[Exclusive] Customize “Win+X” Menu in Windows 8 – Add, Remove, Rename or Move Shortcuts

We all know that Windows 8 has been RTMed and a free 90-day trial version of Windows 8 RTM can be downloaded using following link:

Download 90-Day Trial Version of Windows 8 RTM Absolutely Free

Microsoft has made many changes in Windows 8. A brand new Start Screen has been added which unfortunately has replaced the good old Start Menu.

Microsoft has also removed Start button (ORB) from Windows 8 Taskbar and has replaced it with a new Start Screen thumbnail which appears when you move your mouse cursor to bottom-left corner of screen.

To make Windows 8 users life easier, Microsoft has added a new context menu which appears when you right-click on extreme bottom-left corner of screen. I personally prefer to call it "Quick Access Menu" similar to Quick Access Toolbar present in Ribbon UI of Windows 8 Explorer or Microsoft Office 2010.


You can also use keyboard shortcut "Win+X" to access this new quick access menu. This new menu provides quick access to lots of useful Windows utilities such as Power Options, Command Prompt, Control Panel, etc.

But did you know you can customize this new menu in Windows 8? Yep, I accidentally found an interesting way to customize this new menu present in Windows 8.

In past, Microsoft used to put all menus, context menus, etc in system files such as Shell32.dll, Explorer.exe, etc. You can visit following article which will provide you a better idea:

[AIO] Complete Tutorial to Customize Desktop Context Menu in Windows XP Using Resource Hacker

Then Microsoft made use of Windows Registry to show items in Windows Vista and Windows 7 Desktop context menu:

[AIO] Ultimate Tutorial to Customize Desktop Context Menu in Windows Vista and 7

And now for the first time in history, Microsoft is using a very simple way to show context menus in Windows 8. I have not seen such kind of things in any previous Windows version.

In Windows 8, Microsoft is using a hidden folder which contains all those shortcuts which are shown in Quick Access Menu. Quite interesting, huh?

I was working on this tutorial since a few days but couldn't post it as I was trying to find out each and every thing which can be customized in this new menu present in Windows 8.

So without wasting time, let me share the hidden secret way to customize this new Quick Access Menu of Windows 8:

Customize Quick Access Menu in Windows 8:

I was looking into various system folders of Windows 8 to find out what's new and where are all new UI resources present in Windows 8. Then suddenly I found following hidden folder:


As the name suggests "WinX" folder contains all shortcuts which are displayed in new Quick Access Menu (Win+X) in Windows 8.

To access above mentioned folder, press Win+R keys together to open RUN dialog box and then type appdata and press Enter.

Now you can easily go to "Local\Microsoft\Windows\WinX" folder. Once you open "WinX" folder, you'll notice 3 sub-folders under it:

  • Group1
  • Group2
  • Group3

Actually the new Quick Access Menu is divided into 3 groups as shown in following image:


And the 3 folders Group1, Group2 and Group3 present in "WinX" folder contains those shortcuts respectively.

Following are screenshots of all these 3 folders content:

Group1 Folder:


Group2 Folder:


Group3 Folder:


As you can see in the above images, all 3 group folders contain same shortcuts which are shown in Quick Access Menu in Windows 8.

Removing Shortcuts from Quick Access Menu in Windows 8:

First thing which you can customize in this Quick Access Menu is removal of unwanted shortcuts.

Quick Access Menu contains lots of shortcuts and you might not use a few of them. So you can delete unwanted shortcuts to make the context menu short and to easily find the shortcuts which you want to use.

1. To remove a shortcut, simply go to that Group folder and delete the shortcut.

For example, if you want to delete "Command Prompt" shortcut, go to "Group3" folder and delete "Command Prompt" shortcut.

2. Now you'll need to either log off or restart Explorer to take effect. You can restart Explorer using Task Manager. Check out following article:

Windows 8 Allows You to Restart Explorer Using Task Manager

3. That's it. Now you'll not see that removed shortcut in context menu.


As you can see in above image, "Command Prompt" shortcut is not present in Quick Access Menu.

Renaming Shortcuts in Quick Access Menu in Windows 8:

You can also change names of shortcuts shown in Quick Access Menu. For example, you can change name of "Command Prompt (Admin)" to some other name such as "Terminal", etc.

1. To rename a shortcut, first maximize the ribbon in Windows Explorer. Click on small arrow present below the Close button and it'll maximize the ribbon. You can also press "Ctrl+F1" keys together to toggle the ribbon.

