Saturday, May 02, 2009

A story of Windows 7 and an empty All Programs (and how I fixed it)

As all good stories begin, this one began on a dark and stormy night. The kind of night where all you want to do is install Windows 7 RC’s, upgrading your Vista installs in the warmth before the fire. Even while the ground shakes beneath you, you diligently stay focused on the task at hand. Finally, success! You’ve done it, the upgrade is complete! With joy in your heart you look into Windows orb, clicking on All Programs, only to have your hopes shattered, like a lighting strike to the heart, as all you see is nothing and emptiness…

 

LOL.. Okay, okay, I tried. Give me a few points for effort at least?  ;)

I ran into this issue yesterday and after a good bit of research, and trial and error, found a viable, and actually pretty simple, fix. Wanting to pay it forward, here’s a quick write up. Hope this helps…

 

Problem:

An upgraded from Vista SP1 to Win7 RC (7100), my All Programs was blank (see below).

image image

Data Points:

  • All the programs, shortcuts & folders in the All Users and current user Start Menu/Programs folders were there
  • The Shell Folders and User Shell Folders in the registry (both current user and local machine) were pointing to the right folders
  • Permissions on said folders were all set as expected
  • Able to reproduce on BOTH a Clean Windows 7 RC install and upgrade (but it’s much more likely to been seen in a upgrade).
  • To reproduce on a clean install, open either All Users or current user’s Start Menu and create a ton of shortcuts. I took the IE shortcut, copied and pasted it until I had 80+ copies. At that point, even the lean install’s All Programs broke. After deleting those copies (and end-tasking and running Explorer) the Clean’s All Programs came back.

Research:

This link lead me to a true fix for the issue, Windows 7 Forums - Program Icons Missing in All Programs Menu

Root Cause:

It seems that Windows 7 doesn’t currently like having too many shortcuts/folders in the Start Menu/Programs folder. With something close to 70+’ish shortcuts/folders in the combined All Users & User Start Menu/Program folders (common in an upgrade scenario) the All Programs list will end up being blank/empty

Resolution:

Move a number of shortcuts/folders from Start Menu/Programs into a new subfolder, like Start Menu/Programs/Stuff, and then restart Windows Explorer. Wash, rinse, repeat until your All Programs works.

Quick Resolution Walk Through:

Disclaimer: This is what worked for me, on two systems. Your mileage may vary. You do this at your own risk and while this should not break your system (nor is it really even dangerous), take care and do it slow. You assume all the risk and liabilities in this process and I assume none (i.e. don’t blame me if you jack up your system). This resolution is provided as a good faith effort to help, yada, yada, yada..

a) Left click on the Windows orb to open the Start Menu

b) Right click on the All Programs. You should see a menu like the one pictured below

image

c) Left click on the Open menu item (aka the current user’s, yours, Start Menu). You should see something like what is pictured below, though the actual contents may be a little different

image

d) Double left click on the Programs folder. You should see something what is pictured below, though the actual contents will be different, you should see a “bunch” of folders

image

e) Create a new subfolder called “Stuff” (no quotes, and you can name it what ever you really want too)

image

f) Select a bunch of the folders/shortcuts and drag (i.e. move) them into “Stuff”

image

 image

g) Start Task Manager, go to the Processes tab, select “explorer” and then click on the “End Process” button. This will kill the explorer process, taskbar, start menu, etc.

This step is very important. Unless you restart Windows Explorer your results (i.e. what you see in All Programs) will not be reliable. Believe me, I’ve found this out after many false starts. Make a change, kill and restart Explorer. Wash, rinse, repeat…

image

h) Now in Task Manager, select the File menu, Run submenu.

image

i) Enter “explorer” (no quotes) and click OK. This will restart Explorer, and the taskbar, Windows orb, etc should all re-appear

image

j) Try your All Programs now… If enough things have been moved, you should be good!  :)

image

k) If you’re All Programs is still empty, then repeat the above steps in the All Users Start Menu folder (i.e. the “Open All Users” menu choice when you right click on “All Programs”)

 

Now you can also begin to move stuff back up from Stuff into the Programs folder as need be. Remember to end/run Windows Explorer during this process. If/when your All Programs go blank again, you now know how to fix it..

