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How to backup the Start screen layout in Windows 10

In Windows 10 Microsoft added an updated Start menu besides the Start screen. Now you are able to switch between the Start screen and Start menu. You can customize the Start screen by pinning various items and organizing it as you want. After that, it is a good idea to create a backup of your Start screen layout, so you will be able to restore its look later after you reinstall Windows or if for some reason, your Start screen settings are lost. Here is how you can do it.

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The Start screen in Windows 10 keeps all data related to pinned apps and tiles in the following file:
%LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms

start screen file in Windows 10
You need to backup this file, as described below:

  1. Open an elevated command prompt and type:
    cd /d %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\

    cmd in appdata

  2. Do not close this window, leave it open, you will need it later. Next, you need to exit the Explorer shell, as it uses this file and can write some data in there. To exit the Explorer shell, use the secret "Exit Explorer" context (right-click) menu item on the Taskbar or Start Menu, which is described in the following article: "How to properly restart the Explorer shell in Windows".
    Exit explorer
    Your Desktop wallpaper and the taskbar will disappear when you exit Explorer:
    taskbar wallpaper disappear
  3. Now switch back to the command prompt using Alt+Tab and enter the following command in the elevated command prompt window which you opened earlier:
    copy appsFolder.itemdata-ms c:\backup\*.*

    Replace the path (c:\backup) with the actual path on your PC. If your path contains spaces, include it in quotes, e.g.:

    copy appsFolder.itemdata-ms "c:\my backup\*.*"

    That's it. Now you have a backup of your Start screen layout in Windows 10.

  4. Run Explorer again. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys together on your keyboard. It will open the Task Manager. Choose File -> Run new task and type explorer in the 'Create new task' dialog:
    run explorer in windows 10
    Click OK or press Enter and the Taskbar will reappear.

    Restore the backup of your Start screen layout

    After you reinstall your OS, you will be able to restore the Start screen layout quickly. You need to perform these simple steps:

    1. Open an elevated command prompt.
    2. Exit explorer.
    3. Enter the following command:
      copy /y c:\backup\appsFolder.itemdata-ms "%LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms"
    4. Start Explorer again.

    Now, when you open the Start screen, you will see your previous customized Start screen layout. It is also possible to transfer it between multiple PCs.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

5 thoughts on “How to backup the Start screen layout in Windows 10”

  1. PowerShell Method:

    # The script below should work on Windows 8.0,8.1, 10 and Windows Server 2012

    # To “Backup” your Start Screen Layout.
    Copy-Item “$Env:LocalAppData\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms” “E:\backup.starlayout”;

    # To “Restore” it (Whatever the user or the computer).
    Copy-Item “E:\backup.starlayout” “$Env:LocalAppData\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms” –Force;
    (Get-Process -Name Explorer) | Stop-Process;

  2. The reason it doesn’t work is because “appsFolder.itemdata-ms” doesn’t exist in Windows 10. It does exist in Windows 8.1 though. Windows 8.1 is being applied here to 10 without testing? This very information is the exact same on a few other sites too. AIK Windows 10 Specialized Pass | works if you are Deploying with Unattend.xml. It saves the Start Menu setting. But not on UEFI-based computers though, so this is where I need it deploying several Surface Pro 4s.

    1. Starting with version 1709, the starttile layout was moved here: %localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\CloudStore\cloudstore.dat

      1. Has it moved again? My Cloudstore folder is empty. If it was just a hidden file, I’d be able to see it (I have “show hidden files, folders, and drives” selected in the windows explorer options).

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