I am trying to fix start menu damage after windows 10 install.

Currently, I removed all files from known locations of start menu files, but still have some entries in Start Menu.

Here is the proof folders are empty:

enter image description here

And here is the proof that I still have some entries in Main Menu:

enter image description here

What are all locations of Start Menu folders in Windows 10?

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    @gronostaj I posted a proof, please remove downvote. – Dims Aug 20 '15 at 21:24
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    @fixer1234 The path content does not coincide with Start Menu content. For example, path contains two YourKit Java Profiler* entries, Бесплатные игры Atarata, Декларация 2012, Игры Alawar and Игры от Alawar entries, which are not in menu. – Dims Aug 20 '15 at 21:36
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    @Moab It contains one more mixture, but no full conicidence. Can post proof if you don't believe. – Dims Aug 20 '15 at 21:47
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    Not all start menu entries are in that folder. I believe anything in the equivalent "all users" folder gets included, plus there are other routes to the menu. That directory is mainly for you to be able to add things. As to why some directory items aren't in the menu, are they executables or links to executables? – fixer1234 Aug 20 '15 at 21:47
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    re: your previous comment, I don't believe everything in the start menu is located in a single folder. – fixer1234 Aug 20 '15 at 21:51

11 Answers 11

You can find it here :

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

which, in a standard installation, refer to

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
C:\Users\<User>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

To me that includes all folders and files in the start screen.

But maybe you installed programs, then uninstalled them- but the folders remained there hence the extra folders or files.

In my case all that was in that folder existed in the Start menu.

  • This isn't everything, what about cortana, voice recorder, alarms and clock, etc? I don't know where those things are coming from because it's neither of those locations. – Sephethus Mar 23 at 12:55
  • There are still entries which not appear there, I am missing the ms bloatware like Microsoft News, Candy Crush Saga. Do you know where I can find these entries? – Honsa Stunna Sep 26 at 9:27
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    @HonsaStunna, Windows Apps do not function the same way as traditionally installed programs. You may want to reference the following article on removing .appx files if this achieves your goal. (Windows Apps) from your system: Remove APPX Package For All Users. See also: Remove Provisioned Apps During Windows Update as Apps may reappear after feature updates or other user logins. – DontCopyThatFloppy Nov 27 at 17:14

Since you're familiar with PowerShell, there are several possible solutions ...

And yes, I'm in Win 10:

PS > [Environment]::OSVersion.Version

Major  Minor  Build  Revision
-----  -----  -----  --------
10     0      10586  0

Ask Windows (.NET)

Ask Windows (.NET to be specific) where the location is. This will resolve the correct location in case you, like me, moved your AppData\Roaming folder into a DropBox-like location.

PS > [Environment]::GetFolderPath('StartMenu')
C:\Users\VertigoRay\DropBox\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
PS > [Environment]::GetFolderPath('CommonStartMenu')
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

More about GetFolderPath.

Delete Corrupted AppLocker Files

PowerShell (As Admin):

PS > Get-ChildItem "${env:SystemRoot}\System32\AppLocker\Plugin*.*" | %{ Move-Item $_ "${_}.bak" }

Restart Windows after you run the command.

DISM Restore Health

PowerShell (As Admin):

& dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

Restart Windows after you run the command.

Re-register App Packages

PowerShell (As Admin):

PS > Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | %{ Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml" }

You might get some errors (red text). Typically this is saying the .xml can't be found; just ignore it.

Re-index

As previously linked in this thread, simply re-indexing your drive should cause the Start Menu DB to refresh. I would turn off indexing, then turn it all back on.

Turning off indexing deleted the indexing files in previous versions of Windows; I haven't tested this in Windows 10. If needed, you can manually delete the indexing files once indexing is turned off; might need to reboot after turning indexing off to release all open handles. The default location for the indexing files is: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search

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    This is a really great answer. Thanks for information about GetFolderPath. – Ashhar Hasan Feb 4 '17 at 0:50

The folder you are looking for does not exist.

Windows 10's start menu uses a Microsoft proprietary database, there is no folder.

When you click "All Programs" in the start menu, Windows shows all programs listed in it's start menu database. The database is populated with items from multiple locations as fixer1234 described, but ultimately it is the contents of the database that are shown and not any specific folder(s).

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    How to manipulate this database? How to remove/add items from/to it?I have my Start Menu completely damaged and need to fix it. – Dims Sep 10 '15 at 7:06
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    This answer just shifts the question from "where is the folder" to "where is the database". – jiggunjer May 31 '16 at 6:57
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    @jiggunjer: Feel free to ask a new question. – qasdfdsaq Jun 1 '16 at 1:29
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    This is just an aggressive way of saying 'the information comes from multiple folders' – mikemaccana Jun 15 at 15:21
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    @mikemaccana agreed, he could have easily said what the answer with 51 votes currently said, but instead took the hyper aggressive and not helpful route. Wonder why. – Hellreaver Jul 5 at 6:40

Although completely non-obvious, it is actually very simple.

