How to Boot to the Desktop & Skip Metro in Windows 8

By Chris Hoffman on March 13th, 2012

Windows 8 always shows the Metro-style Start screen when you log in. You don’t have to click the Desktop tile every time you log in, you can boot straight to the desktop with this quick trick.

Update: If you’re using Windows 8.1 this is much easier.

This is especially useful if you’re using a third-party Start menu like ViStart or Start8, but it’s also useful if you just use the desktop most of the time. You can also quickly get to the desktop from Metro with the Windows Key + D keyboard shortcut.

Creating the Shortcut

First, fire up Notepad — you can do that by pressing the Windows key from the desktop to access Metro, typing Notepad at the Start screen and pressing Enter. Once you have, paste the following text into a new file:

[Shell]
Command=2
IconFile=Explorer.exe,3

[Taskbar]
Command=ToggleDesktop

Save the file with the .scf file extension — name it something like ShowDesktop.scf.

You may remember the “Show Desktop” button found in the Quick Launch area on Windows XP — this is the exact same shortcut.

Using the Task Scheduler

You can set the shortcut to automatically run when you log in with the Task Scheduler. Launch the Task Scheduler by pressing the Windows key again, typing Schedule, clicking the Settings category and selecting the “Schedule tasks” application. You can also find it under Administrative Tools in the Control Panel.

Click the “Task Scheduler Library” folder at the left side of the Task Scheduler window once it appears.

Right-click in the main pane and select “Create New Task.”

On the General tab, name the task something like “Show Desktop.”

Click over to the Triggers tab and use the New button to set a new trigger. In the New Trigger window, set the task to begin “At log on” and click OK.

Click over to the Actions tab and create a new action. Set the action to “Start a program,” use the Browse button to select the shortcut you created, and click OK.

Click over to the Conditions tab and uncheck the “Start the task only if the computer is on AC power” check box under Power. If you don’t do this, your laptop won’t boot to the desktop if it’s running on battery power.

Click OK and you’re done. You’ll start at the desktop every time you log in, but the Start screen will still be a click away.


This method isn’t perfect — you will see Metro for a moment when you log in. It also causes a Windows Explorer window to appear on your desktop at every login.

Leave a comment and let us know if you find a better method!

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 03/13/12
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