2. Now go to "View" tab and enable "Hidden Items" checkbox.

3. Now open the Group folder which contains your desired shortcut and you'll see a hidden file "Desktop.ini".

4. Double-click on "Desktop.ini" file and it'll open in Notepad.

5. You'll see a list of all shortcuts present in Quick Access Menu along with some file names and random numbers. Actually this file defines the labels or names of shortcuts which you see in Quick Access Menu.

The first part of a line contains shortcut's file name such as "06 - System.lnk" and the second part after the equal sign (=) defines its label in context menu such as "@%SystemRoot%\system32\systemcpl.dll,-1". These labels are pre-defined in those system files.

6. To change the name of a shortcut, you just need to replace the label part given after the equal sign (=) with your desired name.

For example, we are going to change "System" shortcut name to "System Properties".

To do this, we'll just replace the whole "@%SystemRoot%\system32\systemcpl.dll,-1" string with "System Properties" string as shown in following screenshot:


7. That's it. Once you replace the label and save the file, again restart Explorer or log off and you'll see new name in context menu:


Moving Shortcuts in Quick Access Menu in Windows 8:

You can also ungroup all these shortcuts present in Quick Access Menu. For example you can move all shortcuts in a single group to remove separators between the groups or you can also create new groups for desired shortcuts.

1. To ungroup all shortcuts, simply move all shortcuts in a single folder.

For example, you can move all shortcuts present in "Group1" and "Group2" folders to "Group3" folder. Restart Explorer or log off and you'll see all shortcuts in a single group in Quick Access Menu. You'll not see any separator between shortcuts.

2. To create new group, simply create a new folder such as "Group4" in "WinX" folder and move the desired shortcuts from other group folders to this new folder.


That's it. Restart Explorer or log off and you'll see a new group in context menu:


Adding New Shortcuts in Quick Access Menu in Windows 8:

UPDATE: Check out following tutorial to learn how to add new shortcuts in "Win+X" menu:

[Exclusive] How to Add New Shortcuts in Quick Access Menu (Win+X Menu) of Windows 8?

I'm yet to find a way to add new shortcuts in Quick Access Menu. I'm sure it can be done and I'm trying my best to find a way to do it.

I tried to place a new shortcut in those Group folders but didn't work. I also tried to add its entry in hidden Desktop.ini file but didn't work.

I tried to replace existing shortcuts with my new shortcuts having same names but again didn't work.

I have found something interesting in Windows Registry (regedit). Following Registry key contains references for all these shortcuts:


If you look carefully in right-side pane of this key, you'll find entries of all these shortcuts there:


I'm trying to use this Registry key to add new shortcuts.

I have found a way to change existing shortcuts functionality. You can change an existing shortcut to open your desired program instead of built-in program shortcut. Simply right-click on a shortcut present in those Group folders and select Properties option. Now change the command present in Target text box to the full path of your desired program's EXE file. Once done, the shortcut present in Quick Access Menu will open your desired program instead of the previous built-in program shortcut. So using this method, you can change shortcut's target and open desired programs using those shortcuts in context menu.

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Posted in: Windows 8 / 8.1

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  • Nice find VG.

    Very simple thing, maybe just make 3rd apps can integrate it without any registry edit.

  • Nice find VG.

    MS is going back to old .ini files or something like that. Everytime I take a look at this OS I convince myself that it looks like more to a big app and not a real Operating System. Is just my oppinion.

  • nice!

    i have a idea.

    i think you should make a app and add all old start menu item :)

  • Nice.,,

  • It's definitely a nice find!

    I think someone will create a software to organize/customize the shortcuts and groups in "Quick Access Menu" in Windows 8.

    BTW, I press the keyboard shortcut "Windows logo key+X" and get Windows Mobility Center. Looks like they replace it with the "Quick Access Menu".
    77 Windows 7 Tips

    I wonder if they will list out a "88 Windows 8 Tips". :P

  • Looks like Microsoft called it "Start Menu"

    Win + X – Launch Start Menu.

    Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

  • VG

    ^^ Yeah. I noticed it too.

  • I wish to give an update i spent hours on this so the only thing i got working is:
    Rename Shortcuts & Delete them
    I really TRIED to run 3rd Party program or any othereven changing target but it doesnt help somehow it hides itself if the program is not legit :P
    P.S do tell me when someone [or you] discover how to add command i really want to add the shutdown command and it doesnt even works with /C parameter in cmd :(

  • Anyone know how to remove unwanted/unneeded icons on the App window? Like all the Read Me and 'About....' icons. Not that I will ever use the Start screen, but it would nice to know.

    Thanks for all the other tips! However, why would I spend money and install Win8 when I don't like the interface and spend time getting it back to something that is user friendly? Answer: I won't.

