Scott Hanselman

Pinning Useful and Obscure Stuff to the Windows 8 Start Menu

August 29, 2012 Comment on this post [83] Posted in Tools | Win8
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imageThere were a lot of good comments on my post Windows 8 productivity: Who moved my cheese? Oh, there it is. I've continued to explore ways to remove clicks from my life and shorten keystroke chains. A number of folks said they didn't like this thing or that thing because they felt something used to be 2 clicks and now it's 3 or it used to be 1 and now it's 8. It's good to be reminded that you can customize almost everything in Windows. You can make scripts and batch files to your heart's content, and most importantly, any shortcut to nearly anything can be pinned to both the Taskbar and the Start Menu. Here's some examples just to make the point.


Let's say that you want to quickly get to the folder where you download stuff. You can make the Downloads folder available on the Taskbar as well as the new Start menu.

Pin to a Taskbar icon

You can drag any folder to your Explorer Taskbar icon and pin it. Here the menu is visible when right-clicking on the Explorer icon. You can also pin (promote) links from the Frequent section as well.

Downloads is Pinned to the Explorer Taskbar

Pin to the Windows 8 Start Menu Screen

You can also take any icon or folder from the desktop and right-click to Pin to Start.

Pin to Start

Now my Downloads folder is on my Start and can be opened in one click/touch after pressing the Windows key.

Download is pinned to Start

Pinning other Shortcuts of all Kinds

Once you know you can pin stuff, you can make custom shortcuts and pin other stuff. Right click anywhere and make a new Shortcut. This is a generic pointer to whatever you like.

New Shortcut

You can change the properties of a shortcut like I have here. I've got a shortcut to shutdown with -t 0 added to the parameters so the system will shutdown immediately.

NOTE: You CAN make these shortcuts if it will make you happy but in the case of Shutdown, I just press the Power Button.

shutdown.exe -s -t 0

Now just right click the new shortcut and pin it to either the Taskbar or Start. If you're tidy, and I am sure you are, why not customize the icon?

Shutdown Icon customized

And now my new Shutdown icon looks like this. There you go, one-click shutdown. Happy? ;)

A magical Shutdown Icon on my Start Menu

Pinning Custom Actions like Sleep and Restart

You can of course make more complex shortcuts to do things like Sleep your computer with other commands.

Shutdown Computer

Shutdown.exe -s -t 00

Restart Computer

Shutdown.exe -r -t 00

Lock Workstation

Rundll32.exe User32.dll,LockWorkStation

Hibernate Computer

rundll32.exe PowrProf.dll,SetSuspendState

Sleep Computer

rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState 0,1,0

NOTE: You CAN make these shortcuts if it will make you happy but in the case of Sleep, I just close the lid on my laptop.

Pin Internet Explorer 10 Desktop in the Start Menu

Now that you have figured out how to make crazy shortcuts then Pin them. Hopefully this is as empowering to you as it is to me.

As a Web Developer I have a bunch of Web Browsers pinned to both Start and the Taskbar. However, the Internet Explorer icon in the Start Menu goes to the full screen IE10 and sometimes I want the Desktop IE10.

Desktop IE10

If you refer to this old old old Windows XP Knowledge Base Article you'll see that they show a number of ways you can make Internet Explorer shortcuts. Of course, the easiest one is the one you should do. ;)

NOTE: You can also make a more "real" Internet Explorer link with this "%windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30309D}" as a new Shortcut if you like.

Go to c:\program files\internet explorer and right click on iexplore.exe and pin it. Alternatively you can Copy, then Paste Shortcut, then Rename the shortcut. I named mine "Internet Explorer (Desktop)."

Get iexplore.exe and pin it, then rename

Now I've got two choices! Just like I like it.

Both IE10 metro and IE10 Desktop are both pinned to my Start Menu

Pinning Web Sites and Customizing IE10 Pinned Site Icons

You can pin Web Sites from within IE10 using the menu in the lower right corner. That's also the same context menu that includes Jump Lists. Jump Lists can be added easily with just <meta> keys in your HTML.

Context Menu in Full Screen IE10

If your favicon.ico has a 32x32 version that is the resolution of Icon that will be used for your pinned site. The background color for the icon comes from the main color of the icon.

My giant forehead is now pinned to your Start Menu

If you want a different icon or color, you can set those with Meta Tags as well. Hm, my giant head isn't big enough. I'll add a 144x144 PNG.

<meta name="msapplication-TileImage" content="/blog/images/hanselman-144.png" />

There we go. Much clearer. I can also control the background color with msapplication-TileColor if I want using a #rgb color.

