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Pin Any Folder to the Vista Start Menu the Easy Way

Have you ever wondered why you can pin applications to the start menu, but you can’t pin folders? There’s a number of articles around that tell you how to pin them using complicated registry hacks, but there’s actually a very simple way to do it.

This technique comes to us from How-To Geek Forums member whs, who is not only a prolific poster on our forum, but on other forums as well.

Pinning Folders to the Start Menu

The first thing you’ll want to do is create a shortcut to the folder you want to pin to the start menu, because we’re just pinning the shortcut instead of the folder itself. Then simply drag that shortcut down to the Start orb, but don’t release the mouse button yet…

Note that for the example I created the shortcut on the desktop, but you’ll want to create the shortcut somewhere else since you can’t delete it once you’ve pinned it.

Windows Vista Pin to Start Drag

The start menu will pop up, and you’ll want to then use the mouse (with the button still held down) to move the shortcut up where the pinned shortcuts usually are (above the gray line)… then you can release the button.

Windows Vista Pin Folder to Start Menu

At this point you should have a pinned shortcut to that folder on your start menu.

Windows Vista Pinned Start Menu Folder

This is a very convenient technique to use for pinning the Downloads and Videos folder to the start menu, since for some odd reason Microsoft gives you Pictures, Music, and even Games… but not the rest.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/8/09

Comments (16)

  1. gary

    how would you remove it?

  2. Odeho19

    WHS writes:Note that for the example I created the shortcut on the desktop, but you’ll want to create the shortcut somewhere else since you can’t delete it once you’ve pinned it…..What I’ve done for these types of instances is to create a folder on my desktop. Then when I want to “hide” that shortcut off the desktop, but not eliminate it, I drag and drop it in this “miscellaneous” folder. Then I go to my folder options in my Control Panel, and and “hide” my miscellaneous folder too. Problem solved. The shortcut is there, but it’s not there. It works,(the shortcut),and I can’t screw it up, or accidentally delete it.

  3. cbhershey

    An alternate method: Right-click on the icon and then select “Pin to Start Menu.”

  4. Ryan

    This doesn’t seem to work. When I hover over the grey line, I get ‘open with’ options for each pinned item I’m near.

  5. The Geek

    @cbhershey:

    That item does not show up on the menu for folders.

  6. eric

    nice trick…i like the desktop background picture

  7. whs

    You can actually drop the shortcut into the WIN-Orb. That works too. It ends up as last in the “pinned” part.

  8. KBPrez

    Thanks for this. It’s a great idea!

  9. jake

    There is a simpler way which has no need for the Desktop. Just open Windows explorer to your folder, right-click and drag it to the Start button. The Start Menu will open, so without leaving go of the icon, drag it to the location where you want it and let go. It will as you the usual of “Move” “Copy” or “Copy as Shortcut.” Take your pick.

  10. Doug

    What about custom programs like dos batch files or Windows Script Host programs. Vista does not see to recognize these as programs and the “Pin to Start Menu” option does not show up when I right mouse click them.

  11. WPW

    And when that doesnt work, first create a shortcut on your desktop, then cut/paste this shortcut into your startmenu. This always works.

  12. Alex

    Sometimes you need to right click the original file/folder and pin to start menu.

    I still haven’t been able to pin a file to the start menu yet which is what I really want in XP Pro.

  13. OzzYasha

    It might just be a Windows 7 thing, but I’m able to just drag a folder to the start menu directly, without creating a shortcut. And there’s the added benefit of a right click option to “Remove from this list” if I drag the folder directly. That way, if I don’t want it on the menu anymore, I can just tell it so in two clicks. The only way to remove one of those shortcuts from the list is to delete the shortcut itself, then select it in the start menu — when Windows sees it’s invalid, it will offer to remove it, fortunately it has that feature now, otherwise you’d have to edit the registry just to remove them.

    The good news is Videos are included in Windows 7 (and they dropped all that “My” stuff, the Music and Pictures are no longer under Documents either). Anyway, you’ve got things in Explorer called “libraries” now (you start with four and you can make your own, one for Downloads even). These have your Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders linked to them, but, you can link folders from anywhere to these libraries, so you might as well remove those four default “ex My” folders from the libraries because they’re on drive C, and we all know you’re supposed to format your boot drive and restore your Acronis image from your data partition (usually D) every 6 months to keep Windows running smoothly, so, it’s not a good place to be putting data.

    Oh yeah, in 7 you can also pin to the taskbar. It looks like Quicklaunch, until you run one, then that icon turns into the taskbar panel, shoving the others over. This makes accidentally opening two copies virtually impossible (since the icon gets replaced instantly), and the pinned apps maintain their order, so, you’re also less likely to pick the wrong program because you opened your apps in a different order than you usually do. Whatever goes in that left hand slot, of course, becomes a stationary fixture that’s always right there next to your start orb. For me it was a no-brainer what should go there — Total Commander (though Firefox and ImgBurn are right beside it). It might be interesting to see a trick for pinning folders there as well.

