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What to Do When Windows 10/11 Settings Won’t Open

The Settings app is just one of the many useful features of Windows 10 and 11. With this feature, you can perform a host of actions:

  • Change your display settings
  • Customize your network and internet configuration
  • Modify your current game settings to improve your experience and more.

Now, what if you can’t open Settings on Windows 10 or 11? It can be very frustrating, right? Not only will it limit your actions, but it will also cause your whole system to suffer.

Just when you thought this could only happen in your dreams, there are actually many users who have encountered the Windows 10 settings won’t open problem. The issue may come in various forms:

  • Unclickable Start Button – According to some users, they couldn’t open Settings because they couldn’t click the Start button. Moreover, they found it difficult to view the main menu and access the Settings app. For others, the Start button could be clicked. However, the Settings option is highlighted in gray.
  • Search Doesn’t Work – Some users couldn’t use Cortana to access the Settings app because they couldn’t click the search field. Worse, hitting Enter would not display any results.
  • The App Doesn’t Open – In some cases, the Settings app was nowhere to be found on the Start menu. If it was there, Windows 10 wouldn’t open Settings. What’s more confusing about this problem is that all the necessary processes needed to open the app are already up and running.
  • Settings App Crashes Unexpectedly – Some users could open the Settings app. However, the problem soon occurs. The app crashes upon launch.
  • Missing Settings Icon – This is probably the rarest scenario in this list. However, some users simply couldn’t open Settings because its icon was missing from the main menu.

Why Windows 10 Can’t Open Settings

We can look at various reasons why you can’t open Settings. It can be the case of a virus infection or a problematic app. It can also be caused by an unstable Windows update.

Let us delve deep into the possible reasons below.

  • Faulty Windows 10 Update – After installing a new Windows update, some users reportedly encountered the problem. Before the update, the Settings app was working perfectly. However, after that, it couldn’t open. According to experts, this could happen because Microsoft rolled out a problematic update or the installation file itself was corrupt. To resolve this, users are advised to roll back to a previous working Windows version or undo the update.
  • Junk Files – As we use our PCs every day, junk files accumulate in the background. Now, these files can mess with crucial system processes and cause programs to fail. The Settings app may just be one victim. That is the reason experts recommend removing these junk files now and then. A third-party PC optimizer tool can do this job quickly and ensure no remnants are left behind.
  • Corrupted System Files – Can’t get to Settings on Windows 10 because the Settings icon disappeared from the menu? It is possible that the system files associated with this program are corrupted. File corruption may be triggered by various factors. Sudden power outages and virus infections are among them. Repairing these system files using the System File Checker and DISM utilities will do the trick.
  • Windows 10 Glitch – Another reason why Windows Settings won’t open is that there is an ongoing operating system glitch that needs to be repaired. The basic fix for this is a quick PC restart. However, if that does not work, restart your computer and enter Safe Mode. With this mode, you’re launching the system without third-party services. So, there will be little to no problems here.

If Settings Won’t Open on Windows 10, Are There Other Alternatives for You?

In case you cannot access Settings on Windows 10 for some reason, know that you have several alternatives at your disposal.

We are all used to accessing Settings via the menu and clicking the little gear icon. However, if that option no longer works, you can consider other ways to open the app. These include:

  • The Search Box – Click the Search icon, then type “settings” (no quotes) and choose the top result. You can use this method if you cannot find the Settings icon in the main Windows menu or if it cannot be clicked on.
  • The WinX Menu – Another uncommon way to access Settings is via the WinX menu. Right-click on the Windows icon and select Settings. Now that you know about this trick, you have an advantage over other users.
  • The Settings Shortcut – Did you know that you can access Settings without having to click on anything? The Windows + I key combination will launch the app. Indeed, it is the most convenient and quickest method to access Settings. This trick is helpful when your PC doesn’t respond to clicks.
  • The Action Center – You can also open Settings via the Windows Action Center. Open this by clicking its icon on the taskbar and finding Settings.
  • The Command Prompt – Everybody knows about this method. Simply right-click on the Windows menu, choose Command Prompt, type “start ms-settings:” (no quotes), and press Enter. The Settings window will now open.

Now, if none of the above methods helped, there is nothing left to do but identify the cause and repair the issue.

5 Known Fixes to the Windows Settings Won’t Open Problem

We understand how frustrating it is when Windows 10 can’t get to Settings. So, we have laid all possible fixes here. This way, you can continue with what you are doing and open Settings.

However, before you do any technical fix, perform basic troubleshooting first. Here are some steps to begin with:

  1. Check for signs of malware attack. Remove any infected files, if any, and uninstall apps that have been compromised. If you think you can’t do this manually, consider using antivirus and malware removal solutions to automate the process.
  2. Uninstall unnecessary files as they only consume significant disk space.
  3. Get rid of junk files in your folders. Use PC repair tools for this.
  4. Restart your device. This is an effective trick that works if the problem is caused by bugs or operating system glitches.

If basic troubleshooting methods don’t work, try these fixes:

Fix #1: Install Windows Updates

Windows updates are rolled out to fix bugs, glitches, and security issues with the operating system. Because Settings is a part of the Windows environment, installing these updates may get rid of your problem.

