3 fixes for a dead Windows 10 Start menu

So much for the triumphant return of the Start menu. If it doesn't pop up for you, try these workarounds.

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Pat Stuhlman was happy with Windows 10. Then, suddenly, the Start menu stopped working.

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.

Here are three possible fixes. I can’t guarantee that any of them will work, but hopefully one will.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

1. Fix 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.

0411 sfc

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.

2. Remove 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.

3. Reinstall

I hate to say it, but you just might have to reinstall Windows 10 from scratch to fix this problem.

First, make sure you’ve got an up-to-date backup. If not, copy the contents of your library folders to an external hard drive. You probably won’t need it, but it’s best to be safe.

Press Winkey-L to log out of Windows. Click the the welcome screen to get to the login screen. Click the power button in the lower-right corner, then hold down Shift as you select Restart.

This brings you to the Recovery environment. Select Troubleshoot > Reset this PC > Keep my files and follow the onscreen directions.

When it’s over, you’ll have to reinstall all of the programs that didn’t come with Windows.

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