Fix: Start Menu Cortana Search Not Finding Apps


When you use Cortana search to find an installed program, the program may not appear in Start menu search results although the shortcut exists in Start menu folder. For example, with Word 2016 installed and its shortcut present in the Start menu folder, when you type in “word”, the search results will display WordPad and other default results except Word 2016. This is not specific to Office suite, but also happens for other other programs.

apps missing start search results -- background apps
Start menu search not listing installed apps — e.g., Microsoft Word

The Indexing Options may show “Start Menu” in the list of included locations. Also, rebuilding the index does not help. This bug seems to have appeared first in Windows Creators Update (v1703), and remains unresolved in the Fall Creators Update (v1709).

Fix 1: Allowing Background Apps Resolves the Issue

Redditor /u/Drimzi has found that the Start menu search will not update if background apps are disabled to conserve battery power. To fix the search problem, enable the option “Let apps run in the background” in Settings > Privacy > Background Apps. It doesn’t matter if you disable every app in the list, but enable the master switch “Let apps run in the background“.

Start menu search can not find installed programs from Windows10

The above setting can be configured using the Registry Editor as well. Start regedit.exe, and navigate to the following key:


Right click BackgroundAccessApplications, and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
Name the value GlobalUserDisabled and set its data to 0.
Exit the Registry Editor and restart Windows.

Fix 2: Reinstall Start Menu and Cortana Using PowerShell

Launch PowerShell as Administrator, and run these two commands one by one and press ENTER:

Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.Windows.ShellExperienceHost | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}
Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.Windows.Cortana | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}

This reinstalls the Start menu (ShellExperienceHost) and Cortana. Restart Windows  and see if Cortana is able to find Start menu app shortcuts.

Note: If you have problems with Windows Search (not just with Cortana) not finding files correctly, follow the instructions in article Reset and Rebuild Windows Search to Fix Indexing Problems.


About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

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