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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Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
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.

51 Comments

  1. Malakie

    and so we wait while in the meantime many of us cannot access the start menu at all..and none of the fixes posted work without re-installing windows 10 of course…

  2. Sipa

    Just installed Win 10.. Clicked in Search box which brought up the Cortana menu. In the setting features, I cannot flip the “cortana can give you suggestions…..’ to ON. It stays on OFF not matter what I do. I am in the US and have checked the region and language settings

  3. StefanS

    Updating the version should fix your problem. For me the win search and cortana is a real enigma. This is why I use lookeen free.

  4. anuj

    I recommend to all of those who suffered with this prob to use tweaking windows repair tool. It Fixed my problem and it will repair yours(100% sure).

  5. Jesse

    Sometimes this issue is caused by Your Antivirus having issues with Cortana. Especially Avast and AVG. If you have this issue you might try disabling the AV software and see if the issue persists. If this corrects your problem make sure your antivirus is up to date, and if the problem persists This is likely not your issues. I have Avast and I rebooted with avast disabled and this fixed my problem.

  6. Person

    How do I do that

  7. Jake Jeong

    The “search” tool is one of the most advantageous side of having a computer. Windows 10 making it dysfunctional basically means that Windows 10 is offering disadvantaged products in the market.

    I am content with most of the materials, but I am considering switching back to Windows 8 (which may I say also has tons of problems) or buying a Mac, just because of the search tool dysfunction!

    I cannot use Cortana because some programs I run must have me set default language as language that is not supported.

  8. Joseph Dingey

    Microsoft is such a disappointment. How can a problem t be resolved after over 5 months? What a joke.

  9. Krishna Reddy Adumala

    Microsoft 10 is one of the worst ever mistake i started using, all the data on my desktop is erased and now start and search button doesnot work.

  10. Claude

    Killed Cortana in taskbar.It came back by itself but it solved my problem which was that I could not make any search

  11. Henry

    I’ve tried all but to no avail, however with the last method when i go into settings then click on indexing options or change how windows works I get an interesting error message. It says “Windows cannot access the sepcified device, path, or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item.” With the title “::{26EE0668-A00A-44D7-9371-BEB064C98683}::{87D66A43-7B11-4A28-9811-C86EE395ACF7}” Anyone know what any of this means? I am the only user on this computer and have full administrative powers.

  12. Aljaž Ferencek

    Helped me: Hit Windows and R button to get run, type in msconfig and under the services locate SwitchBoard delivered by Adobe Systems Incorporated (You will find it faster if you check Hide all Microsoft services). Uncheck the box to stop the service and after that hit Ok and reboot your computer. Try search again and have fun.

  13. Sam

    I’m a little behind but if anyone else is wondering…
    Open Avast
    Open Settings
    Click “Active Protection”
    Turn anything that is on to off.
    Restart computer

    I was having the taskbar issues and this fixed it for me. Alternatively you could uninstall Avast but that requires getting to control panel which can be a challenge. To get to Avast if you don’t have a shortcut, click anything that can bring you to folders and start searching.

  14. juliano camargo

    This is a joke. What is the point of having a voice assistant an end up fiddling with registry and component registration? Microsoft as usual, it will never change.

  15. PeacefulArgument

    For me, this problem was being caused by the windows firewall service being disabled. I hate windows firewall and have disabled the service since XP. Now, you leave it running and just shut the firewall off in the control panel.

    I question why this kills cortana, search functions and the start bar but… Welcome to Microsoft!

  16. Tele Faletau

    I got so fed up with not being able to search through Windows 10…I installed a program called Everything and it is brilliant. Don’t waste your time trying to fix Windows search, just search for Everything search and check it out…Tiny program , but it had everything ready for me 5 seconds after installing. Hope this helps!!!

  17. AM

    In the domain environment, when a domain user with roaming/mandatory profile logs onto windows cortana, search, edge does not work. When a local user onto the windows 10 machine logs on everything works. Microsoft is it still a joke, we have volume licensing and want to deploy win10. What a curse that I have to struggle hard to find a solution via GPO no avail. Even TechNet is silent on this issue. I have been working on this issue for a month now. What a waste of time. I regret in making promise to users that windows 10 is coming. Should have told them you can have windows10 but cannot search anything and also please do not use cortana. Microsoft please wake up. May be the developers are busy making and sending to the market 50% done product for us to test.

  18. William R.

    Disclaimer: everything written in the following post is purely speculative. none of this is based on any documented evidence, and no sources are cited. mCRT is likely not what Microsoft calls the team, and the it’s likely that “Microsoft consumer reports team” (if one exists) doesn’t actually do the mentioned things. It’s purely analytical, and an expression of my own frustration with Microsof

    If it’s not just Microsoft development team developing an unstable software, here’s my thought.

