Fix Windows XP Start Menu Not Working Problem

An Introduction to the Start Menu

Most likely, one of first things you notice after turning on your Windows PC, is the Start button on the bottom-left corner of the screen. Clicking this Start button displays a menu comprising shortcuts that provide you with easy access to various programs on your PC.

On Windows XP, the Start Menu is divided into three parts by two separator lines. The programs listed above the first separator line are known as the pinned items. These programs remain in the Start Menu until you add or remove them manually. The programs below the first separator line are dynamic and display shortcuts to programs that you use more frequently. You can change the number of programs that are displayed in the frequently-used-programs list. Once the maximum number of programs in this list is reached, the least frequently used program is replaced by a more frequently used program.

The All Programs option is located below the second separator line. When you point to All Programs, you will see shortcuts to all tools, utilities and programs installed on your computer. To launch a particular program or utility, you can navigate through the All Programs menu and select the shortcut that starts it.

Causes of the Start Menu Not Working Problem

Your Start menu may stop working and Desktop icons may not be visible due to one of the following problems:

  • Your computer is infected with a virus or spyware.
  • Some of the operating system files are corrupt.
  • A Damaged Windows Registry.

Resolve the Windows XP Start Menu Problem

Depending on the cause of the error, use one of the following methods to resolve the error message.

Scan your PC for Virus and Spyware Infections

  1. Update your antivirus and antispyware tools.
  2. Restart your PC and press the F8 key when the system is starting up.
  3. On Windows Advanced Options Menu, scroll down and select Safe Mode.
  4. Open your updated Antivirus tool, such as AntiVirus Plus and run a full system scan on the PC.
  5. Next, use your updated Antispyware tool, such as Spyware Cease to run a full system scan.
  6. To ensure that all infections are removed, run both the scans twice.
  7. Restart your PC.  

Fix Corrupt Operating System Files

  1. If the Start Menu is available, at Start > Run, type sfc /scannow and press Enter. If the Start Menu is not working, do the following:
    1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to open Task Manager.
    2. On the Applications tab, press the New Task button.
    3. In the Open box, type cmd and then press Enter.
    4. In the Command Prompt window, type the sfc /scannow command and press Enter.
  2. Insert the Windows XP installation disk in the CD/DVD drive if prompted.

SFC or the System File Checker utility will detect and then try to fix or replace missing or corrupt operating system files.

Fix The Windows Registry

Corrupt entries in the Windows registry may also cause Start Menu problems. To prevent and fix these issues, you may use a good registry cleaner tool, such as RegServe to thoroughly scan and repair these problem entries. However, before you proceed with the clean up, remember to backup the registry. If you are using RegServe you need not worry about this, because the tool automatically backs up the registry before making any changes to it.