Add website links to Windows 10 Start Menu

The web is used more then ever before. This probably comes at no surprise. Cloud-based web applications are very much here to stay and will probably continue to grow. The ability for a company to develop a product on multiple platforms whilst (at the same time) keeping great cross-platform compatibility is a major benefit to this.
Removing the need to maintain new versions of the same software between different operating systems nativley gives users a better overall experience.

I like to use Google Keep; a web-app that allows you to jot down notes. I could use OneNote, however since I am deep in the GSuite eco-system, it makes sense to keep everything in one place. There isn’t a local application available that is native to Windows 10 and using bookmarks within the browser is a bit clunky (if you have many, like me).

I embarked on a mission to answer the following question:

How can I launch a web-app from the Start menu, whilst taking advantages of the UI experience (search and menu items) that comes with native Windows 10 apps?

The answer isn’t as conventional as I first thought.

Please note: Anything specified in this guide is followed at your own risk. I am not responsible should your computer break by any of these steps. If you are unsure about something, use your favourate Search engine and do some research!

General info that I have realised through experimentation:

  1. Windows 10 Start Menu does not play nice with Windows’ Internet Shortcuts . (This applies to shortcuts with the .URL extension). If you add an Internet Shortcut (.URL) to the Start Menu – Programs folder, you can expect nothing for your efforts. Yes that’s right, nothing!
  2. Choose your browser wisely! The methods for Edge and Chrome browsers are application specific and will only open the URL in the original browser.

Chrome

Limitations:
Will only open in Chrome
You can use Windows Search to get the item. You can also pin the item to your start menu as a tile.

  1. Open Chrome and go to the website
  2. In Chrome, click the Menu (elipses) > More Tools > Create Shortcut
  3. Name the shortcut accordingly and then click Create
  4. You can safely delete the shortcut from your Desktop (if you wish)
  5. The shortcut will be placed in your start menu automatically : Start > Chrome Apps.
    You can also: Rightclick > Pin To Start (if you wish)

Edge

Limitations:
Inability to search using Windows Search tool
Will only open in Edge

  1. Open Edge and navigate to your web page
  2. In edge, click the Menu (elipsis) > More Tools > Pin this page to Start

Firefox and Other

Limitations:
This is more complicated and involved
You will not get icons (without downloading and setting custom Icons)

  1. In Desktop, Rightclick > Create New Shortcut. Type “cmd” as the location. Click Next
  2. Name the shortcut “Google” (for this example) and click Finish
  3. Go to the properties for the link (Rightclick > Properties)
    Under the Shortcut tab, change the Run dropdown menu to select “Minimised
  4. Under Shortcut tab, append the following to Target (after C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe):
    /c START https://www.google.com
    Target should now look like this:
    C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe /c START https://www.google.com
    Breakdown:
    /c – runs the following string as a command.
    START – runs the following command
    <URL> – the url to run
  5. Next, you will need to move the shortcut to your Start Menu – Programs folder
    Navigate to C:\Users\<YOUR_USER>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
    You can also get to it by Start > Run > shell:programs
  6. Move the new shortcut to the Start Menu – Programs folder. You can now search for the site and Rightclick > Pin To Start if you wish.

Conclusion

All in all, there are noticable differences between the 3 browsers and how they integrate with Windows. For me, Chrome gives the most seamless experience to get the desired result. Being able to quickly search for a web-app and open it up from the Windows UI will allow you to be more productive.
I am surprised at how limited Edge is, since it is Microsoft’s own flagship browser afterall.

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