    It’s a secret. (but if you work for Microsoft: it’s no secret jerks) Microsoft is data collecting. What they do, is disable certain functions people enjoy, or don’t enjoy, and sort out how likely a user is to reboot, or download a similar software e.g. Everything, Dragon, Search everywhere. etc. Or find an alternative to the problem. Microsoft consumer reports team (call it – mCRT) does this in an organized way.

    Microsoft mCRT usually will do this to those whom mCRT have demand statistically more likely to either solve the problem, or come up with an alternative, or wait with little complaint: let’s call these customer X, Y, and Z respectively. The goal of this, is to gain insight into how useful and productive this service actually is for people.

    Companies derive some mathematical variants for customers who do one of the listed. A different function is used for resolving the outliers (those who don’t match the variant). mCRT then calculates based on their findings how much money they should invest further in the project, and how reasonable it would be to throw the project out altogether. with this, are forum posts such as these, Microsoft team of analysts scour the internet for juicy details about their devious plants, and make decisions accordingly.

  19. Brian Baker

    I had a similar issue. My normal user account could get to the start menu, but clicking the cortana menu or trying to search in the start menu wouldn’t do anything.

    I saw a post where a suggestion was to create a new account and copy my files over from the old to the new using an admin account. Tried it. It worked fine BEFORE I copied the files over, but after the copy I had the same result but didn’t have access to the start menu at all.

    So, I started experimenting with the file system. Setting groups of directories to .old and then logging into my normal account and see if it fixed the problem to gradually narrow down the problem. After about 45 minutes, I narrowed it down to a file in C:UsersBrianAppDataLocalMicrosoftWindowsUsrClass.dat.

    I changed this UsrClass.dat to UsrClass.old.dat. When you log in, Windows doesn’t find UsrClass.dat and creates a new one, but now Cortana is working and I can search in the start menu and nothing in the start menu has changed. There must have been some kind of bad data in that file.

  20. JB99

    I found Dropbox to be the cause. Uninstall and reinstall Dropbox and Start and Search work again immediately.
    Powershell scripts, registry hacks, system restore, new user – all did not work and a waste of time for me.
    Was a simple Dropbox uninstall/reinstall that worked

  21. Thanks for this. Will update post.

  22. Fotbidden

    Oh my god, Sir you deserve a cookie. I just randomly lost my search bar today (6/4/2016) and I was in the process of rebuilding my index, And then was going to back up and switch to an old backup. You saved me from doing this. (I tried every fix I could find already)

  23. Jim Peachley

    None of the Windows 10 dialog boxes accept text, rendering Edge and Cortana useless.

  24. proteus

    You are a godsend. I’ve been dealing with this issue on multiple computers for weeks. This did the trick. Thank you much!

  25. Guy Collins

    If you have dropbox installed, uninstall it and reboot instant fix dropbox corrupts windows 10 start menu

  26. marcus cohen

    No matter WHAT we do Windows Search NEVER works correctly, i.e. all results returned regardless of settings! I have learned to HATE Microsoft because of their abuse of my time. If I treated MY customers that way, there would be hell to pay! Since purchasing a Windows 10 machine a few years ago I have learned NOTHING about how the crooks at Microsoft have designed the system. Not due to ignorance or user error, but because of abuse of market share! MF’s stole 1000’s of hours of the time we all invested in learning one operating system after another. Shoved down our throats!

  27. Margaret Hunter

    Thank you. I felt like an idiot running that line in the elevated powershell prompt as I watched all those lines of code scroll past and I don’t know you from Adam but there you go. It worked.! Hallelujah! Thank you. And thank you again.

  28. RaybanM

    Windows 10 is buggy as hell. Edge wont work. Cortana suddenly bust or a resetting of 10 to fix edge issues. Onenote has tremendous syncing problems and assistance to migrate onenote files from Onedrive to ondrive for business is as complex as having to send individual notes in onenote to a new file. I am simply flabbergasted at the time I have lost trying to fix these issues. One of the richest tech companies on the plant cannot seemingly better road test before release. Users are now the beta testers. appalling loss of productivity.

  29. Tom jr

    She’s not worth the resources she uses, Don’t actually rember how i did it but she is gone, no sign of her in the task manager!

  30. James Bauernfeind

    **** FWIW ****

    People, I have been dealing with this issue for a long time, and you will find the issue most times as soon as you run the re-register command. If you are one of those admins that like to disable the windows firewall service… don’t. Turn the service back on and set to automatic. Cortona will start working immediately. There is some dependency with the firewall service and Cortona search it seems.

