Here’s what happens if you add more than 500 items to the Start menu in Windows 10
With Windows 10, there is an odd bug with the Start menu that if you add more than 512 items to it, the menu enters a twilight zone and either eats your apps (not permanently deleted but they not longer show up in the menu) or crashes constantly.
In an effort to make sure you are aware of what happens if you cross the 512 boundary, I sacrificed a VM to the Windows gods to go down this path. To experience this bug, it doesn’t require a lot of skill or effort but know that it does screw up your start menu temporarily and you may not want to intentionally do this unless you like tinkering around with Windows.
To exploit the bug, you will need 500 of any file type; I used pictures for this example. Then you will need to navigate to %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu and create a folder of any name. Once created, copy the 500 files to the new folder that you created but paste the items in as a shortcut.
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After doing this, if you click on your Start menu, the results become inconsistent and vary greatly. I have experienced lag time of up to 15 seconds for the menu to open, clicking ‘all apps’ will occasionally crash the menu and like others, some apps simply go missing from the menu. Other times, the menu would not open at all and clicking the Start button several times resulted in nothing and required a restart to get it to open again.
To remove the issue, delete the folder from the Start menu where you added the 500 new files or in my case, simply blow away the VM. I did not do this on a production machine and only in a VM as I didn’t want to risk damaging a good install of Windows 10 (and you shouldn’t either).
It is important to understand that this bug is active in the current release of Windows 10 for anyone who has, or is thinking of deploying the OS. If you encounter an issue where a user is suddenly no longer able to find an app or their menu is crashing consistently, check to see how much content is currently being shown in the menu.
The good news is that Microsoft is aware of the bug and is working on a fix but has not offered a definitive timeline for the fix to be deployed.