[FIX] Gaming Features Aren’t Available for Windows Desktop or File Explorer

Some Windows users report a weird issue where the record option is greyed out after launching the Game Bar to record the gameplay. Upon clicking the button, affected users see the ‘Gaming features aren’t available for windows desktop or file explorer‘ error. This problem is confirmed to occur on both Windows 10 and Windows 11. 

“Gaming features aren’t available for windows desktop or file explorer” with Windows Game Bar

After we’ve looked into this issue carefully, we realized that several different underlying causes might be responsible for this particular error code. Here’s a short list of scenarios that might directly or indirectly produce the “Gaming features aren’t available for windows desktop or file explorer” error:

  • Xbox Game Bar is disabled – The first thing you need to do when troubleshooting this particular issue is to check if the Xbox Game Bar functionality is not soft disabled. If the feature is indeed disabled, access the Xbox Game Bar settings inside the Windows Settings menu and enable the associated toggle. 
  • Xbox Game bar is disabled via Gpedit policy. If you previously meddled with local or network-wide policies made available via the Gpedit.msc utility, you should also investigate whether the ‘Enables or disables Windows Game Recording, and Broadcasting’ policy is not disabled. If it’s disabled, open the Gpedit utility and make sure this policy is set to ‘Enabled’ or ‘Not Configured.’
  • Outdated Xbox Game bar version – As it turns out, Microsoft has already released a series of hotfixes aimed at making the Xbox Game bar more reliable. To ensure you’re taking advantage of all the stability brought about by the new version of the Xbox Game bar, access the Microsoft Store and force the Xbox Game bar to update by the Get Updates bar. 
  • Corrupted Xbox Game bar version – Under certain circumstances, you can expect to deal with this issue in a scenario where some system file corruption is affecting the game recording features. To get around this issue, try repairing the Xbox Game bar installation and move on to a reinstall procedure if the first one fails.
  • Shortcut glitch – According to a lot of affected users, you might be able to jumpstart the Xbox Game bar recording without actually fixing the root cause of the issue by initiating the recording via Windows Store instead of from the dedicated Xbox Game bar. 
  • The Xbox Console Companion app is not installed – One dependency of the Xbox Game bar gameplay recording not explicitly mentioned in the error code is the Xbox Console Companion. If you don’t have this UWP app, download it from the Microsoft Store to fix the issue. 
  • Gameplay can’t be recorded in fullscreen mode – Keep in mind that with certain games, you will have an issue recording gameplay (with every recorder, not just the Game Bar) if the game runs in full-screen mode. To avoid this problem, reconfigure the game to run in windowed mode. 
  • Google Chrome conflict caused by background process – According to many users affected by this issue, you can also expect to deal with this problem when Chrome is not closed but is running in the background while this error occurs. To fix this particular issue, you can ensure that Chrome is not running in the background. 
  • Outdated Game Bar dependencies – It’s been confirmed that you can also encounter this particular issue in scenarios where specific dependencies that the Xbox Game Bar needs are outdated or not installed. As a good practice, you should carry on all pending Microsoft Store updates before accessing the Windows Update components and installing every hotfix, feature update & cumulative update.
  • Virus infection – You shouldn’t disregard a potential malware infection as a plausible reason why you might experience this type of error. Our recommendation is to take the time to run a deep system-wide security scan to ensure your PC is not infected. 
  • Missing Windows Media Pack – If you’re on N or KN versions of Windows 10 or 11, there’s a big chance you’re experiencing this problem because you’re missing the Windows Media pack dependency. Fortunately, you can fix this issue quickly by manually installing the Windows Media pack.

Now that we covered every potential cause that will prevent you from recording your gameplay via the Xbox Game Bar, let’s go over every confirmed fix that other affected users have successfully used to get to the bottom of the issue and fix the ‘Gaming features aren’t available for windows desktop or file explorer’ error.

1. Enable the Xbox Game Bar

If the Xbox Game Bar isn’t working, the first thing to do is make sure it isn’t just soft deactivated. To turn it back on, open the Windows Settings menu and look for the Xbox Game Bar section.

Microsoft doesn’t do a good job of letting you know that the actual component you are trying to use is disabled from the Settings menu.

Fortunately, you can check this out manually and enable the Xbox Bar component (if necessary) by following the instructions below:

  1. Press Windows key + I to open the Settings menu on Windows 10 or 11.  
  2. Once you’re finally inside the Settings menu, click on the Gaming tab from the vertical menu on the left. 
  3. Next, move over to the right-hand section of the screen and click on Xbox Game Bar from the list of items. 
    Access the Xbox Game Bar menu
  4. Once inside the dedicated Xbox Game bar settings, set the associated toggle to On and reboot your PC to enforce the changes. 
  5. Repeat the action previously causing the ‘Gaming features aren’t available for windows desktop or file explorer‘ error and see if the problem is now fixed. 