  31. Harshvardhan Trivedi

    Cortona and it’s search bar on taskbar are not working can any one help me how to fix?
    I just click on that but nothing is being happen, i can’t open it

  32. Dc Wijeratna

    I am in Sri Lanka. After upgrade to Windows 10 anniversary, search, cortana, windows store, microsoft edge, todoist not working. I tried virtually everything about 3 times. All this is not a problem except search. Now I can use windows explorer to search my computer.

    Re: HKEY_CURRENT_USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionSearch
    Search (Default) not set.
    CanCortanaBeEnabled (blank)

    There is no entry called BingSearchEnabled.

    Is there some way I can search from the Taskbar?

  33. asd

    Ty for the guide, the cortana re-registering fixed my problem 🙂

  34. ChrisAngel

    Were you able to find a fix?

  35. Just started experiencing this issue, out of nowhere. Cortana icon is there, but when you click it nothing happens. Likewise when you click on Corta Settings, nothing happens. I’ve tried several fixes to no avail :/

  36. Nicholas Faoro

    Same here…. Cortona icon and cortona on my acer laptop stopped working and tried basically everything to repair it but nothing works. On top of that Mircosoft Edge, Windows Store and other programs aren’t working either.

  37. WHOA

    If you have windows Firewall turned off – then read the little red information in the powershell window and you will see multiple errors about how the package will NOT install if you have Windows Firewall turned OFF. Turn Windows Firewall back ON, start an elevated powershell and execute the command:

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

    Once its done Cortana may work flat out, but more than likely you will need to reboot and then it will work.

  38. Brad Nakken

    I know this is an old thread, but Control Panel can be opened through Windows Explorer. Open any folder window, then in the Address Bar click the arrow immediately to the right of the icon, then choose Control Panel from the menu. Control Panel will be opened in that window, so you might want to open a new folder window first!

  39. Jimr5467

    I was unable to click search in the Start Menu or select Cortana. This appeared to happen after installing Windows Updates and Skype on Win 10 build 1607 (Anniversary Edition). To fix the issue, I rolled back to the day before installing any updates, but after updating to build 1607. After a restart, the problem was gone.

  40. Booker Conway

    Non of these solutions worked, but I finally fixed it without a fresh install. I noticed that Cortana and search worked fine on another user account. So I created a third user account and assigned it as administrator. Then I moved all the files and settings under the faulty user to the new user and voila. All worked very well. I did have to set up MS Outlook from scratch. When I was satisfied that everything works with the new user, I deleted the old one.

  41. stevo

    Hi there
    I have tried a lot of fixes but nothing worked for me, so i worked this one out after many hours of frustration, no need to create a new user account.
    So lets begin,click on file explorer,in the top lefthand corner click view tab, then in the top right corner click options tab, then view,
    now change to (show hidden files and folders and drives)now scroll down and uncheck (hide protected operating system files (recommended) click apply
    now go to C/user/the name of the account your having problems with, this is a good time to backup any files that you delete,
    inside that folder delete all the BLF files and the REGTRANS-MS FILES they will look somthing like this NTUSER.DAT{6e0cd6b5-5f45-11e6-939a-…
    very inportant do not delete the (ntuser.dat) (ntuser.dat.log1) (ntuser.dat.log2)(ntuser)configuration settings
    now restart your pc, your start menus, cortana and edge should now be working, hope this helps

  42. Omid Jodari

    not working any idea :((
    plz help

  43. BrohonBling

    Another solution that may work is going to task manager and ending the cortana task. Hope this helps worked for me as Cortana resets itself automatically.

  44. Chesire Cat Games

    Thanks.

  45. Ali Shadab

    thanks….Kill and restart the Cortana process…… worked……

  46. Zach

    wish I had read the comments. I too had this issue and that was the fix (had to figure it out for myself)
    And same as you I question why?

  47. HD

    did that work for you, I’m having the same problem too

  48. dfowensby

    for cryin’ out loud. 3 years, and you haven’t fixed this yet? what a POS dev team.3 YEARS!

  49. Roy

    For some unknown reason I lost all access to my START BUTTON and CORTANA. I tried right clicking to get to SETTINGS but it never came up. After downloading the fix (FIXWIN10.ZIP) and executing the program everything started working after I did a RESTART. Thank you…….rka

  50. harry singh

    Thanks a lot , In my my case disabling antivirus(Avast) and then killing cortana process worked.

  51. Rodut

    Another tip: delete the swapfile and/or put it on another disk, let the system handle the size. Solved right after i did that. So it was the size of the swapfile, or something like wrong settings/data that stayed in it. But my guess was the size.

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