To install Windows updates, you can follow these easy procedures:

  1. Open an elevated Command Prompt to get full administrator access. Do this by typing “cmd” (no quotes) into the search box. Then, press Ctrl + Shift + Enter simultaneously.
  2. When Command Prompt opens, type “exe /updatenow” (no quotes) and hit Enter. At this point, the update process will begin.
  3. In case the command doesn’t work, try it again until it runs.
  4. Once the update is installed, check the Start menu once again and see if Settings can now be accessed.

Fix #2: Use the SFC and DISM Tools

Microsoft has hidden system files for a reason. These files are needed for the smooth running of Windows, so they have to be somewhere inaccessible.

If any of these system files get damaged or corrupted, then Settings will not work properly.

For this situation, the best solution is to use the System File Checker. It is designed by Microsoft to scan Windows for any corrupted or missing system files. To use the SFC tool, open Command Prompt with full administrator privilege and type “sfc /scannow” (no quotes).

Next, hit Enter and wait for the tool to complete scanning your system for any damaged files. If problematic files are detected, you don’t need to do anything because the tool will replace them with working copies from the cache.

If unfortunately, the SFC command does not get rid of the problem, you can proceed with another scan. That involves using the DISM utility. This tool checks your hard disks and Windows image files for any problems that need to be resolved.

To perform a DISM scan, type these commands into the Command Prompt window:

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

Fix #3: Re-Register the Settings App

We know that Settings is an in-built tool that comes with every Windows 10 installation. While it is a good thing to have such a tool pre-installed in your device, uninstalling it may pose a problem because the process is unlike the applications we get from third-party sources.

If you want to resolve issues with Settings, you have to use PowerShell commands to re-register the app. Below is a guide on how to re-register Settings via PowerShell:

  1. Open PowerShell with administrator privilege. To do that, right-click on the Start menu and choose Windows PowerShell (Admin). Alternatively, you can use the Windows + X shortcut to open the WinX menu and select the appropriate option.
  2. Now, in the window that appears, find the blinking cursor and type this command:
  3. Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name windows.immersivecontrolpanel | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml” -Verbose}
  4. Run the command by pressing Enter.
  5. Exit PowerShell once the scan is done and restart your PC.

Fix #4: Create a New Account on Your PC

If the Settings app still doesn’t open, try creating a new admin account and transferring all your files onto it. Sure, this may seem like a challenging solution, but it actually worked for many affected users.

However, because we generally create user accounts via Settings, we have no choice but to take a more technical approach. Here’s how you start:

  1. Type “mmc” (no quotes) into the search box to access the Microsoft Management Console.
  2. Click File from the navigation bar, then select Add or Remove Snap-ins.
  3. Select Local Users and Groups under Available Snap-ins, then click Add
  4. On the new window, click Finish.
  5. Once you’re back on the Add or Remove Snap-ins window, click OK.
  6. You should have a new snap-in for Local Users and Groups on the left. Click on it, then double-click Users. You will see a list of available user accounts on your device.
  7. Under the current user accounts, right-click the blank space and select New User.
  8. Next, provide the information required to create a new account and click Create.
  9. After creating an account, log out of the current user account and use the newly created account.
  10. Now, transfer your files into this account.
  11. Launch File Explorer and find the drive where Windows 10 is installed.
  12. Open the View tab and untick the Hidden Items option.
  13. Find your old administrator account by going to this location: C:/Users/old.
  14. Double-click on your old username’s folder.
  15. You will now see a notification telling you that you lack permission to access it. Hit Continue.
  16. If asked by the UAC, type your login credentials.
  17. Once you access the folder, copy all your files and move them to the new folder for your new account: C:/Users/newusername.
  18. Once the transfer of files is completed, you will see a notification.
  19. Click Yes.

Fix #5: Enable the Settings App

Sometimes, Settings simply cannot be accessed because you forget to enable it. So, rule out this possibility by following these instructions:

  1. ype “regedit” (no quotes) command into the search box and select the top result.
  2. Go to this location:
  3. HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\ Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  4. Next, right-click on a blank space and choose New.
  5. Then, select DWord (32-bit) Value.
  6. Set its name to NoControlPanel and double-click on it. Change its value to 0.
  7. After that, exit the active window.
  8. Now, go to the search field once again and type “msc” (no quotes).
  9. Choose the relevant result.
  10. Open User Configuration and choose Administrative Templates
  11. Select Control Panel.
  12. Then, double-click on the Prohibit access option and disable it.
  13. Hit Apply, then OK.

In Summary

With the Settings app inaccessible, your actions on Windows are limited. Indeed, there are other ways to access this app. Even so, we have to admit that the experience is never the same when we open it via the conventional method that we know.

The good thing is that there are ways to resolve the inaccessible Settings app problem. Now, in case you don’t want to do them yourself, feel free to get in touch with experts and have them fix the problem for you.

What other ways do you know that can effectively fix the Settings app won’t open problem on Windows 10 and 11? Share them in the comments!

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