Spotlight Not Working on Windows 11? Here’s How to Fix It

Some Windows 11 have suddenly discovered that Windows Spotlight no longer changes the images, and fun facts no longer appear at all on the login screen. Some affected users have reported that they previously had the issue on Windows 10 and thought upgrading to Windows 11 would solve the problem, but it didn’t.

Windows Spotlight Not working

We’ve investigated this issue thoroughly, and we’ve figured out that there are several different resolutions available to you if you’re currently dealing with this issue.

But first, let’s take a look at all the potential causes that might be responsible for causing this Spotlight issue on Windows 11:

  • Common Spotlight Inconsistency – Before advancing to more focused troubleshooting guides capable of fixing this Spotlight issue, you should start by running the System Maintenance Troubleshooter to see if your Windows installation is capable of resolving this issue automatically.
  • Corrupted Spotlight Cache – One of the most common causes that will end up breaking Spotlight on Windows 11 is a corrupted cache folder. If you find yourself in this scenario, you should first clear both cache folders that Spotlight uses, then register the app once again to prevent any temp file from causing this issue.
  • 3rd-party antivirus interference – While Windows Security is not known to interfere with the functionality of Spotlight, some 3rd party security suites are. For example, BitDefender is often blamed for this issue. Unfortunately, there is no way of fixing this conflict other than uninstalling the problematic security suite.
  • The dynamic theme is disabled – Depending on your current Spotlight configuration, you can expect to deal with this issue if you don’t have the active theme installed and enabled on your PC. After allowing the dynamic theme, you should see how Spotlight starts working once again.
  • Inconsistent asset folder – The weak spot of Spotlight has always been the asset folder, and this is also true on Windows 11. If you’re into customizing your Spotlight to the brim, you run the risk of breaking the asset folder. To fix it, you need to navigate to the location of the asset folder manually and clear its contents before restarting Spotlight.
  • Required Background apps are disabled – Keep in mind that Spotlight has some app dependencies that need to be enabled to allow Spotlight to function correctly. If you haven’t already, take the time to ensure that Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Store, and the Settings app are all enabled as background apps.
  • System file corruption – Under certain circumstances, you can expect to see this particular issue due to some kind of system corruption that either affects the Spotlight component directly or some associated dependencies. To resolve this issue, you should take the time to deploy DISM and SFC in quick succession.

Now that you are aware of every potential scenario that might break Spotlight’s functionality start following the methods below to troubleshoot the issue at hand.

Running the System Maintenance Troubleshooter

Before you move on to more specific troubleshooting guides, you should start by checking if your current Windows 11 installation is not capable of fixing the issue automatically.

Windows 11 (as well as Windows 10) comes equipped with the System Maintenance Troubleshooter – this is a utility that allows you to 1-click apply a series of automated fixes related to common issues affecting the desktop, icons, the login screen, and other display-related inconsistencies.

In case you haven’t tried fixing this issue by running the System Maintenance Troubleshooter yet, follow the instructions below to run this tool and apply the recommended fix:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘control’ inside the text box and press Enter to open the classic Control Panel interface.
    Open up the classic Control Panel menu.
  2. Once you’re inside the classic Control panel menu, use the search function at the top to search for ‘troubleshoot’ and press Enter.
  3. From the list of results, click on Troubleshooting.
    Opening up the Troubleshooting tab
  4. Next, from the dedicated Troubleshooting menu, click on System and Security.
    Open up the System and Security tab.
  5. From the dedicated System and Security menu, click on System Maintenance (under System).
    Open up the System Maintenance troubleshooter.
  6. Once you’re at the first screen of the System Maintenance tab, click on the Advanced hyperlink first, then check the box associated with Apply repairs automatically.

    Apply the repairs automatically.
  7. Hit Next, then follow the remaining prompts to run the troubleshooter and apply the recommended fix automatically.
    Troubleshooting with admin access

    Note: If you get asked to troubleshoot as an administrator, do so by clicking on Try troubleshooting as an administrator. 

