How to create a desktop shortcut to a Windows 8 Modern UI app

Windows 8 and 8.1 let you pin Modern UI apps (Metro apps) to the taskbar; however, what happens if you need to do the reverse?  In other words, can you create a desktop shortcut for a Modern UI app?

We all know you can access Start Screen apps by pressing the Windows key in from the desktop; however, why can’t you conjure the app directly from the desktop?

Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t have native support for this feature – but alas! There’s no need to be doleful about it. I have two workarounds for you:

Get ModernApp Link

The quickest and easiest solution is to download ModernApp Link.

Italian developer Pasqui created a beautiful and simple tool that get’s the job done.

After downloading and extracting ModernApp link, double click the ModernApp_link_2300 executable.

You might see an alert asking you to install DirectPlay.

Windows 8.1 install DirectPlay

DirectPlay is a Microsoft programming interface (API) that provides networking services to applications.  It’s a rather antiquated technology is usually indigenous to games; however, I think Pasqui is using it as an auto-updating feature in his app.

After installing the DirectPlay component, you’ll probably see a message that is about as delphic as it is disconcerting.

This app need to copy the icon library and a launcher in "%userprofile%\ModernApp_link". Do you want to copy they there?

ModernLink is trying to tell you that it needs to create a shortcut for itself on your Desktop.

Click Yes.

Windows 8.1 ModernLink Shortcut

If you get a message about failing to download an update, click OK to dismiss it. You actually don’t need that to use ModernApp Link.

Error downloading network info

When the program loads you’ll see a list of your Modern UI apps.

Simply click a tile and choose Create shortcut on desktop and you’ll see the Metro tile poof onto the Desktop.

ModernApp Link 2.3 beta

If you want to create a shortcut for an unlisted Modern UI app you can click Create shortcut (custom options) but it’s an advanced an onerous process.

Alternatively, you can use Regedit to find the exact path to the App and icon so you can create a shortcut on the desktop.

Regedit fun

Press Windows Key + r and enter

regedit

In this example, I’m going to show you how to create a Desktop shortcut to the Bing Weather App.

After backing up the Registry, find the following subkey:

Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Extensions\ContractId\Windows.Protocol\PackageId

You should see the subkeys for your apps in the left pane.

This is what the subkey for my weather app looks like:

Microsoft.BingWeather_3.0.1.174_x64_8wekyb3d8bbwe

Drill down to the CustomProperties subkey and double click the Name attribute in the right pane.  We need to manually build the URL and the Name is essential because it indicates the protocol we need to launch the app.

I’m going to copy and paste mine into Notepad so I can easily piece together the URL.

Windows 8 Apps PackageId

Now back in the left pane click the App.Appblahblahblah key directly above CustomProperties.

In the right pane we’ll see the Description, DisplayName, Icon and Vendor.  Double click the DisplayName option and paste the value data into Notepad under the name you pasted earlier.

Getting the ClassID in the Windows 8.1 registry for Apps

In notepad we need to truncate the DisplayName value so that everything before the colon and after the final forward slash is removed.

URL Surgery

In my case, my URL ended up like this:

bingweather://Microsoft.BingWeather/resources/

Manually edit app URL

Now copy that URL to the clipboard.  We’re going to use this as the path in the Desktop Shortcut.

Crafting the Shortcut

Right click the Desktop and choose New then pick Shortcut from the fly-out menu.

Paste in your URL creation in the location field then click Next to give it a name and finish.

ModernUI Desktop Shortcut

If you double-click the new icon it should flip open the Modern App; however, the icon is a bit… I don’t know – insipid?

Fortunately, we can get the official ModernUI icon but we’ll need to convert it from a .PNG to a .ICO.

First, we need to take ownership of the hidden WindowsApps folder so we can browse to the directory that contains all the icons for the Bing Weather App.

I found mine here:

C:\Program Files\WindowsApps\Microsoft.BingWeather_3.0.1.174_x64__8wekyb3d8bbwe\images

Once you do that, click through to the image folder and save the graphic as a .ICO.  You can also grab beautiful icons for your custom shortcut from ModernUIIcons.com and DeviantArt.

Once you have the image as a ICO, just right click Shortcut, click Change Icon… and Browse to the file.

Bing weather app change icon

That’s it!

About

Connect with Vonnie on Twitter

Posted in Windows, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Tagged with: ,
  • Mario Veras

    I have the Hulu modern UI metro app installed, however, it does not show up in the registry location you inidicated. Therefore, I cannot make a shortcut for it.