Create a special Windows 8 start screen icon for your website

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 16, 2012
Development, Image, Windows 8

Back when Windows 7 was released Microsoft introduced an option for webmasters to add tags to their site's code that would make special commands available on the Windows taskbar if users pinned the site on it. According to Microsoft, individual user engagement grew by up to 200% after sites were pinned on the taskbar.

Fast forward to Windows 8 and another option to pin a website. This time, users can pin the website to the start screen of the operating system. It is the area that provides program launching and searching functionality. While it is possible to pin any website to the start screen using Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10 (the Modern UI version), results do not look that good as a default Explorer icon is selected to visualize the site.

It makes sense to create a special start screen icon for your site so that it can easily be identified by users.

Creating the icon

You can create the icon by yourself, or use a Microsoft tool to do so. If you want to create the icon manually make sure you create a 144x144 pixel png image. It is recommended to leave some space at the bottom for the title that is displayed there.

If you do not feel comfortable creating your own icon, use Microsoft's Build My Pinned Site website to do so. While the service does not offer you the same level of customization as creating the start screen icon manually, it can be a viable option to get the code for your site out there as soon as possible.

windows 8 start screen icon websites

It takes two steps to generate the code for your site. Upload an image in the first step, and select the title and background color that you want to use. The image is automatically displayed as a preview on the same page so that you know how it looks like on the start screen. You can't move the image around, and larger images do not really work here that well. What you want to use is a smaller sized image, up to 100x100 or so instead.

When you have found the right color, title and image, click on the let me see the code button to generate the code for your site.

The code that you need to add to the head area of your website consists of three meta tags, one for each value (image, title and background color).

<meta name="application-name" content="Ghacks News"/>
<meta name="msapplication-TileColor" content="#ffffff"/>
<meta name="msapplication-TileImage" content="image.png"/>

Note that you also need to download the processed image, the image download is provided once you hit on the code generation button, and upload it to the root directory of your server so that it is automatically picked up by the operating system when the site gets pinned by a user.

I suggest you test the implementation immediately after you have added the code to your website and uploaded the image to the server. You may need to clear the cache of your website and the web browser before the new pinned image becomes available.

windows 8 website icon

If you get a white icon, it either means that the system can't find the image that you have uploaded, or that there is a caching issue that you need to resolve.


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  1. imu said on November 6, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Quite risky solution but knowledge is power and people do what they like :)

    BTW. Martin is there any chance you can confirm that GMER doesn’t work on Windows 8.1? plus tanks for Hitman pro alert tip and link as there is no way to come across this beta by visiting their website :)

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 7, 2013 at 9:01 am

      What exactly is not working on your end? I was able to download and run GMER on Windows 8.1. Scans seem to work as well. Is there any particular aspect that is not working on your end?

      1. imu said on November 7, 2013 at 11:30 am

        It’s getting stuck during the scan and always in the same place on all my laptops with W8.1 ,please do have a look :
        I have no such issue with W8.
        Did you run full scan?

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on November 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm

        Scan runs through fine on my system (Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit)

    2. Robert Stover said on February 7, 2015 at 10:08 am

      Wow ,, Thanks for the GIFT ,,
      I programmed this into my Windows 7 Registry and had minor ONE issue ,, It didn`t work. lol ..
      Then set my Login Stats to that registry IE; CURRENT: User Name
      As well as my current password ..

      IT IS AWESOME ,,, try it or contact me .. $3.00 and an email and I`ll send you the Zipped to merge
      Computer Interface Systems ®™ First

  2. Zinc said on November 6, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Am I missing something?

    “Netplwiz” has been working just fine for me since I installed Windows 8…two summers ago…

    1. Stig said on November 7, 2013 at 10:17 am

      I agree, Netplwiz is the better option since you don’t have to fuzz with Regsitry-values with that approach.

  3. Jim said on November 7, 2013 at 2:34 am

    “control userpasswords2” works too, and provides a little friendlier interface. just put in your microsoft account credentials.

    Hmmm… “Control Userpasswords2” and “Netplwiz” appear to be the same thing. Didn’t know that until now.

  4. ilev said on November 7, 2013 at 6:09 am
  5. Richard said on November 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I wanted to do this on a Windows Server 2012 R2 essentials box today. I tried the old “control userpasswords2” run command to no avail.

    Are you a mind reader? Seems so.


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