  8. Depending on the fix that gets recommended, you might get asked to perform a series of manual steps.

Once you have successfully run the System Maintenance troubleshooter and applied the recommended fix, reboot your PC and check if Spotlight has started working.

If the same kind of issue is still occurring, move down to the next potential fix below.

Clean the Cache and Reinstall

Suppose the automated fix above was not effective in your case. In that case, the next thing that you should do is troubleshoot against a potential issue brought about by corrupted data stored in one of the two Spotlight cache folders.

Other users dealing with the problem have confirmed that they fixed the issue by deleting both cache folders and registering the main Spotlight app (using a series of elevated CMD and Powershell commands).

Follow the instructions below for specific steps of cleaning the Spotlight cache and reinstalling the main app:

Note: In the name of simplifying things, we will use the new Windows terminal as the platform for inputting the required commands. This action will allow us to run both CMD and Powershell commands without the need to open two separate windows.

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘wt’ inside the text box and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up a Windows Terminal interface with admin access.
    Open up the Windows Terminal interface.
  2. When the User Account window prompts you, click Yes to grant admin access.
  3. Once you’re inside the elevated Windows Terminal app, start by running both of these CMD commands in quick succession (press Enter after each command) to clear both of the problematic SpotLight cache folders:
    DEL /F /S /Q /A "%USERPROFILE%/AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\Assets"
    DEL /F /S /Q /A "%USERPROFILE%/AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\Settings"
  4. After you run both of these commands, run the following Powershell command from the same Windows Terminal window to register the Spotlight app once again:
    Get-AppxPackage -allusers *ContentDeliveryManager* | foreach {Add-AppxPackage "$($_.InstallLocation)\appxmanifest.xml" -DisableDevelopmentMode -register }
  5. Reboot your PC to allow your operating system to re-create the two deleted cache folders and see if Spotlight starts working again.

If you followed the instructions above and are still dealing with the same issue, move down to the next potential fix below.

Uninstall BitDefender (if applicable)

Remember that BitDefender is often singled out for interfering with some critical Windows service dependencies that Spotlight also uses. Several users who we’re also dealing with have confirmed that the Spotlight issue was only fixed after they uninstalled the Bitdefender suite altogether.

Note: Disabling the real-time protection won’t help as other affected users report it.

Update: If you’re using BitDefender and you suspect that it might be interfering with Spotlight, try updating the 3rd-party AV suite to the latest version available before deciding to uninstall it. Some affected users have raised tickets about this Windows 11 issue, so chances are BitDefender will patch it sooner than later.

If this scenario is applicable, follow the instructions below for specific instructions:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘appwiz.cpl’ inside the text box and press Enter to open the Programs and Features menu.
    Open up the Programs and Features menu.

    Note: If the User Account Control prompts you, click Yes to grant admin access.

  2. Once you’re inside the Programs and Features menu, scroll down through the list of applications and locate the BitDefender Total Security listing.
  3. Right-click on Bitdefender Total Security and choose Uninstall from the context menu.
    Uninstall BitDefender
  4. Follow the uninstallation prompts to remove the main BitDefender app from your Windows 11 system.
  5. Next, proceed to uninstall the remaining supporting AV installations (BitDefender VPN and BitDefender Agent)
  6. Once the main BitDefender app + all the supporting software is uninstalled, follow this guide to remove any remnant files left behind by your AV.
  7. Finally, reboot your PC and see if the Spotlight functionality is resumed once the next startup is complete.

If this method was not applicable or didn’t fix the issue, move down to the next potential below.

Clear the Asset folder

Another potential scenario that might leave you stuck with a broken Spotlight component is a corrupted asset folder. This is usually reported when Spotlight is overly customized, or you’ve just upgraded to Windows 11 from an older Windows 11 where Spotlight was configured.

Fortunately, fixing a corrupted asset folder is quite simple. All you need to do is disable Spotlight first, then navigate to the asset folder manually and delete the contents inside (not the folder) before rebooting your PC.

This method has been confirmed to be effective by a lot of affected Windows 11 users.

