A Start menu toolbar trick of the taskbar in Windows 8 and 8.1

In the past we have covered a simple trick to revive the good old Quick Launch toolbar in Windows 8. Using the same technique, you can create a very useful Start menu toolbar on your taskbar, which allows you to have quick access to all installed programs with one click via a cascading menu. Using this toolbar, it is not even necessary to interact with the Start screen constantly to open a desktop program. Here is what you should do.

  1. Open the File Explorer app and create a new folder named as follows:
    Programs.{7BE9D83C-A729-4D97-B5A7-1B7313C39E0A}

    Note the period (.) between 'Programs' and the Class ID. To create this new folder, you can copy the above string, then right click in an empty area of Explorer -> New -> Folder and paste the name in Rename mode. You can create this folder anywhere you want. In this example I will use the following path:
    C:\Data\Programs.{7BE9D83C-A729-4D97-B5A7-1B7313C39E0A}
    a new folder
    As soon as you press Enter by typing Programs.{7BE9D83C-A729-4D97-B5A7-1B7313C39E0A}, the name will be displayed in the File Explorer window as 'Programs'.

    This folder will provide a combined view of desktop programs installed for all users on your computer along with software shortcuts installed only for your personal account. This is exactly how the Classic Start Menu works. The '{7BE9D83C-A729-4D97-B5A7-1B7313C39E0A}' extension tells File Explorer to handle the folder you created like an ActiveX object. There are plenty of such ActiveX shell locations, you can get the full list from the following article: The most comprehensive list of shell locations in Windows 8

  2. Right click in an empty space of the taskbar. From its context menu select the Toolbars -> New Toolbar... item.
    taskbar context menu
  3. The following dialog will appear on the screen:
    New Toolbar - Choose a folder
  4. In this dialog, select the folder where you have created that new Programs.{7BE9D83C-A729-4D97-B5A7-1B7313C39E0A} folder. In my case, I have to choose the following directory:
    C:\Data

    Click on 'Programs.{7BE9D83C-A729-4D97-B5A7-1B7313C39E0A}' in this dialog and click the 'Select Folder' button.
    new toolbar folder

That's it. A new toolbar will be created and become visible on your taskbar. It will contains only one item called 'Programs' with the installed programs flyout list.
Start Menu toolbar

Let's tweak its appearance. Right click on the taskbar and untick Lock the taskbar.
Lock the taskbar

Drag the Start Menu toolbar from the right to the left, using the dotted bar which appears after you unlock the taskbar. Drag all the way to the left of any pinned icons you may have. Adjust its position to the desired location on your taskbar.

After that, you can optionally show/hide the toolbar title and icons text. Right click on the Quick Launch toolbar or on the dotted line and untick the following options:

  • Show title
  • Show text

Now you can lock your taskbar back.

Tip: You can put shortcuts to your favorite apps inside the 'C:\Data' folder to access them without having to go inside the All Programs flyout menu. When you click the chevron (>>) button, it will work just like the Classic Start Menu.
Start Menu toolbar

Closing words

This is a neat trick if you primarily use the mouse or keyboard accelerator keys to launch programs. It won't give you back the search box on your Start Menu or quick access to other special folder locations but you definitely back the Programs menu as it was there in the Classic Start Menu.

4 thoughts on “A Start menu toolbar trick of the taskbar in Windows 8 and 8.1

  1. Larry

    I get an error that ‘Folder name is not valid’

    I Copy/Pasted the string to avoid typos.

    I have Windows 8.1

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    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      You mean the CLSID folder, right?

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  2. startmenuisthepast

    I been telling the people who complain there is no start menu about this. Its still there. Create a toolbar with your start menu folder.

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    1. Gaurav Kale

      This method is good for mouse users. It doesn’t make up for the fast and fluid search which the Start Menu had.

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