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.

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

  1. Scratch

    Pretty Sure ObbyTile can do the same thing…

    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.

  2. gina

    thanks.. worked great appreciate the tip!

  3. Andrew

    How can I launch metro IE from desktop? Is it possible?

    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.

      1. Andrew

        Thank you so much!


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