How to backup and restore Taskbar pinned apps in Windows 8 and Windows 7

In Windows 7, Microsoft introduced the ability to pin your favorite apps to the taskbar. This option was designed as a fast way to put app shortcuts on the Taskbar using jumplists instead of dragging them to the Quick Launch toolbar. In Windows 8.1 Update 1, the taskbar allows to pin Modern apps as well. After reinstalling Windows, you may need to pin your apps again one by one. Although it is not difficult, you can also restore all previously pinned apps at once. Let's see how it can be done.

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To backup and restore your pinned apps, you need to do two things:

  • A backup of the *.LNK (shortcut) files of the pinned apps
  • An exported registry branch with the pinned apps' settings.

How to backup Taskbar pinned apps in Windows 8

  1. Open Registry Editor.
  2. Go to the following registry key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Taskband

    Tip: How to jump to the desired registry key with one click.

  3. Right click the Taskband key in the left pane and choose Export from its context menu.
    backup taskbar pinned apps
    Give the exported file some name of your choice and save it to the folder you want. Your taskbar pinned apps will be exported to the *.reg file.
  4. Press Win + R shortcut keys on the keyboard to open the Run dialog.
    Type the following command in the Run dialog and press Enter after typing it:

    %AppData%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\TaskBar

    run userpinned
    This will open the TaskBar folder which contains shortcuts of all your pinned apps:
    userpinned taskbar folder
    Copy these shortcuts to a safe place from where you can restore them later. You will need them after reinstalling Windows.

Now you have a backup of your pinned apps.

How to restore Taskbar pinned apps in Windows 8

  1. Type the following command in the Run dialog (press Win + R shortcut keys on the keyboard and press Enter after typing it):
    %AppData%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\TaskBar

    Copy back the pinned apps shortcuts from the backup you made earlier to this folder.

  2. Open Registry Editor and leave it running.
  3. Start the Task Manager and kill all explorer.exe instances. See how to end a process quickly with Task Manager in Windows 8. Once you end all Explorer.exe processes, all file browser windows as well as the taskbar will be closed. Do not close the Task manager too at this point, although if you do close it accidentally, you can start it using Ctrl+Shift+Esc.
  4. Switch to Registry Editor by pressing Alt+Tab or clicking on the Registry Editor window. Click on the File -> Import menu item.
    file_import
    Browse for your *.reg file that you had exported earlier and import it by opening it. Now you can close Registry Editor.
  5. In the Task Manager, choose File -> New task (Run).
    file run new task
    Type the following in the Run box and press Enter:

    explorer

The Explorer shell will be started again, and your pinned apps will appear on the taskbar as they were previously! That's it. This trick works in Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1.

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