Start Menu, Cortana and Taskbar Search not working in Windows 10

Quite a few Windows 10 users are facing problems, and some of the inbuilt functions are also not functioning as expected, for many. The Start Menu, Cortana and the Taskbar Search functions in Windows 10 operating system have been one of the most useful features that let us search any file without leaving the desktop. However, there are chances that your Cortana might get broken or might not function as intended in Windows 10 – and you may or may not receive such an error message:

Critical Error Start Menu and Cortana aren’t working, We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in

Or

Critical Error Your Start menu isn’t working, We’ll try to fix it the next time you sign in.

Taskbar Search & Cortana not working in Windows 10

UPDATE: Microsoft has released Windows 10 Start Menu Troubleshooter which promises to fix the issue. Please try it first.

We will walk you through some of the ways by which you can fix the Start Menu, Cortana & Search problem.

NOTE: If Cortana is not working after you upgraded your PC to Windows 10 Anniversary Update, open your Registry Editor and ensure that the value of BingSearchEnabled, as well as CortanaEnabled is set to 1:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search

If this works for all great, else read on!

First of all, make sure that you have set up Cortana in Windows 10 correctly. If after upgrading to Windows 10, you find that Cortana is not available in your region, then this post titled Cortana not available on Windows 10 can help you get Cortana on your Windows 10 PC.

Go through this entire post first and then see which one or more of these suggestions may apply in your case.

Sign out and Sign in

Sign out and Sign in or restart your PC and see if the problem goes away.

Automatic Repairs

If your PC prompts for Automatic Repair, continue with it and let Windows carry it out.

Kill and restart the Cortana process

If you find that Cortana is not working properly, the best thing to do would be to kill Cortana process and restart the process via Task Manager. If it were a minor runtime error, Cortana would just take a restart to fix it.

Disable Antivirus software

Some security software are known to create this issue – Avast for instance. Disable it and see if it makes the problem go away. If your security software is the culprit, make sure you are using its latest version – else you may want to change it.

Windows Search Troubleshooter

Open Control Panel > All Control Panel Items and click on Find and fix problems with Windows Search to open the Windows Search Troubleshooter. Run it and follow the wizard.

Create a new User Account

The problem might be associated with your Microsoft credentials. Try creating a new username and password and see if you can fix the Cortana. We need to remember that Cortana will not be switched on automatically and needs to be enabled on by selecting Cortana button on the taskbar.

Re-register the Cortana app

After the November Update, if you use this method  to fix this problem using the Appx PowerShell cmdlet, it caused problems with your Windows Store apps. But if you have installed Windows 10 Anniversary Update, it is working now – I have personally tried this – Admin. 1 July 2016.

Open an elevated Powershell prompt, type the following command and hit Enter:

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

You can also open Task Manager > File menu > Run new task. Type powershell and select the Create this task with administrative privileges check box and click OK to open a PowerShell prompt

If you feel, you may also try the other 2 of the 3 Windows 10 Support, Solutions & Universal fixes.

Rebuild the Windows Search Indexer in Windows 10

Rebuilding the Search Indexer may help in repairing the built-in search tool in Windows 10. To rebuild the Windows search index head to Control Panel > Indexing options. Click on Advanced and ensure that you are on the Index Settings tab in the Advanced Options window.

The rebuilding will take some time, and once it is done, you can start searching for the files you need, and the Search should work properly. If you need more details, you will get them at this post titled Windows Search Indexer tips. See this post if you need to troubleshoot and fix Windows Search or if Search Indexer is not working.

Uninstall programs which may affect with the taskbar

If you are using Dropbox, uninstall it and see if it makes the problem go away.

Tip: See this post if Cortana Ask Me Anything is not working.

PS: Please read the comments below. PeacefulArgument says, the problem went away after he re-enabled the Windows Firewall Service.

If you have followed the above suggestions, your Cortana and the Windows Taskbar Search should hopefully have been fixed.

Posts that offer additional suggestions:

  1. Start Menu does not open or not working
  2. Windows 10 Settings Search is not working
  3. Cortana or Windows 10 search not finding desktop applications
  4. We’re getting search ready error.

TIP: This post will help you if your WinX Menu is not working in Windows 10.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.