How to Fix the Start Menu and Cortana in Windows 10

Introduction

Windows 10 does a fair job of correcting many problems it has on its own, but there are a couple faults that can still cause issues. At times, your Windows Start menu or the Cortana search system can stop functioning correctly.

This guide will walk you through correcting this problem.

Windows 10.

1 Check for Updates

  1. Open the Start menu and select Settings.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Settings
  2. Select Update and Security.
    Updates and Security Settings
  3. Select Windows Update on the left, then select Check for updates.
    Update and Security with Windows Update and Check for updates highlighted.
  4. Once the system has finished checking for updates, it will automatically download and install the latest applicable updates.
  5. The system also may prompt you to restart, if it does, please do so at your earliest convenience, otherwise the update process will not complete.

    If you system was already recently updated, chances are that no further updates are available and your Update status will indicate: Your device is up to date.

2 Restart Your PC

Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.

3 Test Start Menu

  • Test the Start Menu

    1. Select the Start menu.
      Windows 10 Start button

    2. Make sure it opens properly, and you can launch an app and reach other menus.
      Default Start Menu

  • Test Cortana

    1. Select the search field next to the Start Menu.
      Cortana search field.

    2. Perform a search for a website, or a Windows app, and make sure results show up.
      Cortana search example.

? Does the Start Menu and Cortana search work properly?

  1. Yes
  2. No

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Windows 10 does a fair job of correcting many problems it has on its own, but there are a couple faults that can still cause issues. At times, your Windows Start menu or the Cortana search system can stop functioning correctly.

This guide will walk you through correcting this problem.

Windows 10.

  1. Open the Start menu and select Settings.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Settings
  2. Select Update and Security.
    Updates and Security Settings
  3. Select Windows Update on the left, then select Check for updates.
    Update and Security with Windows Update and Check for updates highlighted.
  4. Once the system has finished checking for updates, it will automatically download and install the latest applicable updates.
  5. The system also may prompt you to restart, if it does, please do so at your earliest convenience, otherwise the update process will not complete.

    If you system was already recently updated, chances are that no further updates are available and your Update status will indicate: Your device is up to date.

Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.
  • Test the Start Menu

    1. Select the Start menu.
      Windows 10 Start button

    2. Make sure it opens properly, and you can launch an app and reach other menus.
      Default Start Menu

  • Test Cortana

    1. Select the search field next to the Start Menu.
      Cortana search field.

    2. Perform a search for a website, or a Windows app, and make sure results show up.
      Cortana search example.

  1. Search Device Manager.
    Windows 10 search bar
  2. Select Device Manager.
    Windows 10 search bar showing device manager
  3. Select the small arrow next to Display adapters and Sound, video and game controllers to expand these sections, and see the devices in them.
    Device Manager with indicated sections expanded.
  4. Double click one of the devices under one of these headings to show its properties. Select Driver.
    Device properties with Driver tab highlighted.
  5. Select Update Driver.
    Driver Properties with Update Driver highlighted.
  6. Select Search automatically for updated driver software.
    Update Drivers with Search automatically for updated driver software highlighted.
  7. Windows will automatically locate any updated drivers available.
    Update Drivers searching for drivers.
  8. If any updated drivers are available, you'll be offered the chance to install them. Once installed, or if none are available, close the driver updater for this device.
    Driver up-to-date with Close highlighted.
  9. Repeat these steps till you've made sure all Display adapter devices, and all Sound, video and game controller devices are up-to-date.
Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.
  1. Choose the Start menu, and type PowerShell into the search.
    screenshot of start menu search for powershell

  2. Using your right mouse button, right click on PowerShell in the list above. A special menu will open. Choose Run as Administrator.
    screenshot of right clicking on powershell app with run as administrator highlighted

  3. Windows may ask if PowerShell may make changes. If it does, click Yes.
    screenshot of user account control dialog with yes highlighted

  4. Enter the following 2 commands, push enter at the end of each:
    net user Test /add
    net localgroup Administrators Test /add

    screenshot of powershell with commands endered

Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.

On the login screen, you'll be given options to choose which profile you'd like to log in with. Click on Test in the bottom-left corner.

Windows Login with Test profile highlighted.

  • Test the Start Menu

    1. Select the Start menu.
      Windows 10 Start button

    2. Make sure it opens properly, and you can launch an app and reach other menus.
      Default Start Menu

  • Test Cortana

    1. Select the search field next to the Start Menu.
      Cortana search field.

    2. Perform a search for a website, or a Windows app, and make sure results show up.
      Cortana search example.

The User Profile, how Windows stores your customization information, has become corrupt or broken.

Your programs, pictures, documents, videos, and any other data is safe.

There are 3 possible solutions to this problem:

  • Create a new profile, and continue using Windows

    • If you do not have pictures, documents, videos, bookmarks, or other information stored on your computer, it is perfectly acceptable to just abandon the old profile, and start using a new one.
    • Any and all data stored on the old profile will be kept, in case you change your mind in the future, but it will be difficult to access.
  • Create a new profile, and move your data to your new profile

    • If you have few customizations for Windows, but want to keep the data from your profile, it's usually best to just move the data from the old profile to a new profile, and use the new profile instead.
    • This is the most common solution.
  • Repair the old profile

    • While possible, this step requires detailed knowledge of how Windows works, and will require a technician with special knowledge to perform.
    • Some repair shops will not perform this service.
  1. Select the Start menu.
    Windows 10 Start button

    By default it is in the lower left corner of your screen.

