What to Do With Grayed Out Start Menu, Taskbar, and Action Center on Windows 10

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Windows Desktop is designed to maximize functionality and ease of use. You can pin apps in the Taskbar, which allows you to launch programs in a single click. Other elements of the Desktop are arranged in tiles for a more organized look and centralized system. Most of the apps, settings, and utilities you need can be accessed from the Desktop.

But what if the elements on the Desktop become inaccessible? Several Windows users have reported seeing the Start, Taskbar, and Action Center grayed out and unclickable. This prevents users from accessing apps and other elements that should otherwise be easily available on the Desktop.

Some users reported having their Toolbar grayed out, while others experienced an unresponsive Taskbar Settings or Action Center. There are even reports of app tiles disappearing completely from the Windows 10 menu. This issue with the Desktop has caused quite an inconvenience for the affected users, but Microsoft is yet to officially acknowledge the problem.

This guide will show you what to do if any of the elements on your Desktop are grayed out or when app tiles go missing in the Start Menu.

Why Are Some Desktop Elements Missing, Grayed Out, or Inaccessible?

Windows is a complex system where every single file or setting play an important role in the efficient running of the entire system. One damaged file or one incorrect configuration can lead to a whole slew of problems for the user.

Here are some of the common reasons why some Desktop elements go missing or become grayed out:

  • Virus or malware infection
  • A glitch in the theme being used
  • Outdated display driver
  • Incorrect display settings
  • A recent update

If you are not sure what caused your Desktop problem, you can try the fixes one by one to see which one is effective.

How to Fix Grayed Out Elements on Desktop

This Desktop problem may be annoying, but it is not a serious one since you can still access these elements by navigating the Windows operating system. You just need to do a few extra clicks to get to the app or settings that you want to access. Doing minor troubleshooting steps, such as restarting your computer, usually solves these temporary glitches.

After rebooting your computer, delete all cache data, temporary files, and other junk from your computer. Using an app such as Outbyte PC Repair is effective in cleaning out your system thoroughly. Go through your list of apps and get rid of those that you don’t use to free up some of your computer’s resources. You should also try running a scan using your antivirus app to rule out the possibility of a malware infection.

If the above steps did not work, try the methods below until you find one that solves your problem.

Fix #1:  Set a New Theme For Your Desktop.

Sometimes the theme you are using gets corrupted for some reason and causes problems, such as the Toolbar graying out or some apps missing. Using a different theme usually resets this behavior and get your Desktop working back up again.

To set a new theme on Windows 10, follow the steps below:

  1. Right-click anywhere on the Desktop, and choose Personalize.
  2. Click on Themes > Classic Theme Settings.
  3. Choose your preferred theme from the list, then click the Save Theme button.
  4. Go back to Desktop and see if the problem has been fixed.

The new theme should have been applied automatically. If not, you might need to restart your computer for it to work.

Fix #2: Update Display Adapter Driver.

Driver updates are automatically downloaded and installed in Windows 10, but there are times when Windows Update fails to detect a new version of drivers. To make sure you’re running the latest version of your display adapter driver, you can manually update or reinstall it via Device Manager.

To do this:

  1. Type in Device Manager in the Start search dialog.
  2. Click on Device Manager from the search results.
  3. Scroll down to Display Adapters and expand the entry by clicking the (+) button.
  4. Right-click on the display adapter you want to update and choose Update Driver.
  5. Choose Search automatically for updated driver software.

Windows should automatically look for the latest version of the device driver online. If it doesn’t find any, you can try visiting the manufacturer’s website and download the latest drivers from there. Another way to update your display adapter driver is by uninstalling it, then restarting your computer. Windows will then attempt to reinstall the driver you just deleted.

Fix #3: Revert Recent Updates.

Some Windows users reported that their Toolbar, Taskbar and Action Center became grayed out after installing an update. If this is the case, then something went wrong with the update you just installed, causing your Desktop to act up.

To fix this problem, you need to roll back the update by following the instructions below:

  1. Press Windows + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Select Update and Security, then click the Update History link.
  3. Click on the Uninstall Updates link, then select the updates you want to undo.
  4. Hit the Uninstall button, then follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.
  5. Restart Windows if prompted.

The update should now be removed from your system. Check your Desktop if it is now working fine.

Fix #4: Re-Enable Action Center.

If your problem involves Action Center, you can reset it by disabling then re-enabling it via Group Policy. Take note that the Local Group Policy is only available for Windows 10 Pro, Education, and Enterprise versions.

To edit Group Policy, follow the steps below:

  1. Press Windows + R to launch the Run utility.
  2. Type in gpedit.msc in the dialog box, then hit OK. This should open the Local Group Policy Editor.
  3. In the left menu, navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar.
  4. Double-click on Remove Notifications and Action Center in the right pane.
  5. Select Disabled, then hit OK.
  6. Restart your computer for the changes to apply.
  7. Repeat Steps 1 to 4.
  8. In Step 5, choose Enabled this time.
  9. Reboot your computer and see if Action Center is back to normal.

Fix #5. Re-Install Windows Store and Other Built-In Apps for Windows 10.

If your app tiles are missing on Windows Store or some other elements of the Desktop are acting weird, you can re-install these built-in features using PowerShell. You can re-install each native app/feature, or re-install everything altogether.

To re-install a built-in app, do the following:

  1. Type in PowerShell in the Start search box.
  2. Right-click on PowerShell, then choose Run as administrator.
  3. If you want to re-install just one app, type in this command, then press Enter: Get-Appxpackage –Allusers.
  4. Scroll down to the app you want to re-install then copy the value next to PackageFullName by pressing Ctrl + C.
  5. Type in this command and insert the package full name of the app: Add-AppxPackage -register “C:\Program Files\WindowsApps\<PackageFullName>” –DisableDevelopmentMode.

If you want to re-install all native apps, type in the following command instead, then press Enter: Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers| Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml”}.

This process may take a while depending on the apps or features you want to re-install. If any error comes up, just ignore them and wait for PowerShell to complete its task. Once done, restart your PC and check if your Desktop has been fixed.

Summary

Windows 10 scores points for user-friendliness as the Desktop allows you to access most features and apps from there. But when the Desktop elements are grayed out, navigating Windows becomes a lot trickier and slower. You might need to do a few extra clicks just to get to the program you want to launch or the feature you want to use. If you’re experiencing these issues, just perform the fixes listed above and your Desktop will likely be back to normal once again.

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