Programs disappearing on Windows 10? Here’s how recover them

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • If a program is not showing up where you left it, you might as well try to reinstall it. But first, you will have to uninstall it.
  • To make sure you got rid of any remaining files, you need a professional uninstaller like Revo Uninstaller.
  • Are you interested in data recovery? Then check out our Data Recovery section.
  • For more information about how to fix problems with your Windows 10, visit our Windows 10 Troubleshooting Hub.
How to fix PC programs disappeared

No computer user would anticipate a scenario of programs disappearing, especially pre-installed programs, because you’re sure they’re here to stay.

But sometimes, programs do vanish from your taskbar, start menu, or your folders.

This issue of programs disappearing could happen when either of these happens:

  • The pinned items on your start up menu, or taskbar get corrupted
  • Missing apps or Windows Updates
  • Conflict between programs and third-party applications

There are a number of solutions to troubleshoot and fix the issue of programs disappearing, and this article covers some of them.

How do I find recently uninstalled programs in Windows 10?

1. Use Revo Uninstaller

If a program is not showing up where you left it, you might as well try to reinstall it. But first, you will have to uninstall it.

A regular uninstall will, most likely, leave a trail of unwanted leftovers and the reinstallation could cause problems or simply clutter.

If you want to make sure you got rid of any remaining files, you need a professional uninstaller like Revo Uninstaller.

And you don’t have to take any special action because after you install it, Revo will automatically scan your computer for such remains and get rid of them immediately.

You will be surprised on how much space you will free up on your computer after Revo Uninstaller scans your PC. But you can also use it on other computers if you opt for the portable version.

You just copy it on a USB stick that’s lying around on your desk and run it from there on any PC.

The best thing is that you’ve got a 60-day money-back guaranteed policy to test it and make sure you like it. If you’re not satisfied, you will get your money back.

Let’s take a look at some of its key features:

  • Automatic and advanced scanning for any leftovers
  • 8 bonus cleaning tools in the package
  • Contact the free professional Technical Support for any question
  • Support for command-line uninstall
  • 60 Days Money-Back Guarantee
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2. Delete pinned items

If the pinned items on your startup menu or taskbar are corrupted, you can delete the pinned items, then re-pin each item to the taskbar and check if the issue of programs disappearing goes away.

You can delete pinned items from here: C:/Users/[User name]/AppData/Roaming/Microsoft Internet Explorer/Quick Launch/User/Pinned Taskbar

Once you delete the previously pinned items, you can re-pin the programs back to the taskbar.

3. Create a new user profile

You can create a new user profile then change settings to administrator privileges, and check if the issue of programs disappearing persists.

Here’s how you can create a new user profile:

  1. Click Start
  2. Select Settings
  3. Select Accounts
  4. Click Add someone else to this PC
  5. Fill in the form with the user name and password. Your new user account will be created.
  6. Click on Change account type
  7. Click the drop-down arrow and choose Administrator to set the account to administrator level
  8. Restart your computer
  9. Login to the new account you just created

If the issue goes away, then it may mean your other user profile is corrupted.

You can try the following in case of a corrupted user profile:

  1. On your new account, use it to downgrade your usual account
  2. Click Apply or Ok
  3. Raise back your old account to its default admin level
  4. Rinse and repeat a few times as this will help to remove any corruption
  5. Leave your account on as Administrator

Check whether the issue of programs disappearing goes away when using the newly created account. If it does, then you can either Fix the old user account or migrate to the new account.

For more information on how to fix a corrupted user profile, follow the instructions listed in this troubleshooting guide.

4. Use the App Troubleshooter

  • Right click Start
  • Select Control Panel
  • Go to the top right corner and change View by option to Large icons
  • Click Troubleshooting

control panel troubleshooting

  • Click on View all option on the left panel
  • Select Windows store Apps

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  • Follow the instructions to run the app troubleshooter

5. Recover from All Programs on Start Menu

The issue of programs disappearing from your start menu, taskbar or folders, usually comes as a result of the system’s optimization software is infected with a virus.

If it’s only individual programs disappearing from your computer, you can fix it manually by doing the following:

  1. Find the running file of the specific program
  2. Create a shortcut
  3. Paste it under the path C:/Documents and Settings/All Users/Start Menu/Programs

If most of the programs disappear but are running correctly from the Start search field box, then the related folders are hidden. In this case, do the following:

  1. Enter following address in the Address Bar: C:/Program/Data/Microsoft Windows/Start Menu
  2. Press Enter
  3. Right click on the blank space
  4. Click Property
  5. Go to General tab
  6. Check if Hide property is selected or not. If it is, deselect it
  7. Click Ok
  8. Enter your administrator account password or grant permissions if prompted to

Note: If All Programs disappears, check the configuration status of items related to the group policies in order to resolve the problem.