103 comments:

Anonymous said...

All appeared to work OK, but after rebooting the "All Programs " was again empty.

Greg said...

Rebooting myself now to see if I can reproduce it too...

Greg said...

sigh... Mine's blank again too.

I really thought killing/running Explorer would eliminate having to reboot. I guess not.

Further troubleshooting commencing.

Greg said...

Well repeating the above steps (this time in my All User's Start Menu), moving more things into a sub folder, end/run explorer brought back my All Programs.

And THIS time it survived a reboot.

So my suggestion is to move some more shortcuts/folders into a subfolder and see if that helps.

In my case I installed a few things between my initial fix and reboot, so maybe that pushed my count over the edge...

Anonymous said...

This works!

1. Click on the Start Menu.
2. Right Click on “All Programs”.
3. Select “Open All users”
4. Open the Programs Folder.
5. Create a new folder named “A”.
6. Drag all the other folders into the A folder.
7. Close Windows Explorer.

You’re done. When you click on “All Programs” you’ll see a limited number of Program Items. If you click on the A folder, you see all of your Programs. NOTE: In this folder the folders follow single shortcut items.

Bob Schild

Greg said...

@Bob,
Yep, I tried that approach too and it did seem to work, but I didn't really like it. I wanted my All Programs folder to look "normal" and not have to drop one additional level down...

And I'd guess it works for the same reason as my approach, because it limits the number of items in Programs folder (in this case drastically limits it since everything is moved into that new sub folder...)

But in any case, thanks for comment!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot Greg, I was going to restore to a previous date but tried this and worked!

Thanks for taking the time to post this.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

The same problem to me, if I reboot or install a program the start menu is blank again.

Andrew Jones said...

I has the same problem upgrading Vista SP2 to Win 7 RC. I arrived at same solution. I have not worked out if the limit is on the number of items or the total string length of the item names. It really needs to be fixed ASAP.

Andrew

Jet said...

I recently performed a fresh install of Win7 build 7100, and immediately noticed this issue. On my end at least, it seems unrelated to the number of icons I have in my Program shortcuts: I only have 28 total, and it's not reproducible -- not even from one second to the next! I can open it up and have it blank, click away to close it, and open it up again and have everything populated correctly.

I've also noticed that if you have your Start menu set to display icons as menus instead of links, one or two levels in to your personal folders or similar it starts getting dog-slow rendering the miniature icons next to each menu entry -- perhaps this is a related issue?

M@VRiC said...

I too tried this method to avail, the new folder A trick worked, but that's not how it should look.

After scratching and searching the net for a fix. Nothing worked.

Then I thought what the heck, and the heck worked.

You will have to do this in both the start menu folders eg: programdata & user.

1: Go into the Programs folder of the start menu
2: Rename each folder and each link with a single character eg: xyz.lnk to xyz-.lnk
3: rename xyz-.lnk to its original name, viola It is listed in the start menu all program.
4: Do this to all folders and links in the programs folder (do not worry about going recursive, just the parents folder rename is enough)Hopefully happy rebooting and menu using :)

note: I tried this with a mass renamer it did not work, for some reason it had to be one on one, UAC gets painfull but the result is worth it.Pete

GS said...

Had the same problem.
Strangely, all my shortcuts were back after I removed (moved/deleted) all entries from both (My and All Users) folders and restarting Explorer.exe

Anonymous said...

The trick with the A folder works, the other doesnt, Must be a simple mistake of the editor, thanks for both contributions. Basically under Programs should be the shortcuts only and too many folders crash the thing....

Cédric said...

