How to automatically go to Windows 8 desktop (skip Start/Metro screen) on Windows boot [Guide]

Windows 8 has a new ‘Start’ screen (also referred to as Metro UI). If you ever want to access the traditional Windows desktop, you need to click on/tap a tile at this Start screen which takes you to the desktop. Whenever turning on or booting Windows 8, Windows 8 opens the Start screen automatically, forcing you to manually click on the desktop tile if you want to access that. If you are sick of this behavior and would like to force Windows 8 to automatically go to the desktop upon boot, you can do that. This guide shows you how.

Update: If anyone doesn’t want to go through the registry tweaks shown below, you can download Classic Shell which not only adds a Start Menu to Windows 8 but also makes Windows 8 skip the Start/Metro screen and go automatically to Windows 8 desktop on boot.

How To Skip Start Screen And Go To Windows 8 Desktop

To boot past Windows 8′s Start screen and go directly to Windows 8 desktop, you need to make a simple registry tweak. Do the following:

  • While in Windows 8 (desktop or Start screen, it doesn’t matter), open regedit. If you don’t know how to run regedit, read dotTech’s How to run Register Editor in Windows 8 guide.
  • When you have regedit open, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current Version\Winlogin:

  • At the Winlogon registry folder, look for the registry entry named Shell, right-click it, and hit modify:

  • Once you right-click Shell and hit modify, a dialog box will pop open. In that box, there will be a Value data field which will say explorer.exe. Change explorer.exe to “explorer.exe /select,explorer.exe” (without the quotes) and hit OK:

  • Close Registry Editor.
  • Done! Restart your computer (click here to learn how to restart Windows 8, if you don’t know how) and upon boot you should see Start screen appear for a split second after which you are taken to Windows 8 desktop automatically:

Take note if on boot the libraries window is open on your desktop (as shown in the above screenshot), that is not a bug. This is how it is supposed to work.

Conclusion

While this tip doesn’t solve all of Windows 8 woes, it does help. Not having to manually click to Windows 8 desktop may be a huge time saver but it does remove an annoyance.

[Thanks zinc!]

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21 comments

  1. arlyssFR

    If you want to show dektop at logon without opening a window,
    you can’t use autoit3 to simulate the keyboard “Window key” (which switch to desktop).

    script:

    #RequireAdmin
    Opt(“SendKeyDelay”, 1000)
    Send(“{LWIN}”, 1)

    This au3 script wait 1 second and send the window key.

    2 options :
    1- with autoit3, compile teh script as an executable (and you don’t need autoit3 anymore)
    2- use the au3 script directly (but you need autoit3)

    In the two cases, put the file (exe or au3) in your user startup folder.

    et voilà !

  2. Eduardo

    I found this cool tip in CPU Computer Power User (June | Vol. 13 Iss.6) for Windows 7/8 users.
    Open File Explorer and click the View Tab. Make sure the File Name Extensions and Hidden Items checkboxes are checked. Close File Explorer, right click an empty spot on the Desktop and click New, and then Folder. In place of the folder’s name, type GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} and then press Enter. The folder icon will be replaced by the Control Panel icon. The folder’s name is up to you.

  3. USER

    This is useless. Use Stardock Start8. May be You should help in activating Windows pre-release versions in converting to full versions through add features to Windows 8 option…….. That will be your real challenge!!!!!!!

  4. Matt

    @Mark:

    There is a way to a not have windows library pop up at start up.

    “explorer.exe /select,explorer.exe”

    Remove everything after the /

    So the key entry should be

    “explorer.exe”

    obviously without the quotes. But I am also using start8 for the start menu and it has it built it but I am unsure whether it adds that entry itself or what. Either way, when I remove that part. The library doesn’t pop up at start up now.

    Enjoy!

  5. HAL

    Unfortunately, I tried to load it (VirtualBox) back on May 29th, but it just kept rolling back for some reason.

    When I downloaded Win 8 to my 16gb sd drive I thought I was ok. When all was said and done it did the setup to my hard drive.

  6. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @HAL: HAL if you are seeing the My Computer libraries window at desktop upon reboot then it is working as intended. This trick skips past the Start screen and takes you to the desktop with the My Computer libraries window open (see my screenshot above). I apologize for not making this more clear. I’ll update the post to reflect that.
    And in regards to undoing it, as far as I know all you do is undo what you did. I’m not sure why it isn’t working for you. What version of Win8 are you on?

  7. HAL

    I went back and have tried it twice more with the same result. the only window that pops up now is computer with my drives listed.

    How do I get back to where it was before I tried this? I removed the /select,explorer.exe and still end up with the same window and no task bar?

  8. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @HAL: Are you sure you did it properly? It works perfect for me. Make sure you inputted “explorer.exe /select,explorer.exe” — there is a space between explorer.exe and /select,explorer.exe.
    To reverse it go back and change the WinLogon -> Shell key to just explorer.exe.