Follow the instructions below for step by step instructions on clearing the asset folder and fixing the Spotlight functionality on Windows 11:

  1. First things first, we need to disable Spotlight temporarily. To do this, press Windows key + I to open up the Settings app on Windows 11.
  2. Next, click on Personalization from the vertical menu on the left.
    Accessing the Personalization tab

    Note: If the vertical menu on the left is not visible by default, click the action icon at the top to make it visible.

  3.  Once you are inside the Personalization tab, click on Lock Screen from the options at the bottom.
  4. Inside the Lock Screen tab, change the drop-down menu associated with Personalize your lock screen from Windows Spotlight to either Picture or Slideshow.
    Disable Windows Spotlight

    Note: This will effectively disable the Windows spotlight functionality.

  5. Once you’ve ensured that Spotlight is disabled, close the Settings screen and open File Explorer.
  6. Using File Explorer, navigate to the following location:
    C:\Users\<USERNAME>\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_<Package ID>\LocalState\Assets

    Note: If your Windows drive is different than C, replace the letter with the correct one in the path above. Additionally, <USERNAME> is just a placeholder. Replace it with the actual username of your active account.

  7. Once you arrive inside the correct location, start by clicking on the View tab at the top, then ensure the Hidden Items box is enabled.
    Enable ‘Hidden Items’
  8. After you’ve made sure that the hidden items are visible, click inside the Assets folder, then press Ctrl + A to select everything inside.
    Delete the Asset folder
  9. Next, press the Del key or right-click a selected item; once every item is selected, choose Delete from the context menu.
  10. Once the asset folder has been cleared, return to the Lock screen tab (under Personalization) in the Settings tab and re-enable Spotlight by setting the Personalize your Lock screen drop-down menu to Spotlight.
    Enabling the Spotlight functionality back
  11. Reboot your PC to allow the changes to take effect, then check if Spotlight has resumed working the next time your Windows 11 PC boots up.

If the same kind of issue is still occurring, move down to the next potential fix below.

Restart or Reset your router

Although these are two unrelated things, the reason why you might notice that Spotlight stops working might be your router. Temporary data accumulated by your router cache or a bad DNS range can both be viable culprits why Spotlight might stop updating itself.

This is even more likely if you’re dealing with similar network-related issues when using other Windows components like Windows Update.

If this scenario is applicable, you should start with a simple router reset – this operation consists of doing a simple network reboot that will clear the currently cached data (both Internet Protocol and Transmission Control Protocol)

To perform a simple router reboot, look for the power button on your router; it’s typically located on the back.

Once you find it, press it once to cut off the power, then physically disconnect the power cable from the power outlet to give the power capacitors enough time to clear themselves.

Restart your router

Once the router is reset, reboot your PC and see if the Spotlight component is fixed.

If the same kind of issue is still occurring, there’s still one more thing that you need to do before you exclude your router from the list of potential culprits; resetting your router.

Note: Resetting your router will also reset every network setting back to their factory defaults – this includes any previously forwarded ports, blocked items, and any other custom settings. Also, if you’re using PPPoE, expect the currently saved credentials to be lost at the end of this procedure.

To perform a router reset, press and hold on to the reset button on the back of your router for 10 seconds (or until you notice all the front LEDs flashing at the same time)

Reset the router

Once you manage to reset your router, re-establish the connection to the Internet and see if Windows Spotlight starts functioning again.

If the same kind of issue is still occurring, move down to the next potential fix below.

Re-register the Windows Spotlight app

Suppose none of the methods above have proven effective in your case. In that case, you should also start thinking of a potential inconsistency brought about by some corruption affecting the main Spotlight app.

For example, it’s a well-known fact that upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11 using a generic key might end up breaking the Spotlight functionality.

If you find yourself in this scenario, you should be able to fix the issue by using an elevated Powershell window to re-register the main Windows Spotlight app.

