All-In-One Start and Search Fix

This how-to covers fixing Start Menu, Search, and File Explorer aspects.

Here are some reasons you may want to rebuild or reset:

  1. Searching from Start / Search pane doesn’t function right.

  2. Missing or incorrect icons in start.

  3. Jump list are not updating.

  4. File icons and previews are corrupt or not generating.

  5. UWP Settings not showing results when searching.

If you are a visual learner or prefer to watch and repeat, here is a video you can follow. Otherwise text based instructions are below the video.

video is in the works. please hold

Disable Options

First you need to disable a few settings and click a few buttons. If any of these are already unticked or off, that's fine. If you're interested in jumping directly to a setting, the run dialog command is also provided.

  1. Settings > Privacy > Untick "Let Windows track app launches"

    • run ms-settings:privacy

  2. Settings > Search > Toggle "Search history on this device" OFF

    • run ms-settings:search

  3. Underneath this toggle click "Clear device search history"

  4. Settings > Personalization > Start > Toggle "Show most used apps" OFF

    • run ms-settings:personalization-start

  5. Settings > Personalization > Start > Toggle "Show recently opened items in Jump Lists on Start or the taskbar […]" OFF

Create Paths.txt

Open a text editor and paste in the following lines:

:\Users\name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent" /s :\Users\name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer" /s :\Users\name\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.Search_cw5n1h2txyewy" /s :\Users\name\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_cw5n1h2txyewy" /s :\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search" /s

Edit the contents and replace name with your current user name. If you do not know your Windows account user name you can find it by going to C:\Users. For the examples I will use the name demo. Save this text as paths.txt and place it in the root of your Windows drive at C:\paths.txt. Save any work and close all open programs.

Enter Recovery

Press and hold SHIFT and click the Restart option in the Start Menu. The computer will reboot to a staging environment of sorts. If you are unable to follow these instructions because you do not see them, your Windows install is missing the WinRE option in the BCD store. This is a boot configuration file that is auto generated upon install. It can also be manually edited. Please stop here and correct this. Otherwise, proceed below:

  1. Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Command Prompt

  2. Select your user account and enter your password

  3. Type in diskpart

  4. Type in list volumes

  5. Locate your Windows volume and note the drive letter.

    • It may not be C in the Recovery Environment. This is normal. For the examples below I will use W

  6. Type exit

  7. The paths file you created earlier comes in handy now. Type in more W:\paths.txt

  8. Command will print contents of the file. You can easily copy a line by highlighting it and right-clicking. So copy the first line.

  9. Type in rd "W and then right-click to paste the copied line. You should then end up with rd "W:\Users\demo\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Recent" /s

  10. Press ENTER. Command will prompt if you want to delete this directory. Yes you do. Press y to delete.

  11. Repeat this process by copying each line and adding rd "W before pasting, and of course press ENTER to initiate a delete. You will need to do this five times in total.

  12. When all directories are deleted, close command and click "Exit to Windows" to reboot.

When the computer reboots back to Windows normally, login and everything will rebuild. You should then go back to Settings turn on the ones you turned off. That's it. This is as simple as I could make it. If you run into issues, ask for assistance.