How to pin Applications to the taskbar or the Start screen in Windows 8.1

Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 come with a secret hidden folder which contains all installed apps including Modern apps along with classic desktop app shortcuts. It provides a fast way to open Modern apps from the Desktop environment, however, it has no shortcut to launch it, only a special shell command. Let's see how to create a shortcut to that folder to open it directly and pin it to the Start screen or to the taskbar.


The Applications folder can be opened with the following shell command (type it into the Run box of the Win + R dialog):

shell:AppsFolder

Using this folder, it is easy to create a shortcut to open any Modern app directly from the Desktop as described here: How to start a Modern app from Desktop without going to the Metro Start Screen.

To pin this useful folder to the taskbar or the Start screen, you need to follow these simple instructions below.
Option one

  1. Minimize all windows with the Win + D hotkey. Tip: See the ultimate list of all Windows keyboard shortcuts with Win keys.
  2. Right click in an empty area of the Desktop and select the New -> Shortcut context menu item to open the Create Shortcut wizard.
  3. Type the following in the Location text box of the wizard:
    explorer shell:::{4234d49b-0245-4df3-b780-3893943456e1}
  4. Click Next and complete the steps in the wizard to finish creating your new shortcut. Give it a name or an icon according to your preferences. Tip: You can find nice icons in Windows DLL files like C:\windows\system32\shell32.dll, C:\windows\system32\imageres.dll, or C:\windows\system32\moricons.dll. The last one contains very old-school icons which were used in Windows 3.x.
  5. Now right click the shortcut and select "Pin to Taskbar" or "Pin to Start". Applications will be pinned to the appropriate location.

This trick uses the standard Windows feature called "Shell Folder" to directly open the item you need. Shell folders are ActiveX objects that implement a special virtual folder or a virtual applet. In some cases, they provide access to physical folders on your hard drive or to special OS functionality like "Show Desktop" or the Alt+Tab switcher. You can access an ActiveX object via shell:::{GUID} commands from the "Run" dialog. For a complete list of GUIDs, refer to the most comprehensive list of shell locations in Windows 8.

Option two

  1. Download Winaero's Pin to 8 app. Windows 7 users can download Taskbar Pinner instead of Pin to 8.
    Pin Special Item
  2. Run the correct EXE for your platform, that is, 64-bit or 32-bit.
  3. Click Pin Special Item in Pin to 8. In the window that appears, pick the Applications item.
  4. Click the Pin button.

Pin to 8 can save you a lot of time and effort if you need to pin some Windows location directly to the taskbar or the Start screen. Unfortunately, with Windows 8.1, Microsoft has restricted access to the 'Pin to Start Screen' menu command for 3rd party apps. However, Pin To 8 allows you to unblock the native Start screen pinning ability for all files with just one click. If you are interested in knowing how it works, see How to add the "Pin to Start Screen" menu item for all files in Windows 8.1.
That's it.

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