Create a Desktop Shortcut to All Apps in Windows 8

Windows 8 removed the Start Menu and now if you want to see all the apps that you have installed on your system, you have to go to the Start Screen, right-click and then click on All apps. I personally find this very annoying since previously I could just click on Start and All Programs!

all apps

When you click on All apps, you get a list of your Metro apps (now called just Apps) and your regular desktop apps as you scroll to the right.

all apps

I’m not sure why Windows 8 made the process longer, but it’s annoying. In this article, I’ll show you a method to create a desktop shortcut that will bring you straight to the All apps screen from the desktop and activate the search charm so you can quickly find the app you want to run.

To get started, go to the desktop and right-click and then choose NewShortcut.

new shortcut

Now in the location box, go ahead and type the following line:

%windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{2559a1f8-21d7-11d4-bdaf-00c04f60b9f0}

That is basically a Windows 8 shell command, but you really don’t need to worry about that. All you need to do is copy and paste that into the text box like shown below:

create shortcut

Click Next and give the shortcut a name and click Finish. Now just double-click on your new shortcut, which should look something like this:

shortcut to all apps

You will get the list of all apps plus you will see the Search charm pop up so you can start typing to filter the list of apps. If you don’t want to see the Search charm, just click anywhere off of it and it will disappear.

search apps

That’s about it! I have found this a lot faster than going through the Start Screen and right-clicking. If you want to make it even faster, right-click on the shortcut and Pin to Taskbar.

pin to taskbar

Now you can one the All apps screen from the desktop with one click. Not too bad! If you have found a better solution for getting to the All apps folder from the desktop, post your solution here! Enjoy!

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Comments [5]

  1. AK says:

    Thanks for the tip. It annoys me as well. I am guessing MS wants us to use Search-Apps more

  2. Karen says:

    THANK YOU! Jumping through hoops to get to the apps list was driving me nuts!! Great to have the shortcut!

  3. jewelpepper says:

    I did everything you said, but the search charm is the only thing that shows up on my desktop when I click on the new shortcut I put there. It doesn’t matter where I click to try get rid of it. Any idea what could be wrong? Computer illiterate :( sorry!

  4. DeanS says:

    I have the same result as “jewelpepper” – I have W8.1 and only the search box opens – not all the apps.
    I did put a shortcut on another PC when it only had W8, and this has stayed after upgrading to W8.1

  5. Rex Green says:

    Looks like 8.1 broke this secret feature. However, I found an alternative solution somewhere: Go to Control Panel > Taskbar and Navigation > Navigation tab. Then click “Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start”. Then, when you click the Windows Start menu icon on the desktop (or press the Windows key), you get the All Apps view. Pressing the icon or key again gets you back to the desktop. There are a couple related checkboxes on that same Navigation tab that let you tweak the behavior slightly, so you can play with those. For instance, I check “Show my desktop background on Start” — this makes it act more seamless when I switch from the desktop to the All Apps view & back.

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