You can have a high-res 144x144 PNG if you like

I've pinned all sorts of stuff. Apps, Links, Folders, Browsers, Custom Tasks, Libraries and more. No, I didn't actually pin my face. Oh, and that days app is "Save The Date."

All sorts of pinning

Have fun customizing!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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August 29, 2012 12:37
Nice article
August 29, 2012 13:09
It is a generational thing. I can remember spending ages in older versions of windows sorting out the perfect desktop with all sorts of shortcuts. Could not PIN them quite so nicely in those days

What I want to know is...Has anybody done anything useful with that huge tile with the word Mail on?!! I am thinking hard cheese here :)

August 29, 2012 13:14
Mark - Right click on it, and select "Smaller."
August 29, 2012 13:40
Yep I could do that :) Not quite the answer I was looking for...
August 29, 2012 14:12
Once you have a tile pinned you can then hit the Windows key and start typing the name of your shortcut. Your shortcut should appear in the search results.
August 29, 2012 15:12
I have been running Win8 for a week now, and love the shortcuts, thanks.

I have 3 monitors, and am trying to keep the Start screen and it's apps in one of the three.

Two things I wish I could do in this mode:

1) Have a large tile with the current date/time on the start screen.

2) Keep the start screen up at all times without having to have an app running.

I want to treat the third monitor like a tablet. I think this is real important when I start switching to touch capable, I won't be able to change all at once.
August 29, 2012 15:18
Most of the people dont want to customize their Windows. They want it with the features out-of-the-box.

If they really want customization, they'll install Linux :-)

August 29, 2012 15:40
You can also pin the person from People hub, so that if the person updates his status, it will be on your Start screen!!! That's very tight integration right.
August 29, 2012 16:30
Off topic but can you compare this ( with your ultimate pc 2.0 and give us some reviews.

btw i got above link from ur FB status ;)

August 29, 2012 17:58
Why is the pinned Internet Explorer (Desktop) icon the old IE7/IE8 icon instead of the newer IE9+ icon?
August 29, 2012 18:53
Great article.

The internet explorer shortcut doesn't work on my work dev box (it is on an AD and Visual Studio 2012 cant start it either) :(

August 29, 2012 19:21
Is there a clock-app that you can dock? i "hate" to have to go to either desktop or to that menuthingie to the right to see what time it is.
August 29, 2012 20:44
Awesome post once again. It's nice to see how other devs setup their environment.
August 29, 2012 20:50
Your head doesn't really look that big until you point it out you know.

Oh, and great stuff on Windows 8! I installed last week and have enjoyed finding my cheese through your posts.
August 29, 2012 20:54
Haven't posted here in long time - Open ID didn't grab my name on my last comment about your head. I figured you should at least know who's saying such things.
August 29, 2012 20:54
I give up on using OpenID.
August 29, 2012 22:20
Yes OpenID sucks. Who are you?
August 29, 2012 22:30
I have recently been using a freeware pinning tool called Taskbar Pinner that allows you to pin anything and everything with a few clicks.

I have only used it on Win7 but it is supposed to work in Win8 as well.
August 29, 2012 22:32
I don't know all of the circumstances, but not all shortcuts can be pinned to the start. For instance if you make a shortcut to cmd.exe and try to pin it, there will not be the option in the right click menu.
August 29, 2012 23:59
Who's that stud on you Start screen?
August 30, 2012 0:02
Gmartin - That's the "People" app that shows updates from your Facebook friends.
August 30, 2012 1:45
Weird. The tiny icon works if you click on it next to my comments. I'm:

Todd Price
toddwprice at Google Mail

I'm trying posting this time using my Google Id.

BTW I loved the podcast with Rob Connery interviewing you. You've got to have him do that regularly. Heck if he does it weekly you'll be a reality podcast star.
August 30, 2012 7:53
Thanks Scott for your very informative articles. They have indeed helped me to understand Windows 8. On your podcast you talked about the Task Manager... I hadn't seen it yet. That thing is hot.

I threw caution to the wind and upgraded my Win 7 ultimate instance to Win 8 (without a full backup - which I don't recommend). It took me a little while to get over the shock factor, and I wanted to figure it out without all the hype. I got to a good working place with it in about 2-3 hours. The upgrade was flawless, and I'm really starting to like it a lot.

I want to convert one of my apps on Windows Phone ( to Windows 8 and do some upgrades. Love the blog. Love Hanselminutes. Thanks for all you do to inform the rank and file!
August 30, 2012 14:06
Its a great post go show to everyone who say "I want my Start menu!"

