How to Fix: SysMenu.DLL Error When Starting Windows

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Jason B. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I recently upgraded my laptop to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1. After a few days of the upgrade, I keep getting a strange DLL error message stating that 'SysMenu.dll could not be found'. The error message always seems to appear right after I boot or reboot the computer, and about 2 or 3 minutes after I gain access to the desktop. The error message is: 'There was a problem starting C:\PROGRA~1\COMMON~1\System\SysMenu.dll. The specified module could not be found.' I have searched Google from high to low on how to fix this error, but the solutions posted (as usual) don't explain what they are 'fixing' and the fixes don't work at all. Can you please help me? I would be grateful for your help and of course, please let me know the cost. I am really grateful for the remote service you provide - simply the best! "

My response:

Thanks for the kudos. Admittedly, I have not encountered the Sysmenu.dll error before and asked Jason if he'd like me to connect to his system and have a look. He agreed to connect using my remote desktop service.

Immediately after connecting to Jason's desktop, I could see three request Windows with the error message "There was a problem starting C:\PROGRA~1\COMMON~1\System\SysMenu.dll. The specified module could not be found." Below I will describe in detail (and in simple English!) the systematic approach I used to fix the "SysMenu.DLL error" on Jason's machine.

How to Fix: SysMenu.DLL Error When Starting Windows

Attempting to Locate SysMenu.DLL - Manually

My first instinct was to open an elevated command prompt and search for the file "sysmenu.dll," file so that I could figure out which program was associated it, and so that I could either uninstall the program using Add / Remove Programs via the Control Panel, or gain access to the path (where the .DLL file was located) and remove the files manually using an elevated command prompt.

To open the elevated command prompt, I did the following: I clicked Start, then typed in "cmd" (no quotes); waited for CMD.EXE or Command Prompt to appear in the list, then right clicked it and selected "Run as Administrator". I then typed in the following commands into the command prompt:

cd \
dir sysmenu.dll /s

The commands read: "change to the C drive, move to the root directory of the C drive, then search for sysmenu.dll recursively in all directories, beginning from the root directory of the C Drive." Unfortunately, the command prompt reported nothing in return, which means the file was not found. I did manage to search again for the same file - this time for 'hidden files' - but that did not turn up anything, either.

Another trick I use to figure out how a program is related to a path is to open Task Manager, then right click the task and use the "Open File Location" option. Doing so would tell me where the program is launching from so I could take the appropriate action to remove it.

To do so, I right clicked the task bar, then selected "Task Manager"; I then went to the Task Manager 'Processes' tab and right clicked the 'RunDLL' process associated with the error message, then selected "Open File Location". Unfortunately, in this case, the location for sysmenu.dll was c:\windows\system32, which is a standard Windows path and not specific to any program except the Windows operating itself. Since most programs don't install themselves to c:\windows\system32, I hypothesized that Jason was suffering from a malware infection. I bit of research in Google confirmed that theory was correct.

Disabling Sysmenu.DLL by Service or Startup

The next thing I did was review Jason's Windows Services (which automatically launch at startup), as well as the Startup tab in Task manager. To do so, I launched msconfig (Click Start, then type in "msconfig" (no quotes), then click it). I then clicked the Services tab, then ticked the check box to 'Hide all Microsoft Services', then I reviewed the remaining entries. I found one entry called "Search Protect", which I noted, but then I ended up disabling all entries just to see if that would make any difference.

Since "Search Protect" sounded web-browser related, I decided to launch all of Jason's web browsers and reviewed his add-ons, but did not see anything out of the ordinary. I then rebooted the computer hoping that disabling his startup items may have resolved the issue, but it did not.

Reviewing Entries in the Control Panel - Recently Installed

The next step was to review recently installed programs via the Control Panel -> Add / Remove Programs (to do so: click Start, then type in "add remove", then click the "Add or remove programs [system settings] icon). I sorted the programs by date by clicking the date heading, then reviewed Jason's recently installed programs. I found that "WildTangent games" and "Search Protect" were installed only a day ago. I uninstalled both, but this meant that Search Protect most likely wasn't related to Jason's original "sysmenu.dll" error, because his originally sysmenu.dll error appeared well before Search Protect was installed.

Reviewing 'RunOnce' Registry Entries

My next step was to open Regedit (click Start, then type in "regedit", then click the regedit icon) and search for sysmenu.dll in HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Run, and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Run, but there was no reference in either registry key to sysmenu.dll. Both registry keys are common entry points for programs that inject themselves into the startup.

Scanning for Malware and Autoruns

Jason already told me he ran Malwarebytes Antimalware on the machine and it came with a clean bill of health, which is why I did not originally scan the machine for malware in the first place.

At this point I decided to give 'AutoRuns' a by SysInternals a try, as it was mentioned in one of the forums I came across while researching the sysmenu.dll error. This program is designed to search the entire Windows Registry (and more) for any and all programs that automatically launch themselves during a boot, web browser, multimedia player (and more) - a very useful tool especially when you are combating malware.

Another great feature AutoRuns has is that it marks any "file not found" auto-start entry with a yellow highlight, which in this case made it extremely easy to locate anything related to "sysmenu.dll". I scrolled through the list of AutoRuns, looking only at the yellow highlights - and eventually found three entries referencing "sysmenu.dll". I cleared the check boxes next to these entries, rebooted, and the problem was solved!

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If all of this is over your head, or if you have a 'sysmenu' or similar error message at bootup that simply won't go away - you can contact me for additional support using my remote desktop support service. Simply send me a message briefly detailing your problem and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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