Customize Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Settings Using Intune

Let’s see how to customize Windows 11 start menu layout settings using Intune. I have a post that helps to customize Windows 10 start menu layout. Windows 11 start menu layout option deployment is better if you compare it with Windows 10. You can also learn more about Windows 11 Taskbar Customization Using Intune.

Windows 11 uses JSON file to customize or modify the Start menu layout. For Windows 10, I used the XML file to customize start menu and taskbar layout. Device restriction policies helped us to implement start layout settings for Windows 10 PCs using the XML file. Start menu layout customization is important for Windows 11 after the production release on 4th Oct 2021.

You will need to create a JSON file to customize Windows 11 Start Menu Layout. The main pain point for me while customizing Windows 10 start menu was the creation of an XML file and customized it. Microsoft also introduced a Windows CSP called ConfigureStartPins to customize the start menu layout using a JSON file.

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Three Main Sections of Windows 11 Start Menu Layout

Let’s understand the three (3) main sections of the Windows 11 Start Menu Layout. You can segregate them into Pinned, All Apps, Recommended. You can customize only pinned apps in Windows 11 start menu using JSON file at this point time.

The customization of All Apps and Recommended apps are not possible using a JSON file. However, you have an option to hide the most commonly used apps from All Apps and Recommended Apps. More details are available in the below section of the post.

Customize Windows 11 Start Menu Layout using Intune
Customize Windows 11 Start Menu Layout settings using Intune

Create JSON file for Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Customization

Let’s look at the easiest way to create a JSON file to customize Windows 11 Start Menu layout. I recommend manually building a custom start menu layout, then exporting the layout to JSON file using the following PowerShell Command.

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  • You can launch WIndow Terminal by right-clicking on the Start button from Windows 11 PC.
  • Run the following command.
    • Export-StartLayout -Path “C:\Users\digit\Documents\LayoutModification-new.json”

You will need to go to the path C:\Users\digit\Documents\LayoutModification-new.JSON and open the JSON file to confirm everything is ok or do you still want to make some modifications.

 Create JSON file for Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Customization
Create JSON file for Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Customization

Edit JSON file using NotePad ++

Let’s now finalize the Windows 11 LayoutModification-new.json file using NotePad ++, or you can use Visual Studio Code. Similar to Windows 10 XML file, you will see three supported pinned apps options for Windows 11. The LayoutModification-new.JSON file contains all the information required.

  • DesktopApplicationLinkPath – You need use shortcut links with this option (.lnk). Not recommended.
  • AppUserModelID – Best option for modern apps.
  • DesktopApplicationID – Best option if you want to use the actual executables.
Edit JSON file using NotePad ++
Edit JSON file using NotePad ++

Customize Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Settings using Intune

It’s time to customize Windows 11 start menu layout settings using Intune custom policy and JSON file created in the above section. You will need to have appropriate permissions to create Configuration Profiles in Intune to continue this policy creation.

You can launch the endpoint.microsoft.com MEM admin center portal to create the Windows 11 start menu customization policy. Following the steps to start the Intune Windows 11, start the menu customization policy creation process.

  • Navigate to DevicesWindowsConfiguration Profiles.
  • Select the platform as Windows 10 and Later.
  • Select Profile Type as Templates.
  • In the Search bar – Type in “Custom
  • Click on Custom option to create a custom Intune policy.

Click on the Create button to continue and on the next page; you would need to fill in some interesting details as explained in some of my previous posts – Manage Chrome ADMX Policies Using Intune | ADMX Injection Process.

Customize Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Settings Using Intune
Customize Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Settings Using Intune

It’s time to enter the policy name and all the other details of the Windows 11 start menu layout settings policy. Enter the Name – HTMD Windows 11 Start Menu Layout and Enter the Description – Custom Start Menu Layout policy for HTMD. Click on the Next button to continue.

Now, you will need to find out the OMA-URI for customizing the Windows 11 start menu settings (pinned apps). The following OMA-URI is shared in Microsoft documentation.

  • Click on the Add button.
  • Use the same policy name for policy name and decription.
  • Enter OMA-URI Value – ./Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Start/ConfigureStartPins
  • Select Data type – String
  • Enter the content of  file LayoutModification-new.JSON content (as mentioned in the above section) in the VALUE section.

You will need to click on Save to continue with the policy creation process. The following is the JSON file I used in this Windows 11 Start Menu Layout customization scenario.

{"pinnedList":[{"desktopAppId":"MSEdge"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.Office.EXCEL.EXE.15"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.Office.WINWORD.EXE.15"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.Office.POWERPNT.EXE.15"},
{"desktopAppId":"Brave"},
{"desktopAppId":"Chrome"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.WindowsStore_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"packagedAppId":"windows.immersivecontrolpanel_cw5n1h2txyewy!microsoft.windows.immersivecontrolpanel"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.Office.ONENOTE.EXE.15"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.WindowsCalculator_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.WindowsAlarms_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.WindowsNotepad_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.Paint_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.Windows.Explorer"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.ScreenSketch_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.RemoteDesktop.WPF"}]}
Customize Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Settings Using Intune
Customize Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Settings Using Intune

Hide All Apps Recommended Apps Sections from Windows 11 Start Menu

Suppose you want to add additional policies to customize Windows 11 Start Menu layout settings. Here, I’m looking into the customization of All Apps and Recommended Apps sections.

As I mentioned above, JSON customization is not supported for these two sections. Now, it’s time to look into Windows CSP policies to hide these sections from Windows 11 start menu. You can click on Add button to add additional configuration for Start Menu. You will need to follow the similar steps as mentioned above.