Here is it.
August 30, 2012 15:07
I cannot wait to get my hands on the surface / other win8 tablet! :)
August 30, 2012 17:43
I'm going to pass that shutdown shortcut on to all the haters.
August 30, 2012 18:21
I'm the developer of Save the Date, thanks for the shout out!

If you have any requests or features you want, feel free to contact me.

August 31, 2012 0:08
I recognize the bottom half of me in that first screenshot. I've been hanselblurred!

Great article Scott. Really appreciate it. Nice to see some features called out from what can easily feel like an overwhelming change to "how we do things."
August 31, 2012 0:08
and by first...I mean fourth. Doh!

Counting are for clever people.
August 31, 2012 1:51
Comics application!? WHAT IS IT I NEED IT!
August 31, 2012 4:11
You can also pin the desktop IE to the Start Screen by holding the shift key down and right clicking the IE icon on the taskbar then select pin to start.
August 31, 2012 15:29
The only think i miss on Win8 are jumplists on pinned items in start menu.. I was used to have Excel, Word and other things pinned to start menu in Win7 and have the recent items there availible... Any idea to have those in Win8?

Petr Vavro
August 31, 2012 15:50
Win 8 is a quit good operating system with some advance features in it. How ever there are some user's don't like to use it just because its required and occupy huge extra memory for its updates. Also some easy install soft wares and drivers are not allow to perform well in it. I prefer Win 7. Easy to install and operate.
August 31, 2012 19:48
Is it possible to make a group? Just for organization purposes.
August 31, 2012 21:04
I think pinning is the reason that Win8 is the best upgrade since XP.
September 01, 2012 21:48
Windows 8 looks so awesome. Can't wait for it to go to final release. I definitely want a new laptop/tablet with a touch screen and keyboard.
September 02, 2012 0:11
Thanks Scott for your recent articles, very good indeed to have such useful detail.
I just have a general comment: I guess everyone that has the RTM of Win8 installed must've got it via Technet or MSDN as it's not yet had a retail release. If this is the case I assume that everyone is not using it for their everyday "normal" operating system (i.e. for checking e-mail, browsing, playing games etc.) since this contravenes the terms of the licensing agreement for Technet and MSDN. My point is that is there a legal way that I could start using Win8 (RTM, not RC) for "normal" use now rather than waiting until the retail release?
September 02, 2012 21:25
Don't forget you can also do nearly anything with PowerShell by creating a shortcut like:

powershell.exe -file Stop-NonEssentialServices.ps1

powershell.exe -c Stop-Service mssqlserver,iisadmin,etc

Tip: Add "-noprofile" for faster execution if you don't need any profile scripts loaded to carry out the commands.
September 03, 2012 5:52
I'm looking forward to this new OS. It never feels like I have the time I need to play with this stuff so I appreciate these morsels laid out for me :)

September 04, 2012 20:04
Aww, "C:\Windows\System32\rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState 0,1,0" actually went to hibernate (even though hibernation is "disabled")... awwwww

Settings Charm > Power > Sleep works
September 05, 2012 16:34
You're really pushing me towards installing Win8!
September 06, 2012 22:42
@Eric: See Yuhong Bao's links and SO (and all the other people with similar problems on SO and SU)

SetSuspendState was never designed to be called by rundll32 and you will get random behavior!

Grab a copy of wizmo or some other utility to get a safe and working standby shortcut (shutdown.exe can hibernate)
September 07, 2012 23:42
Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but did you really intend to reveal your date of birth in those screenshots? That seems like the sort of information which would be quite valuable to a criminal looking to steal your identity...

But perhaps you're just hoping we'll all buy you a present! :o)
September 08, 2012 0:47
You're assuming that's my date of birth and that the dates of this post line up with the dates of that screenshot. ;)
September 09, 2012 13:12
Are you serious? So we are now stuck with a windows shell that is completly inadequate to do any work but ah don't complain, use batch files. Are you taking a piss on us?!
September 10, 2012 13:03
Why bother with metro tiles, just stick the shortcuts on your desktop and be done with it no need to switch back and fourth.

Oh wait yeah thats right coz ms wants us to embrace metro and force us into being less productive by having to switch back and fourth all time and create friggen shortcuts just to alleviate some of the pitfalls of the OSes UI :(.

Tell me Scott did MS do any HCI usability studies with the metro UI in the first place? Coz if not then thats a fail right there
September 10, 2012 15:58
Scott: The date of the screenshot doesn't matter; it shows your birthday being thirty days after Christmas. We don't even have to worry about leap-years!

OK, we can't get the year from your screenshot, but a quick Google for "how old is Scott Hanselman" will reveal the answer.
September 10, 2012 21:20
Daniel - You're welcome to put the shortcuts in either or both locations.