First, thanks for these tips.
I had the same problem. I've just moved all files and folder into another sub-folder (for "All users" only), and without restarting Explorer nor rebooting, all shortcut can be seen again.

Cédric RICARD

JC said...

Thanks so much for this :) It was driving me nuts... good write up!

Anonymous said...

Renaming the folders one by one worked - until the reboot :-(

My installation on x64 was to a freshly-formatted disk. This was after an upgrade attempt which failed to roll-back properly. I'm not sure when I lost the All Programs list, but it brought home to me just how little I rely on the shortcuts. Pretty much everything I do is from Stardock's ObjectDock Plus, search or a cmd window.

Brendan said...

Thanks Greg,

I just love it when someone puts things simply concisely and with pictures.

Windows 7 start menu
Problem solved first go

Just moved Stuff I rarely use to stuff leaving about 40 items and it was fixed.

Cheers, Brendan

Niky Nikolov said...

Thanks,
Was really annoying. Not that it is of such big importance(one can still find any item with search) but still another inconvenience solved. Thanks man.

battlezone said...

Thanks Greg,
In build 7127 (tested x86) this bug is fixed (almost).
In all previous builds if i copy the all users links and folders until i have like 90-160 at some point they are not there anymore.
In build 7127 sometimes when over 160 sometimes the new one doesnt'appear until reboot/explorer restart but they doesn't disappear. Note that i select all icons copy paste, so the first time i have 10 new icons the second time 20, then 40, then 80, then 160, then 320, then 640... so you might never see this problem because 160 new icons in a second does not happens in everyday use.
Now i have 1600 icons and the menu is not empty.

Greg said...

@battlezone,
Cool! Thanks for the update. :)

mospeed said...

Thanks for the fix but word to Microsoft: Why don't you have a fix for this HUGE problem!! It took a while for me to find this fix, and I know what I'm looking for, but dang Microsoft, didn't you get it when Vista fell flat? The normal users will find this bug and will be instantly P.O.'d. Thus far, Windows 7 is unimpressive, just like Vista. Sad!

Greg said...

@mospeed,
Based on what I'm hearing it is fixed (or at least much better) in newer builds. So Microsoft has heard and has addressed it... Yeah!

[Insert normal, "It's a RC and not RTM" comment here]

;)

Still I'm glad this work around helped for the time being and thanks for your comment (it's always good to know that something helps... :)

Thanks again

M@VRiC said...

@mospeed
And there lies the problem, it is only a beta nominated for release.
Normal users should not go near it full stop. Vista got most of it's bad rap from the pirated beta's going around the p2p networks. Boyz wanting to have the 1st bragging rights no matter if the machine was supported or not (usually not). if things dont go right, they blame the OS not them foolish selves.
Being a beta rtm user and you found this fault, did you report it to Microsft? or was the time spent baggin 7 instead.

BTW like XP when it matured Vista became an awesome OS. It takes time, and time is something some cowboys are not prepared to give.

mhardy said...

Beta? This isn't a beta it's an RC. That's actually a big difference.

Too many shortcuts... how funny is that. Ya gotta just laugh really...

Thanks for the fix - worked like a charm!!!

Mike

xavave said...

it worked great for me (windows 7 RC 7100)
thanks a lot

Daniela said...

Googled for answers to above 'all programs' empty problem, your site was number one option and I am glad I chose it!
Thank you to everyone who posted suggestions and results. Running fresh install of 64 W7,RC7100; I have no idea either when 'it' started showing empty before today. Chose the fix for 'all users' by creating subfolders for Audio/Video, Photo/Graphics etc etc. Moved original folders in and instantly all are showing in All Programs again. Not a problem using them - simply adds one more down-click.

Googled info as to RC7200, with most sites saying no real changes, but obviously they are overlooking several needed Fixes, such as this one.
Question: Any idea if RC2700 will be released to public after all, or still only to specific test-groups or via torrent?

Thank you again for all the help from everyone here.

