Blank desktop in Windows
This article provides resolutions to an issue where you're presented with a blank screen with no Start Menu, shortcuts, or icons after logging on to a Windows computer.
Applies to: Windows 10 - all editions, Windows Server 2012 R2
Original KB number: 970879
After logging on to a Windows computer, you're presented with a blank screen with no Start Menu, shortcuts, or icons. If you reboot and use F8 to boot to Safe Mode with Networking, you'll see your normal desktop.
You may see the following events in the Application log:
Log Name: Application
Event ID: 4006
The Windows logon process has failed to spawn a user application. Application name: . Command line parameters: C:\Windows\system32\logon.scr /s.
Log Name: Application
Event ID: 4006
The Windows logon process has failed to spawn a user application. Application name: . Command line parameters: C:\Windows\system32\userinit.exe.
This may occur when the membership of the local Users group is changed from the default settings. By default, the local Users group should contain the Interactive account and the Authenticated Users group.
By default, User Account Control (UAC) is enabled. At logon, the standard user access token is built, and if the Users group is missing the default members, the user will be unable to interact with the desktop, resulting in the blank desktop being displayed.
Add the Authenticated Users group and Interactive account to the local Users group.
For both methods below, you'll need to first restart and select F8 at boot to boot to Safe Mode with Networking.
- Click Start, Run, type lusrmgr.msc, and then press ENTER.
- Select Groups in the left pane.
- Double-click Users in the right pane.
- Click Add, and then click Locations. Scroll to the top of the Locations dialog and select the local computer name, then click OK.
- In the Enter the object names to select field, type Interactive; Authenticated Users (separated by a semi-colon). Then click OK.
- Restart the computer.
Run the following commands from a command prompt:
Net localgroup Users Interactive /add Net localgroup Users "Authenticated Users" /add
When an administrator logs on, the full administrator access token is split into two access tokens: a full administrator access token and a standard user access token.
During the logon process, the administrative privileges and user rights in the full administrator access token are filtered, resulting in the standard user access token. The standard user access token is then used to launch the Explorer.exe process that displays the desktop.
When the local Users group doesn't contain the default members, the standard user access token doesn't have sufficient permissions available to launch Explorer.exe, and only a blank desktop is displayed.
When UAC is turned off, only the full privilege access token is generated for the user and the membership of the local Users group doesn't impact the permissions available in that token.
Windows makes a distinction between the built-in Administrator account and members of the Administrators group. The built-in Administrator account still has full read/write access to the computer and runs with the full administrative access token. UAC administrators are also members of the local Administrators group, but they run with the same access token as standard users.
Microsoft and/or its suppliers make no representations or warranties about the suitability, reliability, or accuracy of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this website (the materials) for any purpose. The materials may include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors and may be revised at any time without notice.
To the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, Microsoft and/or its suppliers disclaim and exclude all representations, warranties, and conditions whether express, implied, or statutory, including but not limited to representations, warranties, or conditions of title, non-infringement, satisfactory condition or quality, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to the materials.