Follow the instructions below for specific instructions on how to do this on Windows 11:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘powershell’ inside the text box and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open an elevated Powershell window.
    Accessing the Powershell window
  2. When you see the User Account Control window, click Yes to grant admin access.
  3. Once you’re finally inside the elevated Powershell window, type or paste the following command to re-register Windows Spotlight:
    Get-AppxPackage -allusers *ContentDeliveryManager* | foreach {Add-AppxPackage "$($_.InstallLocation)\appxmanifest.xml" -DisableDevelopmentMode -register }
  4. Once the command is processed successfully, close the elevated command prompt and reboot your PC.
  5. Once your Windows 11 PC boots up, pay attention to the login screen to see if the Windows Spotlight functionality has been fixed.

If the same kind of issue is still occurring, move down to the next potential fix below.

Deploy DISM and SFC scans

Suppose you’ve come this far without a tangible result. In that case, you can also assume that you might be dealing with some system file corruption that affects Spotlight directly or some associated dependencies.

Since there are a lot of different components involved, the best course of action is to use one of the two system file corruption built-in tools that Windows 11 features – DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Deployment) and SFC (System File Checker)

Note: These two tools share some similarities, but our recommendation is to run both of them in quick succession to improve your chances of fixing the issue. SFC is entirely local (uses a locally-stored cache). At the same time, DISM relies on a sub-component of Windows Update to download healthy files that will be used to replace corrupted equivalents.

Follow the instructions below to deploy both SFC and DISM scans on your Windows 11 computer (from the same elevated CMD prompt):

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘cmd’ inside the Run box and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up an elevated CMD prompt.
    Open up an elevated CMD prompt
  2. When the User Account Control prompts you (UAC), click Yes to grant admin access.
  3. Once you’re inside the elevated Command Prompt window, type the following command and press Enter to initiate an SFC scan:
    sfc /scannow

    Note: If this utility finds any corrupted Windows files, it will use a locally stored folder to replace any corruption with healthy equivalents.

  4. Once the SFC scan is complete, reboot your PC and open up another elevated CMD prompt (using step 1) once your Windows 11 computer boots back up.
  5. Next, once you’re back inside the CMD prompt, run the following command to deploy a DISM scan:
    DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

    Note: Before you initiate this scan, make sure that you have a reliable Internet connection.

  6. Once the DISM scan is complete too, reboot your PC one final time and see if the Spotlight component starts working again.

If the same problem is still occurring even after you deployed SFC and DISM scans, move down to the next potential fix below.

Enable Background Apps (Windows 10 Only)

If you didn’t know, Windows Spotlight has specific dependencies that might effectively break the functionality of Spotlight when they’re not configured to function as default apps: Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Store, and the main Settings app.

Several users that we’re also dealing with have confirmed that once they’ve managed to fix the issue by accessing the Background Apps tab of the Settings menu and ensuring that Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Store, and the main Settings app are all permitted to run as background apps.

To do this, follow the instructions below:

Note: This method is only applicable to Windows 10 installations.

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘ms-settings:privacy-backgroundapps’ inside the text box that just appeared, then press Enter to open up the Background Apps tab of the Settings menu.
    Open up the Background apps tab on Windows 11
  2. Once you’re inside the Background Apps menu, start by enabling the toggle associated with Background Apps.
  3. Next, scroll down and ensure that the main Settings app, the Microsoft Store, and the Microsoft Edge toggles are enabled.
    Ensure that Spotlight dependencies are permitted to run as background apps
  4. Reboot your PC and see check to see if Spotlight starts running the next time your computer boots up.

Use a dynamic theme

If you’ve burned through every available fix mentioned above, there’s little else you can do (besides repair installing) to fix Windows Spotlight.

However, as other affected users have reported, you should be able to circumvent the issue entirely while getting the very same functionality by installing a Windows Store personalization app called Dynamic Theme.

Think of Dynamic Themes as a type of wrapper that will allow you to feature the same lock screen picture display powered by Bing and Windows Spotlight, but without using the built-in Spotlight component.

It works beautifully, and there isn’t any compromise.

Update: Even if the app is officially a Windows 10 app, we’ve tested it on Windows 11, and it seems to work just fine

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.

Expert Tip

Spotlight Not Working on Windows 11? Here’s How to Fix It

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