Start menu layout cannot be changed

Copper Contributor

Having just installed an evaluation copy of Windows Server 2019, I cannot make any changes to the start menu layout. For example; unchecking "Show app list in Start menu" from the Start menu settings does nothing. Attempting to choose which folders appear on the start menu does nothing also. Any changes to the tiles lasts until the next reboot where it's reset. Tiles will become unresponsive when attempting to drag them and then become "ghost" tiles that cannot be clicked on or moved/unpinned. This is a completely default and less than hour old install - absolutely no changes have been made thus far. 1.png2.png

53 Replies

Hey guys,


same problem here, too.


Any ideas how to fix it?

Hi Cooper,

We are experiencing the exact same issue as well.


What we have noticed is that the issue only occurs for us when the Server 2019 box is part of a domain.


If we build a fresh new 2019 server (standalone) then the start menu works flawlessly.  The second we promote the server to a Domain Controller (and subsequently log in as domain Administrator) then the start menu issue rears its ugly head!

I managed to hide the all apps list via a registry change, but now the button to open the all apps list is completely missing. Something tells me WS2019 wasn't ready to be released... The documents and pictures buttons are also useless and fail to open explorer.0.png

Certainly looks that way!


I did manage to get the Start working again temporarily by resetting the Windows Store apps etc. by running the script below in an elevated PowerShell session


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


Once the above is run you can then change the Start menu personalisation options as per normal through Settings and the changes apply, however, as soon as you log out and back in again it once again resets everything.


I have gone through 101 other steps including a full 'sfc /scannow' and 'dism /online' repair and yet the same issue occurs non-stop.


As soon as I restore the VM back to before it was promoted to to a domain controller it all works fine again, till I once again promote it and log back in with a domain account.

Ok, managed to 'hack around' this to some extent until Microsoft actually fix the core issue.


I built a Start Menu layout file (LayoutModification.xml) which I am then applying using the 'Local Group Policy' setting for 'Start Menu'


User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar > 'Start Layout'


I enabled the setting and specified my LayoutModification.xml file and then restarted.

At each restart this start layout file now gets applied and subsequently the start menu gets sets to the layout I specified.


Attached is a copy of my LayoutModification.xml file


If you do not know how to build these manually then you can export your own from a configured start menu, however, you will need to be able to edit the start menu first so run the below in an elevated PowerShell session:


1. Right-click 'Start' > Windows PowerShell (Admin)

2. Run the following command


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


Once the command is run you can then go into 'Settings' and apply the Start options you require.  You can also then organise the layout of the start menu (pin apps etc.) as required.  Make sure to not log off or restart or you will lose this!


Once you have the layout set that you require do the following:


1. Right-click 'Start' > Windows PowerShell (Admin)

2. Run the following command


Export-StartLayout -Path C:\LayoutModification.xml


3. Navigate to your exported LayoutModification.xml and copy / move it into an easily accessible folder (I used 'C:\System\StartMenu\LayoutModification.xml')


4. Right-click 'Start' > Run

5. Enter: gpedit.msc

6. In the Local Group Policy editor navigate to


User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar


7. Edit the 'Start Layout' policy setting




8. Set it to 'Enabled' and enter the path to your exported layout file

9. Apply the changes


Now when you restart the server the layout file should be applied every time and should no longer reset back to the generic layout.


NOTE:  The 'Start' settings that you choose will be reset (curse you Microsoft!) but the actual layout of the pinned apps will stay as defined in the file.  I guess we can control the other aspects, such as Apps List visibility, via other policy settings in the local GPO so will continue to look into those.

Hi Cooper,


A few extra local policy settings you can edit under 'User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar'


- Remove All Programs list from the Start menu  :  Set to 'Collapsed'

- Remove "Recently added" list from Start menu  :  Enabled


Sadly it looks like editing the 'Choose which folders to appear on Start' requires a fair bit of registry editing so probably not worth it at the moment.


Hope this helps : )

Okay, so I resorted to plan B; install WS2019 core inside a Windows 10 Hyper-V host and use the Windows 10 machine as the GUI for WS2019 through RSAT, etc. however it would seem that Windows Deployment Server doesn't work in the core edition.


Back to square one. As much as I like the new features in WS2019, WS2016 has far less bugs and will be serving as my main server OS until MS sorts out WS2019.

Same - domain joined 2019 server.  Even tried resetting the permissions/owner on the profile folder.


No luck :\

It would seem that Microsoft won't even acknowledge that this is an issue. Start menu customisation is basic Windows functionality - regardless of it being a server OS, there is a need to change it from the default. I can't use the Feedback Hub app to report this as our domain joined workstations have had this feature disabled. I'm just happy I opted to "try before you buy"

After Windows Server 2019 is released for 2nd time - does anyone checked if the start still cannot be changed permanently?

Yes, but with the same issue, additionally in every installation-mode if the machine is domainjoined or not. there ist no workarround for this???!!!


I think this issue seems to be being ignored. Whilst this issue will not impact a normal server deployment anyone using the server as a Citrix VDA or RDS Session host will not be able to without having no changes to the default start menu an option that is not possible for the majority of us.

Appears to have been (silently) resolved with 2018-12 Cumulative Update for Windows Server 2019 for x64-based Systems (KB4471332).  Applied to a non-domain joined server, and Start Menu items are where I left 'em, and the 'new' flag on icons stays away once you right click Start Menu items.


Not tested on a domain-joined server, so if you wanna test that and report back, knock yer socks off.



Hi Chris,


Great, will have a test and check it all out in a domain joined setup and report back when possible.

In a remarkable twist of events, my custom start menu has survived a restart! However, I customised the start menu before promoting the server to a DC. After promotion, the layout still cannot be changed. I should point out that I made the initial changes to the local admin account. After promotion, a new domain admin account (and user profile) was created. I changed the ProfileImagePath registry entry to point to the original local admin profile (therefore retaining any customisation) therefore deleting the new user profile.


Edit: I spoke too soon. The start menu is broken again - the custom layout is gone. UnbelievableUntitled-2.png

I have 3 test 2019 servers in a domain all upgraded from 2016, one DC and two member servers, none of them are free of problems.


The DC still has this issue no matter what I do, latest updates, recreating profiles, the start menu always reverts to default. The two member servers are fine, although until this week their Windows Explorer would not display correctly when setting apps to "dark mode", they'd have white backgrounds for the address bars and context menus making them unreadable. Reseting the theme to default has fixed that.

Hi Chris, 


Nope still an issue after applying the KB 

I experienced the same, but the problem began not when I joined the machine to the domain but when I activated the License (no KMS installed in this environment). At this point, the system allows to change the design-settings (by design) and puts the start menu to default (by bug)


Anybody a clue?

Hi Chrigel,


I experienced the same issues.


Furthermore I'm not able to license any Windows Server 2019 via VLSC license keys (MAK activation).


Windows Server 2019 Evaluation media isn't available in the evaluation center. Seems like this will become a real nice server OS...







1 best response

Accepted Solutions
best response confirmed by Mary Hoffman (Microsoft)
Solution - the KB doesn't specifically mention this bug, but the fix is included in this update. You can download from here: Microsoft Catalog  

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