How can I pin arbitrary programs to my Start Menu?

I can't create a shortcut in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs; Windows says:

Can't create shortcut here; create on desktop instead?

I can't drag and drop it onto the Start Menu itself.

If I drag it onto the Start icon, it asks me if I want to pin it, but it doesn't do anything.

  • 7
    That is the system start menu, how about your one: %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
    – Paul
    Jul 31, 2015 at 6:10
  • 2
    @Paul That seems to have worked. What's the "system" start menu?
    – mpen
    Jul 31, 2015 at 6:47
  • 1
    Right click and "Pin to Start" sometimes can take a while, just happened to me and after 1 minute it appeared there
    – golimar
    Jun 2, 2021 at 8:30

3 Answers 3


The C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs start menu is for all users, and you will need administrative access to install anything here. Anything here will appear on the start menu all users that login.

Instead use the %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs location, which belongs to your user and no additional privileges are required.

  • 8
    I find I somtimes have to log out-log in before they show up... Aug 3, 2015 at 19:04
  • 1
    @ChristyJames For me, doing a search (just by typing at the start menu) is enough to cause it to refresh its cache of entries.
    – Basic
    Oct 15, 2016 at 23:43
  • Is this still accurate? Win10 Anniversary? I have added a shortcut (maybe the shortcut is the problem?) to %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs, and restarted the computer. If I press windows key and start typing either the file name or the shortcut name, I get no results.
    – Mir
    Nov 23, 2016 at 2:17
  • 1
    @Mir Yes, it works for me on Anniversary. I used a shortcut (which is the way you should do it). It should also show up in the apps list if you just scroll through it.
    – Paul
    Nov 23, 2016 at 4:09
  • Thanks for the confirm. I don't know why it's causing me a problem... I'll redo it from scratch, take some screenshots along the way, and post a new question if it's still giving me issues.
    – Mir
    Nov 23, 2016 at 23:08

If your program was installed "the right way", having a shortcut in "All apps", use ᔕᖺᘎᕊ's answer. If it is a simple exe file running without installation, why not simply right-click on the .exe file, choose "Pin to Start".

  • 1
    The program was installed "the right way" but it doesn't add the 64-bit version to the start menu; only the 32 bit version.
    – mpen
    Jul 31, 2015 at 16:33
  • 4
    Sorry, but this answer does not have any value. The issue here, is that the executable is not indexed for windows searching and the ask is HOW to index it. Right-clicking/Pin-to-start is not an option. Refer to Paul's answer.
    – Mario
    Sep 19, 2018 at 5:43
  • The question was "How can I pin arbitrary programs to my Start Menu?". My answer explains how to do it. Paul's answer explains how to add it to the "All programs" list in the start menu. "All programs" appears on the left column, while pinned programs ar showed on the right one. My answer should be the accepted answer.
    – Mik
    Sep 20, 2018 at 7:36

If you just want to pin a normal program to the start menu, you can simply:

Click the start menu logo > Click 'all apps' > Right click the program you want to be pinned > Click 'Pin to Start':

enter image description here

  • It's not listed in there.
    – mpen
    Jul 31, 2015 at 16:32
  • The program? @Mark Jul 31, 2015 at 16:53
  • Correct. I know how to pin things that are listed, but I couldn't find it anywhere in the start menu at all, and I didn't know how to get it in there. Paul's solution seems to work.
    – mpen
    Jul 31, 2015 at 20:06
  • 1
    No sir. It's PhpStorm. Used the installer. It only puts the 32-bit version in the start menu, but I prefer to run the 64-bit version.
    – mpen
    Jul 31, 2015 at 22:05
  • 1
    this worked quite well for me for an executable I dl'd with no installer. Dec 6, 2019 at 17:27

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