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How to fix Windows 10 Start Menu

Michael Passingham
5 Feb 2016
Windows 10 Start Menu
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Is your Windows 10 Start Menu frozen, crashed and refuses to open? We have some fixes

With the enormous rollout of Windows 10, it was inevitable that not everyone would make the transition unscathed. We've seen lots of other bugs and provided some plain-speaking how-tos, but the Start Menu freezing bug that many people have started to experience is one of the more annoying problems you'll encounter. There doesn't seem to be a consistent pattern to the reports of the bug, but we'll list a few suggestions here of how to solve the issue.

Restart Explorer

This is an oldie but a goodie, a solution to many problems with the Start Menu, Taskbar and Explorer windows in all previous versions of Windows. It's worth making a note of, as it solves problems like a crashed Taskbar without the need to restart your computer.

First, hit CTRL+SHIFT+ESC, this will open the Task Manager, and then click more details at the bottom if required. Scroll down the list of running processes until you see Windows Explorer - it'll be near the bottom of teh section marked 'Windows Processes'. Right-Click on it and select Restart from the context menu. This will briefly remove the Taskbar and Start Menu, before the program restarts. All being well, this will solve your problem.

Reinstall Windows without losing your files

This isn't as drastic as it sounds, and is often the cure to most Windows-based ailments. It's never been easier to reinstall Windows and if you're on a fast internet connection it shouldn't take too long either. To make sure you get a completely fresh version of Windows, download the Windows 10 Media Creation tool from this Microsoft page.

Click 'Download tool now' and run the file you just downloaded. Make sure you select the option asking you to create media for the PC you're currently using. Wait for the installer to download Windows 10. This will take a while but you can carry on using your PC while it downloads. While you're waiting, you should back up your most important files, just in case things go wrong. This is unlikely, but it pays to be cautious.

Once this is done, you can now get on with the reinstallation. Click Accept on the Licence Agreement, and then wait some more as Windows checks for updates for your installation. Once this is done you'll be asked whether you want to start afresh or keep your files and applications. Choose the latter if you want everything to stay the same.

The installation could take anything from 20 minutes to more than an hour, but once it's done you'll be returned to a fresh install where, hopefully, your Start Menu is working once again.

Temporary workarounds

If you don't have time to reinstall Windows, there are workarounds. If your most important programs have Desktop shortcuts, you can open them from here. If not, you can open Explorer and find them this way. If you don't have a shortcut for Explorer on your Taskbar and you can't get into the Start Menu, hit CTRL+R to open the Run dialog, then type 'explorer'. This will let you find any files and programs you can't access via the Start Menu. Most of your programs will be found under C:\Program Files (x86) or C:\Program Files.

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