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I have a new Windows 7 box and I'm seeing some weird behaviour in the Start Menu. The menu itself looks fine: there are Recent Items and Pinned Items. If I left click on any item it opens as expected. If I right click on any item, I get a context menu. All good so far.

The issue starts when I try to select anything in the context menu. Nothing works. If I try to select "Open" or "Run as administrator"... nothing. As I said, left click works just fine.

One other thing is that some of the Recent Items have a right arrow next to them that let you open the program with additional context. For example, Excel lets you select to open recent files. Remote Desktop will let you open recent connections. None of this works for me, either. I left click on a Word document or Remote Desktop connection in this way and it appears to just ignore me.

I should also mention that this is only a problem in this initial view of the Start Menu. If I click "All Programs" to get to the more detailed program listing view, then the right click context menu works as expected.

I'm at a bit of a loss for how to even go about troubleshooting this problem. Is there any way to get more visibility into what is happening here?

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    As a troubleshooting step: Create a second account, log in as that person and see if the problem is still there. This sort of thing is usually the result of bugs in Explorer add-ins, also known as "Shell Extensions". There is a free utility, "ShellExView", from NirSoft that lets you view and manage (disable and enable) these things. – Jamie Hanrahan Nov 6 '14 at 2:14
  • ShellExView is brilliant. I used enable/disable and process of elimination to narrow down the problem to a Perforce context menu extension. Disabling that makes the problem go away (and also makes the context menu in Explorer show up instantaneously instead of after 3 or 4 seconds). Awesome! – Scott Cameron Nov 6 '14 at 20:05
  • Thanks for the feedback! I will post this as an answer, please approve it :) – Jamie Hanrahan Nov 6 '14 at 20:20
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As a troubleshooting step: Create a second account, log in as that person and see if the problem is still there.

This sort of thing is usually the result of bugs in Explorer add-ins, also known as "Shell Extensions".

There is a free utility, "ShellExView", from NirSoft that lets you view and manage (that is, disable and enable) shell extensions. A good first step is to disable all non-Microsoft extensions; if the problem goes away, re-enable them one by one until it comes back.

If the problem is not in a non-Microsoft extenstion, then work down through the Microsoft ones, disabling them until the problem goes away.

If you feel more daring, you can use a binary search to narrow it down faster.

  • As an interesting addition, I tried to navigate to the location of the extension file but the location did not appear to exist. I wonder if this is more an issue with badly installed (i.e. missing extensions) more than a problem with the extension itself. – Scott Cameron Nov 6 '14 at 20:46
  • Could well be. This would also account for your seconds of delay. – Jamie Hanrahan Nov 6 '14 at 21:57
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I'm not sure if sfc /scannow would fix anything related to that but it's easy to try it. Could also do a system restore to before this started if you want a simply easy fix.

start -> cmd -> (possibly run as admin) -> sfc /scannow

Let it repair any files it finds. That possibly might fix the issue but I've never tried it for what you're talking about.

As far as figuring out why, you might be able to find some errors in the event log that are the cause of these symptoms but I think it's unlikely. Feels more like something like spyware caused it or something else that did some tweaking that it shouldn't have done.

  • Thanks for the suggestions. I tried the sfc scan but it didn't find any problems. There don't seem to be any relevant errors or warnings in my event log. – Scott Cameron Nov 5 '14 at 23:44

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