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How to Edit the Win+X Menu in Windows 8 Using a Free Tool

00_lead_image_winx_menu_editor_window

Microsoft’s decision to remove the Start button in Windows 8 has caused a lot of controversy and made a lot of Windows users angry. The Metro screen is supposed to be a replacement for the Start menu.

We’ve written about as tool, called Start8, that adds a Metro-style Start menu to the Windows 8 Taskbar, as well as Classic Shell, which has now been updated to work with Windows 8. There is also a way to simulate the Start menu by creating a toolbar on the Taskbar that includes the shortcuts from the Programs folder in the Start menu folder. We’ve even talked about ways to live without the Start button in Windows 8.

A new hidden context menu, called the Win+X menu, has been added to Windows 8 that is available by moving your mouse to the extreme lower, left corner of your screen and right-clicking. If you only want access to a few frequently used programs, you can now add your own shortcuts to the Win+X menu. Recently, we showed you how to manually add items to the Win+X menu. We found a free tool that allows you to easily add, remove, and reorder items on the Win+X menu.

To use the Win+X Menu Editor, unzip the file you downloaded (see the download link at the end of this article) and open either the x64 or x86 folder, depending on your system. You’ll find the Win+X Menu Editor and the hashlnk executable files. The Win+X Menu Editor uses the hashlnk.exe to make the changes to the Win+X menu, just like you can do manually, as we’ve talked about previously. The Win+X Menu Editor does not need to be installed. Simply double-click on the WinXEditor.exe file to run the program.

01_running_winx_editor

If the Open File – Security Warning dialog box displays, click Run to continue to open the Win+X Menu Editor.

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On the Win+X Menu Editor window, the default three groups of shortcuts display. If you want to separate your own shortcuts from the rest of the default shortcuts, you can create a new group. To do so, click Add Group.

03_adding_a_group

A fourth group displays at the top of the window. To add a shortcut to this new group, highlight the group and click Add Shortcut.

04_clicking_add_a_shortcut

For this example, we are going to add Notepad to the Win+X menu. On the Open dialog box, navigate to the location of the program you want to add to the Win+X menu. Select the .exe file for the program and click Open.

NOTE: You can also add existing shortcuts to the Win+X menu. To do so, navigate to the Desktop or other folder containing shortcut (.lnk) files and select the desired shortcut.

05_selecting_notepad

The Win+X Menu Editor uses the name of the .exe file for the name of the shortcut. However, you can change this. We decided we wanted to capitalize Notepad on the menu. To rename a shortcut, either right-click on the shortcut and select Rename, or press F2.

06_selecting_rename

The Rename dialog box displays. Enter a new name for the shortcut and click OK. You’ll notice that there is nothing in the edit box, not even the original name. You must type in a name from scratch.

07_renaming_notepad

Once you’ve added some more shortcuts to your new group, you can reorder them using the arrow buttons on the right side of the Win+X Menu Editor window.

08_moving_shortcut_down

When you move shortcuts, the Win+X Menu Editor uses the hashlnk program included in the download. You may see the Open File – Security Warning dialog box again. We recommend that you uncheck the Always ask before opening this file check box for the hashlnk.exe file before clicking Run. Otherwise, this dialog box will keep on displaying. We’ve tested the hashlnk.exe file and haven’t encountered any problems with it.

09_security_warning_dialog_for_hashlnk

You can also remove shortcuts from your new group or from the default groups. Select the shortcut and click Remove Shortcut. A confirmation dialog box displays to make sure you want to remove the shortcut.

10_removing_a_shortcut

To apply your changes to the Win+X menu, click Apply. This restarts Windows Explorer, so any Explorer windows you had open will now be closed.

11_clicking_apply

Your custom shortcuts are now available on the Win+X menu.

12_items_added_to_winx_menu

To return to the default Win+X menu, click Restore Defaults on the Win+X Menu Editor window.

The Win+X Menu Editor does not allow you to rename or move the groups or move shortcuts among the groups. This can be done manually, however. See our article about manually adding items to the Win+X menu for more information.

Download Win+X Menu Editor from http://winaero.com/download.php?view.21.

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 05/10/12

Comments (4)

  1. hb860

    Finally!!! On HTG!
    It’s a honor for me to see any of my tool here.

  2. hb860

    Also
    >>The Win+X Menu Editor does not allow you to rename or move the groups or move shortcuts among >>the groups.
    I’ll make it in next release.

  3. J Smith

    @HTG Thanks for the find. Although I’ve grown to like the Win8 Start Screen, WinX is convenient for quick items.

    @hb860 Thanks for your work on this! It’s Windows hackers like you that make me such an avid Windows fan! :)

  4. smcapps

    Back in the caveman days, we learned how to create desktop shortcuts to files, folders, websites and applications. We created dozens of keyboard shortcuts like Ctl-Shft-W to open Word, and our fingers memorized them all. Never touched the damn clumsy mouse except to click and drag when needed. So tell me, can a caveman survive in the the Metro world?

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