Windows-R to open the run menu and type:

shell:programs. This opens the equivalent of C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

shell:common programs. This opens the equivalent of C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

I personally use shell:startup a lot to open the folder where shortcuts are located for starting up automatically.

You can find the full list on the winhelponline site.

I hate to burst any bubbles, but there is no database. There are 3 places to look -- but i am still looking for 1 more: Of course to find these you need to File Explorer view to show hidden and system files. If you can't do that you shouldn't be messing here.

This contains items pinned to the start menu - not the all programs list ??????????????????????????????????? Who can answer this ???????????

This contains items loaded for specific users C:\Users(username)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

This contains items loaded for all users C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

This contains items pinned to the taskbar per user C:\Users(username)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\TaskBar

In Windows 10, I have not found a use for items in C:\Users(username)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch . I guess you could add it as a new toolbar as done in Windows 7 and earlier but I see no point.

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    This should really be posted as a comment, or as a new question (or both). It is not an actual answer. – music2myear Jan 5 '17 at 17:59
  • Also, yes, it is a Database in Windows 10. You can think of it as a cache, but it's a database acting like a cache in that case. Or vice versa. The database caches the entries from several folders you mention, and sometimes does not update itself when those locations are changed/updated. As such, sometimes the fix is to remove an entity from one or more folders, and sometimes you have to refresh the DB itself. – music2myear Jan 5 '17 at 18:04

It's true that the (some say silly) proprietary binary Win10 StartMenu database is located at:

  • Orthodox: %HOMEPATH%\AppData\Local\TileDataLayer\Database\

But that's not the whole story (AFAICT).

There is a right (orthodox) side to the Windows 10 start menu (groups & tiles), and a left side (alphabetical words) ... where that left side comprises at least two components (user and global).

So that makes for three locations, if you consider both the alphabetical and orthodox portions of the Windows 10 Start Menu.

Left side (alphabetical app names):

  • Global: %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\
  • User: %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\

The orthodox (right side tiles) of the Win10 startmenu is the binary hive at:

  • Orthodox: %HOMEPATH%\AppData\Local\TileDataLayer\Database\vedatamodel.edb

Note that this orthodox tile-menu hive is of fixed 1024KB size (which likely explains the reputed limit of 500 entries) and fixed date (which likely indicates the purported secret things going on inside of Win10 that I can't myself explain but maybe others can explain).

As proof of concept, (as admin or another user) you can COPY the entire binary orthodox "Database" hive, and then change your Windows 10 orthodox menus, and then copy back your archived orthodox hive, and you'd get your old menus back.

as per DodiNj answer, these are the "source folders" for the Start Menu:

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

But... I would also suggest to check if the same program is referenced by two shortcuts: in that case ONLY ONE ICON is displayed in the Start Menu, so you cannot see it in another folder. It seems you cannot have the same application twice in the Start Menu, even if you use links with different name or placed in different sub-folders. I had a similar issue, just leave one shortcut for one program.

  • 1
    by the way, this can be an implicit confirmation about the db that uses different sources but eventually it allows (or returns) one record per app. – doraz Dec 15 '17 at 11:28

The single proprietary multi-file binary Win10 StartMenu database is located at: %HOMEPATH%\AppData\Local\TileDataLayer\Database\

Things being stored in some database is the silliest thing I've read. That's just not true. If you want to play around with your files and folders on the start menu, just go to this directory and you can adjust them as you like:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

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    I agree with the "silliest thing" part. Unfortunately it IS true. Even more silly is that in Windows 10 10240 this database was limited to about 500 entries; if you had more in your Start Menu folders (from which the database was populated) the 'extras' were just ignored. See arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/07/… , section title "A new Start menu, not necessarily a better one". Me, I just installed Start10 and said goodbye to the still-broken Windows Start Menu. I'll have to try Classic Shell sometime too. – Jamie Hanrahan Feb 13 '16 at 23:23
  • It might, be silly, but you can't say it's not true. Open that folder and then open your start menu... now, try to find "Calendar", "Camera" and other bloatware in that folder, it's not there, is it? – TWiStErRob Jul 17 '16 at 11:13

I searched the hard drive for the file (In my case it was bytefence.exe) Found and deleted it.

I reopened start menu programs and then tried to load the program.

Windows showed an error message asking me if I wanted to delete the shortcut because the file no longer existed, I answered Yes and the Start Menu removed the link automatically.

Hope it helps you old fogies like me who were looking for a directory to remove. lol

If you right click on some of the icons then you get an option to open file location. So I was looking for a way to add some useful shortcuts to the right of the menu. So I right clicked on "Computer Info" under the "System Tools" heading and opened its location (C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs). I then added a new shortcut in that folder (for mstsc.exe) and it then appeared under the "System Tools" heading. You can then drag the shortcut to your preferred Heading if you want.

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