How to Create a Better Start Menu on Your Windows Desktop


I identified all executable files on my hard drive, created shortcuts for them, and collected those shortcuts into a single desktop folder. As soon as I did this, I stopped using the Windows Start Menu. My folder solution is much better for me.

Here is how you can do the same.

Start Menu Items

First of all, collect (copy-paste) all items listed in the Start Menu.

This is tricky because some of the items are located in your personal user’s start menu folder:

Important Note

To locate your folder, change UserName in the above path to your actual username.

Some items are located in the Default user’s start menu folder:

And some more items are located in the All Users start menu folder:

To access the All Users start menu items, you need to have access to hidden and protected system files and folders. Read this short tutorial how to unhide such files and folders.

Once all hidden files and folders are visible to you, go to C:\Users and double-click on the All Users symbolic link.

All Users symbolic link

All Users symbolic link

Portable Apps

I use quite a few portable software apps. To have them under better control, I created a folder at C:\Portable and I only extract portable tools there.

So, I created shortcuts for all the executable files of all the portable programs located in this folder.

In case you have your portable software scattered in various locations on your drives, it will take considerably longer to collect these shortcuts.

Command Line Utilities

I also created shortcuts for all command line utilities, such as FFmpeg.

Control Panel Items

Next, I created a shortcut called Control Panel leading to the following location:

Create Shortcut — Step 1

Create Shortcut — Step 1

Create Shortcut — Step 2

Create Shortcut — Step 2

This is a nifty way to access all tasks available in the Control Panel but listed in one scrollable window. There are 263 tasks available there in total.


All Tasks

The Result

When I was done, I had 233 executable file shortcuts and 263 Control Panel task shortcuts at my disposal.

I created a folder called Tools on my desktop. I logically organized all the shortcuts within this folder, selected a full-screen tile view for them, and my Start Menu upgrade was ready.

Tools desktop folder

Tools desktop folder

It is much easier to find the tool I’m looking for this way than via the official Start Menu.

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