Blank Start Menu In Windows 7

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 5, 2010
Updated • Nov 6, 2016
Windows, Windows 7

The Windows 7 start menu has been designed by Microsoft to display recently used programs on the first page and all installed programs that have added a start menu entry on the second page. The second page is displayed after the user clicks on the All Programs link there.

When a Windows user decides to disable the listing of recent programs that have been executed on the computer, a blank start menu page is displayed instead.

This does not make that much sense for many users who would prefer that the programs listed under All Programs are moved to the first page so that they are accessible immediately when clicking on the start menu.

This is however not the case and there is no preference to change this behavior. The only option for users who have disabled the recent programs from being listed in the Windows 7 start menu is to fill the blank start menu with program and file links that they add to it.

Blank Start Menu In Windows 7

Programs and files can be pinned to the start menu just like they can be pinned to the taskbar in Windows 7. This appears to be the only way to make use of the otherwise blank start menu in Windows 7.

So, what you can do is add your favorite programs, websites, and files to the Windows start menu by pinning them to it. This makes them available directly when you open the start menu so that you don't have to click on "all programs" first to launch them.

It would be interesting to see if anyone comes up with a better solution for the blank start menu in Windows 7. If so let us know in the comments.

Update: Pinning files, folders and programs to the blank start menu might be a tedious process, but it can really pay off as it allows you to customize the first page of the Windows start menu to your liking.

One alternative that has been mentioned in the comments is to use a start menu replacement application that gets rid of the Windows 7 start menu and replaces it with its own version.

Options include the excellent Classic Shell which offers that and more.

Blank Start Menu In Windows 7
Article Name
Blank Start Menu In Windows 7
Find out what you can do if the start menu of the Windows 7 operating system displays no content at all but a blank start menu area instead.
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  1. IDoHTML said on February 22, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    I am a Professional Computer Technician and I had the same problem in my Windows 7 64 Bit w/SP1. I scoured the internet for 3 days and finally found the FIX!
    It is s shareware program called “Windows Repair 2.4.1” published by
    I downloaded it from (“Trustable Site”) at,

    Windows Repair (All-in-One) Portable is the portable version of Windows Repair. This version allows you to use the program from a portable device such as a USB flash drive. This tool will allow you to repair common issues with your computer such as firewall, file permission, and Windows Update problems. When using this tool you can select the particular fixes you would like to launch and start the repair process.

    Windows Repair can perform the following tasks:

    Reset Registry Permissions
    Reset File Permissions
    Register System Files
    Repair WMI
    Repair Windows Firewall
    Repair Internet Explorer
    Repair MDAC & MS Jet
    Repair Hosts File
    Remove Policies Set By Infections
    Repair Icons
    Repair Winsock & DNS Cache
    Remove Temp Files
    Repair Proxy Settings
    Unhide Non System Files
    Repair Windows Updates
    Repair CD/DVD Missing/Not Work

    And you can add Bring back Recent Program and Pinning Abillity to the Start and TaskBar to the list.

    Just thought I would write about the Solution since it was so hard for me to find.


  2. Khelz said on December 18, 2012 at 3:39 am

    I purposely disabled recent programs from being stored in the start menu because I didn’t want programs that do not use often to clutter the area. I have pinned the programs I wanted there because I also do not like having my desktop cluttered with a lot of shortcuts and folders; none to be exact. My problem is, while the searching for the the programs I use in the “all programs” link they still say they are pinned to the start menu although the start menu is completely blank.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  3. Jeffa20 said on July 3, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Found this solution that worked for me:

    Press the WINKEY+R.

    In the Run dialog box, type regedit.exe and press OK.

    This will open the Registry Editor.

    Navigate down to the following key.


    With Advanced selected, look in the right side pane for a Value named ‘StartMenuInit’.

    This value should show a number ending in ‘3’.

    If it has any other number, double click this value.

    In the ‘Value Data’ box, change the number to 3.

    Click OK.

    If the ‘StartMenuInit’ value does not exist, create the value.

    Right click and empty area in the right side pane and select,

    New/DWORD (32bit) Value.

    Name the new value StartMenuInit (Case sensitive)

    Double click this new value.

    Type the number 3 in the Value Data box.

    Click OK.

    Exit the registry editor and reboot the computer.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      Thanks for posting your solution. It is always good to have additional fixes at hand.

  4. Hala said on February 23, 2012 at 6:25 am

    Best thing to do to fix blank start Menu is to open the c:\programdata\microsoft\windows\start menu there should be a “program” folder. Right click on the folder and click properties. Click on Previous Versions tab and select a date prior to your problem.

    This fixed my problem immediately.

  5. Duften said on December 26, 2011 at 8:35 am

    I had this issue out of the blue, and I went into the Control Panel, chose “TaskBar & Start Menu”, clicked on the “Start Menu” tab, and then “customize.” For some reason, “Recent Items” was unchecked. Once I checked it, it was fixed.

    1. jon said on October 4, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      thank you!!!

  6. Dan said on June 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    I found that someone had gone into Windows Explorer, into the “Users” folder and selected the properties for the user account folder. The “Hidden” checkbox was checked, making everything in the user’s folders hidden. Nothing would then show up on either the desktop or in the start menu.

  7. Griddle Jim said on May 31, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    This is what my start menu looks like and it bugs me.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate Apple.

    But Apple would never design or release an OS that did something this stupid.

  8. Bumpus said on April 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Yeah, I’ve been livin with this for about a year now…too lazy to pursue a fix.

    Dougle; Thanks for the suggestions.

  9. Dougle said on April 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Unfortunately, I don’t know any way, apart from using one of the several start menu alternatives available, to do this easily.

    One option would be to recreate the menu structure of the ‘All programs’ pane, by utilising the ability to pin folders to the start menu, as presented here:

    Here are a few alternative shells, there are others, both free and paid:

  10. tunpishuang said on April 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    i am looking forward to see how could it be achieved,too.

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