6. Perform a System Restore

Use System restore to create restore points when you install new apps, drivers or Windows updates, or when you create restore points manually.

If you experience the issue of programs disappearing, try and restore the system and see if it helps.

Here’s how to perform a system restore:

  1. Click Start
  2. Go to the search field box and type System Restore
  3. Click System Restore in the list of search results
  4. Enter your administrator account password or grant permissions if prompted to
  5. In the System Restore dialog box, click Choose a different restore point
  6. Click Next
  7. Click a restore point created before you experienced the issue of programs disappearing
  8. Click Next
  9. Click Finish

Restoring doesn’t affect your personal files. It however removes apps, drivers and updates installed after the restore point was created.

To go back to a restore point, do the following:

  1. Right click Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. In the control panel search box, type Recovery
  4. Select Recovery
  5. Click Open System Restore
  6. Click Next
  7. Choose the restore point related to the problematic program, app, driver or update
  8. Click Next
  9. Click Finish

7. Perform an SFC scan

Here’s how to do this:

  1. Click Start
  2. Go to the search field box and type CMD
  3. Press Enter
  4. Right click and select Run as Administrator
  5. Type sfc/scannow
  6. Press Enter

You can also use one of the following registry cleaners to do the job.

If the issue of programs disappearing persists, try the next solution.

8. Temporarily disable your antivirus

You can uninstall third-party software on your computer such as computer cleaner or antivirus.

Note: for antivirus, temporarily disable it because you need it to prevent your computer from security threats. Immediately after you’re done fixing connection error, re-enable your antivirus.

9. Run DISM tool

bdservicehost-dismIf the issue of programs disappearing persists, run the DISM tool, or Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool.

The DISM tool helps fix Windows corruption errors when Windows Updates and service packs fail to install due to corruption errors, like if you have a damaged system file.

10. Boot in Safe Mode

Safe mode starts up your computer with limited files and drivers but Windows will still run. To know whether you’re on Safe mode, you’ll see the words at the corners of your screen.

If the issue of programs disappearing persists, check whether it occurs while your computer is in Safe mode.

Follow these steps to start your computer in Safe Mode:

  1. Click on Start button
  2. Select Settings – the Settings box will open up
  3. Click Update & Securityupdate & security windows 10
  4. Select Recovery from the left panefix Windows 10 Deactivated Itself
  5. Go to Advanced startup
  6. Click Restart now
  7. Select Troubleshoot from the choose an option screen, then click Advanced options
  8. Go to Startup Settings and click Restart
  9. Once your computer restarts, a list of options will come up.
  10. Choose 4 or F4 to start your computer in Safe Mode

A quicker way to get into Safe Mode is to restart your computer then do the following:

  1. From the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot>Advanced options>Startup Settings>Restart
  2. Once your computer restarts, a list of options will come up.
  3. Choose 4 or F4 to start your computer in Safe Mode

If the issue of programs disappearing isn’t there while in Safe mode, then your default settings and basic drivers are not contributing to the issue.

If Safe Mode is not available, follow the instructions available in this guide to fix the problem.

11. Perform a clean boot

Performing a clean boot for your computer reduces conflicts related to software that can bring up the root causes of the programs disappearing issue.

These conflicts can be caused by applications and services that start up and run in the background whenever you start Windows normally.

How to perform a clean boot

In order to successfully perform a clean boot on Windows 10, you have to be logged on as the administrator, then follow these steps:

  1. Go to the search box
  2. Type msconfig
  3. Select System Configuration
  4. Go to Services tab
  5. Select Hide all Microsoft services box
  6. Click Disable all
  7. Go to Startup tab
  8. Click Open Task Managergame crash
  9. Close Task manager then click Ok
  10. Reboot your computer

You will have a clean boot environment after all these steps are carefully followed, after which you can try and check if the issue of programs disappearing is still there.

12. Uninstall Rocket Dock

Some users say they resolved the issue of programs disappearing on their computers by uninstalling Rocket Dock, where most of the apps would appear when minimized, thus not being retained by the Taskbar.

13.  Perform a Startup Repair

Here’s how to use Startup Repair to fix the issue of programs disappearing:

  • Tap on F8 key on your computer
  • Do this until you reach Advanced Startup Options menu
  • Choose Repair your computer
  • Click Startup Repair

Let us know in the comments section whether any of these solutions worked to resolve the issue of programs disappearing from your computer.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in July 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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  • Thank you. What worked for me was going to: C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuPrograms and right clicking on a blank area > Properties. The folder wasn’t hidden but I set it to hidden, OK’d the Admin Rights, and then unchecked the hidden option and OK’d the Admin Rights again. Within 30 seconds my Start Menu filled up with all my programs again. An odd problem.