    While this trick is interesting, it involves the use of two things you’re better off just replacing — Start Menu and Explorer. The new start menu in 7 that wants to scroll programs within the box on the left is broken. It won’t scroll via a Synaptics touchpad, so, laptop users end up having to drag the bar. That gets old fast, so I decided to try Launchy since everyone seems to think it’s the best thing since the teachings of Aristotle. Not quite, but it has definitely replaced what little use I had for the start menu. It’s much faster, type three or four characters and it’s found your app. So, I’m not using my start menu much. Not that I ever did. Associations and shell extensions make it unnecessary to run most programs directly. Just double click the data files in your file manager and it does the rest, or right click and select the “extract to folder” option, etc.

    Of course, if you’re going to rely on your file manager that much, you need a good one. Explorer is an even bigger joke than Notepad (too bad you can’t uninstall it). Total Commander has dual panels, tabbed browsing (very useful, just like it is in Firefox), and bookmarks. Yes, you read that right, with TC you can bookmark a folder with the same hotkey you use in Firefox — Ctrl-D — then hit add folder, then the next time you hit Ctrl-D (or that snowflake button to the right of the address bar, next to the history arrow), the pop-up menu shows it on the list. It makes going to the start globe to click a pinned folder seem archaic (my apologies if the truth hurts). The two panels are very customizable I might add – if you can’t find the configuration you want in TC, then it doesn’t exist. If you actually like Explorer you can make it look just like two copies of Explorer side by side (or on top of each other should you put it in vertical mode) just by turning trees on. Much less time-consuming than opening two copies of Explorer and dragging them to opposite sides of the screen.

    Total Commander also has it’s own start menu, and you can put anything on it you want — files, folders, shortcuts, OS settings (like associations), TC’s own internal processes (such as it’s powerful mass renamer), and submenus. You can do the same with it’s icon bar, but instead of submenus, you have subbars. You can have multiple submenus/subbars, and nest them within each other (they’re like folders, and you can use them to create an infinite number of custom menus and bars). The default bar has plenty of space for you to put icons for Firefox, ImgBurn, uTorrent, and BNR2 (or NZB-O-Matic, I prefer BNR2 because it let’s me specify the destination for every nzb individually so I can keep games, music, and movies separated, and it has a better download algorithm). Then there’s the fact it treats FTPs like network drives, it just gives them numbers instead of letters (you could have eight FTPs open and be FXPing between them all, not that it would be practical, but TC could handle it, FlashFXP can only do two). I could go on but Google it and download a trial version already. Once you get used to it (and it doesn’t take very long) there’s no going back to Explorer.

    @Odeho19: That’s a fine way to complicate the process (which is why he said not to make the shortcut on the desktop), just make a folder named “C:\folderpins” or something and put your shortcuts there (better yet, “D:\folderpins” if you’ve properly partitioned your drive so you can keep them the next time you reformat), then there’s no need to go to the trouble of hiding it because it’s not on your Desktop.

    You really shouldn’t be putting files and folders on the Desktop at all (both because it slows the boot process and it’s not a safe location for data). Put a few links to programs you use every day on the Desktop, then find somewhere else to put everything else. Make a folder in the root of D: called Desktop if that will help (and folders named Documents, Music, Video, Pictures, etc.). It’s in your best interest to stop using the Desktop and “My” folders to store data, and drive C: in general for that matter. If you don’t have a D: drive (or it’s the DVD burner), Partition Magic can help you with that, just resize your boot drive to 30 GB and make a new partition out of the rest of the space for data. Put all your documents, music, etc. on drive D: from then on. The next time you need to reinstall Windows, you won’t be in a mad panic to back up your data files. You’ll want to copy the “Users” or “Documents and Settings” folder to drive D: before you format, to save your Firefox profile, Thunderbird email, etc. However, you won’t need to burn your mp3s and pictures to DVDs or transfer them to a portable hard drive, they’re not on C: so they’re not going anywhere when you format it. All you’ll have to do is reinstall your apps (or not, if you back up your boot partition with Acronis to drive D: you could just restore with that and have nothing to reinstall, except any apps you installed after creating the backup). Take some time to reorganize now, it will save you some major headaches down the road.

    I hope I’m not coming across as rude, but I’m a user who’s been around for a while, since the DOS days. You know, the golden age of PC gaming. Before PC games made you insert the disc every time you play them, enter a password, go online to complete the installation (Orange Box), uninstall apps their DRM doesn’t approve of, and/or log in to a glorified chat room to play a game in single player mode (GTA4). Doom, Heretic, Hexen, Duke Nukem 3D, and Quake did none of this BS, and they sold just fine. I’m glad I switched to consoles when games switched to Windows. I guess I got a bit sidetracked there, but I knew people would question how I could say the DOS days were better, so I answered it ahead of time. Sure, DOS was command line based, but we had Norton Commander (and Windows 3.1 for the noobs). Anyway, the point is, I’ve been around for a while, I sort of know what I’m talking about. What works for me may not work for you, but it’s not like I charge for this advice.

  14. Dwight Stegall

    You don’t need to make a shortcut first. As you are dragging an app or folder windows will make it into a shortcut for you without deleting the original.

  15. Rockit

    You’re right Dwight. I just tried it and it works. Plus, no need to drag it to the top of the start menu, you can release it in the lower part and it still pops up in the “pinned” top half, at least it did on my machine (XP Pro).
    Ozz did make a great post though, and no offense, but I want some of whatever he’s on. :-)

  16. BONG HOCK

    yes

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