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I have a Windows PC for personal and also professional use. I want to keep the personal data separate from the professional data, so I created two user accounts, one for personal and one for professional use. Turns out I need to switch between these two user accounts quite often and this is becoming annoying (because it takes quite long to switch from one user to another via start menu -> user icon -> other user name).

I've been practicing a similar approach on Linux computers since years and it works great using su, sudo and such. I found there is a runas command on Windows which does pretty much the same as Unix/Linux's su command. Unfortunately, starting applications from the command line is also quite annoying on Windows, so using runas directly from the command line seems not an option to me.

I would like to have a secondary start menu (or something similar) for my private user from where I can start applications to runas the professional user. I can think of several ways to achieve this.

Simplest approach: create a directory containing several runas shortcuts for the most often used applications accessible from the task bar as a "Toolbar". Drawback: Shortcuts needs to be created manually for every application and runas command has to be repeated in all shortcuts.

More elaborated: When running a file manager as a different user and activating (usually: double clicking) shortcuts, the application from the shortcut will be stared as the user the file explorer is running as. (Tested with Double Commander. Did not manage to do this with standard Windows Explorer, seems one cannot use runas to start explorer.) So one could run a file manager as the other user, browse to the start menu folder and double click the applications one wants to start as the other user -- in theory. In practice, there is no such thing as "the start menu folder" in Windows 10, the start menu is a combination of shortcuts from various folders (see e.g. Where are ALL locations of Start Menu folders in Windows 10?).

So I am looking for either

  1. a clever way to show the content of the start menu in a file manager or
  2. an alternate start menu application (like Classic Shell and alike) that can be runas a different user and can be configured to add an additional start menu instead of replacing the existing one.

For both approaches I could not yet find the appropriate solution. Someone here having any ideas how to achieve the one or the other?

  • Since Classic Shell and it's heir, Open Shell, can export and import their settings with n XML file, it might be fastest to switch menus than log off/on. As you state, create shortcuts for each menu RunAs correct user. – DrMoishe Pippik Jun 24 '19 at 2:24
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How about creating a custom library in file manager and adding the 2 start menu directories as locations. You can then pin the library to Quick Access if you don't have library visibility turned on. Don't forget to ungroup them so they look more like a natural start menu. Library containing Start Menu Items

As a bonus, if you only want to see the shortcuts, search "shortcut" (without the quotes) when in the library and save the search results. You can pin the results file to Start Menu or File Explorer on the Task Bar for quick access. Shortcuts Only

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