Users who upgraded to Windows 8.1 have encountered a variety of difficulties. We’ve already covered seven Windows 8.1 upgrade issues and how to fix them. One problem that we didn’t include was that of ‘dead titles’ on the start screen.
You can take several steps to safely upgrade to Windows 8.1 and although I was extremely careful, this was still a problem that I personally experienced. I know from my discussions on the Microsoft Community that several other users experienced the same issue, despite taking precautions.
The problem consists of being left with non-responsive blank titles on the ‘All Apps’ screen – shortcuts left over from apps that were subsequently upgraded when running the update.
The apps have the following names:
Whilst several Windows 8 niggles can be resolved, the Start Screen titles are here to stay. The aforementioned titles are the remnants of the old Photos, Bing, Chat, Camera and SkyDrive (OneDrive) native apps. The frustration for users is that they cannot be deleted or upgraded through the usual channels.
When right-clicked, there is no option to delete the app as you would expect with one of the normal apps – instead you will just see ‘Pin to Start’ and ‘Customise’.
When left-clicked, users are presented with the onscreen message ‘This app can’t open. Check the Windows Store for more info”, along with a link to the store. If users click the link to the store they will again get an error message, saying “There’s a problem with the app you’re trying to run, but it can’t be repaired by Windows Store. You can try to install the app again, or you can contact your system administrator for more details”.
Users speculated over a diverse number of potential causes for the problem. Several people reported that they were using the latest 2014 version of Avast’s anti-virus software, though slowly people emerged that were using different anti-virus suites, ruling out Avast.
Ultimately, the reason for the error never emerged, but luckily a fix did.
Firstly, you need to enable hidden folders in the view menu, then head to Users/User/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Application Shortcuts.
Once there, use the search box in the top right corner of the window to search for each of the five apps by using a small segment of their original name, for example, ‘Photo’, ‘Microsoft’ (for SkyDrive / OneDrive), ‘Bing’, and ‘Camera’.
If this returns no results, you can sort the folders by date instead. The oldest sub-folders should contain the problematic shortcuts.
Either method will require you to change your computer’s security settings in order to delete the file. To do this right click on the folder in question, click ‘Properties’, and navigate to the ‘Security’ tab. Once there click on ‘Edit’, then ‘Add’ then enter the username you use on the machine.
If you are not comfortable with changing the security settings there is an alternative method. Right click on the Start Screen shortcut in the bottom left corner of your screen and select ‘Run’. Type %appdata% in the box and then press Enter. Once you are presented with the folder go up one folder level, then click through Local -> Microsoft -> Windows -> Application Shortcuts.
A word of caution before undertaking the fix – make sure after each removal, that you deleted the correct dead shortcut and not a valid shortcut to an app that works. Obviously, if you did accidentally delete a working shortcut, head straight to the Recycle Bin to restore it.
The Chat App
For the legacy Chat app it is a simpler process. Just delete the Mail, Calendar, and People apps, then head back to the Microsoft Store and reinstall them. You will not lose any data and the blank Chat title will be gone.
Have you experienced this problem? Did you work out the root cause? Perhaps you found an alternative solution? Let us know in the comments below.