How To: Customize the Windows 7 Start Menu and Taskbar Using unattend.xml

How To: Customize the Windows 7 Start Menu and Taskbar Using unattend.xml

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Today’s blog will cover scenario where you would like to customize the Start menu and TaskBar(also called SuperBar) as part of your deployment.

In Windows 7 the start menu looks like this


The top 5 icons in the start menu are not customizable. Note that over time these icons will be replaced by the users most frequently used programs. You do have the option though to replace the bottom 5 icons in the start menu using an answer file.

Additionally the default Taskbar looks like this


The default icons in the taskbar are not customizable but you can add 3 additional icons to the Taskbar using unattend.xml

This could be done during an initial install of Windows 7 or as part of running sysprep to create an image. The answer file components you are going to use include

  • Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup\StartPanelLinks
  • Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup\TaskBarLinks

Both components should be added to the OobeSystem phase of setup. Here is sample unattend.xml code


<Link0>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\accessories\sound recorder.lnk</Link0>

<Link1>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\accessories\sync center.lnk</Link1>

<Link2>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\accessories\wordpad.lnk</Link2>



<Link0>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\accessories\system tools\disk cleanup.lnk</Link0>

<Link1>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\accessories\system tools\resource monitor.lnk</Link1>

<Link2>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\accessories\system tools\system restore.lnk</Link2>

<Link3>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\accessories\system tools\task scheduler.lnk</Link3>

<Link4>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\accessories\system tools\windows easy transfer.lnk</Link4>


After running setup with autounattend.xml the start menu and superbar would look like this



  • If you are doing a new install of Windows 7 using autounattend.xml any new user should get these same icons.
  • If you are creating a sysprep image you should make sure your answer file used with sysprep contains the CopyProfile=true entry.
  • If you remove any of the default icons as part of creating a sysprep image they will be recreated when a new user logs in even if you use CopyProfile=true. There is no supported method to prevent this from occurring

If you would like to pin items outside of an answer file see the following blog post

Note: CSS provides no support for custom scripts.

Hope this helps with your deployments.

Scott McArthur
Senior Support Escalation Engineer
Microsoft Enterprise Platforms Support

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  • Hey MS is great and all but is there no possible way to get rid of the IE, Media Player, and the Folders icon from the taskbar?  

    Seems a little heavy handed in the "drinking the koolaid" category.

  • I just bought this computer with Windows 7 and I've been searching for a way to get the media player, explorer icons off the taskbar at the bottom.  Sometimes I "hit" them accidentally and its a "pain"!   I don't think that is right that we don't have the option to unpin them! Do you think that in the future we might be offered a way how to do this?  :(   grrr...

  • Ignore above comment;  I just unpinned them like normal... right click and unpin...not sure what the trouble was but thanks for the forum!

  • Trouble is when your deploying 300 hundred computers, removing three icons is 1800 clicks. People using sysprep and WAIK always are deploying multiple computers.

  • You  have options. If you are using sysprep, there are scripting options that let you remove and add as needed. Check out

  • Has anyone gotten the above solution to work with the xml file? Mine doesn't work with the below config. I've double checked the paths but an error is thrown saying there is an issue with my xml file after adding these. Did I put them in the wrong spot? They are under Component "Microsoft-windows-shell-setup".



    <Link0>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\microsoft\windows\start menu\programs\Microsoft Office\Microsoft Office Word 2007.lnk</Link0>

    <Link1>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\microsoft\windows\start menu\programs\Microsoft Office\Microsoft Office Excel 2007.lnk</Link1>

    <Link2>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\microsoft\windows\start menu\programs\Microsoft Office\Microsoft Office Outlook 2007.lnk</Link2>

    <Link3>%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\microsoft\windows\start menu\programs\KeePass Password Safe\KeePass.lnk</Link3>



  • Yes, they must be under "Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup", but in <settings pass="specialize">. But I see OOBE, which means you put it under <settings pass="oobeSystem">...

  • Anyone know if it is possible to customize the iccon size under the start menu and turn off highlight newly installed programs?  I know how to do so with scripts/batch files, but wanted to do this with the unattended.xml file.

  • To Ryan and IuriiO: The instructions above state "Both components should be added to the OobeSystem phase of setup".

    Confusing! I've tried and failed. Maybe the authors of this post could add a screen shot of the WSIM in use creating the answer file.

  • I find it difficult to customize the task bar, you nearly need a programm to do that quickly, I don't know which. Well, it`s easy when you are on a taskbar, but what when you have a few task bars , and you try to rearrange the icons,it's a mess, who can help me, I am not a very skillful user.


  • how do i change the icone on my computer disktop. if you can help ,I want to thank you

  • My mind is blown right now.. Are you telling me that I cannot deploy a customized image for my company without IE and windows media player in the task bar? I've just spent hours perfecting this image only to find out that I can only add 3 extra items after IE, explorer and media player. What gives guys? This is unacceptable! I've spent thousands on volume licensing and now I can't even do a simple customization.

  • I have a question. Is it possible to re-arrange it would be even cooler if it is possible to re-arrange taskbar links in order Chrome, Firefox, IE, Windows Explorer, and Windoes media player?

  • Is there an easy way to configure these shortcuts with GPO?

  • Is there a reason Microsoft moved away from just putting the shortcuts in the Default user profile? This is such a pain now.

    How about gpedit.msc?

    The Start Menu is really important. I have a saying, "If the user doesn't see a program on the Start Menu, they don't think it's installed." We get countless tickets to install programs on user's computers that are already installed.

    Having the basic programs they need to use listed on the Start Menu resolves this issue.