image

Ever wondered how you take a snapshot of the layout of the tiles on a Windows 8 Start Screen and then restoring them exactly as they were before.

No? Well nor had I until I got asked just that question recently…

It turns out that the answer is really simple. I started down the route of trying to decode the database files that contain the tile locations and states. You can find the files here:

 

%LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms

%LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms.bak

Don’t do that… I wasted some time trying to reverse engineer these to no avail. Then I realized that you don’t have to know what is in them, you just need to have a good known state, back it up and restore it as required.

I know, you probably came to the same conclusion without even having to look at the files… So here are two batch files (yes, I said batch files – I was feeling really lazy that day) that you can use:

Startscreenbackup.bat

@Echo Off
Copy %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\GoldappsFolder.itemdata-ms
Copy %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms.bak %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\GoldappsFolder.itemdata-ms.bak

echo "Your current Start Menu configuration has been backup up"
Pause

StartScreenRestore.bat

@ Echo off
Del %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms
Del %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms.bak
Copy %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\GoldappsFolder.itemdata-ms %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms
Copy %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\GoldappsFolder.itemdata-ms.bak %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\appsFolder.itemdata-ms.bak

tskill explorer

echo "Your current Start Menu configuration has been restored"
Pause

The first script simply takes a copy of the current database files after you have set up your Start Screen to it’s preferred layout to a Gold copy

The second script just restores your Gold copy.

Keep in mind that the StartScreenRestore batch file deletes your current config, so I recommend that you think long and hard about whether you need to backup your current config before restoring the old one in case there is a problem. You might be pleased to note that if there is a problem and you manage to delete your config altogether, rebooting (or indeed just using “tskill explorer” from the command prompt) will create the default set again.

Note: This will not uninstall your applications, nor does it require admin privileges, so you should only impact your own profile if something goes wrong.. Usual disclaimer about using the scripts at your own peril etc applies…

Enjoy!