt Windows files, it found and fixed them, or it found some but couldn’t fix them. If you get the latter response, try the command

dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

This should (hopefully) download replacement files.

9Remove and reinstall your Metro/Modern apps

Relax. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. First of all, this only effects the Metro/Modern/Windows 10 apps that you get through Microsoft’s Store. Old-fashioned Windows programs won’t be affected.

Second, it’s all automated.

Open PowerShell as an administrator as described above. Type in the following command—or better yet, just copy and paste it:

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}

When it’s done doing its job, reboot.

10Check and repair corrupt Windows files

Windows files can sometimes become corrupt and this can wreak havoc on your PC — including a stuck Start menu. Fortunately, Windows 10 has a built-in way of fixing this.

Launch Task manager

Press the [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del] keys on the keyboard at the same time, or right click the Taskbar, and select Task manager.

Run a new Windows task

When the Task manager window opens, click the More details option to expand it, then select Run new task from the File menu.

11Run Windows PowerShell

When the Run new task dialog box opens, type powershell, tick the box forCreate this task with administrative privileges and click OK.

12Run the System File Checker

Type sfc /scannow into the window and press the [Return] key. The scan may take some time and will end with one of three results. Windows did not find any integrity violations and Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and repaired them mean there are now no corrupt files, but Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of themindicates a problem.

In this latter case, type (or copy and paste) DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth into the PowerShell window and press the [Return] key. This will download files from Windows Update to replace the corrupt ones and, again, this may take some time.

If you struggled with this solution, watch the video at the top of the page to see each step in action.

13Reinstall all Windows apps

Downloading and reinstalling all Windows 10 apps reportedly fixes a stuck Start menu. This isn’t as drastic as it sounds — ‘Windows apps’ are the ones built into Windows 10 and available from the Windows Store. They used to be called ‘Modern’ apps and, before that, ‘Metro’ — Microsoft just changed the name with Windows 10.

Better still, the reinstallation is automatic and should only take a few minutes. The process might delete any data you have saved in these Windows apps, though, so backup anything important before you begin.

Apps that store data online, in Microsoft OneDrive or as files in a separate folder (such as the Photos app) should be unaffected.

Warning: Recent reports indicate that this process may cause some Windows Store apps to stop working, so be mindful of this before continuing.

14Reinstall Windows apps

Launch the Task manager and open a new PowerShell window with administrative privileges, as explained above.

When the Windows PowerShell window opens copy the line below and paste it into the PowerShell window by simply right-clicking at the blinking PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> prompt, or by pressing [Ctrl] + [V] on the keyboard:

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}

Wait until the app download and installation process completes — ignore any red text that appears — and restart Windows.

15Create a new user account

If reinstalling Windows apps doesn’t work, creating a new user account usually will. If you’re currently using a Microsoft account, your settings will also transfer to the new account once you upgrade it from the default local account. You’ll need to transfer your local files from one account to the other in all cases, though. Your installed software won’t be affected.

Launch Task manager

Open Task manager (see above) and select Run new task from its File menu.

Tick the box for Create this task with administrative privileges and type net user NewUsername NewPassword /add in the box.

You’ll need to replace NewUsername and NewPassword with the username and password you want to use — neither can contain spaces and the password is case sensitive (i.e. capital letters matter).

Log into the new account

Restart Windows and log into the new user account. The Start menu should now work, so you can change the new local account to a Microsoft account, and transfer your files and settings.

16Refresh your PC

As a last resort, you can ‘refresh’ your Windows 10 installation, which is much the same as reinstalling the operating system. Your documents won’t be affected, but you’ll need to reinstall any applications that aren’t part of Windows.

Restart Windows in Troubleshooting mode

Close any open applications and press the [Windows] + [L] keys to log out of your Windows account — or just restart Windows. On the login screen, click the Powericon at the bottom right, hold down the [Shift] key and select the Restart option.

Reset your PC

When the blue Choose an option screen appears, click Troubleshoot, followed by Reset this PC. finally, click the Keep my files option and follow the on-screen instructions.

17Run Windows Update

Microsoft rolled out its third major update to Windows 10 in April 2017, known as the Creators Update.

The company hasn’t stated whether it would fix any of the Start Menu issues specifically, but a few visual tweaks were made which could iron out the problems.

The Creators Update should be rolled out to your machine automatically, but if it hasn’t landed yet you can force it to come through now.

Simply go to Settings and select Update & security.

Then click on the Check for updates button and the Anniversary Update should come through.

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