13 Fixes For Windows 10 Start Menu Not Working

The Start menu is one of the important parts of the Windows screen. It gives you quick access to almost every feature on your computer. In simple words, it is a miniature Windows Explorer.

It can be very annoying when you are not able to open this menu or if this box freezes on your screen and you will have to go into several directories to locate the file or application you wish to open or you will not be able to access the icons that are hidden behind the frozen Start menu.

This is a very common issue and This article contains all the methods you can take to make your Start menu become functional again.

Why isn’t my Start Menu working?

Windows 10 Start menu window

As mentioned above, there can be two situations where you cannot utilize your computer’s start menu. You can either face a frozen Start menu, which covers a considerable portion of the screen, or you may not be able to open the Start menu.

Some of the main causes for these two Start Menu related issues are –

  1. System files or temporary files for the Start menu are old or corrupt.
  2. Some bugs or glitches can freeze the Start menu.
  3. The temporary files for the Cortana AI assistant are damaged or outdated.
  4. The Start menu can go missing for certain Windows profiles because of reasons unknown.
  5. The Window Explorer contains corrupt files or the process’ software is outdated.

Methods to Fix the Start Menu Not working issue

  1. Reboot your system
  2. Turn the Windows Game Mode off
  3. Login through a new User Account
  4. Run a System File Check (SFC) Scan
  5. Run the DISM command
  6. Run a Powershell Command line
  7. Disable Filter keys
  8. Enable Windows key within the Registry Editor
  9. Update your Video card and Sound driver software
  10. Download and install Windows updates
  11. Restart the Windows Explorer process through the Task Manager
  12. Scan your system for Malware
  13. Reinstall your Windows 10 OS

Fixing the Start Menu Problems on Windows 10

1. Reboot your system

Rebooting the Operating System (OS) can fix minor bugs and glitches. If your Windows 10 Start menu is not working, you will not be able to use it for rebooting your PC. Here’s what you can do instead.

  1. Close all the applications in the foreground and press the Alt + F4 keys on your keyboard. In the little dialog box, draw the dropdown menu, select Restart, and click on the Ok button.
Restart option in the Shut Down Windows dialog box
  1. You can also press and hold the Power button on your laptop or just press the Restart button on your CPU cabinet to reboot your system.

Do not abruptly restart your system as you may lose progress or changes you make, as there will be no time for your computer to save the changes you made if a restart is forced. 

2. Turn the Windows Game Mode off

The Game mode and the Xbox game bar are used to improve the performance of the computer when playing games and to display in-game overlays. If this is turned off, you may be able to fix the Start menu issue.

This is the procedure to disable the Game mode on your computer. 

  1. Launch the Settings app on your PC by pressing the Windows key and the I key, simultaneously. If your Start menu were working, you can click on the Start button and then, select Settings (cog icon) from the short list of options on the left.
  2. Click on the settings tile named Gaming.
The Gaming settings tile
  1. Go into the Game Mode tab, which is available on the panel on the left side of the window.
  2. Click on the Game Mode toggle switch tab to disable this feature. 
The Game Mode tab with the Game Mode switch

Your system will not optimize its performance during gaming, after this. Press the Start button or the Windows key on your keyboard to see if you continue facing this problem.

3. Login through a new account

The Windows OS requests users to log in to their Microsoft account when the system is initialized after the purchase or during the reinitialization of the system after a factory reset. This will create a profile with the name which was used to register your computer. If this account is signed out of and logged in again, this might fix the Start menu issue on your Windows 10 PC.

Follow these steps to log out and then, back into your Windows account in order to fix the start button not working issue

  1.  Click on the Start menu and click on the profile icon on top of the options on the left panel.
  2. From the small pop-up menu, select Sign out for the computer to take you to your login page, immediately.
Sign out option in the Start Menu
  1. Enter your password, PIN or place your finger in the fingerprint sensor, if there is one, to log back into your account.

Now, try opening the Start menu.

4. Run a System File Check (SFC) Scan

The System File Checker (SFC) is a command prompt script line that is run on Windows computers to detect corrupt or incomplete files in the computer and replace them with functional files. Feel free to execute this command line in the Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell to check if files regarding the start menu are properly functioning or damaged. If they were corrupt, the SFC will fix it without any intervention from the user. 

Do as the following steps instruct you to do.

