Unable to Pin an Item to the Start Menu

Admittedly this is not specifically SCCM or managed desktop related but I thought I’d share anyway.

As part of an OSD build I was trying to automate pinning a company-wide in-house application to the start menu, but my pinning script* wasn’t working. Right clicking on the EXE for the item revealed why. There was no option for “Pin to Start Menu” or “Pin to Taskbar” available on the item’s context menu. A little digging on the internet lead me to the following MSDN page: How to Exclude Items from Taskbar Pinning and Recent/Frequent Lists

The Remarks section at the end of that page revealed the answer to my problem. The application I was trying to Pin contained the word “help” in the filename, which is on a list of “restricted” items. The documentation states “This automatic exclusion can be overridden by applying an explicit AppUserModelID.”, and if you’d like more information on applying an explicit AppUserModelID feel free to read this page.  Now, setting up this AppUserModelID would have probably been the right way to solve my problem, but I didn’t have that kind of time to investigate what that entailed and work out this little issue.  All I wanted was to not have to worry about if the program I wanted to pin had the word “help” in the file name so I took the easy way out and just removed the “help” entry from the AddRemoveNames value under the HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileAssociation key and viola I was able to pin the program.

Images showing the AddRemoveNames value in the Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileAssociation key that prevents an item from being pinned to the start menu

This certainly isn’t the recommended solution for a program you’re going to distribute to third parties since it would be considered bad form to go changing system wide settings on someone else’s computer without asking, but in this case it’s all in-house and the powers that be seem fine with my “quick fix” solution.  If you’re going to do this “in the real world” you should investigate the AppUserModelID route. 

On a side note, sure I could have re-named the EXE to something that didn’t contain the restricted word, but since the EXE or Shortcut, (ahem “Shell Link”) name gets used for the pinned item’s start menu text that would have meant coming up with some new creative name not using the word “help”.  Further, the new name would be different from what the users currently see on their XP start menu and we all know that means more support requests for the help desk which tends to make them grumpy.



*Technically not my pinning script, but rather the pinning script I use compliments of the fabulous Hey Scripting Guy! blog.  Check it out at: “Can I Pin a File to the Start Menu by Using a Script?