Customize and export Start layout

Looking for consumer information? See Customize the Start menu

The easiest method for creating a customized Start layout to apply to other Windows 10 devices is to set up the Start screen on a test computer and then export the layout.

After you export the layout, decide whether you want to apply a full Start layout or a partial Start layout.

When a full Start layout is applied, the users can't pin, unpin, or uninstall apps from Start. Users can view and open all apps in the All Apps view, but they can't pin any apps to Start.

When a partial Start layout is applied, the contents of the specified tile groups can't be changed, but users can move those groups, and can also create and customize their own groups.


Partial Start layout is only supported on Windows 10, version 1511 and later.

You can deploy the resulting .xml file to devices using one of the following methods:

Customize the Start screen on your test computer

To prepare a Start layout for export, you simply customize the Start layout on a test computer.

To prepare a test computer:

  1. Set up a test computer on which to customize the Start layout. Your test computer should have the operating system that is installed on the users' computers (Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, or Education). Install all apps and services that the Start layout should display.
  2. Create a new user account that you'll use to customize the Start layout.

To customize Start:

  1. Sign in to your test computer with the user account that you created.

  2. Customize the Start layout as you want users to see it by using the following techniques:

    • Pin apps to Start. From Start, type the name of the app. When the app appears in the search results, right-click the app, and then select Pin to Start. To view all apps, select All apps in the bottom-left corner of Start. Right-click any app, and pin or unpin it from Start.
    • Unpin apps that you don't want to display. To unpin an app, right-click the app, and then select Unpin from Start.
    • Drag tiles on Start to reorder or group apps.
    • Resize tiles. To resize tiles, right-click the tile and then select Resize.
    • Create your own app groups. Drag the apps to an empty area. To name a group, select above the group of tiles and then type the name in the Name group field that appears above the group.


In Windows 10, version 1703, if the Start layout includes tiles for apps that are not installed on the device that the layout is later applied to, the tiles for those apps will be blank. The blank tiles will persist until the next time the user signs in, at which time the blank tiles are removed. Some system events may cause the blank tiles to be removed before the next sign-in.

In earlier versions of Windows 10, no tile would be pinned.

Export the Start layout

When you have the Start layout that you want your users to see, use the Export-StartLayout cmdlet in Windows PowerShell to export the Start layout to an .xml file. Start layout is located by default at C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\


If you include secondary Microsoft Edge tiles (tiles that link to specific websites in Microsoft Edge), see Add custom images to Microsoft Edge secondary tiles for instructions.

To export the Start layout to an .xml file:

  1. While signed in with the same account that you used to customize Start, right-click Start, and select Windows PowerShell.

  2. On a device running Windows 10, version 1607, 1703, or 1803, at the Windows PowerShell command prompt, enter the following command:

    Export-StartLayout -path <path><file name>.xml

    On a device running Windows 10, version 1809 or higher, run the Export-StartLayout with the switch -UseDesktopApplicationID. For example:

    Export-StartLayout -UseDesktopApplicationID -Path layout.xml

    In the previous command, -path is a required parameter that specifies the path and file name for the export file. You can specify a local path or a UNC path (for example, \\FileServer01\StartLayouts\StartLayoutMarketing.xml).

    Use a file name of your choice—for example, StartLayoutMarketing.xml. Include the .xml file name extension. The Export-StartLayout cmdlet doesn't append the file name extension, and the policy settings require the extension.

    Example of a layout file produced by Export-StartLayout:

    <LayoutModificationTemplate Version="1" xmlns="">
              <defaultlayout:StartLayout GroupCellWidth="6" xmlns:defaultlayout="">
                <start:Group Name="Life at a glance" xmlns:start="">
                  <start:Tile Size="2x2" Column="0" Row="0" AppUserModelID="Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe!MicrosoftEdge" />
                  <start:Tile Size="2x2" Column="4" Row="0" AppUserModelID="Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy!CortanaUI" />
                  <start:Tile Size="2x2" Column="2" Row="0" AppUserModelID="Microsoft.BingWeather_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App" />
  3. (Optional) Edit the .xml file to add a taskbar configuration or to modify the exported layout. When you make changes to the exported layout, be aware that the order of the elements in the .xml file is critical.


If the Start layout that you export contains tiles for desktop (Win32) apps or .url links, Export-StartLayout will use DesktopApplicationLinkPath in the resulting file. Use a text or XML editor to change DesktopApplicationLinkPath to DesktopApplicationID. See Specify Start tiles for details on using the app ID in place of the link path.


All clients that the start layout applies to must have the apps and other shortcuts present on the local system in the same location as the source for the Start layout.

For scripts and application tile pins to work correctly, follow these rules:

  • Executable files and scripts should be listed in \Program Files or wherever the installer of the app places them.
  • Shortcuts that will pinned to Start should be placed in \ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs.
  • If you place executable files or scripts in the \ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs folder, they will not pin to Start.
  • Start on Windows 10 does not support subfolders. We only support one folder. For example, \ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Folder. If you go any deeper than one folder, Start will compress the contents of all the subfolder to the top level.
  • Three additional shortcuts are pinned to the start menu after the export. These are shortcuts to %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs, %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs, and %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\System Tools.

Configure a partial Start layout

A partial Start layout enables you to add one or more customized tile groups to users' Start screens or menus, while still allowing users to make changes to other parts of the Start layout. All groups that you add are locked, meaning users can't change the contents of those tile groups, however users can change the location of those groups. Locked groups are identified with an icon, as shown in the following image.

locked tile group.

When a partial Start layout is applied for the first time, the new groups are added to the users' existing Start layouts. If an app tile is in both an existing group and in a new locked group, the duplicate app tile is removed from the existing (unlocked) group.

When a partial Start layout is applied to a device that already has a StartLayout.xml applied, groups that were added previously are removed and the groups in the new layout are added.

If the Start layout is applied by Group Policy or MDM, and the policy is removed, the groups remain on the devices but become unlocked.

To configure a partial Start screen layout:

  1. Customize the Start layout.

  2. Export the Start layout.

  3. Open the layout .xml file. There is a <DefaultLayoutOverride> element. Add LayoutCustomizationRestrictionType="OnlySpecifiedGroups" to the DefaultLayoutOverride element as follows:

    <DefaultLayoutOverride LayoutCustomizationRestrictionType="OnlySpecifiedGroups">
  4. Save the file and apply using any of the deployment methods.


Office 2019 tiles might be removed from the Start menu when you upgrade Office 201. This only occurs if Office 2019 app tiles are in a custom group in the Start menu and only contains the Office 2019 app tiles. To avoid this problem, place another app tile in the Office 2019 group prior to the upgrade. For example, add Notepad.exe or calc.exe to the group. This issue occurs because Office 2019 removes and reinstalls the apps when they are upgraded. Start removes empty groups when it detects that all apps for that group have been removed.