Greg said...

@Daniela,
Last I heard there's still only going to be the one public RC. The next thing the general public will see is the Gold/RTM version. I'm hearing (via feeds/podcasts/etc) August'ish Win7 should be "done" and then releasing after. Likely a phased release like Vista. OEM's first, TechNet/MSDN, then general public/stores... But again that's all unofficial, hear-say, so take with with a grain of salt.

Daniela said...

@Greg
Appreciate your reply and thoughts/info as to the further development of W7. Certainly will take them 'with a grain of salt'; even when Microsoft itself speaks up about something or the other, I believe it when I see it. ;)

Generally speaking I do like W7 as it did fix lots of issues that are part of Vista, even after it's SP2 upgrade.

Thanks again for your input.

BinaryBrother said...

Hello Greg,
Thanks for your awesome advise! I actually work on Computers for a living, and would have NEVER guessed to do that!

Although I DID-NOT upgrade, I done a fresh install of
Windows 7 Ultimate x64 RC1 (Build 7100)

I'm off to report this bug to MS... Thanks again Greg!

Anonymous said...

"Bob Schild" has a good approach that works. Reposted below for newcomers...

1. Click on the Start Menu.
2. Right Click on “All Programs”.
3. Select “Open All users”
4. Open the Programs Folder.
5. Create a new folder named “A”.
6. Drag all the other folders into the A folder.
7. Close Windows Explorer.

You’re done. When you click on “All Programs” you’ll see a limited number of Program Items. If you click on the A folder, you see all of your Programs. NOTE: In this folder the folders follow single shortcut items.

Tim Eason said...

Thanks much for your help with the Windows 7 blank programs in the start menu. It did the trick. Thanks!!

jmarkhus said...

hey Greg,
you are a life saver. i found a quicker workaround that doesn't require killing and restarting explorer.

one can just delete folders and icons that they don't need. there are many of those such as media player and such. after deleting, presto, the start menu behaves as indicated on the box.

could you consider asking this question and answering it on www.serverfault.com or on www.superuser.com when it opens? i'm sure many users would benefit from your docutmentation skills thank you again

Anonymous said...

Had the same problem when I upgraded from Vista 64 SP1.

Tried various solutions without success, however have now solved this (at least for me) - and without any data loss, or need to reinstall any versions of Windows.

My problem was that I had Program shortcuts under the "All Users" profile; I also had Program shortcuts under my specific user profile. Some of the shortcuts in both profiles were contained in folders with the same name (for example "Accessories")

Under Vista the shortcuts in the two folders "merge" in the All Programs list to show just one combined list of shortcuts; Windows 7 seems to have a glitch doing this so nothing at all shows.

As soon as I renamed these 'duplicate' folders in my personal user profile all the items in the All Programs list reappearred (so the All Users profile now has a folder called "Accessories", and my profile has a folder called "My Accessories"; both are now visible via All Programs) Note that you only need to rename the folders in one of the two profiles; your personal profile will probably have less shortcuts, so is the obvious one to amend.

The Programs shortcuts associated with your personal user profile are located in "C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs", where UserName is the name you gave to your account.

Daniel C. said...

Thanks man,
this really worked for me, and I'm like, never the one who usually gets to say this!

Zeb Olsen said...

Thank You very much. This worked, and I just installed Windows 7 today June 18th, so they must not have it fixed yet, as I'm assuming I have the most recent update.

Ezra said...

Awesome - this worked perfectly

Jaume said...

Thanks for the trick, although the behavior is a bit random and links may disappear and reappear after a few reboots (it has just happened to me). OTOH I must disagree with those who say that Vista is an "awesome OS" after a few early glitches. I had a Dell OEM and my Vista never worked well --too slow, especially when shutting down, too many crashes and difficulties to close programs, in a way that my earlier XP had never had. I decided to upgrade to RC and I am quite happy with my decision to get rid of Vista forever. Windows 7 RC is solid, stable (apart from the minor Start menu issue), reliable, and fast. I look forward to the chance to get a full 7 license asap.

