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.

  • 5
    That is the system start menu, how about your one: %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs – Paul Jul 31 '15 at 6:10
  • 2
    @Paul That seems to have worked. What's the "system" start menu? – mpen Jul 31 '15 at 6:47

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... – Christy James Aug 3 '15 at 19:04
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    @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 '16 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 '16 at 2:17
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    @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 '16 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 '16 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 '15 at 16:33
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    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 '18 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 '18 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 '15 at 16:32
  • The program? @Mark – ᔕᖺᘎᕊ Jul 31 '15 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 '15 at 20:06
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    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 '15 at 22:05
  • 1
    this worked quite well for me for an executable I dl'd with no installer. – orion elenzil Dec 6 '19 at 17:27

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