  2. Select the Settings button on the left side of the start menu
    Windows 10 Settings icon
  3. In Windows Settings, select Accounts.
    Windows settings with Accounts highlighted.
  4. On the left, select Family & other people.
    Account settings with family and other people highlighted.
  5. Choose to Add a family member, or Add someone else to this PC.
    Family and other people settings with add buttons highlighted.
  6. Follow the prompts until creation of the profile is complete.
  7. To begin logging into the new user profile, click Start then the User icon.
    Start menu with User icon highlighted
Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.
  1. Click the Start menu, choose Profiles, then choose Sign out.
    Start menu with the start button, profiles icon, and sign out highlighted.
  2. Choose your normal profile from the list in the bottom-left, and sign in as you normally do.
    Windows sign in screen with the primary profile highlighted.
  3. Choose the Start menu, and type PowerShell into the search.
    Windows start menu searching for powershell.
  4. Using your right mouse button, right click on PowerShell in the list above. A special menu will open. Choose Run as Administrator.
    Right click menu for powershell with run as Administrator highlighted.
  5. Windows will ask if PowerShell may make changes, click Yes.
    User account control dialog with yes highlighted.
  6. Type in the following command, then press enter:
    net user Test /delete
    Powershell with command highlighted.
  1. Select the Start menu.
    Windows 10 Start button

    By default it is in the lower left corner of your screen.

  2. Select the Settings button on the left side of the start menu
    Windows 10 Settings icon
  3. In Windows Settings, select Accounts.
    Windows settings with Accounts highlighted.
  4. On the left, select Family & other people.
    Account settings with family and other people highlighted.
  5. Choose to Add a family member, or Add someone else to this PC.
    Family and other people settings with add buttons highlighted.
  6. Follow the prompts until creation of the profile is complete.
  7. To begin logging into the new user profile, click Start then the User icon.
    Start menu with User icon highlighted
Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.
  1. Select Explorer.
    Windows Explorer.

  2. Select This PC on the left, then select Local Disk (C:) on the right.
    Windows Explorer with This PC and Local Disk highlighted.

  3. Select Users.
    Windows Explorer with Users highlighted.

  4. From the list, select your old profile name.
    Windows Explorer with user folder highlighted.

  5. You'll be asked to grant permission to Windows to open the old profile. Select Continue.
    Permissions dialog with Continue highlighted.

  6. Here, you'll see folders for all your files. Simply select a folder and do not release the mouse button, drag it to your Desktop, and release the mouse button to move it.
    Windows Explorer showing dragging and dropping a folder to desktop.

    Pay special attention to the Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Videos, and if you use Edge browser, the Favorites folder. The vast majority of your data will be in those folders.
    It is often a good idea to review these folders one by one before moving them, so you won't have to sort through an empty folder in the future.

You can now access these files from these folders on your Desktop, or move the contents to your new Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Video, etc folders.

Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.
  1. Click the Start menu, choose Profiles, then choose Sign out.
    Start menu with the start button, profiles icon, and sign out highlighted.
  2. Choose your normal profile from the list in the bottom-left, and sign in as you normally do.
    Windows sign in screen with the primary profile highlighted.
  3. Choose the Start menu, and type PowerShell into the search.
    Windows start menu searching for powershell.
  4. Using your right mouse button, right click on PowerShell in the list above. A special menu will open. Choose Run as Administrator.
    Right click menu for powershell with run as Administrator highlighted.
  5. Windows will ask if PowerShell may make changes, click Yes.
    User account control dialog with yes highlighted.
  6. Type in the following command, then press enter:
    net user Test /delete
    Powershell with command highlighted.
  1. Click the Start menu, choose Profiles, then choose Sign out.
    Start menu with the start button, profiles icon, and sign out highlighted.
  2. Choose your normal profile from the list in the bottom-left, and sign in as you normally do.
    Windows sign in screen with the primary profile highlighted.
  3. Choose the Start menu, and type PowerShell into the search.
    Windows start menu searching for powershell.
  4. Using your right mouse button, right click on PowerShell in the list above. A special menu will open. Choose Run as Administrator.
    Right click menu for powershell with run as Administrator highlighted.
  5. Windows will ask if PowerShell may make changes, click Yes.
    User account control dialog with yes highlighted.
  6. Type in the following command, then press enter:
    net user Test /delete
    Powershell with command highlighted.
Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.
Performing a Windows 10 Reset keeps your personal files, settings, and apps that came installed on your machine intact. For portable devices: Before proceeding with a Reset, make sure the device is connected to a power outlet to avoid power loss during the reset process.
You will lose any and all customized settings made, as well as any extra programs you've installed since you first got your computer.
  1. Select the Start menu.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
  2. Select the Settings button on the left side of the start menu.
    Windows 10 Settings
  3. Select Update and Security.
    Windows Settings with Update and Security highlighted.
  4. Select Recovery.
    Update and Security Settings menu with Recovery highlighted.
  5. On the left, under Reset this PC, select Get started.
    Update and Security settings Recovery options Reset this PC section with Get started button highlighted.
  6. Select Keep my files.
    Reset this PC with Keep my files highlighted.
  7. Take note of any apps that will need to be reinstalled, then select Next.
    Reset this PC apps list with Next highlighted.
  8. At this point, the system is ready to be reset. This process may take quite a while, and the system will automatically restart when needed. Select Reset when you're ready to continue.
    Confirm reset with Reset highlighted.
  9. Windows 10 will start the reset process and may reboot several times while running. Follow any on-screen instructions that may require your attention.
    Windows Resetting PC
  10. Once the process is complete, you may use your system again.
  • Test the Start Menu

    1. Select the Start menu.
      Windows 10 Start button

    2. Make sure it opens properly, and you can launch an app and reach other menus.
      Default Start Menu

  • Test Cortana

    1. Select the search field next to the Start Menu.
      Cortana search field.

    2. Perform a search for a website, or a Windows app, and make sure results show up.
      Cortana search example.

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