On Windows 8, you can press Windows Key + X or right-click at the bottom-left corner of your screen to open a menu known as the “power user menu” or “quick access menu.” This menu contains quick access to system utilities like the Control Panel, Command Prompt, Task Manager, File Explorer, Device Manager, and more. Win+X Menu Editor allows you to edit the shortcuts that appear here, adding new shortcuts, removing existing ones, and even rearranging the list.
While Microsoft did remove the traditional desktop Start menu, they also added this very unappreciated feature. It’s useful without any customizations, but it can really shine after you add custom shortcuts.
Shut Down, Restart, Log Out, And More
Windows 8.1 will add Shut Down and Restart options to the Windows Key + X menu, giving you a faster way to shut down your computer with the mouse. Just move your mouse to the bottom-left corner of the screen, right-click, and select Shut Down or Restart.
Win+X Menu Editor users have had this ability for quite a while, as this utility can add Shut Down and Restart options to the Win+X menu on Windows 8.
Better yet, you can do something similar on Windows 8.1 — add a Log Out or Switch User option to this menu if you use such options frequently. You’ll be able to quickly get back to the login screen from anywhere without stopping at the Start screen..
Add Your Frequently Used System Tools
The power user menu gives you quick access to a number of system utilities Microsoft chose, but what if you frequently use other system utilities that aren’t listed here? For example, maybe you frequently use the Registry Editor.
Win+X Menu Editor can add these system tools — and any other ones you like — to the menu. Anything you can create a standard Windows shortcut to can appear in the list. To add the Registry Editor or Group Policy editor, you’d select Add a program and browse to the C:\Windows\System32\regdt32.exe file on your computer.
Gain Quick Access To Your Favorite Programs
You aren’t just limited to system utilities. You could use the Windows Key + X menu to quickly access your favorite programs. Add one or more shortcuts to frequently used programs to this list and you’ll be able to launch them from the Windows Key + X menu. This would give you quick access to programs you use — it’s not the intended use, but it works!
Include Any Control Panel Shortcut
This tool makes it easy to browse a list of Control Panel applets — including hidden ones — and quickly add them to the list. You can also add programs from the Administrative Tools folder, such as the Disk Cleanup tool. Just click the Add a program menu and select Add a Control Panel item or Add an Administrative Tools item.
Rearrange The List
Once you start adding your own favorite shortcuts, you may find that the list gets a bit long and messy. You could use Win+X Menu Editor to reorganize the list, moving existing shortcuts around to create different categorized sections.
Remove Options You’ll Never Use
Rather than just rearranging the clutter, you may want to simplify the list instead of shuffling options around. Use Win+X Menu Editor to remove any shortcuts you don’t want — this will simplify the list and free up space for options you will want to access. You can always use the Restore Defaults option to restore your power user menu to the default state in the future.
You can’t create submenus using Win+X Menu Editor, but you can arrange your shortcuts into groups. Each group will appear separately in the list, with a spacer in between each. You can create as many groups as you want or use a flat list of a single group. The default shortcuts can be rearranged into different groups, too.
Quickly Access Websites
The Win+X Menu Editor can add any shortcut, including shortcuts to files and websites. After adding a website shortcut, you could right-click in the bottom-left corner of your screen, and click a website’s name to access it. Sure, this isn’t the ideal place for web bookmarks, but you may get some use out of putting one or two website shortcuts here.
To do this in Win+X Menu Editor, you’ll need to create a shortcut to the website. For example, you can do this by dragging and dropping the website’s favicon from Firefox’s address bar to a folder on your computer.
Just select Add a program in Win+X Menu Editor and browse to the website shortcut file on your computer. You’ll get a shortcut that takes you to the website in your default web browser.
Most Windows 8 users will never notice the power user menu, let alone customize it — but if you want to customize this menu and bend it to your own purposes, you can easily and quickly do it with this simple utility.
Do you have any other ideas for customizing the power user menu on Windows 8? Leave a comment below and share them!
Image Credit: Karlis Dambrans on Flickr