Desktop and Taskbar Missing. Settings gone. Windows 10.
January 28, 2017 12:43 PM   Subscribe

My parents computer has Windows 10. It used to start with a desktop display and regular old taskbar and start menu just like old versions of windows. I'm pretty sure I had ClassicShell on there for them to at least make the start menu show up. Now it opens onto those stupid tiles. There's no task bar with their pinned programs. There's no desktop with shortcuts to their favourite files or web sites. And there's no way of making those things appear (i.e. windows-key D) doesn't work.

My parents have been complaining that their computer is "broken." Last week this meant heir favourite newspaper now required registration, so I'm pretty wary of this claim, but I came over here and Lo, everything is gone and I can't figure out how to get or do anything.

I assume the computer updated itself and Microsoft has in its wisdom decided that three seniors living in a house together, one of whom only speaks a little English, really just want their interface changed constantly.

I found a button that shows me "all apps" but this does not include Classic Shell (which I reinstalled), but that didn't fix just brought back a start menu, but not *their* start menu (i.e. I had customized it to have all their shortcuts and programs easy to find). The desktop is still missing. No pinned programs on the taskbar. I can't find firefox in all apps. This is especially a problem since firefox has lastpass which is how they access all their sites. I'm supposed to be using LastPass right now to pay my mom's Amex bill while she's on vacation and I can't get in because I can't even find firefox. (Courtana offered to help and then just Binged (????) firefox for me.) I found a button that says show desktop, but it just shows me a blank desktop with no shortcuts or files and no taskbar with pinned programs.

If I pull up "This PC" the desktop folder with all it's files and shortcuts is still there. The general file structure looks normal. I need to put the interface back, preferably with all the customizations it already had, because none of us deal with change well, one older household member, in particular, who is highly computer-dependent, but only knows how to do things the way he knows how to do things.

God I'm so glad I didn't upgrade to Windows 10.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should probably have stated a question: How do I fix this?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:43 PM on January 28, 2017

Response by poster: I found the likely offending update, KB3211320, and attempted to uninstall it using the instructions here. I got the uninstall button to reappear but nothing happened when I tried it. So thought rebooting might get the uninstall button to work.

But now it's restarting *AND* it's updating again. What fresh hell will this bring???
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:22 PM on January 28, 2017

Response by poster: I have successfully uninstalled the update from Jan 24. That didn't fix it.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:26 PM on January 28, 2017

I have my doubts about an update being at fault here. When you say the file structure is normal, do you mean that the user data is still where it should be? Does the user account you're logged into have the same name as what they were using before, or is it possible somehow another user account was added?

Edit: I should be clearer: I don't think an update caused the issue necessarily because ClassicShell AFAIK doesn't affect the Desktop, so if that's been reset from what you had on there, it's not like the update removed that. It would explain the Start menu being different but...
posted by sixfootaxolotl at 1:33 PM on January 28, 2017

So I'm going to go ahead and eat some crow, it looks like that update may have broken Classic Shell.
posted by sixfootaxolotl at 1:39 PM on January 28, 2017

The very latest Win10 update has a normal (classic shell-like) interface so you may need to do that. I seem to remember it was a very involved update.
posted by hydrobatidae at 1:41 PM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: When I say the file structure is normal, I mean that if I go into explorer, I can see a folder called desktop, position in it's special outside-the-hierarchy place, and that this folder contains all the files that should be on the desktop. I can see the documents folders and all documents seem to be there. I also confirmed that I'm logged into the correct account.

I was able to find an option to bring icons back to the taskbar (i.e. pinned programs), but the icons seemed to be those chosen by windows, not the ones they had before.

Also missing the minimize and restore buttons at the top of each window. It's "x" button only now.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:52 PM on January 28, 2017

Response by poster: Oh, and the computer is backed up to the cloud via crashplan. I believe it's the whole user folder, so if settings are stored there they could in theory be restored?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:56 PM on January 28, 2017

Are you sure you're not under a guest Windows profile?
posted by littlesq at 1:58 PM on January 28, 2017

Response by poster: Not a guest profile.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:59 PM on January 28, 2017

Best answer: The big update a few weeks ago uninstalled Classic Shell and made my Surface default to tablet mode, even with keyboard attached in landscape, which killed the taskbar and quick launch icons. Reinstalling Classic Shell and disabling tablet mode got it back to something I find acceptable.

(Rebooting after disabling tablet mode and then reenabling it made tablet mode switching start working again, in case anyone with a convertible happens to read this)
posted by wierdo at 3:58 PM on January 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: My parents are willing to hire someone to fix this. The problem is that they have their eye on an ad in the classifieds of a community newspaper. Fix computers. Lost data. Etc. I assume this is a hardware person, not someone who knows windows settings inside out. The best software solution one can expect from someone like that is likely a formatted hard drive. Add to that the fact that I don't know where or if they have a windows CD.

So if they wanted to hire someone, how would I find someone who is basically a windows setting guru? This is in Toronto.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:59 PM on January 28, 2017

I can't vouch for it, but there's a utility that fixes broken Classic Shell problems on Windows 10.

Just to be clear, this is not a Windows 10 issue. Windows 10 is generally stable and fine. It's like putting a Toyota part into a Honda engine. You might be able to get it to work, but it's the part that's the problem, not the engine.
posted by cnc at 5:40 PM on January 28, 2017

Response by poster: It was the tablet mode thing.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:54 PM on January 28, 2017

Best answer: Just open the W10 settings app and search for tablet mode. Once found, disable it entirely. Given that tablet mode forces it to use the tile screen and disables the task bar, I'm fairly certain that is the main issue.

Classic Shell going away is a separate issue. When the computer first rebooted after the update it would have given a notification it had been uninstalled because it "is incompatible with an update," but that would be long gone by now. Download and install the latest version and it will work again.

When out of tablet mode and with classic Shell reinstalled, your start menu and desktop should be back to the way they were before. I say should since that is precisely what happened for me.
posted by wierdo at 5:54 PM on January 28, 2017

If Windows can't properly load the user profile (settings, wallpaper, logins, favorites), it loads a fresh default profile. Save a text document to the desktop. Right click on it, choose properties. C:\Users\PROFILE_NAME\test.txt Open file explorer, browse to C:\Users\. Is there another profile there that has their login name? This problem usually resolves with a reboot, but if their old profile is pooched, you can harvest Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Music and anything else and use the new profile.

The tile interface and lack of start menu is a huge mess.
posted by theora55 at 12:02 PM on January 29, 2017

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