If the problem is still not fixed, move to the following method below. 

2. Enable Windows Game Recording Policy (if applicable)

If you’ve tinkered with the Gpedit.msc tool’s local or network-wide policies in the past, you may want to double-check that the ‘Enables or disables Windows Game Recording, and Broadcasting’ policy is, in fact, disabled.

Launch the Gpedit tool and verify that this policy is set to “Enabled” or “Not Configured” if it is not already.

IMPORTANT: This method is only applicable if you use an Enterprise or PRO version of Windows 10 or 11. By default, the Local Group Policy Editor tool is unavailable for the Home, N, KN, and Education versions. However, you can install it manually with a series of steps

If you haven’t tried this fix yet and this method is applicable, follow the instructions below:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box.
  2. Next, type ‘gepedit.msc’ inside the text box, then press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up the Local Group Policy Editor
    Open up the Gpedit utility.
  3. When the User Account Control prompts you, click Yes to grant admin access. 
  4. Once you’re finally inside the Local Group Policy Editor, use the vertical menu on the left to navigate to the following location:
    Computer Configuration > Windows Components > Windows Game Recording and Broadcasting 
  5. Click on Windows Game Recording and Broadcasting once to select it, then move to the right-hand pane to click on Enables or Disables Windows Game Recording and Broadcasting policy. 
    Access the Windows Game Recording & Broadcasting
  6. Once you’re inside the settings menu of the Enables or Disables Windows Game Recording and Broadcasting policy, set it to either Enabled or Not Configured before clicking Apply to save the changes. 
  7. Reboot your PC to enforce the changes you just did and see if the error is now fixed

If you still cannot use the Xbox Game Bar component, move down to the following method below. 

3. Update the Xbox Game Bar app

It has come to light that Microsoft has already disseminated several “hotfixes,” or emergency software updates, to improve the dependability of the Xbox Game bar.

You may ensure that you can make the most of the improved stability brought about by the latest version of the Xbox Game bar by visiting the Microsoft Store and using the Get Updates bar to force an update to be applied to the Xbox Game bar.

If you’re looking for specific instructions on how to do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. 
  2. Inside the dialog box that just appeared, type ‘ms-windows-store:’ and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up the Microsoft (Windows) Store with admin access.
    Access the Windows Store component
  3. Click Yes to grant admin access at the User Account Control (UAC). 
  4. Once inside the Microsoft Store, use the search function up top to search for the ‘xbox game bar’ and press Enter. 
  5. On the dedicated directory of the Xbox Game Bar, see if there’s a pending update for the Xbox Game Bar component.
  6. If there is indeed an available update, follow the on-screen prompts to install it by following the on-screen instructions.
  7. Reboot your PC and see if the Xbox Game Bar is now functioning without issues.

If the problem is still not fixed, move to the following method below. 

4. Repair or Reset the Xbox Game Bar

If none of those mentioned above solutions worked for you, you should start to suspect that the Xbox Game Bar component may be corrupted.

According to user complaints, this is a typical side effect when upgrading from an earlier Windows version to Windows 11.

For this sort of problem, Microsoft provides two mitigating alternatives. If the first approach doesn’t work, you may use the Settings app to fix the entire component or reset the Xbox Game Bar completely.

Start with a straightforward repair method, then move on to a reset if the Xbox Game Bar functionality is still inoperable.

For your convenience, we have put together a set of instructions (with images) to guide you through repairing and resetting the Xbox Game Bar component.

The steps are as follows:

  1. To access the Settings panel on Windows 11, press Windows key + I.
  2. After entering the Settings menu, go to the Apps tab using the vertical menu on the left. When you enter the Settings window, if the vertical menu is hidden, click the action symbol at the top to reveal it.
    Accessing the Apps tab
  3. Access the Apps & Features menu from the Apps menu’s right-hand pane.
  4. To access the “Xbox Search Bar” after entering the Apps & Features menu, utilize the search feature under “App list.”
  5. Once you’ve found the item for Xbox Game Bar, click on the action symbol (three-dot icon) next to it, and then select Advanced Options from the context menu that appears.
    Access the Advanced Options menu
  6. After entering the Xbox Game Bar’s Advanced Menu, select the Reset option and select repair.
  7. After the procedure, test if the issue has been resolved by launching the Xbox Game bar (Windows key + G).
    Repairing the Xbox component
  8. If the Xbox Game bar still won’t open, attempt the second mitigation strategy by clicking Reset in the same Advanced Options window.
    Reset the Xbox game bar component
  9. After the procedure is finished, try launching the Xbox Game Bar component once more to verify if the issue has been resolved.

Continue to the next possible repair below if your issue is still not resolved.

5. Reinstall the Xbox Game Bar

If the method above didn’t work in your case, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with persistent corruption affecting the Xbox Game Bar.

