Configuring Windows' Secret Start Menu

Written by Eric Wyatt (last updated August 10, 2020)


As covered in another article, you can use the Win+X shortcut to open the secondary, or "secret" Windows Start menu. One of the shortcuts mentioned in the article talks about using Win+X followed by pressing either the A or C keys.

  • Press the A key and Windows opens a new Command Prompt (Admin) window, if Command Prompt is set to be displayed. If PowerShell is set to be displayed, a new PowerShell (Admin) window opens.
  • Press the C key and Windows opens a new Command Prompt window, if Command Prompt is set to be displayed. If PowerShell is set to be displayed, a new PowerShell window opens.

Both of these shortcuts can be handy. However, notice that the result can be different based on what you have selected to be displayed—either Command Prompt or the newer PowerShell. With a simple setting change, you can decide which one is activated when you press Win+X followed by A or C. Let's take a look at how to modify this:

  1. Press the Windows key and type (without quotes) "Taskbar Settings," then press Enter. This launches the Taskbar Settings section of the Settings dialog box.
  2. Scroll down and set the toggle, according to your preference, under the "Replace Command Prompt with Windows PowerShell in the menu when I right-click the start button or press Windows key+X." If you want to use PowerShell turn the toggle to "On"; if you prefer Command Prompt turn the toggle to "Off." (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Taskbar Settings section of system settings.

  4. Close the Settings dialog box, your setting will take effect immediately.

Now, depending on the setting you chose, either Command Prompt or the newer PowerShell will open when either Win+X then A or C are pressed.

 This tip (7635) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Eric Wyatt

Eric Wyatt is a swell guy (or so his friends tell him). He is a formally trained designer and branding expert, bringing a wide range of skills to his Tips.Net articles. ...


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What is three less than 3?

2020-08-18 16:22:46

David H.

Thank you, Eric, for taking the time to give a detailed answer to my question!

2020-08-17 14:08:40


@David Both are usable. If you have a preference of one over the other, you can use the one you're comfortable with. Microsoft has announced (back in 2017) that PowerShell would be replacing Command Prompt. Fast forward to 2020 and they are both available, make what you will of that. However, if Microsoft announced that one is replacing the other, then I would wager that before too long one (typically the oldest) could go away. CMD or (command Prompt) is the more limited of the two. Powershell is regarded as being more powerful and robust.

2020-08-10 12:23:53

David H.

What is the advantage of using Command Prompt over PowerShell? Doesn't PowerShell do all that Command Prompt does and more? What is the difference between the two? Just curious....

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