Symptoms

When you login to your user account, the Start menu may pop-up automatically, and the Most Frequently Used programs list in the Start menu may get reset with the factory default list.

This article applies to Windows XP systems only. For a Windows Vista version of this article, see article Frequently Used Programs list is reset to defaults during every logon in Windows Vista

Cause

This happens if the StartMenuInit registry value is not set correctly in the registry. During the first logon to a user account, Windows is supposed to set the StartMenuInit value automatically. If that procedure fails for some reason, then Windows resets the Most Frequent Used programs list with the factory default programs list automatically at every logon, and pops up the Start menu automatically.

Resolution

To automate the following steps, use the startmenuinit.reg file attached at the bottom of this page. For instructions to accomplish this manually, read below.
  • Click Start, Run and type Regedit.exe
  • Navigate to the following location:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Advanced

  • In the right-pane, create a new DWORD value named StartMenuInit
  • Double-click StartMenuInit and set 2 its data
  • Close Regedit.exe