How-To Geek

How to Open the Start Menu Folder in Windows 7 or 10

Are you one of those people that obsessively edits your start menu to keep it clean, tidy, and organized? Back in Windows XP, all you had to do was right-click on the start button to get to the folder, but Windows 7 changed it. And then Windows 8 made it really annoying. And then Windows 10 brought it all back to normal… sorta.

You can use the same tricks here to open up the Start Menu folder in Windows 10, but the only difference is that Windows 10 actually has an internal database to build the Start Menu’s All Apps folder — so what you see in the folder won’t be the entire contents of the Start Menu, just the regular Desktop apps. You won’t see “Metro” apps in this view, so you’ll have to manage those elsewhere.

But if you add a new shortcut to the folder in Windows 10, you’ll see it show up in your All Apps view right away. So it’s all the same thing, mostly.

Now when you right-click on the Start Orb in Windows 7, you just get the generic “Open Windows Explorer”, which takes you to the Libraries view. In Windows 10 you can open up File Explorer by right-clicking on the icon, but it’ll take you to Quick Access. Not what we wanted!


The Stupid Geek Trick in Windows 7

Yep, this one is so easy it hurts.

Just right-click on the “All Programs” button on the start menu, and choose Open to head to your personal user-specific start menu folder, or “Open All Users” to open up the system-wide Start Menu folder.


Opening the Start Menu Folder in Windows 7 or Windows 10

We couldn’t leave you with something as simple as that, so we’ll get a little more geeky and tell you how you can access the start menu other ways too.

For instance, you can type in the following to get to your user-specific Start Menu folder—or you can put it into a shortcut if you wanted to, or even use it from the command prompt. Just stick it into the location bar in Windows Explorer and you’ll immediately see the contents of your Start Menu.

%appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu


Want to get to the All Users start menu? Just use this instead:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu


And thus ends the really simple tale of right-clicking and getting to a folder. I’ve lost 378 geek points by writing this article.

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 05/16/15

Comments (11)

  1. jake

    Apparently the “All programs” items disappearing still persists in 7100 when you have too many apps installed. so the advice or tip above is really really important. thank you very much man.

    ps. why am i still using RC? BECAUSE DELL SUCKS!!!!

  2. Travis

    When I do this (right-click all programs, click open), the resulting folder most certainly does not show everything in my start menu. Thoughts?

  3. Ryan Erdmann

    @ Travis – The reason you aren’t seeing everything is because there are actually TWO start menu folders. Clicking Open, as is shown above, only shows the folders and programs installed to the current user account. By using the Open All Users button, still found by right-clicking All Programs, you can see any Folders and Applications installed for all users (which is usually the bulk of the items).

  4. GTRoberts

    How about copying the Windows Update shortcut to the Start menu itself? I use to be able to do this with the betas and RC but since RTM I can’t drop/cut/copy/paste/anything to get Windows Update pinned to the start menu :-(

  5. Kit

    When I right click on the orb, the “Open All Users” is not there as an option.

  6. jon

    Instead of C:\ProgramData use %programdata% as the folder might have been moved, esp. likely with SSDs, and no symbolic link left on the C: drive (not so hot, but it does happen).

  7. Rajneesh Gadge

    Really Very Stupid Trick!! xD

  8. Deb

    Just what I needed. Thanks.

  9. redgrl

    once again thanks! cuz yes, i am one of those “obsessive types” that likes to keep my start menu tidy. i was completely frustrated when i couldn’t find the directory after discovering we could no longer d&d on the start menu. of course i came straight here to find the answer!!!

  10. Sardonicus

    Man, some of the work-arounds you have to do for this are really stupid.

    Working with computers forever, I have pretty much every adobe CS5 program, some of them went into an Adobe start menu folder, some of them went in the programs root folder for the start menu.

    It would not let me drag and drop them into the adobe folder, and since I hadn’t done something like this since at least Windows 2000, I went to the start menu folder and tried to open it and it denied me access.

    Which is another thing I don’t get, I’m the only user who is the administrator which is listed as having ALL permissions yet there are a ton of folders I have to hack into to be able to open because it won’t let me because “only the administrator” can do it, which I am, and the only user of. Like deleting the Avira Notifier on the free version of avira, I even set the permissions so ANYONE could do anything with it and still couldn’t delete it. I had to use a program like Active@killdisk to delete it (which I didn’t), and I basically just had to turn off all permissions for the System group so that it will STOP popping up every five minutes to sell me the upgrade.

  11. mehilde

    If you are using Classic Menu to make Windows 7 look like WinXP, you need to right-click the windows start orb to get the choice menu. Still a neat trick, though. Love these columns.

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