Listing and Starting modernUI applications in C#

Posted on 2017-03-03 23:00:00+00:00

Context (sort of)

Recently I've been trying to improve my personnal project Windmenu, and one of the problems I found, was that while crawling through the Start Menu to retreive all applications, ModernUI applications were not found.

I soon realised that, the usual directory %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu did in fact not contain those shortcuts.

So where to find them?

A few websites point to shell:::{4234d49b-0245-4df3-B780-3893943456e1}, and that is true, but you sadly cannot acess that from C#.

The truth is: I don't know "where" to find them, but I know "how". This is how

How I did it

Listing the applications

To be honest I am not proud of this method, as it relies on the registry, which is most of the time not a good idea.

If you go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes in regedit, you will see all the file/url extensions, but also what we are looking for.

Here, are a few keys, named using the following pattern: AppX[a-z0-9]*. Those are the applications. Keep them.

These are the keys we are looking for, as they contain in the Application subkey the value of AppUserModelID.

AppUserModelID is what is needed to later, start a modernUI application.

Getting the name of the application

Once again, not proud of this. I am sure there is a better way to do it.

What I did was retrieve the "name" from the AppUserModelID with this regex (.+\.)+([a-zA-Z]*)_.*!.* and then "prettyfied" it, adding spaces where needed.

The registry key contains a value named ApplicationName, but I could not find a way to use this to retreive the localized name.

Starting the application

Here I didn't do much, as user sankar over at StackOverflow already explained the whole process of starting a modernUI application using it's AppUserModelID.

This involves some com interfacing, and I am not going to go any more deeper than this about the subject, since you can just check out my code here to see how I did it.


There must be a better way. I don't know why Microsoft made it so hard to start a modernUI application from a regular application, but they did it.

Should you do it the way I did it? No. It's bad, and I realy hope I will find a way to do it better.

Does it work? Yes, as long as Microsft does not decide to change the registry keys this is based on.

Anyway, I hope I will be able to find a new way to do this, which I will post here.