Richard - Well done!
October 30, 2012 15:20
Is there a way to pin .bat or .vbs scripts to the start screen? Doesn't seem to work for me...
October 30, 2012 22:59
Is there a way to pin individual files such as xlsm? I have a lot of excel files on my desktop that I just used to just click to launch in Win 7. I tried creating a shortcut first with no luck. I really don't like the extra step of launching excel then the file, or going back to the desktop before launching.
November 07, 2012 21:04
Very nice article.
November 20, 2012 18:48
I'm trying to put a shortcut on my taskbar for one of my drives (drive letter). I have most my files on a separate internal drive and just want to pin that drive to the taskbar like I've done in XP for years, but it's not letting me in 8. Can this be done? How do I do that?

November 26, 2012 18:51
If I'm not mistaken it is not possible to re-order the pinned links in the Explorer Taskbar Icon.

But you could do it easily in Windows 7.

Looks like a regression.
December 01, 2012 8:50
Is there a way to prevent windows from pinning apps I open to the start screen? I don't want windows to change the layout of the start screen. I don't want to have to look for things EVERY TIME I use the start screen. You how you have a place in your house for your keys, or a place on your desk for your glasses. This is so you can find things when you need them without looking all over your house or office. And you know if you put a rat in a cage and put a piece of cheese in one place the rat will come back to the same place looking for cheese (reference who moved my cheese at the beginning of this post).
Why do I even need to ask about this. The need for, and reliance on, consistency is a basic, hardwired instinct for every living creature. The fact that MS would even consider feature like auto-pinning demonstrates their complete disregard for the needs of the user at for the sake of puffing up the feature list. It's mindless, arrogant, over-engineering. I used to work in IT. When I would install Office on someone's computer the FIRST thing they would ask me is "How do I turn off the smart menus?" For those who dont know, smart menus are menus that only show options that the user recently used. There is a option on every menu titled "Show full menu". How stupid is that? When the user would use an option they hadn't used in a while it would insert itself in the menu and displace (move) all the other options the user was used to clicking. on. So the user would move the mouse to the location they expect their menu option to be..... but it wouldn't be there anymore. And it would change every few days, making the look for things rather than use the menus by INSTINCT. On its face the auto-pin thing sounds nice but you only have to use it for five minutes to realize you will never be able to instinctively navigate the start menu/screen as long as MS is changing it daily on you.
December 14, 2012 15:28
Is there a way to pin an IE link that will update the content? i want to pin my webcam site and would like to see the snapshot preview being updated on the start screen icon from time to time

December 17, 2012 15:45
Hi Scott, just bought a new Dell laptop, and I'm having some problems with my new Windows8....
I use to work with my Hotmail and having my Excell and Word files in the same screen,....but apparently...this is not possible with the Windos8...could you help me please???

thanks in advance for your time...
December 17, 2012 22:04
Inma - Sure, you can just snap or resize the windows left and right. You can start Word, Excel and also Internet Explorer from the desktop and move them around however you like.
December 21, 2012 21:48
I have an app that I want to pin to the taskbar twice - the second instance having parameters to make it do different things on startup. In Win7 this was no problem but Win8 won't let me pin the 2nd instance. How can I achieve what I want?
January 04, 2013 17:50
Kostas, I am trying to pin the Pico Mountain web-cam so it updates like a live tile. Have you found a solution yet?
January 09, 2013 22:00
Hi Scott, I would like to put the time somewhere on the Start/Apps page and I can't figure out how to do it. Would appreciate any info you can offer. thanks!
January 09, 2013 23:36
Lisa - Maybe try a Windows 8 Clock app and pin that?
January 10, 2013 0:02
Thanks for the quick reply Scott! I went to the app store and purchased a time tile for free and it seems to be working so far. I will try your suggestion as well. I hadn't found the windows 8 clock app yet. So far, it's a learning curve for me, but with websites like yours and other help, I'm managing and I kind of like being able to personalize the start/app page.
January 10, 2013 0:11
Okay! I like the windows time app you suggested much better! thanks so much!
January 10, 2013 20:09
I have been using Windows 8 for about a month now and really like it, but I am especially having difficulty without my "f2 = rename file" button. Does anyone know if there is another shortcut that replaces "f2" or another way to create a shortcut so I can still have the same ability?

