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Level 6

Source for Win8 All Apps screen

Does anyone know where the entries, as seen on the Windows 8 "All Apps" screen, come from ?

I have been asked to modify a shortcut name on the "All Apps" screen, as part of an installation (created by IS 2012 spring Sp1), but I can't seem to figure out where, in the wide wide world of sports, this information is coming from.

I was "thinking", that once located, I might be able to modify the shortcut name via an InstallScript or VB custom action.

Any help would be appreciated.
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Level 5

The shortcuts on that page come from installations that add shortcuts to the [ProgramMenuFolder] location. I _think_ the OS automatically collapes any sub-folders into a single folder. So, if you install the shortcut to "[ProgramMenuFolder]\My Company\My Product\Utilities" the shortcuts would be collected together under a single 'My Company' section on the 'All Apps' page. I also _think_ this is user-specific. IOW, the shortcuts are only installed for whatever user runs the installation (no "All Users" option).

The easiest way to control the behavior of the shortcuts is to use an MSI installation and the MsiShortcutProperty table to set the shell properties that allow you to hide the shortcuts on the main Start screen.

Unfortunately, I haven't found any examples of doing this using InstallScript or C++ code (which is what I'm trying to do).
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Level 6

Thank you so much for your reply.
I do appreciate your interst. And your time in replying.

If I create shortcuts via an MSI, they do appear on the All Apps screen.

And, If I set the shell property for the shortcut via the UI, I can also prevent them from being pinned to the Windows 8 "start" screen.

Just to confirm:
I opened "and closed" an incident with IS about setting this shell property via InstallScript and they told me it is not possible at this time.

If I install an App via one of my MSI's
Sure enough it shows up on the "All Apps" screen.

However, if I go to the locations you referenced and remove the folder and shortcuts installed by my .msi, my app still continues to show up on the "All Apps" screen.

I did a search of the pc for all references to my apps folder name.
And the only place I was able to find references were in a number of encrypted files.

It is very confusing. (At least for me.)

Here is what else I did to try and find the source of what appears on the All Apps screen in Windows 8.

First, so that I can "see", on my Windows 8 pc, exactly what I "see", on a Windows 7 pc, installed a copy of Start8, on my Windows 8 machine.
The “free” version expires every 30 day.
So I opted to purchase a license for a one-time cost of $4.99.
For my money, and sanity, Stat8 is a must for a Windows 8 desktop.

Anyway, at that point, I have a "start" button on my Windows 8 machine with a Menu that looks exactly like, what I have on a Windows 7 pc.


I switch to the Desktop interface.
I go to: C:\Users\All Users\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs.
I create a folder named “test folder” and I create a shortcut to Notepad.exe inside it.
I click on the Start8 “start” button, and I "see" the folder named "test folder" with the shortcut to Notepad.exe under it and offset to the right.
Exactly how I would it expect it to look.

And just for grins and giggles, I go to: C:\Users\All Users\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs.
And I see “test folder” with the shortcut to Notepad.exe inside of it.

Then, I switch to the Windows 8 interface.
I right click and select "All apps".
However, I do NOT see, anything named "new folder", nor do I see the shortcut that points to Notepad.exe anywhere.

Then .....

I switch back to the Desktop interface.
Go to C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
I create a new folder named "test folder 2".
I create a shortcut, pointing to "Wordpad.exe" inside of "test folder 2"

I click on the "start" button
Select "All Programs"
And I "see” my folder named "test folder" AND my new folder named "test folder 2" along with their respective shortcuts.
Just as I expected.

Good so far....

Then .....
I switch to the Windows 8 interface.
I right click and select "All apps".
However, I do NOT see, anything named "new folder", nor “now folder 2”.

Based on the above then, I’m thinking that Windows 8, populates the “All Apps” screen, from something other than, any of the folders referenced above.
And THAT location, is what I am looking to identify.

I have just built a Windows 2012 server. (I chose the UI option.)
And I’m going to see if the behavior is identical.

Ray in Wisconsin
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Level 6

In case there is an interest.

First, thanks to "HookEm" for his post.

After working with this issue over the weekend, I found the following to be true:

I have a test application that is installed for "All Users".

I install this application on a 64 bit version of Windows 8 pc as the "Administrator".

In addition to the Administrator, I have three other user accounts created on the pc.

This MSI creates a folder named "Test App" in the following location:
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs.

This MSI also creates a shortcut named "Notepad", (pointing to Notepad.exe) inside of the above "Test App" folder.

Once the installation has completed "Test App" is visible on the "All Apps" screen for all users of this Windows 8 pc.

I now log in to the Windows 8 pc as the Administrator.
Navigate to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Test App".
Change the name of the shortcut from "Notepad" to "Notepad2".

Immediacy, "Notepad2" shows up on the “All Apps” screen for all users.

So, changing the name of the shortcut seems to be the same in Windows 8 as it is with Windows 7.

My efforts however, were somewhat disappointing when I tried to follow the same procedure with the shortcuts "folder" name.

I navigated to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs".

Renamed the folder from "Test App" to "Test App2".

BUT ..........

The "All Apps" screen, for all of my user accounts, continued to show the old folder name.

And, If I right clicked on the shortcut, (Notepad2) and click on "Open file location", I receive an error dialog, indicating that Windows 8 couldn't find the original folder name.

So, it kinda, sorta looks as if the folder names that appear on the ALL Apps screen, aren't being updated dynamically as the shortcut names are.

Now that I know how to rename a shortcut, I'm trying to figure out how to get the All Apps folder “names”, to change, once the folder itself, it renamed.

As it turns out, my Client first asked that I rename an existing shortcut, but they have since asked that I rename a folder instead and leave the shortcut name alone.

I can certainly rename the folder.
But I am not able to het Windows 8 to recognize the renamed folder.

I wonder if there is some command that might be executed that asked Windows 8 to take a fresh look at items listed on the All Apps screen.
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