  1. Enter command in the search bar on the taskbar and right-click on the Command Prompt search result to open a small pop-up menu.
  2. Select Run as Administrator to open Command Prompt with the privileges to make changes on your system. 
Search result for cmd

Alternatively, you can launch the Run utility (Windows + R) on your computer and then, execute the cmd command by pressing the Ctrl + Shift + Enter keys after inputting the command.

  1. In the Command Prompt window, enter the following command line for the SFC:

sfc /scannow

The SFC command line in the Cmd window
  1. Run this command by pressing the Enter key on your keyboard.

If you run this line on the Windows PowerShell, you should receive a message that states “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some of them”. If you see this, continue with the next method immediately. 

Once the process ends, restart your system to keep these changes.

This process will take quite some time to complete since it will scan all the files on your system. Make sure that there are no interruptions to this process. 

5. Run the DISM tool (Command Prompt)

Deployment Image Scanning and Management is a Windows OS utility that scans for errors existing in the computer’s OS and fixes them, by repairing the Windows image and/or changing the OS’ installation media files. This can be used to fix the Windows 10 Start menu not opening an issue on your system. You needn’t worry about losing your personal files over this process.

These are the steps to run the DISM script through the Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt.

  1. Open the Run tool by pressing the Windows key and R together. You can, alternatively, open it through the search bar.
  2. Enter cmd in the open field and press Ok or press Ctrl + Shift + Enter together, on your keyboard, to run it with Administrative privileges. You have to select Yes in the prompt window that appears, to proceed.
  3. In the black script window, type in the following command and hit the Enter key to run the DISM line:

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /StartComponentCleanup

The DISM command for scanning the system

This command will scan your system for issues on Operating System.

  1. Once the initial scan ends, enter the next command.

Dism/Online/Cleanup-Image/restorehealth

The DISM command line for fixing the errors

This command line will repair the issues detected by the initial scan.

When this process is over, restart your computer to retain the changes you just made. After the reboot, try pressing the Windows button to see if the problem is fixed.

6. Run a PowerShell Command line

The Windows PowerShell is a tool designed for Microsoft to execute functioning scripts and deal with the automation of tasks in the Windows OS. A lot of reports have claimed that a certain script has fixed the Windows 10 Start menu error on many computers when it is executed through Windows PowerShell.

This is the method to fix the frozen Windows 10 Start Menu issue through PowerShell.

  1. Launch the Windows PowerShell window by opening the Run tool (Windows + R) and type PowerShell command (Ctrl + Shift + Enter) in the ‘Open’ empty space or by searching for the PowerShell and launching it as the system admin. 
The Powershell command in Run tool
  1. When the prompt window asks you if you want to make changes on your device, select Yes from the dialog box.
  2. In the PowerShell window, type in this command and run it by pushing the Enter key:

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

The AppPackage command in the PowerShell Window

Once this command execution is complete, you have to restart your computer and then, check if you can open the Start menu.

Note: It is important to run Windows PowerShell with administrator privileges for the changes you make to have an impact on your OS.

7. Disable Filter keys

The Filter keys feature is placed in the Windows OS to avoid the repeated entry of characters when the character keys on your keyboard are pressed for more than a set period of time when enabled. This feature might be interfering with the Start menu coming up. You can disable it and see if this helps your case.

This is what you have to do, in order to turn off the Filter keys attribute.

  1. Launch the Windows Control Panel. Type in cpl in the search box and open the top-most search result. 
Search result for cpl
  1. Click on the Ease of Access option.
The Ease of Access settings in the Control Panel
  1. Under the Ease of Access Center section, select the Change how your keyboard works link. This will open the Make the Keyboard Easier to use window.
Change how your Keyboard works option in the Ease of Access center section
  1. In the Make it easier to type section, click on the Turn on Filter Keys checkbox, if it is enabled.
The Make it easier to type section for the Keyboard
  1. Select the Apply and then, Ok buttons to keep the disabled Filter keys feature.

After this, press the Windows key on your keyboard and it should bring up your Start menu.

8. Enable Windows key within the Registry Editor

The Registry Editor is a tool that contains minor Windows features, their keys, and values stored in a hierarchical order. This can deactivate the key bindings for the keys on your keyboard at random, which is what could have happened in your case. 

This is the method to undo this.

  1. Search for the regedit in the search bar and open the Registry Editor. 
Search results for regedit

You can also use this command in the Run tool to open the same window.

  1. You may see a prompt dialog box, from which you have to select Yes.
  2. Inside the Registry Editor window, take this path:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \SYSTEM \CurrentControlSet \Control \Keyboard Layouts

The Keyboard layouts directory in the Registry Editor
  1. There should be no scancode map registry entries and if there is, select it and delete it. You might see a warning prompt dialog box, where you have to select Yes.
  2. Reboot your system and try opening the start menu by pressing the Windows key.

