I like to start my programs by hitting the Windows Start key and just typing in the first couple letters of the program and then hitting enter. However, when I type in the letters for putty.exe it doesn't show up. puttygen.exe does show up in the list but putty.exe never shows.

It seems to work just fine in Windows 8.1. In both OSs I've just simply copied the two EXEs from a usb stick.

How can I get putty.exe to show up on in the Windows 10 search?

  • 2
    Make sure that Windows Explorer has indexed the folder that you put the EXEs in. I'm pretty sure there should be an option in Control Panel called "Indexing Options" that you can use to mess with this. Aug 12, 2015 at 20:02
  • Try holding down the start key and pressing 's' to open up a system wide search Aug 13, 2015 at 3:11
  • Seems that neither one of these suggestions work.
    – bigLarry
    Aug 17, 2015 at 11:37

5 Answers 5


I found an answer here left by D3ftOn3Z.

Try this method.

  1. Open up your "Control panel". Click on "Folder Options".Under the "View" tab,Check "Show hidden files,folders and drives" and Uncheck "Hide protected operating system files". Click Apply then Ok.

  2. Now open up "My Computer". Navigate to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu. Once you get there,you'll be able to view your program list on your start menu.

  3. To add a program shortcut to the start menu,Navigate to your program files folder. Right click on a program icon that ends with .exe, copy and paste it to the "StartMenu" folder.

Hope this helps.

I copied over shortcuts to both putty.exe and puttygen.exe to the "Start Menu" folder but only puttygen showed up in the menu. So I duplicated the puttygen shortcut, re-targeted the duplicate shortcut from puttygen.exe to putty.exe, and then it finally showed up in the Start Menu as well as when I typed "putty" in the search.

  • I needed to put the shortcut in c:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
    – Stenemo
    Jan 22, 2021 at 19:12

Here are my thoughts on the Problem:

I did a lot of testing and it seems like there is a database for the start menu entries that is not kept in sync with the links that are kept under C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs and %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu.

If you want to add an item to the start menu and you want to be able to search for it, you have to do some steps to really make sure it works:

  1. At first, unpin the item if you have already pinned it. And make sure that there are no more links to that program in the start menu.
  2. Next, create a link to the program on the Desktop.
  3. If you add it to the start menu (Copy it to C:\ProgramData\Micr...) and it pops up under newly added programs, you succeeded.
  4. If it does not, but does instead show as a pinned app, that means that there is still a faulty entry in the start menu database.
  5. In that case, you must create a link on the desktop to some other program that you have on your harddisk that is not yet in the start menu.
  6. Aptly name this link with the name of your desired program.
  7. Now copy this link to the start menu folder and it should pop up under recently added programs. Furthermore it should turn up in the search.
  8. This will of course launch the wrong executable, but you can now change the destination and execution path of the link and you're done :-)

Some more tips:

  • If a program does not go away from the start menu, despite that you deleted it, you can either kill explorer.exe and restart it or log out and log in again.
  • Do the same if you added a program to the system PATH and the start menu does not recognize the command. Restarting the explorer process will ensure that the new PATH variable is loaded.

There is no need to overly complicate.

  1. Go to the folder your program is installed in, right click, select Send to > Desktop (Create shortcut)
  2. Click enter image description here+R and enter %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu to open the Start Menu folder in Windows Explorer
  3. Move your new shortcut from the desktop to the Start Menu folder
  4. If desired select the moved shortcut and press F2 to rename and remove the - Shortcut text

The easiest way here is to just move a exe file or create a shortcut to it in Downloads folder. You do not need to configure anything more. TIP: You can even rename a shortcut and thanks to that be able to find it under the other name in Windows search.

More advanced is to just add to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu Places a shortcut to folder where exe file is placed. But I guess it's better to point a folder where you put your shortcuts to exe files.


Well in the control panel there is a an option called "Index Options" there you can choose what folders and files you want to index. Then you just simply click on rebuild, then wait and profit.

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