Several users dealing with the same kind of issue have confirmed that they managed to get around this issue by utilizing Powershell to effectively get rid of the entire Microsoft Xbox Gaming Overlay component to eliminate the potential corruption issue.

After you’ve done this, you can reinstall the recently uninstalled component via the same Powershell window.

Follow the instructions below for specific steps on how to do this:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘powershell’ inside the text box and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open Powershell with admin access.
    Open an elevated PowerShell terminal.
  2. Click Yes to grant admin access when prompted by the User Account Control (UAC). 
  3. Once you’re inside the elevated Powershell window, type or paste the following command and press Enter to uninstall the Microsoft Xbox Gaming Overlay effectively:

    get-appxpackage *Microsoft.XboxGamingOverlay* | remove-appxpackage
    
  4. Once the first command has been processed successfully, run the following command to reinstall the component that you just removed:
    Get-AppXPackage *Microsoft.XboxGamingOverlay* -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}
  5. Reboot your PC and see if the problem is now fixed.

If the problem still occurs and you can’t record your gameplay via the Xbox Game bar, move down to the following method below. 

6. Initiate the recording from Windows Store

Initiating the recording from the Windows Store rather than from the dedicated Xbox Game bar may allow you to circumvent the need to resolve the underlying cause of the problem and get the Xbox Game bar recording back up and running. This is the consensus of many users who have been adversely affected.

If you aren’t bothered by the fact that this is only a workaround and doesn’t fix the root cause of the issue, follow the instructions below to initiate a recording from the Windows Store:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. 
  2. Inside the dialog box that just appeared, type ‘ms-windows-store:’ and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up the Microsoft (Windows) Store with admin access.
    Access the Windows Store component
  3. Click Yes to grant admin access at the User Account Control (UAC). 
  4. Once inside the Microsoft Store, use the search function up top to search for the ‘xbox game bar’ and press Enter. 
  5. On the dedicated directory of the Xbox Game Bar, click on the Open button to try to open the Xbox Game bar from a different location.
    Open up the Xbox Game bar via Microsoft Store.
  6. Try to initiate the recording and see if the problem is now fixed.

If the same problem is still occurring, move to the following method below. 

7. Install the Xbox Console Companion app

The Xbox Console Companion is a requirement for the Xbox Game bar gameplay recording, even though this need is not listed explicitly in the error code. If you do not already have this Universal Windows Platform software installed on your device, you will need to go to the Microsoft Store and download it to resolve the issue.

If the Xbox Console Companion app is not installed on your Windows PC yet, follow the instructions below to install it:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. 
  2. Inside the dialog box that just appeared, type ‘ms-windows-store:’ and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up the Microsoft (Windows) Store with admin access.
    Access the Windows Store component
  3. Click Yes to grant admin access at the User Account Control (UAC). 
  4. Once inside the Microsoft Store, use the search function up top to search for ‘xbox console companion and press Enter. 
  5. From the dedicated Xbox Console Companion app listing, click on Get and wait until the component gets installed.
  6. Reboot your PC and see if the problem is now fixed.

If you’re still experiencing the ‘Gaming features aren’t available for windows desktop or file explorer’ error, move down to the following method below. 

8. Force the game to run in windowed mode

It is important to remember that if the game is played in full-screen mode, any recorders, not only the Game Bar, will encounter difficulties while attempting to record gameplay for specific titles. Adjusting the game’s settings to run in windowed mode will allow you to sidestep this issue.

Follow the instructions below to force any game to run in windowed mode and resolve the ‘Gaming features aren’t available for windows desktop or file explorer’ error:

  1. Please right-click on the game executable (not the shortcut) and follow these steps to configure it to always run in windowed mode
  2. Once you’ve completed step 1, please right-click on the game executable and make sure you launch it with admin access.
  3. Open the Xbox Game bar via the previously established setup now that the game runs in windowed mode and see if you can initiate the recording.

If the same issue is still occurring, move to the following method below. 

9. Prevent Chrome from running in the background (if applicable)

It has been reported by a significant number of people who have been afflicted by this issue that you may also anticipate having to deal with this issue in circumstances in which Chrome is not closed but is operating in the background while this mistake is taking place.

To resolve this specific problem, you must verify that Chrome is not operating in the background while you are working on it.

To do this, access your tray bar icon and check if you can spot the Chrome icon. If you can see it, right-click on it and choose Exit from the context menu. 

Close Chrome’s background processes

Once you’ve done this, attempt to re-record gameplay and see if the problem is now fixed. 

10. Update all Microsoft Store apps

You may also run into this problem when some dependencies that the Xbox Game Bar requires are either out of current or not installed. Before making another attempt to start the Game Bar feature, it is recommended that you finish installing any outstanding updates from the Microsoft Store first.

