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There’s no use of having a Windows 10 computer when Start menu and Cortana aren’t working. You can launch apps, start tasks or use the new features of Windows 10.

Start menu and Cortana not working is one of the most critical issues faced by Windows 10 users around the world.

If you face the same issue, get it solved with the quick-fixes below.

1. Use Command Prompt

If the Start menu and Cortana aren’t working on your Windows 10 computer, you can use a series of commands to fix them. The Command Prompt program in your computer can fix critical errors like Start menu not working or Cortana blocking Start menu.

To fix this critical issue with Command Prompt,

  • Go to the Start menu or right-click on it
  • Type ‘command prompt’ in the search box
  • Select the Command Prompt program from search results
  • Right-click on it and choose ‘Run as Administrator’ from the drop-down menu
  • Now, type the following command as it is in the Command Prompt window

Use Command Prompt

ren %windir%\System32\AppLocker\Plugin*.* *.bak
  • After typing it, press the Enter key
  • Now, restart your Windows 10 computer

After you reboot your PC, try to open the Start menu and/or Cortana. If they are working properly, then you’ve successfully fixed this Windows 10 critical issue.

Using Command Prompt is the quickest and simplest route to fix this issue. But, if the error persists, try feeding the commands to Windows PowerShell, as explained below.

2. Fix with Windows PowerShell

PowerShell is quite different from Command Prompt. It does execute commands, but these command lines aren’t the same in both programs.

You can use PowerShell to feed commands that can modify Windows Registry. Therefore, a critical error like Start menu not working gets fixed via a WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) program.

  • Hold-press the keys Ctrl, Alt and Delete to launch Windows Task Manager
  • Click on the File tab in the Task Manager window

Fix with Windows PowerShell

  • Select ‘Run New Task’ from the File menu
  • Now, type ‘powershell

Fix with Windows PowerShell

  • Click on OK
  • When the PowerShell program shows up, right-click on it
  • Here, click on ‘Run as Administrator’ option from the drop-down menu
  • If this option doesn’t show up, click on ‘Open file location’ from the drop-down menu
  • Go to the ‘powershell’ application, right-click and select ‘Run as administrator
  • Now, type the following command in Windows PowerShell

Fix with Windows PowerShell

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}
  • You can copy and paste the above command to avoid any errs
  • Press the Enter key

Let the command get executed properly. Now, your task is to restart your computer and check if the critical error persists.


Run SFC Scan

Sometimes corrupted files can be the reason for this Windows 10 critical error – Start menu not working. You can run the System File Checker (SFC) scan, detect corrupted files and repair them automatically.

To run an SFC scan,

  • Type ‘cmd’ in the Windows 10 search box
  • Go to Command Prompt program from the search results
  • Right-click on it and select ‘Run as administrator’ from the context menu
  • Type the command ‘sfc/scannow’ in the Command Prompt window
  • Press the Enter key to execute the scan
  • Wait for the scan to finish (this make take a couple of minutes)
  • Restart your PC

3. Generate New User Account

If a command-line solution didn’t fix the problem, your Windows computer may need a new user account. Your existing user account has become old and isn’t able to support Start menu or Cortana.

So, to fix this, you simply need to open a new user account. When you create a new user account on Windows 10, the Start menu and Cortana gets reconfigured. As a result, you can resume using Cortana and Start menu without a glitch.

You can create a new user account quickly with Command Prompt,

  • Press the keys Ctrl, Shift, and Esc to launch Task Manager
  • Now, click on File menu and select ‘Run new task
  • Type ‘cmd
  • Put a check for ‘Create this task with administrative privileges
  • Now, click on OK to launch Command Prompt
  • Type the following command and press the Enter key after

Generate New User Account

net user /add admin1 password1
  • Here, you can replace ‘admin1’ with the username of your choice
  • You can similarly put a password of your choice in place of ‘password1
  • Once the new user account is created, type the next command net localgroup administrators admin1 /add
  • If you’ve used a different username, replace it with ‘admin1’ in the command above
  • Press the Enter key

You can close the Command Prompt window. Now, log out from your current user account, and sign in with the new one.

If you’re worried about losing data and settings from the old user account, use Window 10 transfer tools to recover and restore old user information. Be sure to use the tool before creating the new user account.

4. Hide Cortana from the Taskbar

If the error persists, it could be the case of Cortana blocking Start menu. In Windows 10, Cortana is deeply-rooted with the Start menu. And, its interference can stop the Start menu from opening.

So, you can temporarily make Cortana go away and fix this critical error. Some users tried hiding Cortana from the taskbar and it worked.

Here’s how you do it,

  • Go to the taskbar on your Windows 10 desktop
  • Right-click on it and go to Cortana
  • Select the ‘Hidden’ option from the menu
  • Wait for a while
  • Right-click on the Taskbar again
  • Choose ‘Cortana’ and click on Show search icon


Hide Cortana from the Taskbar

  • Restart your PC

In several cases, this fix troubleshoots the critical error of Start menu not working on Windows 10.


Uninstall or Disable Third-Party Antivirus

Third-party antivirus software can cause Windows 10 critical errors. You can uninstall such newly-installed apps and software to fix the issue.

  • Open the Start menu
  • Click on the Settings app (gear icon)
  • Go to Apps
  • Select the recently-installed antivirus software
  • Click on it, and click on ‘Uninstall
  • Restart your computer

Check if the ‘Start menu and Cortana not working’ error persists thereafter.

You can also temporarily deactivate third-party antivirus if you don’t want to uninstall them. Windows 10 and Windows 8 users can disable it as follows:

  • Go to Windows taskbar
  • Locate the antivirus icon in the notifications area on your taskbar
  • Right-click on the icon
  • Click on ‘Disable temporarily’ or ‘Disable

Check if this resolves the error. If it didn’t, you can enable the antivirus again by right-clicking on the icon and selecting ‘Enable’ from the menu.

5. Boot in Safe Mode Before Switching to Normal

You can attempt a temporary fix for the Start menu not working error. It involves your computer booting into Safe Mode before starting.

When you turn on your Windows 10 computer,

  • Press the keys ‘Windows’ and ‘L’ at the startup screen
  • After you log out, click on the Power button at the bottom right corner
  • Hold the Shift key and click on Restart
  • You’ll get to the boot options
  • Here, go to Troubleshoot and select Advanced Options
  • Now, choose Startup settings and click on Restart
  • Let your computer restart again
  • Press the F5 key when your startup screen appears
  • Access to the ‘Safe Mode with Networking’ option

Boot in Safe Mode Before Switching to Normal

  • Now, restart your computer to Normal Mode

This could temporarily allow Start menu and Cortana to work normally on your Windows 10 system.

6. Install Windows Update

If you can’t access Settings on Windows 10 due to the Start menu not working, then you have a major update issue.

You can install Windows 10 updates to fix this critical error. Start menu’s not working probably because of outdated Windows 10 operating software.

Related: What to do When Windows 10 Update Stuck on Checking for Updates?

To install Windows 10 updates,

  • Press the ‘Windows’ and ‘R’ key to bring up Run box
  • Type ‘ms-settings:’ and press the Enter key
  • In the Settings window, go to ‘Update & Security
  • Click on ‘Check for updates

Install Windows Update

  • Install them and restart your PC thereafter

Update your Windows 10 computer and get your Start menu and Cortana reconfigured back to default.

If you know any other way to fix the ‘Start menu and Cortana not working’ error in Windows 10, let us know in the comments below.

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