How to Create Your Own Custom Windows 8 Start Menu


If there is one thing about Windows 8 that gets complaints, it’s the missing Start Menu. A flock of programs are available to restore the Start Menu in one form or the other (see this tip for two of them that are free) but you can also create your own. So if you are missing the way things used to be, here’s one way to create a substitute for the old menu. It’s not exactly the same thing but I think you’ll find it quite useful and a big time-saver.

The new menu is actually going to be a folder on the Desktop so first you create the folder.

  1. Go the Desktop and right-click on an empty spot.
  2. In the context menu, choose “New”.
  3. Select “Folder”.
  4. Name the folder “Start menu” or whatever you like.

Next you create shortcuts for the things that you want to include in your new start menu. You can reproduce a surprisingly large fraction of the contents of the XP/Vista/7 Start Menu this way.

  1. Open the empty folder you have created and right-click inside it.
  2. In the context menu that opens select “New-Shortcut”.
  3. In the box under “Type the location of the item”, enter the path for the desired shortcut. Paths for some  useful shortcuts are given in the table below. Note that all the paths are a single line. Because of page limitations the table shows some paths wrapped  and on two lines.
  4. Click “Next”.
  5. Enter a name for the shortcut.
  6. Click “Finish”.
  7. Repeat the process for each shortcut you want to include.

Once you have created the shortcuts, you can change their generic icons to something more distinctive as described at this link and in this previous tip.

The table below gives my selection of what to include and the corresponding location to put in the shortcut but you can place shortcuts to whatever you wish. A list of shortcuts for many other possible system folders is at this link. The shortcuts that I have chosen for the table reproduce many of the features of the old Start Menu.

Folder or feature Location to be used in shortcut
Computer %windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{20d04fe0-3aea-1069-a2d8-08002b30309d}
Control Panel %windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{5399E694-6CE5-4D6C-8FCE-1D8870FDCBA0}
All Settings %windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{F90C627B-7280-45DB-BC26-CCE7BDD620A4}
Applications (a kind of Program menu that includes Metro apps) %windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{4234d49b-0245-4df3-b780-3893943456e1}
(My) Documents %windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{450d8fba-ad25-11d0-98a8-0800361b1103}
Shutdown %windir%\System32\shutdown.exe /s /f /t 00
Program Files(x86) (for 64-bit systems) %ProgramFiles(x86)%
Program Files %ProgramFiles%

Another shortcut from a previous tip that you might consider is Hibernate.

And there you have it - your own Start Menu. 

Get your own favorite tip published! Know a neat tech tip or trick? Then why not have it published here and receive full credit? Click here to tell us your tip.

This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

Click here for more items like this. Better still, get Tech Tips delivered via your RSS feeder or alternatively, have the RSS feed sent as email direct to your in-box.

Please rate this article: 

Your rating: None
Average: 4.3 (15 votes)


Ever since the advent of 'pinning' to the taskbar I unpin all & reload quick launch b/c I don't care for 'pinned' apps that can barely be distinguished between closed, minimized or multi instances. So I just add new toolbar pointed to the QL folder that never went away.

Same is true in 8 with the start menu, the folders are still there(and populate when new S/W loaded), it's just the links that were taken from us, the customers. So, new toolbar pointed to start menu gives me all the 'Programs'. Of course, I move the user items to the All Users folder for simplicity rather than link to both.

This does not give options for MY Comp, My Docs, Control Panel, etc in 1st Start Menu window, but shortcuts can be added to it...or to the QL toolbar.

User Start Menu
C:\Users\***your user name***\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

All Users Start Menu
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

If anyone is interested, User Quick Launch folder:
C:\Users\***your user name***\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

For extra shortcut goodness, you can right-click>Properties on your shortcuts and map custom CTRL+ALT+(any key) mappings for your fav apps. Soon you won't need Metro OR the Start Menu(but links need to be in SM folder or on Desktop for CTRL+ALT+(any key) functionality.

Same effect as Windows Key + X is to right click bottom left of screen (on the icon that pops up)- can't say I'm missing the menu at all though as I was gravitating to icon rather than a menu system anyway (easier on my senior eyes methinks!)

I just use Windows Key + X and installed the free program Classic Shell provided in tip noted above. Everything that was there before is now there very easily. I can get to anything I want in familiar format.