If you’re going through Task Manager on a Windows 10 machine version 1903 or later, you will see StartMenuExperienceHost.exe running in the background. Is it a valid file? Is it a virus? Great questions. Let’s review what it is and if you should be concerned or not.
Jumping right to the end — everything is fine; it is not a virus. If you have Windows 10 and the latest updates, you don’t need to worry about StartMenuExperienceHost.exe. The Start (StartMenuExperienceHost.exe) is an executable created by Microsoft and built into the core OS.
What is StartMenuExperienceHost.exe?
The friendly name is Start and it manages the Windows 10 start menu. It’s a new feature starting with Windows 10 version 1903. Before that, the start menu was handled by the Windows Shell Experience Host (Shell ExperienceHost.exe). That could lead to instability, for example, if the start menu experience issues, the whole exporer.exe could crash and need a restart. To improve the performance of the start menu, StartMenuExperienceHost.exe was introduced. If the start menu encounters problems, only the process StartMenuExperienceHost.exe requires a restart, not the whole system or explorer.exe.
The file StartMenuExperienceHost.exe on Windows 10 (1903-2004 version) is of size 762KB, and located in the C:\Windows\SystemApps\Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_cw5n1h2txyewy folder. Microsoft has signed the file.
Start Menu issues
If you experience start menu issues, such as the menu is frozen and doesn’t open up. A quick fix to this is simply to terminate the StartMenuExperienceHost.exe process. Start it again by running it from the C:\Windows\SystemApps\Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_cw5n1h2txyewy folder. It creates a new fresh process that hopefully makes it work better.
Process StartMenuExperienceHost.exe runs under the logged-in user’s profile; as a result, no administrative privileges are needed to restart this process.
Don’t worry StartMenuExperienceHost.exe is a legit file
As we’ve discussed, StartMenuExperienceHost.exe is a valid Microsoft system file.
If you experience any issues, you can verify that the file is signed by Microsoft and running from C:\Windows\SystemApps\Microsoft.Windows.StartMenuExperienceHost_cw5n1h2txyewy folder. Verifying the signature and location helps us to ensure it is not a copycat file.
Do you have additional questions about processes running or Windows 10 in general? Please post your question or comment on our free Windows 10 discussion forum.