Launch Windows 8 Metro Apps From a Desktop Shortcut or Command Line

 
Windows 8 Logo 1 Launch Windows 8 Metro Apps From a Desktop Shortcut or Command Line

Microsoft didn’t make it easy to do anything with the metro style interface that comes with the new Windows 8 OS. That includes seemingly simple things like launching one of the Metro style apps from the desktop or another program. I wanted this functionality, and came up with nothing other than programming in visual studio, which I am incapable
of.  Well, after digging around in the registry, I came up with a solution.

So, how does this work you ask? Simple, Microsoft DOES allow you to call a metro app using a protocol.  If you have windows 8 installed click this link to the news app (only works with IE10 at the moment, but its not needed to run from the command line) to see what I mean. It will open the Windows 8 news app and search for Windows 8 News.  Pretty neat huh?  Unfortunately this sounds easier to do than it is.  That’s because there is no standard naming to call a specific app and you will have to search the registry to find it.

So, we’ll use the news app for the example and then I’ll show you how to call whichever app you want.

  1. Open a new tab in your browser.
  2. put bingnews://search/?q=”Whatever you want to search for”   in the address bar.

Simple right?  bingnews://  will open up the app to the default page and you can have it search automatically with the search term.

Now, to put that into a shortcut,

  1. right click on the desktop
  2. select New > Shortcut
  3. enter bingnews:// where it asks for the location and press next
  4. Enter the name you want displayed in your shortcut and press finish.

That’s it!

UPDATE:

Below is the old way to get the app names. I found a new way which is much easier and is posted about in my article Metro App Names, The Easy Way.  And of course, not all apps can be launched this way so if you have one of those you want to launch then you can use MetroLauncher type 2.

 

The Old Way

Now for the pain in the butt part, getting the names to launch your apps. Make sure you don’t accidentally change anything in the registry as it can mess up your computer.

  1.  Press the windows key and x to pull up the new admin menu
  2. Choose run
  3. type in regedit and press enter
  4. Open the HKEY_CURRENT_USER
  5. Then >Software > Classes > Extensions > Contractld > Windows.Protocol >Packageld >
  6. You should find a list of many of the installed apps here. To get the name, open the folder structure you want until you get to CustomProperties.
  7. In that folder you should see a registry entry on the right side of the screen that says Name and then to the right of that is the particular name you would use.

netflix registry 21 1024x178 Launch Windows 8 Metro Apps From a Desktop Shortcut or Command Line

If you don’t find your app in that location then:

  1. Open HKEY_CURRENT_USER
  2. then >Software>Classes
  3. This folder will have MUCH more stuff that is not useful, but you may find the app you want here.   You will be looking for a default key with a setting of URL:”appname”

netflix registry 1024x174 Launch Windows 8 Metro Apps From a Desktop Shortcut or Command Line

Now, this is not all rosey for the command line users. Since you are not opening an app directly, there will be no easy way to monitor the app.  For example, one of the reasons I wanted this functionality was to launch the Netflix app from XBMC or media center. It will launch it fine, but there will be no way to automatically go back to XBMC when your done with Netflix.  When I find a better way to do this ill be posing here!  Or if anyone knows of a better way, please leave a comment!

I created a few launchers that should help with the launching of metro apps.  See my post here for more info, or go to my downloads page to get them!

Here’s a list of some apps to get you started if you need them. They should be pretty self explanatory.  You can also try adding the search term after them “search/?q=what you want to search for”  but I found it only works for a few apps.  Also, if you go searching for names, leave the ones you find in the comments and i’ll update this list for everyone!
Thanks!

Click to try! Internet Explorer 10+ Only
bingnews:// bingfinance:// bingweather://
bingtravel:// bignsearch:// bingsports://
bingmaps:// xboxgames:// wlcalendar://
wlpeople:// netflix:// onenote://
mailto:// mschat:// microsoftvideo://
microsoftmusic:// ebay:// ms-windows-store://

NOTES

Thanks to emperorxlii for pointing out that using a shortcut will take you to the browser and then ask if you want to launch the app.  Command line doesn’t have this behavior. So his solution is to put explorer.exe in the shortcut, so you would have “explorer.exe bingnews://”

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24 Responses to Launch Windows 8 Metro Apps From a Desktop Shortcut or Command Line

  1. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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  3. Jerry says:

    Can anyone locate the shortcut for the Hulu Plus app? I can’t find it

    • nrk112 says:

      I just took a quick look through the registry and I guess that app wont work in this method… If you don’t mind me asking, do you just want an icon on the desktop, or is this going to be launched from media center / xbmc or the like. If its a dedicated HTPC, I may be able to get a script working that would essentially bring hulu plus to the foreground when needed and send it to the background when done. Two problems though, You would have to manually start it every time the computer is cold booted, and my previous attempts at manipulating metro apps with autohotkey didn’t work very well.

