FIX: Start Menu doesn’t open on Windows Server 2016

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • At first glance, Windows Server looks quite similar to Windows 10. Of course, there are many differences in features and hardware compatibility, but they also share a lot of the codebase.
  • The Start Menu, available regardless of the edition, might not open. Turn off full screen mode of the Start Menu and make sure the Search service is enabled. If that doesn't solve the issue, more advanced solutions are available in the article.
  • An integral part of the Windows experience as well as an iconic symbol, the Start Menu doesn't play nice sometimes. But we have all the right fixes available.
  • Running Windows Server can be a full-time job. Have a look at our collection of Windows Server articles and stay on top of things.
windows server 2016 start menu does not open

Problems with Windows Server might appear once in a while, and many users reported that Start Menu does not open on Windows Server 2016. Here’s how one user described the issue on Microsoft TechNet:

I have a 2016 RODC, and after some Windows updates the start menu no longer opens, the search doesn’t open, and the notification side bar doesn’t open. I tried all the tricks that were used with Window 10 to get them to work again, but no dice.

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In today’s article, we’ll show you a couple of solutions that might help you fix this problem for good, so let’s get started.

What to do if Start Menu doesn’t work on Windows Server 2016?

1. Turn off full-screen Start Menu

  1. Press Windows Key + I to open the Settings app
  2. Now go to the Personalization
  3. Select Start from the menu on the left. In the right pane, disable Use Start full screen
    use start full screen disable windows server 2016 start menu does not open
  4. After doing that, the problem should be resolved.

2. Make sure that the Search service is enabled

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter services.msc. Press Enter or click OK.
  2. Locate Windows Search on the list and double-click it.
    windows search service start menu can't open Windows Server
  3. Set Startup type to Automatic and click the Start button to start it. Click Apply and OK to save changes.
    windows search startup type start menu doesn't work Windows Server

3. Create Packaged App rules in Applocker group policy

packed apps rules start menu won't show windows server

  1. Open Computer Configuration.
  2. Navigate to Policies > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Application Control Policies > Applocker.
  3. Right-click Packaged App Rules and choose Create Default Rules.
  4. After applying the policy, the issue should be resolved.

Start Menu doesn’t work on your PC? Download Start Menu troubleshooter to fix the issue automatically!


4. Recreate the corrupted user profile

  1. Make sure that you’re logged in with a different administrator account.
  2. Go to C:Users and delete the directory of the corrupted user profile. In our example we’ll use C:UsersWindowsReport.
  3. Press Windows Key + R and enter regedit. Press Enter.
    regedit run window windows server 2016 start menu does not open
  4. In the left pane navigate to:
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersionProfileList
  5. Go through all subkeys in the left pane. In the right pane, keep an eye for ProfileImagePath value.
  6. Look for a subkey that has ProfileImagePath value that matches the location of the corrupted profile from Step 2.
    profileimagepath start menu won't show windows server
  7. Once you find that subkey, right-click it and choose Delete in the left pane.
  8. Logout and log back into the corrupted profile and the issue should be resolved.

5. Rename or delete UsrClass.dat

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter %localappdata%. Press Enter or click OK.
  2. Go to the MicrosoftWindows directory.
  3. Go to the View tab and check Hidden items.
    hidden items checkbox windows server 2016 start menu does not open
  4. Locate usrClass.dat file and rename it.
    usrClass.dat file start menu won't appear
  5. After doing that, the problem should be resolved.

There you go, several simple solutions that can help you if the Start Menu does not open on Windows Server 2016.

If you found our solutions helpful, feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

FAQ: Learn more about the Start Menu

  • Where has my Start menu gone?

If the Start Menu stopped showing, the most common solution is to restart File Explorer. Pres Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys to open Task Manager. Look for Windows Explorer in the Processes list. Select it then click on the Restart button on the bottom corner. This should make the Start Menu return. Check this article if you can’t type in the search bar.

  • How do I fix Start menu not opening?

In Windows Server, we have encouraged users to disable the full-screen option and to enable Windows Search service. For Windows 10 please see here why the start menu disappears and how to fix it.

  • How do I get my start menu back?
    • In the Settings app, go to Personalisation.
    • Click on Taskbar link on the left of the screen.
    • Search for Taskbar location on screen and select Bottom from the drop-down menu. Hint: turn on the option to Lock the taskbar so you will not accidentally move it in the future.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2019 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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