KidsMenu Readme

Quick Start Guide

  1. Put shortcuts to your games in the KidsMenu\shortcuts directory.
  2. Log in to Windows as your child and run KidsMenu
  3. Press Alt+Ctrl+I and confirm the installation
  4. Log out of Windows, and log back in to confirm everything works

About KidsMenu

KidsMenu is designed to be a child friendly alternative Windows shell.

It functions as a launcher for application that you choose, and avoids some of the complexity and danger introduced by the standard Windows shell (explorer).

KidsMenu is not intended as a "kiosk" or a locked down shell.

Installation Guide

1. Configure a Windows account for your child

KidsMenu works best as a replacement shell; in order for this to work you should set up a limited access account in Windows.

Add the account via the Windows control panel and log in as that user. For my children I've given each their own account.

As the background in KidsMenu is set by the Windows desktop (by default), now's a good time to set the desktop to the desired image.

2. Add shortcuts to the "shortcuts" directory

In order for a game/application to be displayed by KidsMenu, a shortcut to the application must be placed in the "shortcuts" directory.

If you need to perform multiple actions to launch a game, such as mounting an ISO image, create a batch file that runs these steps and put a shortcut to the batch file in the "shortcuts" directory. Don't forget to use the "Change icon" feature of the shortcut to give the batch file a nice icon, and set "Run" to "Minimized" to hide the batch file window.

To make games available to selected users, place the shortcuts a directory under the "shortcuts" directory which has the same name as their username.

For example, given the following structure:

  KidsMenu\ShortCuts\Game 1.lnk
  KidsMenu\ShortCuts\Game 2.lnk
  KidsMenu\ShortCuts\Cordelia\Game 3.lnk
  KidsMenu\ShortCuts\Mason\Game 4.lnk

"Game 1" and "Game 2" will be available to both Cordelia and Mason. "Game 3" will only be visible to Cordelia, while "Game 4" will only be visible to Mason.

3. Change the default shell

Log in to Windows using your child's account and run KidsMenu.

Press Alt+Ctrl+I to install KidsMenu as the default shell. You will be prompted for confirmation.

If at any time you wish to revert back to explorer, pressing Alt+Ctrl+I again will prompt you to uninstall.

Log out of Windows and log back in again as your child's account. KidsMenu should run immediately.

Advanced Features


Alt+Ctrl+I  Install / Uninstall KidsMenu as default shell
Alt+Ctrl+R  Show Windows "run" dialog

Startup Items

If you need a program to run when KidsMenu starts, such as a driver for multimedia functions on a keyboard, place a shortcut to the program in the "startup" directory.

KidsMenu has built in support for most keyboard's volume keys (volume up, volume down and volume mute); you do not need to install a driver for these keys.


If you want to allow your children to pick their own wallpapers (my kids love changing theirs), place shortcuts to the images, or to directories containing the images, in the "wallpapers" directory.

Just like the "shortcuts" directory, you can create sub-directories matching each user's username should you want to make different wallpapers available to different users.

.ini Shortcuts

To support portable shortcuts, you can specify a shortcut using an .ini file instead of a shortcut.

; target -- required
; the relative or full path to the exe to run
; relative files use the .exe path as the root
; parameters -- optional
; command line parameters
; defaults to empty
; startin -- optional
; sets the working directory for the shortcut
; defaults to the target's directory
; run -- optional
; sets the visibility of the window
; defaults to NORMAL
; icon -- optional
; icon to use in the menu
; defaults to use the target's icon


Copyright (c) Byron Jones, Glob
All rights reserved.

Version History

Release 11 - 12th July 2011 Release 10 - 25th Janurary 2011 Release 9 - 10th August 2009 Release 8 - 8th June 2009 Release 7 - 8th Apr 2009 Release 6 - 30th Mar 2009 Release 5 - 23rd Mar 2009 Release 4 - 19th Mar 2009 Release 3 - 11th Mar 2009 Release 2 - 6th Mar 2009 Release 1 - 24th Feb 2009

License Agreement

Permission is granted to use this software for non-commercial, non-military purposes.

You may copy and distribute literal (i.e. verbatim) copies of this software as you receive it throughout the world, in any medium.

This freeware software is not sold, but only licensed. This software cannot be sold or included in any other program or commercial package. You may NOT alter, delete, or add any file in the distribution package.

This software is provided 'as-is', without any expressed or implied warranty. In no event will the author(s) be held liable for any damages arising from the use of this software.