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August 11, 2020

Settings MIA in Windows 10 Release Preview

I’m running the Release Preview version of Windows 10 on one of my test machines. It’s a Lenovo X380 Yoga, built in 2018, and is thus pretty modern as my PC fleet goes (Kaby Lake i7-8650U, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB Samsung OEM SSD). Imagine my surprise when the Settings app hung on me this morning. While I could open and close it, I couldn’t access various major sub-features. Within Update & Security, these included: Recovery, Windows Insider Program, and Device encryption. I could click on these items, and they would highlight, but no corresponding changes in the right-hand pane appeared. On a whim, I checked the Reliability Monitor, and sure enough it showed an error:

Settings MIA in Windows 10 Release Preview.relmoninfo

Sure enough, Settings was having issues communicating with the OS (“stopped interacting with Windows”). What to do?
[Click image for full-sized view.]

Easy fix for Settings MIA in Windows 10 Release Preview

My gut feel was that something broke down at the Windows Explorer level. So I jumped into Task Manager, and restarted Windows Explorer. I did it through the Processes tab, where I looked for Windows Explorer in the Name column. When I found it, I right-clicked the entry, and selected “Restart” from the pop-up menu. It did the trick, too: immediately after Windows Explorer reset itself, I was able to re-open the Settings app, and navigate to all the entries that had been previously off-limits.

I’m glad this worked. Had it failed to produce the desired results, my next move would have been to restart Windows 10 itself. This reminds me of olden days in Windows 3.x through 9x versions. The running joke at the time was that one should try the so-called “three-fingered salute” (CTRL-ALT-DEL) to forcibly restart the PC when things went wrong. Things didn’t go that far this time, but this strategy still comes in handy from time to time when Windows 10 starts going sideways. Some of the old ways, at least, are still good ways to troubleshoot.

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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