Create Direct Shortcut to “All Apps” Page of Windows 8 Start Screen and Pin it to Taskbar

UPDATE: It seems the method given in this tutorial no longer works in Windows 8 RTM version. In Windows 8 RTM, you can create the direct shortcut to "All Apps" page using following command:

explorer shell:::{2559a1f8-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0}

Just enter the above mentioned string in new shortcut's location box as mentioned here.

The new Start Screen present in Microsoft's upcoming OS Windows 8 is very controversial. Many people are loving it but there are lots of people who are finding it difficult to use. That's why we posted a topic recently containing some suggestions which might please all Windows 8 users.

To make Windows 8 users life easier and to provide Start Menu style functionality in new Start Screen, Microsoft has added an "All Apps" page to Start Screen which shows a complete list of all programs/apps present in Windows 8.


To access this "All Apps" page, you can use any of following methods:

  • Press WIN key to show Start Screen and press Ctrl+Tab keys together to show All apps page
  • Press WIN key, right-click on empty area in Start Screen and click on All apps option in bottom bar
  • Move mouse cursor to top-right corner to access Charms bar and click on Search charm
  • Move mouse cursor to bottom-left corner, right-click and select Search option
  • Press Win+X keys together and select Search option from Quick Access Menu

You can see all above mentioned methods require 2 or 3 steps to complete. None of them is a single step task. That's why today in this topic, we are going to share a very easy to use method which will allow you to create a direct shortcut to this "All Apps" page of Start Screen so that you can just double-click on it and access the all apps page.

Actually Windows 8 comes with a built-in command to show "All apps" page. We found this command while investigating about the new Quick Access Menu (Win+X menu) present in Windows 8. We found that Windows 8 contains a Search.scf file in "C:\Windows\System32" folder which is responsible to show "All Apps" page.

1. Open Windows Explorer and go to C:\Windows\System32 folder and you'll get "Search.scf" file after scrolling down a bit. Alternatively you can open "System32" folder directly by providing System32 command in RUN dialog box.


2. If you double-click on Search file, it'll launch All Apps page.

3. To create a shortcut, right-click on it and select "Send to -> Desktop (create shortcut)" option.

4. That's it. It'll place a direct shortcut on Desktop. You can rename it to your desired name.


Now whenever you need to access All apps page, just double-click on it and you'll have quick access to all apps page.

PS: You can also create this shortcut using "New ->Shortcut" command of context menu.

NOTE: If you can't find the "Search.scf" file in System32 folder, you can copy it from "Group2" folder present in "WinX" folder mentioned in our exclusive tutorial about new Win+X menu.

If you want, you can also copy RUN shortcut present in "Group2" folder under "WinX" folder and put it on Desktop or pin to Taskbar for easy and quick access.

BONUS TIP: Pin All Apps Shortcut to Taskbar

You can pin "All Apps" shortcut to Taskbar as well. But the problem is, its a Windows Explorer command file and if you try to pin it to Taskbar by dragging-n-dropping it, Windows will pin it to Explorer icon instead of direct pinning it to Taskbar.

1. To overcome this limitation, right-click on Search shortcut on Desktop and select Properties.

2. Now append explorer string before the existing string present in Target text box as shown in following screenshot:


3. Apply the changes and now you'll be able to pin it directly to Taskbar.


4. But as soon as you append Explorer string in Target field, the shortcut will stop working and nothing will happen when you click on it.

Again to overcome this problem, press Shift key and right-click on Search shortcut pinned in Taskbar and select Properties. Now remove the C:\Windows\explorer.exe string from beginning of Target string.

Look at following screenshot. You just need to delete the selected string from Target text field.


Again apply the changes and you'll have a working shortcut to "All Apps" page in Windows 8 Taskbar.

PS: You can also put this shortcut in Quick Launch toolbar. Quick Launch toolbar can be enabled in Windows 8 using the same method which works in Windows 7:

How to Get the Good Old "Quick Launch" Toolbar Back in Windows?

