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The new WINX menu is the go-to location when troubleshooting a computer. Just by pressing the Windows Key + X (or right clicking on the Start button), an admin can access every common tool or console. Since its introduction in Windows 8, Microsoft has even made some pleasant refinements to the available options.
The Windows 8.1 WINX menu
For example, Windows 8.1 allows easy access to Network Connections and a Shutdown/restart/sign out button. But I have a feeling that you want to make this menu your own! Let’s find out how we can customize the WINX Menu.
Replace Command Prompt with PowerShell ^
Windows + X and followed by A is my favorite hotkey! There is no easier way to open an Administrative Command Prompt. If you spend most of your time in PowerShell though, Microsoft provides an easy way to swap out the WINX shortcuts.
Right click on the TaskBar and select Properties, then select Navigation. Under Corner Navigation, select the “Replace Command Prompt” option and press Ok.
Replace Command Prompt with PowerShell
Right click on the Start Button again and you will see your slightly modified WINX Menu:
WINX menu with PowerShell
Removing unused WINX Shortcuts ^
The WINX Menu contains three distinct groupings –named Group1, Group2, and Group3. Group1 starts at the bottom (Desktop/Shutdown) and is followed by Group2 above it. These groups can be found at: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\WinX.
WINX shortcut location
Before continuing, make a backup of the WINX folder in case you need to restore a particular shortcut or group.
To remove a shortcut, delete the shortcut file from the Group folder. As an example, I deleted the Mobility Center from Group3. To see the change, you can logout and log back in. You can also kill the explorer.exe process and restart it.
Goodbye Mobility Center!
New WINX menu groups ^
With the built-in menu items, you have a lot of flexibility. Besides removing shortcuts, you can create new groups and rearrange existing programs. To create a new section, create a new folder named Group4 and copy any existing shortcuts into it.
New WINX menu groups
As you can see in the picture above, the Explorer related shortcuts were moved into a new group and are placed at the top of the menu.
Now that you know the WINX shortcut location, you probably have tried to add a custom shortcut. In which case, you probably discovered that the shortcut didn’t appear! To prevent Application Vendors from spamming the WINX menu, Microsoft makes adding items a bit difficult.
Adding new WINX shortcuts ^
There are a few tools that can help you add shortcuts to the WINX menu. My personal favorite is the free WIN+X Menu Editor by Win Aero. When you first launch the tool, it will scan your WINX directory and present you with a hierarchal view.
WIN X Menu editor
As an example, I am going to create a new group named Group5. I am going to put a shortcut for Outlook and OneNote in this group. To do this, select Add a program – and then select Add a program again.
WIN X Menu editor - Add a program
Because all Office shortcuts are under the StartMenu ProgramData folder, I will browse to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Microsoft Office 2013. Finally, I can just select each program and open them.
The new shortcuts should appear under Group5. Press the Restart Explorer button to see your actual changes.
WINX menu with new shortcut
By using this menu creator (and understanding how the WINX menu works), you can now build a custom WINX menu containing your most used applications.