Lalu said...

Thanks a lot. I had this problem for a while and really didn't know what was wrong. I followed the steps and... tadaaa :D. Great article, thanks again.

Farhad said...

Thanx a lottt Greg.. Amazing..

Anonymous said...

Your workaround worked for me. Thank you so much for sharing. It saved me a lot of time.

gigodemon said...

Hi,

I know usually we don't search easy way but as for me the simple and easy way is setup alternative to start menu Vista Start Menu it works under Windows Seven and has interface close to Classic start menu but much powerful.

Also you may easy arrange programs by groups with help of
Tidy Start Menu.com

Anonymous said...

This works perfect (found on another site)

Open C:\Users\ [...] \App Data\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu and right clicked on the programs folder, then properties. then i checked the 'hidden' check box to make the folder (and all subfolders) hidden. then click 'ok'.

Note: C:\ is the local disk where Windows 7 is installed and [...] is your user name for the current user that is logged in.

So for me I went to:

C:\users\astro\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\StartMenu

I then right clicked on Programs and marked it hidden and all below it hidden.

After doing that everything shows up when I go to start menu -> all programs like it should.

-astro

Anonymous said...

Hey! This totally worked! No need to reboot or anything; just killed the process and then ran it again. Poof! All the programs appeared. Thanks! You're the best!

Anonymous said...

Perfect fix for a strange and annoying issue. You're the only one out there that knew how to correct this problem. Thank you so much!

cuggie said...

My Fine Fellow, you must be a pretty smart man. You saved me from doing the "whole reinstall thingie". your solution worked like a champ. And that is from an old dude just trying to teach myself how to use this crazy machine. You get a pat on the back.

Thank You "Muchly"
Cuggie

Anonymous said...

****EASIEST SOLUTION AVAILABLE****

Advanced Instructions:
#1) Make --> "C:\Users\%YourUserName%\App Data\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu" folder and all subfolders hidden.

Beginners Instructions:
#1) Go to --> "C:\Users\%YourUserName%\App Data\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows"
#2) Right Click on "Start Menu" folder and left click on Properties.
#3) Check the hidden box and click apply.
#4) Choose to make All Subfolders hidden as well (if another box comes up)

DONE! No need to restart explorer. However, if the above doesn't work you may need to. If you don't know how to, then see below.
-------------------------------

HOW TO RESTART EXPLORER:
#1) Go to "Task Manager"
#2) Go to "Processes Tab"
#3) Select "explorer" process and click "End Process" button.
#4) Go to "Application tab"
#5) Click "New Task..." button
#6) Type in "explorer" and click OK

DONE! (again...lol)

Anonymous said...

Just faced this issue ... so i was wondering if this is a BUG and has this been fixed in RTM .. or not ?

Greg said...

From my seat I would consider it a bug.

I've not yet tried to reproduce it yet in the RTM version. Will give that a try when I get a chance...

Anonymous said...

That was helpfull! I went through some other forums but they were not able to adress the problem.

Kevin K. said...

Thaanks so much, i was starting to think that i had to reinstall Windows

Thanks alot

Anonymous said...

i just made a batch file and put it in startup folder and it fixed everything for me

code:
@ECHO OFF
cd ..
cd ..
attrib +h
sleep 1
attrib +h

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much. Very clear steps and quick fix. Nice site, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much! Had to leave everything in my "Stuff" folder, since it went blank again if I undid it, but since it doesn't appear to affect anything, who cares?

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much! I have been having this problem for a few days now. I hope Microsoft fixes this problem. Thank you!

ekse said...

Thanks, showing everything in a single folder worked. What a lame bug.

knusto said...

I can see why I have this "All programs" problem in W7 RC.
I have 276 programs installed...On an Acer Aspire laptop. But, it's not very slow -yet.

