Windows 11 Start menu not working? Here’s the fix!

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When the Start menu in Windows 11 doesn’t work, this is a common problem. Windows 11 Start menu not working? There are many reasons why this happens, from simple things like a stuck system process to more complicated things like corrupted system files.

We’ll go through all the possible causes and fixes in order, starting with the easiest and most likely to work. One of them will fix the Start menu in Windows 11.

Windows 11 Start menu not working?

Windows 11 Start menu not working?

Save your work before trying any of the tips below, because you’ll have to restart Windows.

Restart the Windows Explorer

  • To fix problems with the Windows Start menu and Taskbar, restarting Windows Explorer is almost as good as restarting your computer. And it’s easier because all your open windows will stay where they are.
  • Select Task Manager by right-clicking the Start button or by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del.
  • On the Processes tab, look for the Windows Explorer process. If it isn’t under “Apps,” it should be under “Windows processes.” Sort the list by name to find it.
  • Right-click on Windows Explorer and choose End Task. You could also choose Restart.
  • Go to File > Run new task, type explorer.exe, and click OK to restart the task.

Restart Windows background services

Several background Windows services can have an effect on the Start menu. Windows 11 Start menu not working? To restart a background service in Windows:

  • Go back into the Task Manager by right-clicking the Start button or pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del.
  • Switch to the Details tab and start with StartMenuExperienceHost.exe to find the right service.
  • Right-click it and choose the “End task” option. There will be an alert message.
  • To make sure, click End process.

Most of the time, the process will restart itself. If it doesn’t, you can start it by going to File > Run new task, just like we did above with Windows Explorer. Windows 11 Start menu not working? As a last resort, press Ctrl + Alt + Del, click the power button in the lower right corner and click Restart.

If restarting StartMenuExperienceHost.exe didn’t fix your Start menu problems, try the same thing with the following background services:

  • SearchIndexer.exe
  • SearchHost.exe
  • RuntimeBroker.exe

Update your graphics drivers

The Start menu and other parts of the Windows user interface could be broken by old graphics drivers. Driver updates are a quick way to fix this problem.

To update your video card drivers:

  • Right-click the Start button (or press Windows key + X) and choose Device Manager.
  • Extend the Display adapters branch, right-click your graphics card, and choose Update driver.
  • Select “Search automatically for drivers” from the dialogue box and wait until the process is done. If you already have the best drivers installed, click the option that says “Search for updated drivers on Windows Update.”
  • If your driver update went well, close the window.
  • If you have more than one display adapter, you will need to follow the steps above for each one.

Re-register the Start menu Shell experience packages

This actually isn’t as hard as it sounds. All universal apps and graphical parts of the Windows interface are taken care of by the Shell experience. Here, what we’ll do is re-register the packages that make the Start menu show up.

Right-click the Start button (or press Windows key + X) and choose Windows Terminal (Admin). Copy and paste the following command into the Windows Terminal:

Get-appxpackage -all *shellexperience* -packagetype bundle |% {add-appxpackage -register -disabledevelopmentmode ($_.installlocation + “\appxmetadata\appxbundlemanifest.xml”)}

Press Enter and wait for the process to finish.

This tip goes back to Windows 10 and was first posted on the Microsoft Community forum. I changed it so that it works with Windows 11. If you can’t open the WinX menu to get to the Windows Terminal, you can open the PowerShell window instead by following the steps in the forum article Windows 11 Start menu not working?

Read more: How To Track Your Lost Mobile Phone With IMEI Number? 

Rebuild the Windows search index

The Windows Start menu is built around search. If you’ve reached this point, you’ve already restarted the Windows background services that deal with search. Next, let’s try to make a whole new search index.

Press the Windows key + R, paste the text below, and press Enter.

control /name Microsoft.IndexingOptions

  • This opens a window called “Indexing Options.” When you click “Modify,” a new window will pop up.
  • Click Show all locations in the Indexed Locations window, uncheck all locations and then click OK.
  • Back in the Indexing Options window, click Advanced to open a new window.
  • Click Rebuild in the Advanced Options window.

Windows will tell you that while it is rebuilding the index, which can take a while, some views and search results might not be complete. When you click OK, the rebuilding will start. The Indexing Options window can also be closed. When Windows is done rebuilding the index, restart your computer and go back to the Start menu.

Remove Start menu tweaks

Windows 11 Start menu not working? Many people don’t like the new Start menu in Windows 11 and have tried to change it or get rid of it. Some hacks, like bringing back the old Start menu, no longer work and may have come back to haunt you. If you have tried any Start menu hacks, I suggest that you go back and undo them. Here are some of the most common ones.