  • @Coyote, those icons are shortcuts that are placed in two locations:

    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\

    C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\ (Replace "USERNAME" with your actual user name, of course)

    These are the same locations as Start Menu shortcuts from Win7 and earlier; you can delete, rename, and add other shortcuts here, and they will appear on your Win8 Start Screen. Remember: most of these shortcuts are added by installers, so potentially "unwanted" shortcuts will be placed in these locations every time you install something new, just as in previous Windows versions; also, if you reinstall or upgrade a program, it will add back it's own shortcuts if you've deleted them.

    Give the Start Screen a chance! After customizing and organizing it to your benefit (labeling sections, unpinning stuff, etc.), getting used to helpful keyboard shortcuts like this Win-X or Win-Q (my fave), and working with it for awhile, I've found that, garish though it may be, it actually is more intuitive than previous incarnations of Start - at least for me. :)

  • @Josh. Yes, that's what I figured and I'd used this to 'fix' my Start Menu in Win7.

    But, I don't care what's on the Start screen in Win8 - what I want to do is clean up the mess on the All Apps. Editing any of the Start Menus, either C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\ or C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\ (Replace "USERNAME" with your actual user name, of course) only changes the Desktop short cuts to those.

    Anyway, I don't see how clicking on the Win key, then right clicking the Start screen, then clicking on All Apps to get to a (messy) list of programs is easier or faster than clicking on the Start Button then All Programs. I can see no practical or logical reason for the Start Screen. I don't find it intuitive in any way.

  • Hey, Coyote; I apologize for not explaining clearly; editing those two locations does actually change the All Apps screen.

    For example: I have a "User Manual" in All Apps for Calibre, but I don't want it there (as you said, clutters it and makes it ugly). I simply go to "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\"; open the Calibre folder; delete the User Manual... and presto, it's no longer in All Apps. You can also reach the folder from the All Apps screen itself by simply right clicking the icon you don't want and click "Open file location" at the bottom. I keep my All Apps screen clean by doing that after installing a new program.

    I understand that might not be for everybody, but it works well for me. :)

    Also, to quickly reach the All Apps screen, simply use Win+Q

  • @Josh

    Quote: Author: Josh S
    Hey, Coyote; I apologize for not explaining clearly; editing those two locations does actually change the All Apps screen.

    Well, it's not working correctly. For instance, in my Internet Tools folder (C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\...) I have a RoboForm subfolder, however in Win8's Apps Internet folder there is no RoboForm folder - all the shortcuts for that program are scattered all over the Internet Tools list. Same thing for Roxio short cuts in my Media folder, Canon shortcuts in my Accessories folder. Ugh.

    Also, in (C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories..) I have ten shortcuts and one subfolder, but most of those are not listed on the Apps screen.

    Then there's the issue of the Apps icons being so huge. Does M$ think we have vision problems?

  • Nice trick VG! I will make an app on it. You will be credited for sure :)

  • VG

    ^^ Great. If proper credits and links are provided or may be create an exclusive AskVG app, then I'll feature it here for sure. ;)

  • After installing eset
    x-menu will not open for me, what should I do?

  • VG

    ^^ No idea. Check Eset settings. May be you find some kind of option there?

  • Now this is a editor to customize the Win+X menu (a.k.a. "Start menu" in Windows 8)

  • After upgrading from Win 7 i found this:
    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
    This is the one with Programs folder from Win 7
    So i added shortcut to it in the WinX

  • My quick access menu has a problem, when for example i click the control panel there is no response. Please help.

  • Makes the job real easy. I have had to use it as there's no ini file in the group folders even with hidden files showing. I'm using the latest release on Windows 8 so maybe there's been changes.

  • fabulous, this is a great asset for many. i have a question, i want to change win + keys to other functions, any ideas where this information resides in the registry?
    gracias from mexico

  • VG

    ^^ You can use Sharp Keys software to remap key functions:


  • Thanks for the post.

    Great work!

  • Awesome stuff! Thanks for sharing.

  • Great stuff here, thanks Vishal!

    How about the "Shut Down or sign out" entry? I'd like to eliminate everything except "Sign Out" and I'm unable to find "sign out" in the registry at all. Have you figured out the 'magic' to how that entry appears above 'Desktop' but not in any of the information that applies here to the rest of the entries?


  • VG

    ^^ Those entries are hardcoded into shell. Do you want to change menu label or want to remove entries from this menu?

  • a policy maybe?

  • Actually; you can add groups to win-x also it seems. I added a Group4 and Group5 and the do show with shortcuts.

  • Hey,
    after i leave the domain and use an local user the startmenu / startbutton have no funktion. it is no way to open the system properties or any other item. has one an idea?

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