Anonymous said...

Amazing!! thanks so much for the help!!

David said...

Thanks, the A folder thing worked. Also, I didn't notice how many icons existed that were totally useless. Be aware that you new computer probably put them there (i.e. different trials, photo printing sites, etc.) BTW, does anyone know why the limitation is there?

Pratik said...

This Guide Was 2good , 3good , 4good,
very very good

Everything worked in first try and u saved me from reinstalling my windows 7!
Actually I have installed Windows 7 from Last 6 to 7 Months but suddenly today when I installed a prog. the all programmes list was gone!
Thanx once more

Anonymous said...

thanks opened all users link
and deleted some short cuts and it worked :)

Felipe Wozniak said...

Thanks man! It works!

Markus said...

nice and easy fix, even worked withouth restarting anything ;)

ronald widha said...

Interesting bug. I thought it was due to i'm running out harddrive space (and consequently swap space).

Thanks

Andrew said...

Greg,

Truly a simple, workable fix. Your blog was the first place I found while looking for a resolution to this problem, and your concise description and assistance are probably why. Thanks a TON for posting this!

Anonymous said...

You are my hero! :D thanks.

fjwelte said...

Worked for me. Thanks!

David said...

Worked as described. Thanks so much!

vichutcheson said...

THANK YOU!! Tried to figure this out.. didnt spend much time on it, but you definatly helped!!!

SeattleInspector said...

Time for a MAC...:)

Brandon said...

I thought I lost my life's work, Mobile Matradee, a software program I developed to replace restaurant pagers, when I installed Windows 7. I learned of the Old.Windows files and I was able to retrieve it!! I was finally able to launch the website as well www.mobilematradee.com
THANKS GREG!

Anonymous said...

what a ridicuolous bug!!! omg.

i dont understand this..

Anonymous said...

a better fix - set the programs folder to hidden.

http://windows7forums.com/windows-7-support/4354-program-icons-missing-all-programs-menu-3.html#post74465

no need to move folders around.

James said...

Thanks worked perfectly!!

John said...

Great post, this really helped me out - Thank you!!!

mato said...

jsut loved the way u guyz think day n night. thnx 4 the gr8 work. haven't done a reboot bt waiting 4 the empty all pgm again! wil con sider using anonymous' batch. bt again y do i need to reboot wen i always leave ma code running wen heading into hibernation?

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Had me stumped for ages.

Anonymous said...

thanks! I should add that I did not need to restart explorer. Also I copied all of the items from my profile to the all users folder and that seemed to help as well. Hopefully they can get rid of this bug!

matt said...

thanks, nice fix, easy and worked immediately no reboot required

בקו said...

thanks! thats help

Anonymous said...

Thank`s from Ukraine!

Cory said...

This seems to work. But I don't understand why all the programs aren't in that folder. I have a ton, but the folder only lists maybe 20, and only ones that are in folders, not any of the direct app links?

Not that it matters, I can remove more now that it actually is showing up. Thanks for the tip.

swamphox said...

I learned 2 things in the process...Thanks!

Anonymous said...

THANKS SO MUCH i never thud it will be so easy. i created folder and i could see it in start menu, then i moved everything inside all off them appear in start menu, then i moved them in same place. done :) everything is the place it should be. BIIIG THANKS FOR THIS :)

ScottFletcher said...

It just happened to me today, so thank you for your post! Going on 10 months and this bug is STILL in the software. Interesting that Microsoft has not gotten around to fixing it yet.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!!!! So simple yet so irritating!!!

Bubak said...

Thank you very much !!

Anonymous said...

well after a lot of messing around with all suggested fixes on this blog i found an easy fix for this problem just go too start all programs then right click and open for all users open programs folder and just delete a few unused short cuts from bottom and everything returns to normal no reboot required :)

Anonymous said...

gr8 gr8 gr8 - worked for me, thanks

Anonymous said...

