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When I start for Windows settings, such as personalisation, nothing appears. Additionally, shortcuts located in these two locations

%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

%AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

will not appear in my search.

What I have tried doing:

opened Indexing Options

added these 2 locations

%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

%AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

rebuild the index and let it finish

reboot computer

run the Troubleshooter with first 2 options ticked (no problems found)

run DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth then sfc /scannow

tick index properties and its file contents

Setting EnableLUA and ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin to 1 in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

However, it works perfectly fine if use a different location for my shortcuts. For example, I copied my %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs and %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs folders to C:\ and all my shortcuts in that folder showed in search. Though, I am still unable to see specific settings such as personalisation and ease of access.

Screenshots https://imgur.com/a/ml4V9f3

2 Answers 2

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I gave up on trying to index the two Start Menu folders, facing the same problem you had. However, I came up with a rather brute-force solution that works well for me. I thought I would share it here.

What I did, is to create a folder somewhere with a "reindex" batch file in it. The folder is marked for indexing (I have removed any other location). When I want to index my shortcuts (or I guess you could just set up a scheduled task for it) I can type reindex in my search bar.

The batch file then copies all the shortcuts from the Start Menu folders, and initializes an index rebuild.

reindex.bat

    :: Request admin
    
    if not "%1"=="admin" (powershell start -verb runas '%0' admin & exit /b)
    
    :: Refresh data folder with shortcuts
    
    rmdir /s /q "%~dp0data"
    md "%~dp0data"
    xcopy /S /Y "C:\Users\MsUser\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" "%~dp0data"
    xcopy /S /Y "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" "%~dp0data"
    
    :: Rebuild search index
    
    net stop wsearch
    del "%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows\Windows.edb"
    :restart
    net start wsearch
    IF NOT %ERRORLEVEL%==0 (goto :restart) ELSE goto :end
    :end
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  • Though, I never tried to disable WinDefend... It just broke spontaneously.
    – tsgrgo
    Aug 15 at 18:35
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After 40 hours of troubleshooting and much mental torment, I determined the cause as disabling the WinDefend service using Autoruns for Windows as described in this guide. This permanently damages the system and causes these symptoms:

  • Nvidia Control Panel failing to open regardless of any attempt to fix it
  • the Search Index becoming disabled and malfunctioning
  • if the database for the Search Index is rebuilt, the start menu shortcuts and settings shortcuts will be permanently lost, as described in this thread

Once the WinDefend service is disabled with this method, there is no way to fix these problems without reinstalling Windows. Re-enabling the service or performing a System Restore does not fix the problem.

Another problem was adding the Start menu folder to the Indexing options. This causes issues with finding the shortcuts in there and the shortcuts not appearing in "All apps".

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