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

By Lowell Heddings on May 16th, 2015

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
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