How to Backup and Restore Start Menu Layout on Windows 10

In Windows 10’s start menu, you can modify the layout any which way you want and customize the look and feel to meet your needs. One of the benefits of the customizing the start menu layout is that you can pick and choose what applications to pin and what not to pin.

After carefully and painfully customizing the start menu layout, backing up the start menu layout is a good idea. You can use this backed up start menu layout file to restore the start menu layout when you reinstall or upgrade Windows 10. So, without further ado, let me show you how to backup and restore start menu layout on Windows 10.

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Backup and Restore Start Menu Layout

In previous versions of Windows 10. i.e, versions prior to 1709, you can copy a single folder called Database within the TileDataLayer folder to backup start menu layout. When you want to restore start menu layout, all you have to do is replace the already existing Database folder with the one you backed up. However, Start Menu has changed a lot since v1709 and the old backup and restore method works no longer.

That being said, you can either use PowerShell to export the start menu layout and import it when needed. Alternatively, you can also use a third-party application to backup and restore start menu layout in one-click.

The PowerShell method is useful if you don’t want to use any third-party application. If you don’t like the command line, you can follow the third-party application method. I will show both methods. Use the one you are comfortable with.

Method #1 – Use PowerShell to Backup and Restore Start Menu Layout

You need to be a Pro or Enterprise edition user to use this method. If you are a Home edition user, follow the second method.

1.1 Backup Start Menu Layout

  1. Open the Start Menu.
  2. Search for “PowerShell” and open it.
  3. Execute the below command while replacing “C:\save\location\backup.xml” with the actual path of where you want to save the backup file. In my case, I’m saving it on my desktop.
    Export-StartLayout -Path "C:\save\location\backup.xml"

    Backup restore start menu layout 01

  4. As soon as you execute the command, PowerShell will backup the start menu layout and saves it to the location you chose earlier.
    Backup restore start menu layout 02

1.2 Restore Start Menu Layout

To restore the start menu layout that is backed up using the PowerShell method, you need to use the Group Policy method.

  1. Open the Start Menu.
  2. Search for “gpedit.msc“.
  3. Right-click on it and select “Run as administrator“.
    Open group policy as admin
  4. In the group policy editor, go to “User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Start Menu and Taskbar“.
  5. On the right panel, find and double-click on “Start Layout“.
    Backup restore start menu layout 03
  6. Select the “Enabled” option.
  7. Under the Options section, enter the file path of the backed up file.
    Backup restore start menu layout 04
  8. Click on the “Apply” and “Ok” button.
  9. Reboot Windows.

That is all. After restarting, your start menu layout will be restored.

Method #2 – Use a Third-Party Application to Backup Start Menu Layout

Using an aptly named free and portable application called Backup Start Menu Layout, you can backup and restore start menu layout with a single click. Additional, the application even lets you reset start menu layout to its default state.

  1. Download the BSML application.
  2. Extract the contents of the zip to the desktop.
    Backup restore start menu layout 05
  3. Open the extracted folder and execute the application according to your system architecture.
    Backup restore start menu layout 06
  4. Click on the “Save” icon to back up the start menu layout.
    Backup restore start menu layout image 07
  5. The backup file is saved to the same location as the application.
    Backup restore start menu layout 08
  6. To restore the start menu layout, select the layout in the application.
  7. Click on the “Restore” icon.
    Backup restore start menu layout image 09

That is all. It is that simple backup and restore start menu layout on Windows 10.

If you like this article, you might also like to learn how to enable pin security on Windows 10 and how to disable caps lock on Windows 10. Do check them out.

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