Get Started: How to Customize the Start Menu in Windows

For easy access to your favorite apps and most-used settings, here’s how to customize the Start Menu in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

Get Started: How to Customize the Start Menu in Windows Image

Microsoft seems to rethink the Start menu with each new version of Windows. Jumping from Windows 10 to Windows 11 can make your head spin with all the new tools and tricks you have to learn before you can fully navigate the menu. Even after you get used to the changes, there are always hidden features you may not realize exist. No matter which version of Windows you use, here’s a rundown of how to most effectively use the Start menu.

Tips for Using the Windows 10 Start Menu

View the Start menu

Click the Start button in Windows 10, and all your installed apps are listed alphabetically as shortcuts. Most of them appear individually, but some (such as Windows Accessories) are nestled in folders that you must click to open.

1. Manage Your Folder Shortcuts

Expand the Start menu

To the left of the app list are icons that grant access to Documents, Pictures, Settings, and Power. You can peek at the names of the icons without having to hover over each one if you click the hamburger menu in the top-left corner of the Start menu. Click the icon again, and the pane returns to its condensed view.

The Pictures and Documents shortcuts open to their respective folder on your PC. Settings will open the Windows 10 Settings menu, while Power will let you shut down, restart, or (if you have a laptop) put the computer to sleep.

Lock or sign out of Windows

Click your account name to access additional options. Choose Change account settings to display your account screen in Settings. Click Lock, and you’re thrown back to the Windows 10 Lock screen. Select Sign out to log out of Windows and let another person sign in.

Choose which folders appear on the Start menu

Don’t like the default folders? You can change them if you open Settings > Personalization > Start and click the Choose which folders appear on Start link at the bottom of the screen. Additional options include File Explorer, Downloads, Music, Videos, Network, and Personal Folder.

2. Manage Your App List

Right-click a shortcut

You can manage the apps right from the app list in the Start menu. Right-click on an app to view a pop-up menu with a few different options. Click Pin to Start and the shortcut for the app is saved to the tiled section of the Start menu. Choose Uninstall if you wish to remove the app from Windows.

Access the More menu

From the More submenu, you may be able to pin the shortcut to the Taskbar, view the app’s settings, rate and review the app in the Microsoft Store, or share a link to the app’s Microsoft Store page with someone else. Not all apps offer the same options here.

You can also head to Settings > Personalization > Start and enable or disable Show app list in Start menu to determine whether the app list is visible when you click the Start button.

3. Manage Start Menu Tiles

Resize a tile

You can drag and drop shortcuts from the app list to the tiled section of the Start menu, which gives you a few more options. Right-click on a tiled app to see another pop-up menu. Depending on the app, you may be able to unpin it, resize the tile, uninstall it, and more.

For some apps, you can choose as many as four sizes: Small, Medium, Wide, and Large. Under More are options to turn off the live tile for supported apps, pin or unpin the app from the Taskbar, and open the app’s settings, among others.

Create a group

You’re able to drag apps in the tiled section around the screen. You can also place related apps into their own groups, and then give the grouping a name. Additionally, you can open Settings > Personalization > Start and enable Show more tiles on Start to add extra space to the tiled section so you can squeeze in more apps.

4. Create App Folders

Create a folder

You can put apps into their own folders to organize them and free up space on the Start menu. To do this, look for two related apps and drop one of the tiles on top of the other. You can then create a name for that folder. More apps can be added by dropping their tiles on top of the folder

5. Get App Recommendations

app recommendations

If you want Windows to make app recommendations, head to Settings > Personalization > Start and make sure that any of Show recently added apps, Show most used apps, or Show suggestions occasionally in Start are enabled. Suggestions will be displayed at the top of the Start menu

6. Enable the Start Screen

windows start screen

For any device you control with a mouse and keyboard, the Start menu should work just fine. However, if you have a touch-screen device like a tablet or hybrid, you may find the Start screen easier to work on. You can enable this feature by going to Settings > Personalization > Start and turning on Use Start full screen. Now, when you click the Start button, you will see the Start screen instead of the default Start menu .

7. Display Recent Files

recent files

You can make certain apps, such as Adobe Acrobat or Photoshop, display recent files when you right-click on its shortcut in the Start menu. Open Settings > Personalization > Start and enable Show recently opened items in Jump Lists on Start or the Taskbar and in File Explorer Quick Access.

8. Open the Power User Menu

Right-click on the Start button

For one last tip, right-click the Start button to access a secret menu that allows you to run commands for Power Options, Network Connections, Windows PowerShell, Task Manager, File Explorer, Search, Run, and more. There are also ways to customize this menu to your liking.