Using this direct shortcut is really quicker and easier than the other default methods. What do you think about this direct shortcut? Feel free to provide your feedback in your comment...

PS: Also check out point 5 in our exclusive Windows 8 Secrets topic to learn how to launch Metro apps directly from Desktop in Windows 8 using a hidden secret "Applications" folder.

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Posted in: Windows 8 / 8.1

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  • how to change any file type icon. When i assign any program with any file, that show me occurd looking icon. Ex. Myfile.max assign to 3dsmax

  • i can't work with win 8 !! i keep my windows 7 in my PC ...

  • @rayan: +1

    I'm back on Windows 7. *feels better*

  • Great idea, VG

  • Man it's Great!

  • Doesn't work if i try to pin into RocketDock :(

  • Thanks for this!
    PS: I think that I found a bug in Windows 8, how can I report it to them?

  • VG

    ^^ You can send it to me using Contact form.

    Did you try the method mentioned for Pin to Taskbar?

  • @VG: Will I always use the Contact form to report a bug to you? And was the one I reported to you really a bug?

  • VG

    ^^ Yes. You can use the contact form to report bugs or share any info. No problem at all. ;)

  • Tried and works, but is there any workaround to make it work from rocketdock.

  • VG

    ^^ Did you try the same method of Pinning to Taskbar?

  • ^^
    Yes of course but still doesn't work.

  • VG

    ^^ You are right. I tried myself and the shortcut didnt work in RocketDock. I'll try to find out a way and will let you know. :)

  • IThere is a shortcut already by default in Windows 8 that works from the desktop: Win + Q

  • This method no longer work in Windows 8 Release Preview. Even I tried copying the file from the Windows 8 Consumer Preview VM to my Windows 8 RP machine and opened it but didn't work.

  • Just press WINkey+Q :)

  • VG,

    Search.scf does not exist in the current Release Preview (I have build 8400 installed), so Microsoft is really making some changes. Any suggestions on how to accomplish this shortcut in light of this?

    Many thanks, Mike

  • VG

    ^^ You can copy its shortcut from WinX -> Group 2 folder as mentioned in NOTE section.

  • Fake !!!!!the win 8 sys32 dont have this scf file

  • These are the only files which show up in my system 32 file (C:\Windows\System32). My hidden files are shown. Any idea where else I might find the search.scf file?

  • VG

    Guys! Please check the Update. :)

  • Hi VG,

    Added to taskbar and applied this icon

    Works fine, looks the part and slid to left position is almost like the old days ;)

    So the shortcut is effectively identical to Win+Q?

    Is there any way to make the focus the programs area rather the search box? ie if you want to use the scroll wheel.

    To be honest, I think 'Windows key' + start typing is still a hair faster, but visually if you want to see everything it does the job.

  • Made a neat "All Apps" ICO for anybody that wants their final shortcut to not look like just another explorer window.


    (to change a shortcut's icon, right-click->Properties->Change Icon->Browse to file location).

    Thanks for this tutorial, the only thing was I had to search my C drive for the "Group2" folder to find the Search file, but then I did not have to do any of the editing of the "Target" so it was actually less steps for me.

  • This wretched machine came with Win 8. It does not have any such app as search.scf so I am stuck. I'm going back to my other machine that overheats but it runs Windows Vista and I can find and explore and create shortcuts that actually exist.

  • Looks like 8.1 broke this secret feature. However, I found an alternative solution somewhere: Go to Control Panel > Taskbar and Navigation > Navigation tab. Then click "Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start". Then, when you click the Windows Start menu icon on the desktop (or press the Windows key), you get the All Apps view (and the Search charm isn't obscuring it, either!). Pressing the icon or key again gets you back to the desktop.

    There are a couple related checkboxes on that same Navigation tab that let you tweak the behavior slightly, so you can play with those. For instance, I check "Show my desktop background on Start" -- this makes it act more seamless when I switch from the desktop to the All Apps view & back.

  • Our computer messed up so we had it worked on. I loved my tiles and pin to start but now it is lost how do i get it back.

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