Windows Secrets Newsletter: Fine-tuning the Windows Start menu

Windows start menu

By Woody Leonhard/Windows Secrets Newsletter

Since the debut of Windows 95, the Start menu has offered an easily navigated and extensible haven for all the programs we don’t use every day.

In Part 1 of a series of stories on getting the most out of Windows’ Start menu, we start with the basics: pinning applications, folders, and files.

Future installments will cover just about everything you need to know about the Start menu — how to use it, change it, gussy it up, and dress it down. The Start menu is something we use dozens of times a day. Take a few minutes and make it look the way you want it to!

Although Win7′s Start menu has a slightly different look from Windows XP’s classic design, in many ways they work the same. And though the techniques covered in this series focus on Win7′s version, you’ll find that many of these tips apply to XP’s Start menu as well.

Classic version or new, the Windows Start menu has three major sections (shown in Figure 1), each giving different approaches to navigating Windows.

  • Left column: This section holds items (programs, folders, and files) that you use frequently. Those above the faint line are items pinned there by the user; those below the line are recently invoked programs — at least those programs started via the Start menu — and automatically added by Windows.
  • Right column: This list provides shortcuts to many of Windows 7′s predefined folders and libraries plus quick access to key features such as the Devices and Printers panel and the Control Panel. Most Windows users probably think it’s a fixed list, but it’s not — you can customize it.
  • Bottom: In addition to the Shut down button found in Windows XP, the bottom of Win7′s Start menu now has the always-useful Search programs and files box.
  • Here’s the rest of the story…

    This post is excerpted with permission from Windows Secrets.

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