Home > Windows 8.1 > Exclusive: How to start a Modern app from desktop without going to the Metro Start Screen

Exclusive: How to start a Modern app from desktop without going to the Metro Start Screen

Today, we have an exclusive tip for Winaero readers which you are sure to find useful if you use Modern apps. Do you know that both Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 can natively launch any Modern app directly from the desktop, without the use of third party tools? You can also easily create a shortcut for any installed Modern app and pin it to the Taskbar or put it on the Desktop.

Wouldn't it be convenient to create a shortcut to launch the modern Mail, Skype, SkyDrive, Photos, Camera or any Modern app without using third party tools? Well, this is very easy, but not quite obvious! Let's discover this hidden secret feature right now.

  1. There is a hidden folder in Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 which allows you to see all desktop and modern apps. Press Win+R together on the keyboard and type the following:

    What you just typed is called a shell command, see the full list of shell commands in Windows 8.1 here.

  2. The following folder will open on the screen:
    Do not touch anything in there! Seriously. Do not change the view, do not click on items!
  3. Press the F10 key on the keyboard. The window will get a menu, choose View -> Choose details.
    Choose Details
  4. In the next dialog, tick the AppUserModelId checkbox:
  5. Now switch the view to "Details":
    Details view
    You will notice a new column, AppUserModelId
  6. Scroll to the desired Modern app. For example, let's consider Reading List.
    Reading List
    Note the AppUserModelId value. For the Reading List app it is

  7. Create a new shortcut with the following target:
    explorer.exe shell:AppsFolder\Microsoft.WindowsReadingList_8wekyb3d8bbwe!Microsoft.WindowsReadingList

    Create Shortcut

  8. Specify the name and icon for the shortcut you have created:
    Name Shortcut

Voila! Use the shortcut you just created to launch the Reading list app! You can even pin it to Taskbar:

Pin Pinned

Repeat these steps for every app you want to launch from the Desktop. Unfortunately, the icon for the Modern app cannot be fetched from the Apps folder directly. You will have to give it another icon of your choice. Start Menu replacements generate the icon from the image tile of the app so that's how they are able to launch Modern apps and show their icons.

If you share this tip, don't forget to give credits to us by linking to this blog post.

21 thoughts on “Exclusive: How to start a Modern app from desktop without going to the Metro Start Screen

    1. Gaurav Kale Post author

      Yes. The OblyTile method is what Winaero blogged about earlier: http://winaero.com/blog/how-to-pin-modern-metro-apps-to-the-taskbar/ and any decent Start Menu replacement also can but that wasn’t the point of this article. :) The point was to show the user how to do it without third party apps :) Even Windows RT users can use this trick.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    1. Gaurav Kale Post author

      First go to Default Programs Control Panel and set IE as the default browser, then download and run OblyTile (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1899865). Go to its Manager and create a shortcut to Default Immersive browser as shown in the screenshot: . Click ‘Create tile’. Then open %Localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Application Shortcuts\OblyTile and you pin that shortcut to the taskbar or Start menu. It will launch Metro IE only if IE is the default browser.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0


        Hello thank you for your article ! Does your trick work for IE as well or is Oblytile the only option for this app ?
        My point is that I would like IE modern UI to launch immediately after the computer starts to display its homepage in UI Mode.
        Thank you for your help !

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  1. Joshua

    I don’t know how to thank you, I’ve been searching for hours to no avail and this solved my problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. AKE


    Great post! This worked a treat.

    If one wants to use the actual icon of the Modern app, getting it is quite easy:

    1. In the Modern app view, right click the icon > Resize > Small

    2. Take a screenshot (Windows SnipIt tool, PrtSc, or external screenshot taker would all do the trick)

    3. Save the screenshots somewhere (any format: png, jpg, bmp)

    4. Obtain the small portable app: IconSushi by Towofu (Google it or use the link here: http://www.towofu.net/soft/e-index.php) and launch it.

    5. Drag the saved screenshot image onto the screen, click the row just added. Then File > Save as single icon…

    That’s it! You now have a .ico file whose path can be set Icon field of the shortcut’s properties.

    That may be of some use to your readers.


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  3. David

    Hi. This was really helpful for all Modern Apps except the Modern IE App which, when I followed your steps and entered its details into a shortcut link, just opened desktop IE. I have tried making Modern IE my default browser but it still wont work. If you could help me that would be much appreciated. If you need an greater explanation of my problem please email me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Don Hittle

    This solution worked like a charm for me! I had also been searching for quite some time, and had managed to work out a solution for one app by guessing from some related posts, but this lays out very clearly how to create a shortcut for a “metro” or “modern” app – which I then placed in the “startup” folder, so the app is opened when I logon!
    Thanks again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Bill Carey


    Thanks a bunch for this. I hate pinning stuff to the taskbar; I much prefer a quick launch with some shortcuts. It’s much neater!

    I have a suggestion for the icons, though. You can find the modern apps in the ‘C:\Windows\SystemApps’ folders which contain the .exe files with their respective icons.



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  6. Floyd Floogle

    Creating shortcuts once you get to the app folder is even easier than this, at least for Windows 10: just click and drag an item onto the desktop. It will prompt you to create a short, complete with the appropriate icon. I haven’t tried this in Windows 8 (I am skipping 8 and going straight to 10), but it would be worth checking out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    1. Sergey Tkachenko

      The method you described is suitable ONLY for Windows 10.
      In Windows 8, you CANNOT drag tiles from the Start screen to Desktop.
      That’s why this article exists here, it was/is useful for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0


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