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Posted on Feb 25, 2016 in PC Maintenance | 8 comments

Manually Adding Programs to the Windows 10 Start Menu

Have you ever downloaded a program that didn’t come with a proper installer? Lots of software written by hobbyist programmers comes in a simple zip file, requiring the user to manually extract and run the contents. If you have software like this, it’s easy to add it to your Start menu if you need to and this video will show you how.

If you’re not using Windows 10, click here for a tutorial on adding programs to the Start menu in previous versions of Windows.

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Additional notes

As shown in the video, open any File Explorer window and type %appdata% to access your own, personal Start menu or %programdata% to access the common or shared Start menu. Whichever folder you access, you then need to browse to the “Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu” sub folder.

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  1. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing this useful tutorial as adding manual programs such a interesting thing actually….!!

  2. Hi Matt — this link also gets the user to the Start Menu

    it works for W10 too.

    Now my problem is when I then try to follow what the video suggest — open Maintenance and add the folder (of the desired program that is a direct .exe), the Maintenance folder is in the Start Menu folder but it does not show in All Apps on the Start Menu itself.

    Now of course I was not planning to put things into that specific folder but one should be able to create folders inside the Start Menu folder for anything and then apps to that folder or another one.

    I tried that too without success.

    This link will provide information as to how to add the Start Menu folder to the Send To folder and while again, success occurs when using Send To, unfortunately even though the file/folder may show up inside the Start Menu Folder, it does not appear on the Start Menu itself.

    While it should not require, a reboot of the system, that was tried again, without success.

    Any information as to how to have the already created at install of the Maintenance folder (empty) inside the Start Menu Folder and get it to show on the Start Menu would be appreciated.

    If that can be done, it would then seem feasible to create another or others folders inside the start menu folder.

    Another question you might be able to answer is — if a folder name that is in the Start Menu Folder is changed, will the new name be placed within the correct alphabetical arrangement or will it stay where it was or will it simply disappear from the Start Menu? The reason for the question is often the creator of a program has its name which of course the user may forget who created but remember the name of the program that the user wishes to access from the alphabetical listing.

    If I recall what others that like Stardock, the items appear on the Desktop screen which still would necessitate minimizing open windows before being able to access the shortcut desired whereas by using the Desktop toolbar a click on the carot in the Taskbar opens all items for easy access even when using other applications. If this is not correct, please advise and Stardock might well be useful.

    • Yeah the howtogeek article gives the same path I give above. As for the Maintenance folder, it must have something in it in order to show up under “M” in all apps.

      If you rename a folder on the Start Menu then Windows will move it and rearrange it alphabetically, yes.

      • I have checked two different computers and do not find Maintenance in the Start Menu on either. Yet as mentioned there is a Maintenance Folder inside Programs which is completely empty.

        As I will be a bit busy the next couple of days, when I can I will try the renaming of some of the programs (one at a time and checking it) and comment further.

        Hopefully, someone might be reading this thread and have some further advice because if I am able to get a folder to show up in the Start Menu by manually creating a folder inside the Start Menu folder, then I can’t see any reason that it could not then be used via the Send To option at that point.

        Now I understand that it would have to be a generic folder that would contain all of the programs not requiring an installer but as I currently do basically the same thing but using the term “Executibles” as a folder on the C:\ which is on the quick access in Explorer, that also could work in All Apps but would not have a specific locations for a specific program.

        Now of course if one could get the folder concept to work, as per the video, then one could simply add the Start Menu Programs folder to the Quick Access and open that and create a new folder within the Programs folder and it would then appear on the Start Menu but that is only going to happen if I can actually accomplish the task.

        I am still researching and while one person a couple years ago commented that signing out and signing back in (reboot essentially) solved his problem, I have not found that to be the case.

        Much of what is in the above may not be of value now that I have found more information about this whole process which either is not stated in the video or I misunderstood it as I tend to work better with written words.

        some of the most important things in this article are

        1. “… the All Apps list will always hide empty folders anyway …”

        2. “… if you place an .exe file directly into one of these folders, Windows will ignore it and not display it in the Start menu. Instead, you’ll need to place the .exe file elsewhere and then create a shortcut to it in one of these folders. Windows will only show shortcuts in the All Apps list…”

        OK — it seems I have got it figured out.

        add Programs from the Start Menu to the Send To Menu using the link supplied in my post prior to this one.

        From the previous message do the browse to the Start Menu>Programs folder

        If you have multiple programs under any specific category create a folder here for those shortcuts to the program to reside which you will add from the instruction below.

        Next, in order to add something to the start menu, it MUST be a shortcut so now from wherever you store non installed applications, R click the .exe and use Send To Desktop (create shortcut)

        Next — open the Desktop folder from Explorer. Find the app shortcut on the Desktop and Send To Programs. By having the Programs folder open, if you have a folder contained therein which will have multiple programs of similar type then either drag/drop & use Ctrl + to create a copy or R click and drag and from the flyout menu in the destination folder click on “copy here”.

        Of course if you just use the Send To, later you can create a folder of similar programs if needed and drag the shortcuts to that folder.

        I hope I have explained it well so that user with this info and the links posted can follow the process.

        Thanks Matt for your input.

        My next task over the next few days is to add the many .exe files I have already on my Desktop or create additional ones for .exe’s that I have in my Executible folder in Quick Access but not created as of yet on the Desktop and continue the process.

        • I’m afraid you totally lost me 🙁 What exactly are you trying to do differently from the video?

          You definitely should not drop .exe files into your start menu, only ever use shortcuts.

          • Perhaps the video offered the shortcut info but was not clear to me which is why I found the info in text which can be more readily discerned as it was also mentioned in the last link that whereas in W7 one could put the .exe into the folders on the SM, now with W10 that was changed.

            Anyway, with all the info from the 3 text sites, I have now discerned the method of doing the task at hand so am glad to have had this thread available.

  3. Because I don’t use the start menu very much and prefer to hide Icons of the Desktop and then create a toolbar on the Taskbar for the DT (easy to access and not have to minimize open windows) I tend to make more use of File Explorer and create a quick access folder called Executibles to which I simply drag/drop a copy of the extracted .exe and then open the executible folder and find the new item added and R click using send to DT (create shortcut) and then place the shortcut in its appropriate folder for simple access.

    I also wonder if by using the method you describe if you were to R click Start and then put it into the Send To folder, you could then add things to the Start Menu more simply than is described in the Video.

    For searching, perhaps using Everything Search is faster also.

    • Right click->send to doesn’t work on the Windows 10 Start menu. As for Everything Search, honestly I quite like the new Windows 10 search, though some folks feel that integrating a web search and desktop search is bad for privacy, so alternatives are good to consider if you feel that’s an issue.

      Also if Toolbars are your thing, you might like ObjectDock – Always lots of choice with Windows.

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