January 10, 2013 22:10
Christina - That still works. Do you have a Microsoft keyboard and you need to press the F Lock button?
January 11, 2013 0:22
Christina - Try pressing the "FN" button and F2? If that does what F2 should do, then read this post on the FN button. This is an HP thing not a Windows thing. You'll want to turn it off (reverse it) so F2 is F2 and FN-F2 is brightness.
How to disable the FN button on HP Laptops
January 11, 2013 22:52
Hi Scott

> I have an app that I want to pin to the taskbar twice - the second instance having parameters to make it do different things on startup. In Win7 this was no problem but Win8 won't let me pin the 2nd instance. How can I achieve what I want? <

So, I guess the lack of an answer means it can't be done?

January 14, 2013 21:16
Lisa and Scott,
If you want the date and times for up to four different cities around the world to appear on a start screen tile, you can try my "World Time Clock" app.

Alan Anderson
January 14, 2013 21:30
I've been using windows 8 for a month now, this morning I had a problem. Whenever I right click on a file folder my Explorer.exe stops working. Need help please.

January 22, 2013 23:50
Hi Scott

I just got the latest version of Internet Explorer & a new computer. I want to be able to access the Start Menu without exiting Internet Explorer, something I used to be able to to.

I also want to be able to pull up a new window but it won't let me - I have to make up a search in Yahoo (I always have my email opened)& then type in what I want. (Also, after 3 windows are open Internet Explorer starts using the existing windows, & won't open a new one)

All of a sudden, I can't do these simple things and have looked everywhere on my computer to try to find the option to fix this & can't. Can you help?

January 25, 2013 3:16
I get no right click option to pin files to either taskbar or start. I can pin applications without problem. I have also located folders and shortcuts by searching in start / files but same problem. Do I have a setting wrong somewhere?
January 29, 2013 22:39
I found something you cant pin in windows 8 ...

Steam games.
Load steam which can be acquired by:
1. browse to
2. click little green install button at top right

click "library" to show a list your games.
right click on a game and select "create shortcut on desktop"
right click on new shortcut on desktop ...

Where's my pin option?
I can't pin this???? awwww
February 24, 2013 17:03
Hi Scott
Thanks for the info.
I have been trying to pin the Photos metro app to my taskbar but with no success. I can't find its path so that I can create a shortcut for it. Searched a lot on the net but could not find anything. Its driving me crazy. Any ideas?
February 25, 2013 21:16
Scott, I know this is an older post, but it was the closest I could find. Do you know of any way to PIN an RDP icon to the Start Menu. If I open RDP and then Save settings, it shows up on my desktop. Right click, and no Pin to Start. If I try and create a shortcut to it, still no Pin to Start. Any ideas?
March 09, 2013 18:55
Nice article. I'm late to the party, but have you tried OblyTile for win 8? It is what has helped me love Metro. Great little stand alone app that runs on the desktop. You can use it to build quick custom tiles with better looking icons than the ugly "I just pinned a shortcut" tiles that Windows makes.
August 02, 2013 2:43
Hi Scott,

My issue is a little different. I want to pin the Camera metro app to the desktop taskbar. When I right click it in the Start menu, Pin to Taskbar option is not available. I found the webcam.exe file in "Program Files" but when I tried to execute it, I got a message saying that program has to start within the app container. Can you please help me in achieving this task.

Thank you
August 03, 2013 3:26
Mike - Try ModernMix?
August 23, 2013 19:14
In my version of Windows 8, you cannot pin a folder or a batch file to the task bar. Also, if you want to pin customized "DOS prompt" icons to the task bar, you can pin only one. I have several DOS icons on my desktop, with different properties, but can only pin one of them to the task bar.

Do you have a newer version than me, or were you maybe thinking of an older Windows version? Even in Windows 7, as well as 8, it is impossible to pin a folder to the task bar. There is already an icon in the task bar that looks like a folder with a silver bracket. This icon merely opens Windows explorer (typically to the Libraries folder). You cannot add any additional folder icons to the desktop. If you try, it just modifies that existing icon. For example, if I have a folder called "mystuff" and I drag it to the task bar, it does NOT pin it there. It pins it to the context (right-click) menu of the existing folder icon - absolutely not the same thing as pinning to the task bar.
August 23, 2013 19:18
Typo correction: my last comment contained this sentence:

"You cannot add any additional folder icons to the desktop."

As may be obvious, this is a typo, and was meant to say:

"You cannot add any additional folder icons to the TASK BAR."

Please pardon the typo. :)

September 06, 2013 12:22
I've bought win8.
I often work wit desktop and keyboard command, so I've found the shortcut [window key] + D to open desktop.
I try to execute at startup this shortcut (like rundll32.exe user32.dll shortcut) but I cant find it.
Can anyone help me?
Please answer me by mail (
September 10, 2013 3:14
fabio -

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.