Disable the Start menu XAML process

This is a fix for all problems with the Start menu that are caused by messing with the registry.

To open the Run menu, press Windows + R, type Regedit, and press OK. Copy the address below, paste it into the address bar of the Registry Editor, and press Enter:

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

Right-click in the empty space on the right of the Advanced folder, choose New > DWORD (32-bit value) and name it EnableXamlStartMenu. Double-click the new value and make sure the Value data field is set to 0, which should be the default. To see if this worked, restart Windows Explorer or Windows.

Remove the Windows registry entry to bring back the classic Start menu

While we’re in the registry, let’s get rid of a hack that doesn’t work anymore. Right-click the Start ShowClassicMode value in the same place as before and click “Delete.” You’re good if you can’t find this value. You should also restart Windows or Windows Explorer after you delete it.

Uninstall third-party Start menus

Press the Windows key and I open the Settings app. Go to Apps > Apps & features, find the third-party Start menu app, click the three dots on the right, and choose Uninstall.

Common Start menu alternatives include:

  • Open-Shell-Menu (aka Classic Start)
  • Start11
  • StartAllBack
  • StartIsBack++
  • Start Menu X

Try one of these generic Windows fixes

Most of the tips above had something to do with the Start menu. If your Windows 11 Start menu is still not working, we’ll have to dig a little deeper. The fixes below are simple, but they might do the trick.

Boot into Safe Mode

If you’re not sure what to remove, start up in Safe Mode instead. In Safe Mode, only the most important apps and services run on Windows. Windows 11 Start menu not working? If this fixes the problem, a third-party app is probably messing with the Start menu. In that case, go back and get rid of any suspicious third-party apps, like Start menu replacements, or run a malware scan.

To boot into Safe Mode:

  • Go to Settings > Windows Update > Advanced options > Recovery, and then click Restart now. Windows will tell you if you haven’t saved your work yet.
  • Click Restart now once more, and you should see the Recovery screen.
  • To boot into Safe Mode, go to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings and press F4.

Uninstall a recent Windows Update

If the problem started right after you did a Windows Update, you should undo it. Go to Settings, then Windows Update, then Update history, and then click “Uninstall updates.” The Control Panel will open when you do this. From the list of updates, choose the most recent one and click “Uninstall.” Rinse and repeat if you have more than one update from the same day.

Update Windows 11

Windows Updates can sometimes really fix problems. Go to Settings > Windows Update > Check for updates, and then install any updates that are still waiting.

Sign in to Windows with a local admin account

It could be something wrong with your account. Making a new local admin account is an easy way to check this.

Go to Settings > Accounts > Family & other users and click on Add account under Other users. You want this to be a local account, so in the pop-up window, click I don’t have this person’s sign-in information. Microsoft really wants you to make an account, but if you click “Add a user without a Microsoft account,” you can skip this step. Lastly, give the new user a name and password, set security questions, and click Next.

To see if the Start menu works in the new account, you’ll have to sign out of your current account and into the new one. If it is, you can either switch user accounts or fix your Windows installation.

Run the System File Checker (SFC)

SFC is a Windows tool that can find and fix files that are broken. Press the Windows key + X, choose Windows Terminal (Admin), and type the following command:

SFC /scannow

When the process has been completed, restart Windows and see whether the issue persists.

Repair the Windows System Image with DISM

If SFC didn’t fix the problem, try the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool, which fixes the Windows system image. Type this command into the Windows Terminal if you have admin rights:

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /restorehealth

Wait for the process to complete, then restart Windows.

Windows 11 Start menu not working?

Reset Windows 11

Reinstalling Windows from scratch is the only surefire way to fix any problem with it. You don’t have to lose everything if you reset Windows 11.

  • Start Settings, go to Windows Update > Advanced options > Recovery, and click Reset this PC.
  • In the next window, choose “Keep my files.” This will get rid of apps and settings but not your personal files. Follow the steps on the screen and cross your fingers and toes. This should work.

Windows 11 Start menu not working? 

You can always use a third-party Start menu if nothing else works, Windows 11 Start menu not working? Many people will say it’s the best thing to do, to begin with. Start Menu X is my choice because it’s free and can be changed in any way you want.

FAQs

Can I use the helper in the Start menu?

The Start menu troubleshooter is no longer made by Microsoft, but you can still get it from sites like Softpedia. Even though the troubleshooter was made for the Start menu in Windows 10, it works pretty much the same in Windows 11, so you could try it.

When we used Windows 11 to test the Start menu troubleshooter, it seemed to work fine. But it said “required applications are not installed correctly,” even though our Start menu worked fine. It wasn’t able to fix a problem that didn’t exist.