Customize Windows 10 Start Menu and Taskbar with GPO

If you have the need to customize the Windows 10 Start Menu and Taskbar using Group policy, in this article you will learn how to do it.

Log in to Windows and set the Start Menu as you wish. This means, create or remove applications tiles, resize tiles etc.

customize Windows 10 Start Menu and Taskbar

Once you’re done, run the command prompt (CMD) and type the following command:

Export-StartLayout -path C:\temp\startlayout.xml

This command will export your Start Menu layout to .xml file.

It should look similar to this:

<LayoutModificationTemplate xmlns:defaultlayout="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/FullDefaultLayout" xmlns:start="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/StartLayout" Version="1" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/LayoutModification" xmlns:taskbar="http://schemas.microsoft.com/Start/2014/TaskbarLayout">
<LayoutOptions StartTileGroupCellWidth="6" />
<DefaultLayoutOverride>
<StartLayoutCollection>
<defaultlayout:StartLayout GroupCellWidth="6">
<start:Group Name="">
<start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="2" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Excel.lnk" />
          <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="0" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Word.lnk" />
          <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="0" Row="2" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Access.lnk" />
          <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="0" Row="4" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Acrobat Reader DC.lnk" />
          <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="4" Row="2" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Snipping Tool.lnk" />
          <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="2" Row="2" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Internet Explorer.lnk" />
          <start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="4" Row="0" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\PowerPoint.lnk" />
</start:Group>
</defaultlayout:StartLayout>
</StartLayoutCollection>
</DefaultLayoutOverride>
</LayoutModificationTemplate>

For some reason, Internet Explorer shortcut wasn’t appearing in the Start Menu once I have applied this XML through Group Policy so to solve this I had to change this line:

<start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="2" Row="2" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Internet Explorer.lnk" />

to this:

<start:DesktopApplicationTile Size="2x2" Column="2" Row="2" DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Internet Explorer.lnk" />

Also, you have to copy Internet Explorer.lnk shortcut file to %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Internet Explorer.lnk in order to get this to work.

To force this Start Menu layout with Group Policy, create a new Group Policy object, link it to Computers container and edit the newly created policy in the following way:

Navigate to Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | Start Menu and Taskbar

In the right pane click on the Start Screen Layout

Use UNC path to the XML file you have exported before. I recommend creating a subfolder in SYSVOL\%domainname%\ folder and putting the XML file in it.

Additionally, if you would like to customize the Taskbar, you’ll have to add the following code just after the </DefaultLayoutOverride> tag:

<CustomTaskbarLayoutCollection PinListPlacement="Replace">
<defaultlayout:TaskbarLayout>
<taskbar:TaskbarPinList>
<taskbar:DesktopApp DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\System Tools\File Explorer.lnk" />
<taskbar:DesktopApp DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Internet Explorer.lnk" />
</taskbar:TaskbarPinList>
</defaultlayout:TaskbarLayout>
</CustomTaskbarLayoutCollection>

This will add the custom Taskbar layout using the same policy and XML file. With policy set as above, your Taskbar will have only File Explorer and Internet Explorer shortcuts.

customize Windows 10 Start Menu and Taskbar

If anyone will not be able to customize Windows 10 Start Menu and Taskbar using this guide, please post below and I’ll try to help.

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