If you’re not sure if you have any pending UWP updates, follow the instructions below for specific instructions on how to do this:

  1. Press the Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. 
  2. Inside the dialog box that just appeared, type ‘ms-windows-store:’ and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up the Microsoft (Windows) Store with admin access.
    Access the Windows Store component
  3. Click Yes to grant admin access at the User Account Control (UAC). 
  4. Once inside the Microsoft Store component, click on Library from the screen’s bottom-left corner. 
    Access the Library screen
  5. Once inside the Library screen, click on the Get updates menu. 
    Access the Get Updates screen
  6. Once the scan is performed, wait until every pending update is installed and confirm manually if prompted.
    Install all pending UWP updates
  7. Once every pending UWP update is installed, reboot your PC and see if the issue is resolved once the next startup is complete.

If you cannot open the game bar functionality, move to the following method below. 

11. Update to the latest available Windows Build

It is crucial to verify that you have all of the pending updates installed if you are using Windows 10 or Windows 11. This will guarantee that you have all the necessary dependencies for Game Bar to operate correctly on your computer.

Note: It has been brought to our attention that Microsoft has issued several hotfixes to improve the consistency of gameplay recording on Windows 11.

Suppose you believe that the following scenario may apply to your situation. In that case, you should follow the on-screen instructions to install any outstanding updates for Windows 10 or Windows 11 on your computer:

  1. To begin, open a Run dialog box by hitting the Windows key + R key. Next, access the Windows Update tab of the Settings program by typing “ms-settings:windowsupdate” and pressing the Enter key on your keyboard. 
    Access the Windows Update component
  2. When you’re on the Windows update screen, click the button that says Check for updates. The following procedures should be followed to ensure that every available Windows update is applied when it is next scheduled. 
    Check for updates

    Note: It is essential to apply all available updates, including cumulative and security updates; do not limit yourself to only installing updates that have been rated as either Critical or Important.

  3. If there are a large number of updates that need to be done, you will be required to restart your computer before each update is performed. If this happens to you, you will need to do a restart as directed, but you must also ensure that you are brought back to this screen on the subsequent startup so that you may complete the installation of the remaining updates.
  4. After completing each outstanding update, restart your computer and see if the problem is now fixed. 

If you still see the error message “Gaming functions aren’t accessible for Windows desktop or file explorer,” continue reading below for another potential solution.

12. Eliminate the virus infection

You must not exclude the possibility that you have been infected by malware as a possible explanation for why you have encountered this kind of problem. To ensure that your computer does not have a virus or other type of malware, we strongly advise you to take the time to do a comprehensive security scan throughout the whole system.

To exclude the possibility of a virus infection, do a comprehensive scan of the computer using a robust application such as Malwarebytes. This will ensure that a virus does not cause the problem.

Note: It’s possible that this issue is being caused by malicious software that has gained access to your system and is using up all of your CPU resources. You may fix the problem by eradicating the malware infection with Malwarebytes’ full scan, which you can do by following the instructions below.

Conducting a thorough scan with a reputable anti-malware product is the best way to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that this is not the situation. Numerous approaches may be taken to do this. Still, we recommend using Malwarebytes because it is one of the most powerful security scanners and works just as effectively against adware as against malware.

Follow these instructions to run a comprehensive scan using Malwarebytes.

Deploy a Malwarebytes scan

If you continue to have the same problem even after you deploy a Malwarebytes scan, you should go on to the following technique listed below.

13. Install Missing Windows Media Pack (only for N & KN versions)

You are likely seeing this issue if you are running the N or KN version of Windows 10 or Windows 11. This is because you do not have the Windows Media pack requirement installed on your system.

You will be relieved that manually installing the Windows Media pack is a simple solution to this problem.

It’s also possible that the Windows Media Feature Pack isn’t installed, which would explain this issue. This pack is required to perform game-requiring tasks via the Game Bar successfully. 

Note: The Media Feature pack is missing from the KN and N versions of Windows. 

To resolve this issue, you must navigate to the Apps & Programs menu and manually install the feature by selecting the Optional Feature option from inside that menu.

To accomplish this, please refer to the following instructions:

  1. To enter the Apps & features menu, use the Windows key + R to bring up the Run dialog box, then type “ms-settings:appsfeatures” in the box that appears.
    Access the App features section
  2. Navigate to the Apps & features menu, and then inside that menu, select the Optional features option.
    Access the Optional Updates
  3. Next, select the Add feature option from the drop-down menu. When the menu displays on your screen, look for the Media Feature Pack, select it, and then click on the install button to begin the feature’s download and installation.
    Access the Media Feature pack
  4. After that, restart your personal computer and wait for it to power back up.
  5. Once you have passed the screen that welcomes you to the game, check whether the issues are still present.
Kamil Anwar
Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.

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[FIX] Gaming Features Aren’t Available for Windows Desktop or File Explorer

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