      • Jerry says:

        I wanted to launch it through XBMC

        • nrk112 says:

          Ok, I made a very simple script for you. Its not as slick as the other way but it should work.

          If you install autohotkey, just save the following as a script. Otherwise I put a link to a precompiled one in the blog post.

          #NoEnv
          #Warn
          SendMode Input
          SetWorkingDir %A_ScriptDir%
          Send, {LWin}
          Sleep, 200
          Send, Hulu plus
          Send, {enter}

  4. Emperor XLII says:

    A shortcut containing just bingnews:// will go through the browser and ask “do you want to open this?”, but you can also use explorer.exe bingnews:// to launch the app without the prompt.

    • nrk112 says:

      Thanks for the tip! I’ve been using it from the command line which doesn’t give this behavior. If you use shortcuts its definitely helpful.

  5. Jason says:

    Windows store is:
    ms-windows-store://

  6. Pingback: Launching Hulu Plus metro app from XBMC or the command line. ItsJustWhatever.com

  7. a_team says:

    Thank you for all your hard research and time you took to post this!

    I however couldn’t find the Tune in reg
    Would you know what to name it?

    • nrk112 says:

      Tune? I dont know which app that is. Some apps are not able to be started this way so it may not be in the registry.

      I found a better way to find the app names than looking in the registry. Im going to post a how-to tonight when I get home.

      However, if you didnt find it in the registry then the new way I found wont list it either. in the meantime (or permanantly) you can go to my downloads page and use MetroLauncher2 to launch any app you have.

    • nrk112 says:

      Here is the post:

      If you cant find it there, then I would just use the MetroLauncher2 and call it a day.

  8. a_team says:

    Cool! Thank you for the fast reply! I love the new protocol search method but it looks like there’s none for the Tune in Radio app. Metro 2 launcher work great for it.

    Thanks again for all your hard work!

  9. Thank you for the information regarding the links, it has allowed me to add all the apps to the desktop :P Pretty easy really. Just a matter of figuring out each new app.

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  11. NJF says:

    Has anyone found a way of launching the Microsoft metro camera app, as I can’t find a name as posted above?

  12. Ben Geerdes says:

    I have this ‘sync’ button on my logitech keyboard, and wanted it to start the ‘windows phone app’. But failed with all the suggestions mentioned above. Any ideas?

  13. nrk112 says:

    Do any of the suggestions work when you dont use the sync button?

  14. Moi says:

    Thanks for the great post! I was just wondering why your tricks don’t apply to ALL Metro apps…

    For instance, I am trying to get the Metro app Windows Alarms as a shortcut and I can’t find its name in the registry. If I make a shortcut to the executable instead “…/Microsoft.WindowsAlarms_6.3…/time.exe”, then a pop up occurs claiming that “This application can only run in the context of an app container”.

    Do you know a way around this? Can we invoke this app container first so the shortcut will work? Command lines are fine too if not a shortcut the solution (I’d create a .bat instead). Any new idea would be appreciated, thanks again!

    • nrk112 says:

      Unfortunately I don’t know of a workaround. That’s why I made the version2 launcher that does a quick search and launch.

  15. Selene says:

    Thank you! Thank you!
    I will bookmark this page.

  16. ninexunix says:

    I too have been flirting with putting the windows 8.1 metro app in xbmc. I first edited the Home.xml in \skin\Confluence\720p to reflect the following addition.

    NETFLIX
    XBMC.System.Exec(Netflix://)

    I place that entry right before the ID Weather so it’s first in my menu.
    Launches just fine. I have been trying to find ANY command line arguments that will get me to “new releases” and or “popular in netflix” Mainly because with that xml one can also create sub menu’s. Anyone have any info on any commands that work with the Netflix:// command line?

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