I had the same issue and cause was some malware that made my programs menue "hidden" the way to fix it is to go "folder and Search Option" then show hidden files. Navigate to C:/users//app data/ then right click on the three folders inside Local, local low, and roaming. Uncheck the "hidden" box and bam! Your Program menu is no longer hidden.

Anonymous said...

Suuuuuuper, Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuperb idea, Eureka it worked. Thanks for solving mystery of Disappearing Programs :)

Kenny said...

This problem just happened to me about 30 minutes ago, your solution sadly didn't work for me. Though I did manage to fix it. by right clicking on All Programs and selecting Open All Users, then from there right clicking on the Programs folder, selecting Properties, then clicking the Previous Version Tab and restoring from one of my older restore points. but thanks anyways.

Anonymous said...

its great ) )

MISTERAMD said...

If you are using Vista 32bit, Windows7 32bit or any other Vista or Windows 7 version, only navigate in the Registry using Start and typing REGEDIT and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer and make a new key DWORD, name it ClearRecentDocsOnExit. Keep in mind it has to be dword:00000000 on the right after you made the key to actually save the recent programs and documents after you quit the pc.
If you are using Windows 7 64bit, like I use, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\

Lord necron said...

Old post, but still can be relevant for people searching for help. Recent infections have moved all links from start menu to temp. If your temp has been you have a problem. I know this isn't a total solution,but I hope this helps someone.

7 - http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/135246-start-menu-all-programs-windows-7-restore-default-shortcuts.html

Vista - http://www.vistax64.com/tutorials/159034-start-menu-restore-missing-default-shortcuts.html

aringan said...

hi guys this problem is due to windows ACL , look at the folder C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu and see if the programs ACL has appropriate security options:

1-right click on programs go to the security tab and check group and user names. it should have system and at least the user you are logged on, but the default is : Everyone & system and the administrator .

2-if you don't see any users,this is the case!! you should add the users by clicking on edit tab and add proper users then you should set the appropriate permissions which is in the following step

3-set the permissions,the permissions of the system and administrator are the same and is full but the everyone permission has to be just for (read&execute&list folder contents&read)
then apply

3-go to the advanced tab>change permissions and check the replace all child object permissions ..... and then apply and then OK ,

it is finished,enjoy it

Arief D. Rokafela said...

thank you so much for this info.
wow, i was surprised when i check the all program and it was empty, i tried some things before i give up and start googling for the solution.
thanks again.

Tina said...

Hello,

My issue was very similar to what you described initially. Unfortunately, once I got to the step to double-click on the programs folder, the folder was empty. I had no other folders within that folder. I have no idea why it's like this. If you have any suggestions please help.

Tina

Greg Duncan said...

@Tina Ouch, that would kind of freak me out too.

It sounds like all the shortcuts might have gotten deleted or something is hiding them

There's two locations for Start Menu/Programs, the All Users and Current Users. I'd check both... But it would be weird to have either one empty...

It's really hard to say what's going on in your case, but I'd do all the usual 'weird stuff is happening' steps like virus scan your system (with a couple different ones), etc.

I wish I could have been of more help,
Greg

Anonymous said...

Great. Yor Solution works perfect (Win7)

The Cat Lady said...

Awesome! All you guys are life savers! I have my links back and I learned a lot about how it all works, too. Thank you so very much! I love you! <3

SOURABH said...

thnks man...my problem was not exactly the same. I was having issue that i was unable to search for my programs through start menu search. So i follow ur tip to right click the start menu and open ALL Users. There i make myself the owner of particular folder and yuppie i m able to search now. :) Sharing is caring.

ishika sharma said...

i am facing a problem ...when i open uninstall program ,,so there should be appere all program but my laptop showing only 8 program.....what should i do???

Greg Duncan said...

@ishika sharma, check out
http://www.sevenforums.com/general-discussion/53960-add-remove-programs-doesnt-show-all-my-apps.html