Enter the name, description, OMA-URI, Data Type, and Value for each customization of Windows 11. First, let’s see App Apps:

  • Name – HideFrequentlyUsedApps
  • Description – HideFrequentlyUsedApps
  • OMA-URI – ./Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Start/HideFrequentlyUsedApps
  • Data Type – Integer
  • Value – 1 (to hide All Apps Fequently used apps)
  • Click on the Save button to continue.

Now, you will need to repeat Windows 11 to hide recommended apps recent jump lists.

  • Name – HideRecentJumplists
  • Description – HideRecentJumplists
  • OMA-URI – ./Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/Start/HideRecentJumplists
  • Data Type – Integer
  • Value – 1 (to hide All Apps Fequently used apps)
  • Click on the Save and Next button to continue.
Hide All Apps Recommended Apps Sections from Windows 11 Start Menu
Hide All Apps Recommended Apps Sections from Windows 11 Start Menu

Deploy Windows 11 Start Menu Customization Policy

It’s now time to deploy Windows 11 start menu customization policy to Windows 11 device group. You will need to select the Scope tags when you have Intune RBAC requirements.

I have already created a Windows 11 AAD group so that you can use the Azure AD group to deploy Windows 11 Start Menu layout customization policy that AAD group. I think you can use the applicability rule called OS version to deploy this policy to a particular Windows 11 version.

You will need to click on the Next, Next, and Create buttons to complete the creation and deployment of the custom policy.

Hide All Apps Recommended Apps Sections from Windows 11 Start Menu
Hide All Apps Recommended Apps Sections from Windows 11 Start Menu

Troubleshooting Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Customization

You can check the event log to confirm whether the policy deployed to Windows 11 PCs or not. You can also check the registry entries to look at the Windows 11 start menu customization quickly. I have shared many other Intune troubleshooting posts as listed below.

Event Log path for Intune logs –> Applications and Services -> Microsoft->Windows->DeviceManagement-Enterprise-Diagnostics-Provider->Admin

EVENT ID 814 (String) - MDM PolicyManager: Set policy string, Policy: (ConfigureStartPins), Area: (Start), EnrollmentID requesting merge: (FFF6BB6A-4071-99DB4FB147BA), Current User: (Device), String: ({"pinnedList":[{"desktopAppId":"MSEdge"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.Office.EXCEL.EXE.15"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.Office.WINWORD.EXE.15"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.Office.POWERPNT.EXE.15"},
{"desktopAppId":"Brave"},
{"desktopAppId":"Chrome"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.WindowsStore_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"packagedAppId":"windows.immersivecontrolpanel_cw5n1h2txyewy!microsoft.windows.immersivecontrolpanel"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.Office.ONENOTE.EXE.15"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.WindowsCalculator_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.WindowsAlarms_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.WindowsNotepad_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.Paint_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.Windows.Explorer"},
{"packagedAppId":"Microsoft.ScreenSketch_8wekyb3d8bbwe!App"},
{"desktopAppId":"Microsoft.RemoteDesktop.WPF"}]}), Enrollment Type: (0xD), Scope: (0x0).
EVENT ID 813 (Integer) - MDM PolicyManager: Set policy int, Policy: (HideFrequentlyUsedApps), Area: (Start), EnrollmentID requesting merge: (FFF6BB6A-4071-4E45-B14B-99DB4FB147BA), Current User: (Device), Int: (0x1), Enrollment Type: (0xD), Scope: (0x0).
EVENT ID 813 (Integer) - MDM PolicyManager: Set policy int, Policy: (HideRecentJumplists), Area: (Start), EnrollmentID requesting merge: (FFF6BB6A-4071-4E45-B14B-99DB4FB147BA), Current User: (Device), Int: (0x1), Enrollment Type: (0xD), Scope: (0x0).
Troubleshooting Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Customization
Troubleshooting Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Customization

Results – Start Menu Layout Customization for Windows 11

I think the customization solution is working fine for Windows 11 Pinned applications. I couldn’t confirm whether the recommended and all apps hidden policies are working fine or not. I will update here if I find more details about those two policies.

Results - Start Menu Layout Customization for Windows 11
Results – Start Menu Layout Customization for Windows 11

Group Policy for Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Customization

You can also use Group policy to customize Windows 11 start menu layout. Microsoft says there are some known issues with the following group policy configurations. Some policies may not work as expected.

You can now create Windows 11 group policies with the 21H2 ADMX version released in OCT 2021. You can start Group Policy Management. Right-click the Default Domain Policy and click Edit.

You can navigate to any of the following policies and configure Windows 11 start menu layout using group policy. More details of Windows 11 ADMX policy implementation guide Download Windows 11 Administrative Templates.

Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar
User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar

Windows 11 GPO
Customize Windows 11 Start Menu Layout Settings Using Intune 11

Group Policies Don’t Support Windows 11

Now let’s look at the list of group policies that are not supported with Windows 11 Start menu layout settings.

  • User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar\Start Layout
  • Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar\Remove “Recently added” list from Start Menu
  • Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar\Remove All Programs list from the Start menu
  • User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar\Remove All Programs list from the Start menu
  • Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar\Disable context menus in the Start Menu
  • User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar\Disable context menus in the Start Menu

Author

About Author -> Anoop is Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional Award winner from 2015 on the technologies! He is a Solution Architect on enterprise device management solutions with more than 20 years of experience (calculation done in 2021) in IT. He is Blogger, Speaker, and Local User Group Community leader. His main focus is on Device Management technologies like Configuration Manager, Windows 365 Cloud PC, Intune, Azure Virtual Desktop, Windows 10, and Windows 11.

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