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

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