What to Do When You Can’t Access Settings on Windows 10

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The Settings app, one of the trademarks of Windows 10, has centralized all the necessary functions to manage the operating system. There you’ll find customization options, network settings, security features, update management, and other settings.

You can implement whatever changes you want via the Settings app, making it a vital component of the Windows system. Without it, your computer will be crippled and won’t be able to function properly.

And this is exactly what happened to some Windows 10 users who recently reported that their Settings app was not working. Here are some of the issues Windows 10 users were experiencing with their Settings app:

  • The Start button is not working. The Windows/Start button does not work when being clicked even though the right-click works fine. There are instances when the Settings app is even grayed
  • The search results are not clickable or do not work. When clicked, a window pops up for a brief moment, then automatically closes right after.
  • The search box does not work. Some are able to type into the search box, but pressing the Enter button does not yield any result, while some users are not able to click on the search box at all.
  • Settings app crashes for some users. The users are able to open the Settings app, only for it to crash immediately upon launch.
  • The Settings app icon is missing. For some reason or another, the Settings app disappears from the Start menu.

Not being able to access the Settings app can be a huge hassle as the app controls and manages all the features and critical operations on Windows. Although you can use alternatives such as the less user-friendly Control Panel and the complex Command Prompt, nothing beats a properly working Settings app.

If you can’t access your settings and other important features, you can follow the steps below to restore the Settings app to the way it used to be.

What to Do If You Cannot Open Settings on Windows 10

This problem can be caused by a variety of factors, including corrupted Windows system files, damaged Settings app installation, and malware. It is, therefore, crucial to optimize your computer for the troubleshooting process by taking these preparatory steps.

  • Scan your computer for viruses and other malware. Completely delete all the infected files and uninstall the compromised programs from your system.
  • Uninstall apps that you don’t use or you don’t need.
  • Delete junk files that may be clogging your system, using a tool such as Outbyte PC Repair.
  • Restart your computer.

If your problem with the Settings app is due to a temporary bug, cleaning up and restarting your system should be enough to get it working properly again. If these steps do not work, proceed with the fixes below.

Fix #1: Run the Settings App Troubleshooter.

Microsoft is aware that some users can’t access their settings and other important features after upgrading to Windows 10. A standalone troubleshooter was released to fix the issue, but it was taken down when Cumulative Update KB3081424, which includes the fix, was released.

Although the standalone troubleshooter is no longer available, you can use the built-in troubleshooter utility in Windows 10 to fix the Settings app issue.

To access the troubleshooter:

  1. Click the Start menu, then head over to Settings > Update & Security.
  2. Click Troubleshoot from the left-side menu, then choose Windows Store Apps. This should also cover the Settings app.
  3. Click on the Run the troubleshooter button, then hit Next to let the utility do its work.
  4. Once completed, the troubleshooter will provide you with a summary of issues detected and fixed.

Close the troubleshooter and check if you can now access the Settings app.

Fix #2: Install Updates via Command Prompt.

An outdated Settings app is prone to errors and irregular behaviors. However, installing updates requires access to the Settings app. If you cannot click on Settings, the only other way to install updates is via Command Prompt.

To install updates using a command line, follow these steps:

  1. Open an elevated Command Prompt window by typing cmd in the Start menu search box.
  2. Press Ctrl + Shift + Enter.
  3. In the Command Prompt window, type in this command followed by Enter: exe /updatenow. This command should install all available updates on your computer.
  4. If nothing happens, try entering the command multiple times.

Once all updates have been installed, click the Start menu to check whether the Settings app has been fixed.

Fix #3: Run SFC and DISM.

System files are critical to the efficient running of apps and processes in the Windows operating system. If any of the system files related to the Settings app is damaged, corrupted or missing, the app won’t function properly or won’t work at all.

To check if there are problematic system files on your computer, you can use the System File Checker (SFC) tool to scan your entire system. Just open Command Prompt and type in the sfc /scannow command to check all your system files and restore damaged files with a cached copy from the Windows recovery image.

If running SFC does not yield any results, you can run a deeper scan using Deployment Image Servicing and Management or DISM. This tool checks Windows image files and virtual hard disks. The commands you need to use are:

  • Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
  • Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
  • Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

These commands should automatically repair any issues with your computer’s system files.

Fix #4: Re-register Settings App Using PowerShell.

The annoying thing about the Settings app and other built-in Windows apps is that they can’t be uninstalled the normal way. So if you cannot open Settings on Windows 10, you can only reset the app using PowerShell commands.

  1. Launch Windows PowerShell as an admin by right-clicking the Start button or pressing Windows + X. Choose Windows PowerShell (Admin) from the Power Menu.
  2. In the PowerShell window, type in the following command, then press Enter afterwards:

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name windows.immersivecontrolpanel | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml” -Verbose}

  1. Wait for the command to be executed completely, then close Windows PowerShell.
  2. Reboot your computer and check if the Settings app is no longer acting weird.

Fix #5: Do a Clean Boot.

If none of the above solutions worked for you, try doing a clean boot to find out whether a third-party app is causing the issue.

To perform a clean boot:

  1. Using an admin account, click the Start button and type in msconfig.
  2. Choose System Configuration from the search results.
  3. Click on the Services tab, then tick off Hide all Microsoft services at the bottom of the window.
  4. Click the Disable all button, then hit OK.
  5. Click on the Startup tab, then click the Open Task Manager
  6. Once Task Manager is loaded, click on the Startup
  7. Click each of the items under the Startup tab and switch the status from Enabled to Disabled.
  8. Close Task Manager and restart your computer.

After rebooting, you should now have a clean boot environment. If the Settings app is working properly in this boot environment, then a third-party app, service, or process might be causing your issue.

To figure out the culprit, you need to systematically turn each service back on and then restart your computer. Doing this takes a lot of time and patience, so this should be your last resort. Repeat the process until you’ve isolated what’s causing the problem.

Final Notes

Not being able to access Settings and other important features in Windows 10 can be a huge pain because these are the core components of the Windows operating system. The alternative ways of accessing these features and options are troublesome, if not risky, so fixing the Settings app is the practical choice. You can refer to the above guide to fix any issues with your Settings app and get it working perfectly again.

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