To help you become productive when using the Start screen, I would like to show how to pin almost everything you need: Windows 8.1 apps, desktop applications, folders, libraries, network locations, websites and control panel items. Here's how it is all done:
How to Pin Windows 8.1 Apps to the Start Screen
First, you will have to find the app you want to pin. In order to do this, you will have to access the Apps list. To open it, click the small downwards pointing arrow from the bottom left side of the Start screen. If you use a touch screen, you'll need to press your finger on the bottom of the Start screen and then swipe upwards.
This action opens the Apps screen, listing all the apps and desktop programs that are installed on your device.
Choose the app you want pinned, by right clicking on it. On a touch screen, just tap and hold, while slightly dragging downwards. The contextual options available for that particular app are displayed on a bar found at the bottom of the screen.
One of those options is Pin to Start or Unpin to Start, depending on its current state.
Click or tap on Pin to Start and your app will be pinned to the Start screen without any further ado.
How to Pin Desktop Applications to the Start Screen, in Windows 8.1
First, locate the program you want to pin on the Start screen. Note that you can also use its shortcut.
If you prefer, you can also browse your computer to find the location where the program is installed. Then, select the main executable file.
Of course, another option would be to just search the application you want, using the search box in File Explorer.
Right click on it or press and hold it. In the contextual menu, click or tap Pin to Start.
Go to the Start screen and you will see that the program has its shortcut pinned.
How to Pin Folders & Libraries to the Start Screen, in Windows 8.1
Pinning folders or libraries to the Start screen is similar to the way you pin desktop applications. Select the folder or library you want pinned, right click or press and hold on it and then select Pin to Start.
It will now be displayed on the Start screen.
NOTE: In Windows 8.1, libraries aren't shown by default in Windows Explorer. If you want to get them back, follow the steps described in this tutorial: How to Get Back the Libraries in File Explorer.
How to Pin Network Locations to the Start Screen, in Windows 8.1
Pinning a network location works the same way as pinning folders or libraries. Locate the network location you want, by using File Explorer. The network location can be an actual computer or a shared folder.
Then, right click (or press and hold) the network location and select Pin to Start from the contextual menu.
One thing to remember though: even if that network location is no longer available, the shortcut you created will still be displayed on the Start screen.
How to pin websites using the touch version of Internet Explorer
In the modern Internet Explorer app, open the website you want to pin. Then, right click or swipe from the bottom of the screen to open the options bar. Look to its right side to find the Favorites button and click or tap on it.
You will see a list containing all your Favorites. On the top right corner of this list, you'll find the Pin Site button. Click or tap on it.
You can write a new name for your site or you can leave the default proposed by Internet Explorer. Then, click or tap the Pin to Start button and the site is pinned to the Start screen.
How to pin websites using the Desktop version of Internet Explorer
If you prefer using the desktop version of Internet Explorer, you'll have to make a few more steps. To begin, open the Tools menu and look for a shortcut named "Add site to Apps". Then tap it.
Internet Explorer will display a confirmation dialog. Choose Add if you wish to continue.
The site is now added to the Apps list but it doesn't yet have a tile on the main view of the Start screen. In order get one, open the Apps list and look for the shortcut to your site. If you use the Category sorting, you will find it in the Desktop section. Once you've located it, right click or tap and hold on it.
Then, on the bottom menu bar, click or tap Pin to Start.
Once you've taken all these steps, your site is finally added to Windows 8.1's Start screen.
NOTE: It's worth mentioning that, as long as Internet Explorer is your default browser, all the websites you have pinned using its touch version will always open in the Internet Explorer app. However, if you used the desktop version to pin websites, Windows 8.1 will remember that and the websites you've pinned from it will always be opened by the desktop version of Internet Explorer.
How to pin Control Panel Items, in Windows 8.1
When trying to pin items from the Control Panel, my first approach was to search for them on the Start screen, right click (or press and hold) and then find the option to Pin to Start. Unfortunately this approach doesn't work.
The only way to pin such items is to open the Control Panel, browse to the location when the item is found. For example, I wanted to pin Programs and Features. So I went to the Programs section.
Then, right click or press and hold and select Pin to Start.
The Control Panel item is now pinned to the Start screen.
As you have seen in this tutorial, pinning stuff to Windows 8.1 Start screen is not that hard. The only unfortunate change versus Windows 8 is that it takes more steps to pin websites from Internet Explorer.
If you are looking for other cool tips about working with the Start screen, don't hesitate to read our recommendations below.