Making Win + X do anything you want

Posted Thursday, 16 August 2012 by estherNinja

One of the things you may have noticed is that Windows 8 is a Touch First UI.  It works great for touch, but most of us will be using a mouse and keyboard for the near future anyway. I’ve been discovering a few keyboard shortcuts, and how to do some things quickly. One of my favourite keyboard shortcuts is Win+X.

Win+X pops up this awesome little context menu for some of your favourite things.

Now the fun part, we can customise this list!

This list pulls the folder structure from

C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\WinX

Here’s a snapshot of the location on my machine

The easiest way to edit what shows up on this menu, is to use a utility from WinAero.com (http://winaero.com) conveniently called Win + X Menu Editor for Windows 8 (http://winaero.com/comment.php?comment.news.30 ).

With this, you can add new groups, and shortcuts to those groups. (Note it will have to be run as an administrator).

The shortcuts you put in here ideally need to be executable. So if you combine that with PowerShell, you can pretty much create a shortcut here to do anything you want on your PC. Let’s take a look at a common request, a fast way to Log Off the machine.

In PowerShell this is easy; you just have ‘logoff’ in a script. Open up a text file, type logoff and save it as logoff.ps1. But you can’t link directly to the logoff.ps1 script in the Win+X group folder. If you do, it will try to open it with any associated editors. The best way is to create a shortcut to the PowerShell executable and pass your script as the parameter.

I have put all my scripts into a specific folder to make this easier. So in my case here is my shortcut (on a single line):

C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe d:\myscripts\logoff.ps1

I put this into a shortcut and save it to my myscripts folder. So the shortcut looks like this:

Once I have my shortcut, I use Win + X Editor to add a new group:

Then add my shortcut to that group:

After I click Apply and let the Win + X Menu Editor do its work, my Win + X menu now looks like this:

I now have a quick and easy way to Log Off my machine :)  So when you combine PowerShell, and the Win + X Menu Editor for Windows 8 you can have a very efficient menu system for those common tasks you need to access quickly. Ah, although I don’t suggest trying to re-create the entire Start Menu experience. Let’s evolve and take advantage of Windows 8 as it was intended.

 

Rocky


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