Searching the Windows Start menu used to be simple-Tiles and Cortana won’t prevent you from scanning your PC to find the files you need. Things in Windows 10 are a bit tricky, but the recent update removed Cortana and other issues from this feature. The May 2019 update improved the search interface to make your search feel more detailed and refined.
After using Cortana, the start menu search is more stable and less bloated. However, sometimes Start Menu Search Not Working, so we are here to provide you with some tips on how to fix it.
1. Roll Back Windows 10 Update
Once Windows 10 is updated, the Start menu search bar usually stops working (as you’ll see throughout the list). Sometimes, despite the new Windows update, you can find a solution, but if you want to be more sure, you can roll back the Windows 10 update at any time and go back to the latest updated version of Windows.
To do this, go to Windows Update (Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Update).
From here, click “View update history -> Uninstall updates.”
In the list, organize the updates by their “Installed On” date, right-click the most recent update, then click Uninstall.
We are always tracking the latest Windows 10 update issues, so if you have any related issues, please visit this article.
2. Enable Background Apps
Since the 2017 Creator update, there have been bugs affecting some Windows 10 users, involving running Windows applications in the background. Specifically, disabling the “Let apps run in the background” option in Windows 10 will have an undesirable effect and make the search function of the Start menu unavailable.
This bug exists to this day, so you need to make sure that you have the “Let apps run in the background” master switch set to “On.”
To do this, go to “Settings -> Privacy -> Background apps,” then make sure the “Let apps run in the background” switch is set to “On.” From this same screen, you can individually disable any and all Windows apps from running in the background, but it’s crucial to keep that master switch on.
3. Rebuild the Index
The search index file in Windows Search may be damaged, so the search function is disabled. This issue has been reported since Windows 10 May Update (v1903) and the following as possible solutions.
Our next tip will show you how to search and index using the Windows troubleshooter, but you can try to rebuild the index first, which should eliminate any damage.
To do this, go to the control panel, activate the “large icon” in the upper right corner, and click “Indexing Options> Advanced”.
Finally, click “Rebuild” in the “Advanced Options” window. Click “OK” in the pop-up window indicating that this may take some time and wait for the process to complete.
4. Run Windows Troubleshooter
The simplest solution is to use the tools built into Windows to help you. Of course, this is far from a 100% solution, but it’s fast, so it’s worth a try.
1. Navigate to the Control Panel. (Click Start, then scroll down the Windows System folder, and you’ll find it there.)
2. Change the view to “Large icons” or “Small icons” if it hasn’t been already, then click “Troubleshooting -> System and Security -> Search and Indexing.”
3. Click “Next” in the Troubleshooter, then check the box that applies to your issue (most likely “Files don’t appear in search results,” though if your Windows Search is working, albeit slowly, you should tick the third box down).
4. Finally, click Next to run the scan, which will automatically attempt to fix any problems.
5. Use the System File Checker
Since this is one of the easiest things you can do when trying to fix Start menu search, we recommend that you try it first. Open an elevated command prompt (right-click the command prompt and then “Run as administrator”) and type the following command:
This will scan your system files for errors and damage and try to repair them automatically. Assuming that the start menu search is a system process, the SFC utility should be used to detect any errors in it.
Also, running the SFC utility in Windows 10’s safe mode may solve the problem for you, so if it doesn’t in normal Windows 10, it’s worth a try.
6. Disable/Restart Third-Party Antivirus, Enable Windows Firewall
To be clear, we are not here to suggest that you completely disable and delete all third-party antivirus software in your device, but according to comments here and on the Internet, certain programs can cause Windows Search to malfunction. Avast is one of the culprits, so if you have it, try to uninstall it and then look for alternatives if necessary. (In recent years, Windows Defender has become a viable and safe choice.)
You can try temporarily disabling your Avast shield, which should restore the start menu search. In the case of Avast, at least once you reopen the protector, the “Start” menu search will continue to work normally.
On the other hand, enabling Windows Firewall also helped some users. Searching and indexing seem to be very sensitive to your security settings, so patching them by enabling and disabling things can yield results.
7. Move or Rebuild Swapfile.sys
Paging file and swap file are two important and inseparable functions of Windows 10. The paging file reduces the weight of your PC RAM by allocating a certain amount of hard drive space as RAM to prevent insufficient memory. The swap file performs the same function, but is specifically used for modern Windows applications, so its scope is more specific.
Since Cortana is a modern Windows application, you can try to rebuild the swap file to start it, and then search the “Start” menu to return to operation. This will also involve rebuilding the paging file, because the swap file directly depends on the paging file.
If you want to try this, please read the guide on how to move and modify the page file (and swap file). Although we don’t recommend disabling the paging file completely, you can move it to another drive to effectively “reset” it. Or, if you wish to use it on the original drive, you can disable it, restart your PC, and then re-enable it after you restart.
If your “Start” menu search still doesn’t work after this, then the following message is a good follow-up message.
8. Restart Windows Explorer
Needless to say, the first thing you should try is to restart your PC, but if it fails, then a slightly more professional solution is to restart the Windows Explorer process. It is responsible for managing the files on the PC and the normal operation of the “Start” menu.
Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to enter the Task Manager directly. If you have not selected yet, please click “More Details” in the lower left corner, then scroll down to Windows Explorer, right-click, and then press “Restart start up”. When it looks like your computer might crash, please wait a moment, and then breathe a sigh of relief when you see it is still working, the “Start” menu search button is expected to be fixed!
9. Check Windows Search Service
Another reason that the Start menu search may not work is that the Windows search service is not running. The Windows Search service is a system service that runs automatically when the system starts.
Check whether the service is running by hitting Win + R, typing
services.msc, then scrolling down to find it. If it says “Running” in the Status column, it’s running (obviously). If not, you’ll have to start it manually.
Right-click “Windows Search” and then click “Properties.”
In the “Properties” window, click the “Start” button to start the service. Also, be sure to set the startup type to “Automatic” or “Automatic (Delayed Start)”. This ensures that the service will start automatically each time the system is started. After making the changes, click OK.
After the service starts, this is what it looks like in the “Services” window. For me this method works fine.
Related: How to Disable the SmartScreen Filter in Windows 10
10. Repair Windows Installation
Before you start to worry that this will delete all your personal data and files, there is a way to update your Windows installation while preserving your data. It is vital. Obviously, it is still a more extreme measure than some of the others in this list, so if you want to try other solutions first, scroll down to the other headings.
First, create a bootable USB or Windows 10 installation disc and then boot it. Follow the instructions to update your Windows 10 installation and make sure the “Keep personal files and apps” option is selected on the “Ready to install” screen. If it is not selected by default, click “Change what you want to keep” and then select “Keep personal files and window settings”. Click Install and the latest version of Windows 10 will be installed keeping all your data.
This will also reinstall the core files responsible for the Start menu search and therefore fix it.
11. Or Try “Everything” as a Workaround
If these fixes still do not solve your problem ” Start Menu Search Not Working” , then it may be time to seek a solution. Void Tools has released an excellent and very lightweight tool called “Everything” that can immediately index and search all files on your computer.