The Start Menu is a place of great adventures, a place where you can find both your favorite apps and the long-thought gone remnants of the programs of old. It is a place where you can find apps, check out the weather, enter the settings and so much more. Even if you take the more cynical point and say “it’s just a menu” and “you may need help, man” the Start menu is still a place that you probably visit very often. And as is the case with anything that we use daily, customizing is key to getting the best possible experience out of it. There are plenty of ways you can customize your Start menu too so let us look at some of the options you will be presented with in Windows 10.
Note: We already had a guide out on the subject back when Windows 10 was still in Technical Preview but many of what was written then does not apply anymore. You can still find and read the guide here if you are interested.
The Settings menu
Start by opening the (you guessed it) Start Menu and click on the Settings option. You can also open the Settings via the WinKey + I combination. When it opens, head over to Personalization > Start to check out the basic options provided to you by Microsoft.
The first two options here will let you customize the top left part of the Start menu. By default, this area lists your most used apps and it will also display your most recently added program at the bottom for a short time. The only reason to disable this feature is if you do not want others to see what apps you use all the time or if you want to see more blank space. Microsoft does not actually allow this space to be used for anything else so you will not be able to attach a tile there, for instance.
The Use Start full screen option is there for those who thought that the Windows 8.1 Start Screen was the best thing ever. Turning the toggle on will do exactly what you think it will so you can have your very own version of the Start Screen in Windows 10. If you hated the thing in Windows 8.1, steer well away from this option.
The final toggle concerns Jump Lists which we have talked about in great detail in the past. The Jump Lists are the lists that pop up when you right click on an icon in the taskbar or when you click the arrow icon in the Start menu. Again, there is no reason to disable this feature unless you want your recent actions to be private.
Clicking on the Choose which folders appear on Start link is highly recommended and this is usually one of the first things I alter when I get a new PC. When you open the Start menu, there is a list of items in the bottom corner. The “All apps” and “Power” items will always be there but anything above those two can be customized to your liking. Well, at least somewhat. This menu will let add more items like Documents, Videos, HomeGroup, your own personal user folder and more. Unfortunately, the list is not nearly as long as it was on Windows 7.
One size does not fit all
I am not sure if this even qualifies as a tip because it is something that everyone should probably know about it yet it somehow managed to elude my brain for too long a time. Place your mouse over to the top or right side of the Start menu and you will be able to resize. Vertical resizes are much more flexible as the resizing the side means you will have to continue dragging until the menu pops into a fixed position. You can even remove the tiles and resize the menu to the left so that it looks more like the classic version.
Organize the All Apps view
As you may have already noticed, there is no obvious way of removing or adding stuff to the All Apps view, unless of course you install or uninstall an app. However, the All Apps view is actually a folder so you can easily change things there and force the changes manually. To get in there, open a Run box (WinKey + R), paste the following location in and press Enter:
Do note that this may or may not break things so it is strongly recommended that you back this folder up before making any changes.
The tiles, both Live and standard ones, are the biggest change to the Start menu for users migrating from Windows 7. And while I definitely like this change and have indeed kept some specific tiles there, I am sure that some users will not like them all that much. If you want to completely get rid of them, just remove every tile and then resize your Start menu so that it resembles the classic Windows 7 version. If you just want to customize them, right clicking on them will give you all the options you want. I am positive that most people will not actually use the integrated Windows 10 apps so most of the default tiles are useless at best, highly annoying at worst. Also note that each group of tiles can have a specific name which you can set by scrolling your mouse over at the top.
Get a new Start Menu
For those that did not like the Windows 8.1 Start Screen, this tip will be completely obvious but users who are just now migrating may not know that there are tons of Start Menu replacements that can give you exactly what you want. The vast majority of them continue to work in Windows 10 so if you had a favorite one from Windows 8.1 then you can still apply them here. I suggest taking a look at Classic Shell and iObit’s Start Menu just to get you started with the replacements.