Export and Import Start-Layout new url and lnk not showing


  • Hi 

    Please help to understand why when i export/import a layout changed with new urls and lnk those never appear in new users.
    Heres what i am doing : 
    - Add the lnk and url to the "%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs"
    - Change the StartLayout removing unneeded stuff and adding those new lnk and url using pin to start
    - Export-StartLayout -layoutpath "layout file" and Import-StartLayout -layoutpath "layout file" -mountpath $env:SystemDrive\
    - Log with a new user that never logged in and the startlayout is changed but the new url and lnk are missing
    Already tryed the %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\ , deploying the xml file using gpo , changing the file directly from the users\default\appdata\local\microsoft\windows\shell\layoutmodification.xml , all with the same outcome.
    Heres an example of the xml file:
    "<LayoutModificationTemplate Version="1" xmlns="">
      <LayoutOptions StartTileGroupCellWidth="6" />
          <defaultlayout:StartLayout GroupCellWidth="6" xmlns:defaultlayout="">
            <start:Group Name="Life at a glance" xmlns:start="">
              <start:Tile Size="2x2" Column="0" Row="0" AppUserModelID="Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe!MicrosoftEdge" />
              <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="2" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\google.url" />
            <start:Group Name="" xmlns:start="">
              <start:Tile Size="2x2" Column="0" Row="0" AppUserModelID="Microsoft.Office.OneNote_8wekyb3d8bbwe!microsoft.onenoteim" />
              <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="2" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\alert.gif.lnk" />
              <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="4" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\bing.url" />

    Thanks in advance for the help
    Wednesday, January 4, 2017 11:28 PM

All replies

  • Hi Tom_ask,

    So you are modifying the start layout xml directly to customize the start layout?

    “DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\alert.gif.lnk" />”
    Please ensure there is a corresponding shortcut located in "%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu". Then check the symptom again.
    Here is a link for reference:
    Start layout for Windows 10 desktop editions

    Best regards

    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help.
    If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact

    Thursday, January 5, 2017 1:49 AM
  • I've tryed modifying the layout and using export/import, and directly modifying the layout xml , the file is in that location.
    Also tried with other locations like %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs and %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\ .

    Thursday, January 5, 2017 8:28 AM
  • Hi Tom_ask,

    What is present version you are using?

    I have tested this on my Windows 10.1607 version and the layout worked for a newly created user. I tested with the gpo :Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates >Start Menu and Taskbar>Start Layout

    Best regards

    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help.
    If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact

    Monday, January 9, 2017 6:53 AM
  • I'm having the exact same issue here using Windows 10 1607 computers.

    I created a couple .URL shortcuts, copied them to the "%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" folder. 

    I exported the start menu layout and in the custom.xml file it created, the URL files are referenced like this:

              <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="0" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Mail.url" />
              <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="2" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Calendar.url" />

    I then import the custom.xml file to the same computer and the .URL shortcuts are the only ones missing from the Start Menu.

    I have also created a Powershell script that copies the shortcuts into  %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\ folder and imports the custom.xml and I get the same results for new users on other computers - the customized start menu layout is all correct, except the .URL shortcuts are missing.  The spots where they are supposed to be are just empty.  

    I have not tried with a GPO, because we want users to be able to make changes - we just want to offer a default menu for them.

    Any ideas?

    Thursday, February 16, 2017 11:08 PM
  • Good luck with this, I've had major consistency issues with start menus in windows 10 since launch.

    Some machines show specific icons, others don't. Same build of OS same spec of machine. Then I manually import a start menu and it's totally blank...

    If I get anywhere I'll report my findings but I'll be keeping a close eye on this thread.

    This issue makes Windows 10 look amateurish and very poor in the eyes of my users. I've even had to start using desktop shortcuts to circumvent the problem!

    Monday, March 20, 2017 4:16 PM
  • Tom, the issue is the way Windows 10 1607 (and 1703) export the layout.xml file.

    For some reason then generate these tiles as :

    <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="4" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\bing.url" />

    In Windows 10 1511 the same menu layout export rendered this same tile as:

    <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="2" Row="0" DesktopApplicationID="" />

    The 1511 syntax is what you need. I manage 22,500 Windows 10 machines (1511, 1607, and now 1703) in a large school district and we manage the start menu layout extensively...We have never seen any consistency issues like Nathan is reporting. Our layouts are rock solid.

    You must still create the .url shortcut in the %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu location and make sure you push any custom icons you want to the same directory on the target machine as your reference machine. But, if you are using 1607 or 1703, after you export the layout.xml with PowerShell you will need to go in and edit the lines changing the "DesktopApplicationLinkPath=" to a "DesktopApplicationID=" with the EXACT url after the = sign.

