The Start screen in Windows 8.1 can be customized in many ways without having to use third-party applications. We can configure the Start screen to use the current desktop background, change live tiles size to small, medium, wide or extra large, change background color of Start, and more.
In fact, Microsoft has introduced a dedicated Customize button for Start screen in Windows 8.1. Right-click anywhere on the Start screen to see the customize button.
Users who have heavily customized the Start screen layout by pinning their favorite apps and programs, changing live tile sizes, moving favorite app tiles to a particular location, and naming tile groups may like to backup the Start screen layout so that they can restore the same layout at any time without wasting time.
While Windows 8.1 offers options to sync and backup personalization settings to the cloud, users who’re using the local account or users who have turned off the sync feature may like to create an offline backup copy of the Start screen layout.
Backing up the Start screen layout in Windows 8.1 is relatively easy. All layout settings are saved in appsFolder.itemdata-ms and appsFolder.itemdata-ms.bak files. You can either manually backup these two files or download the below mentioned .bat files (thanks to brucecowper on MSDN Blogs for the code) to automatically and restore the Start screen layout.
The above mentioned files contain saved information about app tiles size, tiles layout, location of tiles and also app tiles on the Start screen. However, it will not help you backup Start screen background.
If you are on Windows 10, please refer to our how to backup and restore Start layout in Windows 10 guide.
Backup Start screen layout in Windows 8.1
Step 1: Download Backup Start Screen file to your PC.
NOTE: You might see a warning message on your browser saying that “This file is not commonly downloaded and might harm your computer”. Since this is just a .bat file (you can even open it in Notepad to see the content yourself) with a few links of text, simply ignore the warning message and click Run button.
Step 2: Double-click on the Backup Start Screen file to backup Start screen layout settings.
How to restore Start screen layout:
Step 1: Download Restore Start Screen file to your PC.
Step 2: Run the downloaded file by double-clicking on it to restore Start screen layout.
NOTE: When you use the above mentioned batch file to restore Start layout, it will delete your current layout. Please note that we haven’t tested this on Windows 8 but it should works fine on Windows 8 as well.