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Windows 8 Tip: Edit the Power User Tasks Menu

As I wrote in my Windows 8 Consumer Preview articles tsunami last week, Microsoft has hidden a fun power user tasks context menu behind the new Start thumbnail tip in the new OS. To access it, move the mouse cursor into the lower-left corner of the screen--where the Start button used to be--and then, after the Start thumbnail tip appears, right-click. You should see the following menu: 


This feature is unique enough that I know I'll be getting emails about it for months to come as more and more users inadvertently right-click on the thumbnail tip and believe they've stumbled onto a previously unknown feature. But there really is a hidden feature of this context menu that even I didn't know about until reader Javier Arroyo contacted me via email. It turns out you can edit this menu in limited ways.

To do so, navigate in Windows Explorer to C:\Users\paul\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\WinX, where you replace "paul" with your actual Windows user name. (Look in C:\Users if you're not sure.) Here, you'll see three folders, Group1, Group2, and Group3.


Were you to expand each of these and view their contents, you'd see the following (in aggregate form):


In other words, the shortcuts contained in these folders map directly to the three groups that are present in the context menu, albeit that they appear in reverse order, with Group 3 at the top and Group 1 at the bottom.

You can edit this menu in a few different ways. But what's missing, I think, is the ability to arbitrarily add any shortcut you want to the list. For example, my attempts at adding an Internet Explorer shortcut failed. But you can do the following: 

Remove shortcuts. You can delete any items you don't want, and they will not appear in the context menu anymore.

Add groups. You can also create other folders, which create new groups in the menu. I created a folder called Group 4, for example, and then copied shortcuts from Group 3 into that folder. As you can see, the shortcuts doubled up, with Group 4 at the top.


Note that you must sign out and then in again to see the changes.

I'm curious how this system works and what types of shortcuts will be accepted. Is it really just limited to the pre-set shortcuts? Let me know if you play around with this and find out more about this interesting hidden feature.

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