O R G A N I C / F E R T I L I Z E R: search programs and files no longer works in windows 7 (only shows headers)

Feb 1, 2010

search programs and files no longer works in windows 7 (only shows headers)

UPDATE: microsoft has a hotfix that corrects this problem. check it out here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/977380.

i can’t actually tell you the last time i dug through the all programs folder of the start menu.  after installing enough programs, you’ll see that even a well-organized structure of folders (maybe even based on the dewey decimal system) will still tack time to your program launch while you’re drilling down through folders.

if you’re like me, you probably hate doing this, too.  i routinely use the “search programs and files” section of the start menu to launch applications like cmd.exe.  it works quite well.

working “search programs and files” context


so what happens when this stops working?  it’s quite maddening actually.  instead of the usual set of things, as you see above, you instead, get back some nonsense that looks like this screenshot.

broken “search programs and files” context


notice the return simply gives you headers?  what do you do with that, i ask?  right.  nothing.


just some detail (skip this if you’re bored)

before i tell you how to fix this, i will state that i have no idea how this happens or why.  the only reference i could find was in this microsoft answers forum.  for that reason, i can’t delve into the why or how to prevent it.

apparently there’s a registry key that controls how this information is grouped together.  it’s located under the following, obscure and deeply embedded path:


the value you’re looking for this in registry folder is GroupBywhen this value contains something other than System.StartMenu.Group all kinds of shenanigans may ensue.  that in itself is the fix, my friends.

here’s a capture of a properly set value:


…and here’s how a corrupted value may look.  please keep in mind, it may be some value other than System.Null.



correcting the problem

now, here’s the step-by-step on correcting this problem:

  1. open registry editor
  2. navigate to the path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FolderTypes\{EF87B4CB-F2CE-4785-8658-4CA6C63E38C6}\TopViews\{00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000}
  3. locate the value: GroupBy
  4. change the value to System.StartMenu.Group
  5. launch task manager (ctrl-shift-esc)
  6. kill the explorer.exe process
  7. inside of task manager, go to file | new task (run…)
  8. type “explorer” and click ok
  9. go about merrily launching applications from “search programs and files”