The Start menu made a welcome return in Windows 10 and it’s now the main way to get things done in the new operating system. When it works, that is.

Unfortunately, the Windows 10 Start menu has the irritating habit of not opening when you click the Start button or press the [Windows] key on the keyboard. Worse still, the problem usually causes the Search box to freeze, too.

[Related story: 10 quick fixes for Windows 10 problems]

This can just happen when Windows Updates are being installed, but it’s more often caused by a bug of some sort. Fortunately, there are a few of things to try to get things moving again. None offer a guaranteed fix, but one should do the trick. Most are a bit more complex than most Windows fixes, though, since they assume the Start menu won’t open at this point.

For more information check out our dedicated Windows 10 section which is packed with useful guides, including Secrets of the Windows 10 Start Menu.

You can also hit play on the video above to see step one in action.

Remember Windows 10 is a free upgrade until July 29th for Windows 7 and 8.1 users, after which it costs £99, or you can buy it now for £85.

Check and repair corrupt Windows files

We won’t dwell on why it happens, but suffice to say that Windows files can become corrupt and this can wreak all kinds of havoc — including a stuck Start menu. Fortunately, Windows 10 has a built-in way of fixing this.

 

1. Launch Task manager

Press the [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del] keys on the keyboard at the same time, or right click the Taskbar, and select Task manager.

1. Launch Task manager

 

2. Run a new Windows task

When the Task manager window opens, click the More details option to expand it, then select Run new task from the File menu.

2. Run a new Windows task

 

3. Run Windows PowerShell

When the Run new task dialog box opens, type powershell, tick the box for Create this task with administrative privileges and click OK.

3. Run Windows PowerShell

 

4. Run the System File Checker

Type sfc /scannow into the window and press the [Return] key. The scan may take some time and will end with one of three results. Windows did not find any integrity violations and Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and repaired them mean there are now no corrupt files, but Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of them indicates a problem.

In this latter case, type (or copy and paste) DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth into the PowerShell window and press the [Return] key. This will download files from Windows Update to replace the corrupt ones and, again, this may take some time.

4. Run the System File Checker

If you struggled with this solution, watch the video at the top of the page to see each step in action.

Reinstall all Windows apps

Downloading and reinstalling all Windows 10 apps reportedly fixes a stuck Start menu. This isn’t as drastic as it sounds — ‘Windows apps’ are the ones built into Windows 10 and available from the Windows Store. They used to be called ‘Modern’ apps and, before that, ‘Metro’ — Microsoft just changed the name with Windows 10.

Better still, the reinstallation is automatic and should only take a few minutes. The process might delete any data you have saved in these Windows apps, though, so backup anything important before you begin.

Apps that store data online, in Microsoft OneDrive or as files in a separate folder (such as the Photos app) should be unaffected.

Update: Recent reports indicate that this process may cause some Windows Store apps to stop working, so be mindful of this before continuing.

1. Reinstall Windows apps

Launch the Task manager and open a new PowerShell window with administrative privileges, as explained above.

When the Windows PowerShell window opens copy the line below and paste it into the PowerShell window by simply right-clicking at the blinking PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> prompt, or by pressing [Ctrl] + [V] on the keyboard:

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}

Wait until the app download and installation process completes — ignore any red text that appears — and restart Windows.

1. Reinstall Windows apps

[Related story: How many secrets of the Windows 10 Start menu do you know?]

 

Create a new user account

If reinstalling Windows apps doesn’t work, creating a new user account usually will. If you’re currently using a Microsoft account, your settings will also transfer to the new account once you upgrade it from the default local account. You’ll need to transfer your local files from one account to the other in all cases, though. Your installed software won’t be affected.

 

1. Launch Task manager

Open Task manager (see above) and select Run new task from its File menu.

Tick the box for Create this task with administrative privileges and type net user NewUsername NewPassword /add in the box.

You’ll need to replace NewUsername and NewPassword with the username and password you want to use — neither can contain spaces and the password is case sensitive (i.e. capital letters matter).

1. Launch Task manager

 

2. Log into the new account

Restart Windows and log into the new user account. The Start menu should now work, so you can change the new local account to a Microsoft account, and transfer your files and settings.

2. Log into the new account

 

Refresh your PC

As a last resort, you can ‘refresh’ your Windows 10 installation, which is much the same as reinstalling the operating system. Your documents won’t be affected, but you’ll need to reinstall any applications that aren’t part of Windows.

 

1. Restart Windows in Troubleshooting mode

Close any open applications and press the [Windows] + [L] keys to log out of your Windows account — or just restart Windows. On the login screen, click the Power icon at the bottom right, hold down the [Shift] key and select the Restart option.

1. Restart Windows in Troubleshooting mode

 

2. Reset your PC

When the blue Choose an option screen appears, click Troubleshoot, followed by Reset this PC. finally, click the Keep my files option and follow the on-screen instructions. 

2. Reset your PC

2. Reset your PC

2. Reset your PC

Run the Anniversary Update

Microsoft rolled out its second major update to Windows 10 in August, known as the Anniversary Update.

The company hasn't stated whether it would fix any of the Start Menu issues specifically, but a few visual tweaks were made which could iron out the problems.

The Anniversary Update should be rolled out to your machine automatically, but if it hasn't landed yet you can force it to come through now.

Simply go to Settings and select Update & security.

Pushing the Anniversary Update through on Windows 10

Then click on the Check for updates button and the Anniversary Update should come through.

Pushing the Anniversary Update through on Windows 10

For more on the Anniversary Update and what it means for your PC, click here.

 

The video below shows you how to fix other common Windows 10 problems.

Did any of these fixes work for your Windows 10 Start menu problems? Let us know in the Comments.