Windows 8 Guide: The Win+X Menu, aka The Power User Menu

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The Win+X Menu is a context menu that pops up when you right-click the lower left hot corner, or by a quick keyboard shortcut Win + X. It’s not intended to act as the missing Start Menu replacement. Rather, it’s a springboard to provide a quick way of performing advanced system functions. Because the most of the commands there are made for the power users, I also called this menu the Power User Menu.

Win-X Menu Screenshot #1

Behind the scene, the commands listed in the menu are the shortcuts (.lnk) files stored in each group folder located at %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\WinX. The Desktop shortcut is stored in Group 1 folder, the Run, Search shortcuts in the middle group in the menu are stored in Group 2 folder, while the rest of the ones at the top group are stored in Group 3.

Win-X Menu Screenshot #2

You can even manipulate it to re-organize the list in the menu the way you want it. You can move the shortcuts around between groups or even create new groups and move shortcuts in it. You can remove some of them if you don’t need them. You can even rename it if you want to, even though it takes a few more steps to do. You will need to modify the Desktop.ini file directly to make the changes. And you will need to turn off “Hide Protected operating system files” option from the Folder Options in order to see the desktop.ini file in the folder.

For example, I replaced the name of System Property to “test link” in the desktop.ini file in Group 3 folder.

Win-X Menu Screenshot #3

To make all changes effect, you need to either reboot your computer or restart Windows Explorer process. You can quickly right-click the Windows Explorer from task manager and select Restart directly from there. And that’s what looks like after Windows Explorer restarted. Noticed that the renamed link called “test link”?

Win-X Menu Screenshot #4

All pretty straightforward so far but here comes the hard part. You can move around, rename, or remove the existing shortcuts that are already in place but you can’t simply add any new icons to it. At least you can’t without the help of rehashing the links to get authorized by the system. Rafael explained the reason in detail why it’s designed that way and offered a quick tool for you to easily rehash the link on his Within Windows blog.

But if you really need an easy way of making the most use out of it, here comes a useful tool that can rescue you out of the hassle of customizing it.

Win+X Menu Editor is a small portable tool that allows you to fully customize the Win+X menu without harassing your system’s integrity. When prompted by the Windows SmartScreen protection, click More Info and Run anyway.

Win-X Menu Screenshot #6

[hat tips to AskVG & Within Windows]

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