    It must match the URL field in your actual .url file EXACTLY. This is how Windows finds the .url shortcut to display.

    Monday, May 15, 2017 6:58 PM
  • Chris, thank you! I had the same issue and this resolved it for me.

    I changed every instance of DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Website.lnk" to DesktopApplicationID=""

    At first, Import-StartLayout told me my XML file "is not a valid layout file". Turns out it was because of a "&" in one of my web addresses. I changed "&" to "&amp;" and then Powershell was happy and everything worked as expected.

    Wednesday, May 17, 2017 4:23 PM
  • Thanks Chris, This helped us too. Our 1703 installs weren't putting URLs into the start menu and changing the XML file as you stated got them back.
    Tuesday, May 23, 2017 5:17 PM
  • Thanks Chris for the thorough answer with URLs.  Is there something I'm missing with folders that export / import would not work properly as well? I have tried a few locations (ProgramData, Documents) and I get no errors on export but the folders do not appear on import. I tried using the LNK file in both ALLUSERSPROFILE and APPDATA Programs folder to no avail.  I even tried doing what you had (pointing it to DesktopApplicationID="local folder path") along with the LNK file.  I've done quite a bit of searching and found one reference to folders along with the URLs (which is why I tried the URL trick).  I'm using Windows 10 Enterprise 14393, not sure why that version.  I'm not involved with the OS portion and I'm sure they have a reason.
    Wednesday, May 31, 2017 6:17 PM
  • I've had this issue for going on for two years now, nothing works properly with regards to the Start menu tiles. I've tried to deploy several things using the exact method you have to very mixed successes.

    Shortcuts and .lnks vanish, they work for some users and not for others.

    It's becoming so inhibitive, I'm beginning to despise Windows 10 now. I've wasted hours upon hours on this...

    Wednesday, July 19, 2017 4:11 PM
  • Hi Chris

    Your explanation really helped me with the layout of my startmenu. I have one issue. All of my shortcuts in my startmenu start start with "W~" before the actual website. Any idea anyone?

    Thanks in advance!

    Tuesday, November 7, 2017 9:00 AM
  • I'm getting the same "W~" before the website name, but the link doesn't actually work, either. I click it and nothing happens. I'm running Windows 10 1709 (Fall Creators Edition).

    My code for that tile is:

      <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Row="0" Column="2" DesktopApplicationID="" />

    Any ideas?  Thanks

    Saturday, November 11, 2017 6:48 AM
  • I'm getting the same "W~" before the website name, but the link doesn't actually work, either. I click it and nothing happens. I'm running Windows 10 1709 (Fall Creators Edition).

    My code for that tile is:

      <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Row="0" Column="2" DesktopApplicationID="" />

    Any ideas?  Thanks

    Do you still have the .URL file copied into %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\ on the computer/image? for example a google.url that then points to
    Friday, November 24, 2017 2:04 AM
  • JHey Jesse,

    I'm running into this with my Windows 10 1709 Start menu build - the icons that are URL's all show "W~%ALLUSERP".

    Did you ever get a fix for this?

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018 8:50 PM
  • Chris,

    Thanks for the post back in May. What if you are trying to use a specific browser for the url? We have some custom apps that run on IE, but some users have Chrome setup as there default. To make sure they use IE for these custom apps we include iexplorer.exe in the shortcut. Here is an example of one of our .lnk files:

    "C:\Program Files\internet explorer\iexplore.exe"

    I've tried changing:

    DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Timesheet.lnk"

    to this:

    DesktopApplicationID="C:\Program Files\internet explorer\iexplore.exe" ""

    but I'm getting an error that the file is not a valid format. 

    Wednesday, January 31, 2018 1:56 AM
  • Chris, how do the custom icons look on your start menu? Do they fill the tile completely? I am trying to achieve this, but I get the icon as a small square inside the tile.

    How can I make the icon fill the tile?

    I used a jpg wich I resized in paint to 150x150 then I converted it to .ico

    Friday, March 16, 2018 8:09 AM
  • No, our icons are small in the tiles as well

    Chris D Nilsson

    Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:52 AM
  • We use the google legacy browser plugin and corresponding GPO.

    Chrome is our default but any sites that require IE switch automatically.

    Chris D Nilsson

    Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:53 AM
  • Morning Chris

    sorry to hijack the post but reading your answer says to me you're a bit of a guru so I was hoping you might be able to give me a pointer on exporting the start menu:

    If you've got the time, thank you

    Thursday, May 24, 2018 6:24 AM
  • Chris,

    Do you have an example Layout.xml you have working with Win10 1803? 

    Thursday, August 23, 2018 12:18 PM