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how to restore windows 10 default cortana search

if you are reading this, you likely have managed to bungle up your windows 10 start menu search functionality something fierce. i managed to mess mine up while using this win10 privacy enhancing script called Debloat-Windows-10 (side note: if you broke functionality using this particular script: click here). dont fret however, i just went through the same thing and i'm here with the hot tip on the fix.

first you are going to want to search your windows drive for the cortana package, this may take some time. open a command prompt by hitting the windows + r keys and entering: cmd.exe. then in the black box that comes up paste what's below and hit enter

dir /S /B /A:-D C: | find /I "\Microsoft.Windows.Cortana" | find /I "AppxManifest.xml"

now, if it finds something that's great. if not i've uploaded a copy of my package that you can use for the next step. Download: Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy.zip. Extract that folder to: C:\Windows\SystemApps

Next, in cmd.exe enter powershell mode by typing: powershell.exe and hitting enter. This next step will reinstall the cortana package into your system. Use either the results from the file search or the package download i provided and enter the following command and adjust the location to your computer's AppxManifest.xml appropriately.

Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register 

After that command completes go ahead and try to use your start button and the search functionality as usual. If it's not working right away go ahead and restart your computer and try again. Your search functionality should be back in working order! I hope you found this helpful, thanks for stopping by and happy halloween!


UPDATE: 11/28/2017: Start Menu Search Broken (Anniversary Update)

i've encountered a different problem with the start menu's search functionality after i auto-upgraded to the windows 10 anniversary edition. i would search for something simple like "calc" and normally if i just typed "cal" it would autocomplete the string to "calc.exe" or "Calculator." Lately however i'd have to type the exact thing i'm looking for to get the Start Menu to display it for me to click and open. I did some digging and found the fix. (original source)

  1. open up cmd.exe as an administrator (start > cmd.exe > then left ctrl + shift click to open as admin). you'll know you are having this problem if you type "cm" into the Start Menu and cmd.exe doesnt automatically come up.

  2. copy and paste the following command into cmd.exe (all one line) and hit enter.

REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\BackgroundAccessApplications /f /v GlobalUserDisabled /t REG_DWORD /d 0
  1. If you see: "The operation completed successfully." then you can click Start and try and type "cal" to see if "Calculator" gets automatically shown. If not, restart your computer.

  2. Your Start Menu's search funcationallity should now be back to it's boring old self.

Hope this helps, and good riddance to bad updates!

A side note, if you are looking for something better to search for files on your computer i would reccomend looking into "Search Everything" by Voidtools. It's super fast and extremely handy (like, instant), can quickly sort by Name, Date Modified, Type, etc. it does regex and other cool stuff and it's really the best search tool (for windows) that money can't buy. If you regularly need to find a needle in a digital haystack of huge unorganized messes of files, this is the search tool for you.


if all else fails, you may have some success with running this in an elevated powershell window. it essentially re-registers all of your system's packages.

Get-AppXPackage | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}
nick giotis

nick giotis

linux sysadmin/devops w/occasional moonlighting into netsec & full stack development 💯✝️🇺🇸🇬🇷🇮🇪🏴

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