SOLUTION: Windows 10 Start Menu text is unreadable / too dark

This problem seems to affect primarily Haswell-based notebooks with Intel HD Graphics drivers in use.  I have not yet seen it affect Broadwell chipsets, but it may.

The issue is that the Start Menu text is too dark — and in fact, it becomes gradually darker — and illegible, fading into the background of the Start Menu.  While it seems likely that a Windows 10 setting (or theme) should be to blame, it actually is neither.

The problem is the Intel Graphics driver, which includes a setting that purports to implement application-specific fixes.  To correct the problem, all you have to do is disable the setting and reboot the PC:

  1. Right-click the Desktop and choose Graphics Properties…
  2. Choose 3D.
  3. Under Application Optimal Mode, click Disable.
  4. Reboot the PC.

The problem is solved!

It’s likely in the future that Intel will correct their driver optimization presets for the Windows 10 desktop windows manager / Explorer.exe, but until that day, this is the correct workaround.

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4 thoughts on “SOLUTION: Windows 10 Start Menu text is unreadable / too dark

  1. Sorry, but “Graphics Properties” is not an option when I right-click the Windows 10 desktop. All I have is “Display Settings” and “Personalize.” Any other ideas? I have the Intel Q33 Express chipset.

  2. It sounds like your Intel graphics driver is not completely installed, or the shell extension has failed to load for some reason. I would suggest downloading the latest version of the Intel graphics driver, then following the steps as listed above and see if it works.

  3. I have been tearing my hair out for months trying to work out why the text on the start menu was becoming unreadable. Only by chance that I stumbled across this article after searching all different manner of other pages. Must of been luck that I changed the way I searched for the issue. Perfect solution! I cant thank you enough for such a simple fix.

  4. It’s happening to me, too, and I don’t have Intel Graphics at all. In fact, this computer uses an AMD APU (combination CPU and GPU) and has Intel nothing Inside.

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