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How to Pin Apps or Folders to the Metro Start Screen in Windows 8

00_shortcuts_on_start_screen

Windows 8 has a new feature that allows you to natively pin both applications and folders to the Start screen. This is an improvement over Windows 7, which requires third party tools to pin folders to the Start menu.

To pin an application to the Start screen, open Windows Explorer by clicking on the Windows Explorer tile in the lower, left corner of the Start screen.

00a_opening_windows_explorer_on_start_screen

If you’re on the Desktop, Windows Explorer is accessible on the Taskbar, just like it is in Windows 7.

00b_opening_explorer_on_desktop

In Explorer, navigate to the folder containing the application you want to pin. Right-click on the .exe file and select Pin to Start from the popup menu.

01_selecting_pin_to_start

The shortcut, or tile, is placed on the right side of the Start screen.

02_app_shortcut_on_start_screen

The process for pinning a folder to the Start screen is the same. Navigate to the desired folder, right-click on it and select Pin to Start.

03_pinning_folder_to_start_screen

Here is an application and a folder pinned to the Start screen.

04_folder_shortcut_on_desktop

By default, new shortcuts are placed on the right side of the Start screen. You may want to move the tiles you create to the left side of the screen so you don’t have to scroll to access your shortcuts. To do this, simply drag the tile to the left side and drop it in place.

05_dragging_tile_to_left_side

Here’s four custom tiles moved to the left side of the Start screen for easy access.

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We grouped the four tiles together. However, you can easily create new groups of tiles. For example, if we wanted to group the app tiles together and the folder tiles together, we can drag our folder tile between the new group of custom tiles and the group of tiles to the right until there is a gray bar.

06a_creating_a_new_group

Release the mouse button and your folder tile sits all by itself in its own group. You can always move it back to the original group by dragging it on top of the tiles in the other group.

06b_new_group_created

When you click on a shortcut to a folder, the folder is opened in Windows Explorer on the Desktop.

07_folder_open_on_desktop

You can just as easily unpin a folder or an app from the Start screen. To unpin a folder, right-click on the folder’s tile. A check mark displays in the corner of the tile.

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The options for the tile display at the bottom of the Start screen. Click Unpin from Start to remove the tile.

09_unpinning_folder_from_start_screen

When you right-click on an application tile, there are more options available. Just like you did with the folder’s tile, click Unpin from Start to remove the application’s tile from the Start screen.

10_unpinning_app_from_start_screen

By default the name of the tile is the name of the .exe file for applications or the folder name. However, changing the name of a custom tile is easy. Right-click on the tile you want to change so it is checked and click Open file location at the bottom of the Start screen.

11_selecting_open_file_location

The following folder containing the program and folder shortcuts for the Start screen opens in Windows Explorer.

%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

Select the shortcut you want to change and press F2. Change the name as desired and press Enter.

NOTE: You can also click twice slowly on the file name to make it editable.

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The tile on the Start screen reflects the new name.

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If you install a program that puts a shortcut to itself on the Desktop but not the Start screen, you can easily pin it to the Start screen. Simply right-click on the Desktop shortcut and select Pin to Start from the popup menu.

14_pinning_app_to_start_from_desktop_shortcut

The Windows 8 Start screen, or Metro screen, may take some getting used to, but it can be customized to fit the way you work and play.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 03/5/12

Comments (15)

  1. miki

    I want start button back!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This interface is insane

  2. Bruce R.

    “This is an improvement over Windows 7, which requires third party tools to pin folders to the Start menu.”

    You can drag and drop a folder onto the Windows 7 start menu (pinned items or all programs).

  3. RonV42

    I am really enjoying the consumer preview of Windows 8. The new start page is superior to the start menu once you get into it. But for those that want a start menu a developer is creating a app that you can pin in the desktop taskbar that looks like a start menu. Saw that on one of the windows blogs….

  4. Scott

    The best thing that running this on my laptop over the weekend is that it made me see what was up with Linux for the first time in over 10 years. I tried Linux mint 11 and I have to say its going to be taking the place of this consumer preview. If I have to learn and get used to a new OS I may as well dual boot win 7 and learn Linux (something I should have done anyway).

  5. Psypher246

    Lol, browsing for exe’s via explorer to add an app to a menu? This is nuts!

    Yes you might as well switch to Linux.

  6. crab

    Two things with Linux. One, I like Unity and Gnome Shell even less than Metro (though KDE 4 is tolerable now) – and the lesser window managers can be a pain to configure to do basic things like automount USB drives on boot. Two, until Gimp gets 16 bit editing and adjustment layers (if that ever even happens), it’s not really a Photoshop alternative. So if I switch to anything it’ll be OSX (or maybe I’ll just set my wet darkroom up again). But for now I think I’ll just get more RAM for my desktop and a new Windows 7 laptop while I still can, and wait Win8 out like I waited out ME and Vista.

    Besides the irritating pointlessness of Metro on a desktop with a big monitor and a mouse, I’m really irked by how I need a Microsoft account to use most of it. I guess I can understand needing it to use the app store, but why on earth do I need to sign in with Microsoft just to see my Flickr stream in the photo app?

  7. kenedy123

    Good to know about the How to Pin Apps or Folders to the Metro Start Screen in Windows 8.

  8. mastb

    Great post! One more very helpful tip: When you click on Open File Location, you can also right click on the program’s shortcut, and copy it to the Desktop. Voila, Windows 7 behavior!

  9. Zakariah

    Put colors in the logo! And put back the Start button

  10. kenedy123

    thanks for giving the more information about the How to Pin Apps or Folders to the Metro Start Screen in Windows 8.

  11. Brian

    Can I pin an Internet Shortcut to the Start page? “*.url” files haven’t worked yet. How do I add a web page link to the Start page?

  12. Technogran

    Right click whilst you are on a webpage that you wish to pin to your start menu, see that PIN icon? Click on it to pin that webpage to your METRO start page. Easy peasy!

  13. Krishna

    By Mistaken I unpin “My Computer” from Metro UI could you please guide me how to pin it again?
    (I don’t want explorer) I want original icon for “My computer”) :)
    Thanks in advance :)

  14. Krishna

    Hey Guys sorry for my above post got the answer :)

  15. Krishna

    I pin the icon with desktop first then I was able to search it in search bar in metro…! :)

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