This method is not a definite fix to this issue but this might work if there are no more scancode map registry entries on your OS.

9. Update your Video card and Sound driver software

Old Graphics card drivers and sound drivers can cause your Start menu to freeze or not come up at all. There is no knowing that this is the actual reason but it is worth a shot to update your drivers. 

These are the steps to update your GPU drivers, manually.

  1. Right-click on the Start button and select Device Manager from the Quick Link menu that appears, on the bottom-left part of the screen.
The Device Manager option in the Quick Link menu
  1. In the Device Manager window, press the Display Adapter section and it will draw down into a list of all the graphics cards connected to your computer. 
Display Adapters section in the Device Manager
  1. Right-click on the graphics card device that you want to update and then, select Update driver from the small context popup.
The Update Driver option in the GPU context menu
  1. In the Update Wizard window, choose the Search automatically for updates to let your computer scan its contents to find updates. 
The Update Wizard for dedicated GPU

You can also use GPU interface software to download both the GPU drivers and the Sound drivers if they are powered from the HDMI slot. 

The steps to update the sound driver are the same as the above, except these drivers are located in the Audio input and outputs section.

10. Download and install Windows updates

A Windows update can fix a lot of problems including the Windows 10 Start menu issue. Even if it doesn’t, we recommend staying on the latest version and having the newest patch updates. 

These are the steps to install a Windows update on Windows 10.

  1. Open the Settings and follow this path:

Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for Updates

The Windows Update page with the Check for Updates option
  1. This will make the system look for available updates on the internet.
  2. If there are available updates, make sure that you have a proper internet connection and click on the Download and install button.
  3. When the download(s) are complete, you will receive a notification asking you to restart your system. Select Update and Restart or Update and Shutdown based on your needs, from the Shutdown dialog box.
The Update and Shut down & Update and restart options

11. Restart Windows Explorer through the Task Manager

The Windows Explorer/File Explorer is an important part of your computer. If this is not running properly, your Start menu might be displaying problems. You can try restarting the Windows Explorer process to see if this issue is gone.

Follow these steps to restart Windows Explorer on your Windows 10 PC:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc together, on your keyboard to open Task Manager on your screen. 
  2. In the Processes tab, locate Windows Explorer and click on it.
The Windows Explorer process in the Task Manager
  1. Now, right-click on the process and choose Restart.
The Restart option in the Windows Explorer context menu

This will end the process and launch it again. Once the Windows Explorer restarts, you’ll see it in the processes tab.

12. Scan your system for Malware

McAfee Antivirus main page

Malware can cause the corruption of files, which will prevent a lot of the Windows elements from doing their job. A simple scan of the entire system can help you detect and quarantine or delete viruses, other malware, and suspicious files. It is recommended to purchase an antivirus subscription to protect your PC from threats. Most antivirus programs scan your computer regularly, even if you do not do it. 

13. Reinstall your Windows 10 OS

If all the above methods do not work for you, your last resort will be to reinstall the Operating System on your computer. You will need the installation media on a USB drive.

The Windows Installation Media Creation tool window

Connect this USB to the computer and boot it up. This will take you to the OS setup wizard, where you will have to make some choices and follow the on-screen instructions to install the OS again. 

Note: You will lose all your files so make sure to make a backup.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Windows 10 Start menu not working?

The Windows 10 Start menu may not be working because of corrupt or outdated system files, a missing Start menu, or some bugs or glitches that may be stopping you from using the Start Menu.

How do I fix the Start menu in Windows 10?

You can fix the start menu by restarting the PC, disabling the filter keys feature, performing an SFC scan, running the DISM, restarting the Windows Explorer process, and running a full system scan. If all of the above methods fail to be beneficial, you will have to factory reset your system or reinstall the OS.

Can’t access Windows Start menu?

If you cannot access the Windows 10 Start Menu, try rebooting the PC, disabling filter keys, performing an SFC and a DISM scan, restarting the Windows Explorer process, and running a full system scan. Check if there is something jammed under your Windows key.

Why is my Start Menu frozen?

The frozen Start menu is generally caused by some bugs, glitches, or corrupt and/or old system files. These can be fixed easily with some methods like restarting the OS, disabling the filter keys feature, running SFC and DISM scans, ending and restarting the Windows Explorer process, and performing a complete scan of the system.

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