Windows Start Menu Search does not return any results?

April 21, 2020
Rod Hatley

What is Start Menu Search?

In all versions of Windows since the release of Windows Vista, one of the key features the Windows Start Menu supports is a quick search.  You can try this by clicking on the start button and start typing.  Typing when the Start Menu UI is active will change the screen to a search type screen.  This is a great feature if you’re not sure where a program or document is located on your PC.  While not an obvious UI element, understanding you can start typing while the Start Menu is active is a very handy feature to quickly find things.

Search no longer finds anything

We have seen many instances where users complain the search function cannot find anything.  Search UI opens up, but searching does not find anything.  We’ve seen this occur on Windows 10 workstations and Windows Server 2016 systems, but not necessarily on all systems.    Additionally, we have seen a few isolated instances where at first the keyboard didn’t seem to work when logging into Office 365  with Modern Authentication enabled.

CTFMON.EXE not running

The core issue is CTFMON is not running.  You can test this quickly by going to Run… on the Start Menu and starting up CTFMON manually.  At this point, test to see if this clears up the Search issue.  If so, this will stay running until you next reboot your system.

For a permanent fix, you will want to start Windows Task Scheduler and check to ensure the MsCtfMonitor is set to run automatically for any user who logs on.  Launch the Task Scheduler application which is built into Windows and expand the tree on the left under Microsoft –> Windows –> TextServicesFramework.   Check the task MsCtfMonitor to ensure it is not disabled.  It should be set to Ready as the example below shows.