How to use the Shell command to view all your applications in File Explorer

The Shell command offers a handy way to view your Applications folder. Here's how it works--and why you might find the trick useful.



In recent articles, I've shown various techniques for making the best of the Windows 10 start menu:

While many readers are using Windows 10 Start menu as is, and others are settling for third-party solutions, a lot of users tell me they like trying alternative ideas. So I keep on the lookout for new tricks—and I recently found another one.

I discovered a way to view the Applications folder in File Explorer by using the Shell command. This special folder includes traditional Desktop Applications as well as Universal Windows Apps. Being able to view all your applications in File Explorer can come in handy in certain circumstances. Let's take a look.

Running the Shell command

To view All Apps in File Explorer, you'll use a Shell command shortcut. Hidden underneath the Windows architecture is a host of special shortcuts known as Shell commands. To use a Shell command, all you need to do is press [Windows]+R to access the Run dialog box. Then, type the word Shell followed by a colon (:) and the Shell folder name, as in:


Notice that there are no spaces between the word Shell and the colon and the folder name—it is essentially one word.

SEE: How to tweak the Windows 10 Action Center to make it less annoying

Accessing the Applications folder

Now that you have a general idea of how the Shell command works, you can use it to view the Applications folder in Windows 10. To do so, press [Windows]+R, type shell:AppsFolder in the Open text box (Figure A), and press Enter.

Figure A

Figure A
You can launch the Shell command from the Run dialog box.

All your applications will appear in one scrollable window, as shown in Figure B. You can view more apps at one time by maximizing the window.

Figure B

Figure B
Being able to view all your application in File Explorer can come in handy.

Creating shortcuts

One benefit of accessing the All Apps folder in File Explorer is that it allows you to create shortcuts to Universal Windows Apps on your desktop, which you can't do from the Start menu. Just right click on the app icon in File Explorer and select Create Shortcut, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Figure C
From within the Applications folder, you can create shortcuts to Universal Windows Apps.

SEE: How to use Task Manager to monitor Windows 10's performance

Finding other folders

While the main purpose of this article was to show you how to access the Applications folder in File Explorer by using the Shell command and the AppsFolder Shell folder name, that's not the only special folder you can access with the Shell command. There are other folders that are basically hidden in the operating system that you might be interested in investigating. Finding them involves looking in the Registry.

First, press [Windows]+R, type regedit in the Open text box, click OK, and work through the UAC. Once the Registry Editor opens, navigate to the following path:


Beneath FolderDescriptions, you'll find a set of keys that contain information about each of the special folders in Windows 10. Not all of the folders are useful, but many of them are.

Just click on each key folder and look for the Name value, as shown in Figure D. This is the Shell folder name you'll use with the Shell command.

Figure D

Figure D
You can find the names of other special folders in the Registry.

To access that special folder, open the Run dialog and type the Shell command, followed by the Shell folder name. Continuing with the above example, you would type shell:AccountPictures in the Open text box, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Figure E
Once you have the name of a special folder, you can use it in the Shell command.

More Windows how-to's

What's your take?

In this article, you've seen how to use the Shell command to access the Applications folder in File Explorer using the Shell command. You've also learned how to find other special folders in the Registry you can use with the Shell command. Will you take advantage of this technique? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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