Windows 10: How To Use and Customize The New Start Menu

Back to early this year, way before Windows 10 was announced, a UX/UI designer named Jay Machalani started a research project trying to fix what’s wrong in Windows 8 and proposed a conceptual idea for, in his own words, Windows 8.2. And guess what, the new revamped Start Menu appeared in Windows 10 is a lot like his, a version that hybrids both the classic Start Menu and the modern Start Screen into one, with static menu items on one side and the live tiles on the other.

And of course, the return of Start Menu has a lot more to offer. Let’s dive a little deep from here.

The new Start Menu is Dynamic and Live

Because of the integrate of Start Screen in Start Menu, you can pin a preferred contact or favorite app so you can check the latest news or whether for your current location right from Start Menu.

Windows 10 - VMware Workstation - 2014-10-07 11_50_09

All Apps Menu

The left side of the Start Menu represents the old Start Menu we’ve seen in Windows 7. You can search for whatever you want and it can be activated using the Windows Key on your keyboard or Start button on your Windows 8 ready machines. And you can see recently accessed programs and navigate through other programs as well, via an All Apps menu, right above the search box.

Navigating to All Apps menu, you will find all Apps listed in a vertical format, whether they are desktop apps or Windows Store apps. Those that were installed on your other Windows 8 computers will show “(Install)” next to the app’s name, indicating that they need to be installed locally before you can use them. Right-clicking any of these Apps brings up the options to Open, Uninstall, or Pin to Start.

Windows 10 - Start Menu - All Appspng

It’s still quite a mass if you have a lot of mixed apps installed. I do wish the later release would improve the way how to manage them. But again, the best way to find anything, same as in Windows 7 and 8, is by searching for it.

User Accounts and Power Button

The top of the Start Menu now accommodates your user account icon that lets you to lock your computer, change your account picture, or sign out, and the power button that enables you to sleep, shutdown, or restart your PC.

Windows 10 - Start Menu - User Account

Quick Links (or Start List)

The panel underneath the User Account hosts a bunch of quick links such as Documents, Pictures, PC Settings and File Explorer that shows a list of frequently accessed items as sub-links.

To remove one out of the Quick Links area, right-click it, and choose Remove from this list.

Windows 10 - Start Menu - Remove

To customize the list to add or remove more quick link items, go to Taskbar and Start Menu Properties by right-clicking the Taskbar and choosing Properties, switch to Start Menu, and click Customize button.

Windows 10 - Taskbar Properties

The Most Recently Used (MRU) List

Underneath the Quick Link is the Most Recently Used List, an automated list populated with those apps you use most often. Because it’s automated you can’t add items to it. But you can still remove them easily out of the list, by right-clicking one and select Remove from this list.

Windows 10 - Start Menu - Remove MRU item

The Start Screen Area

The right side of the Start Menu represents the Windows 8 Start Screen and its live tiles, which can be customized much like the Windows 8 Start Screen. You can pin/unpin, resize and reposition the tiles much like what you are used to in Windows 8.

Windows 10 - Start Menu - Tiles

The Power Menu stays the same

Same as in Windows 8.1, right-clicking the Start Menu brings the Power Menu that has a list of frequently used Windows built-in management tools.

Windows 10 - Power Menu

Change the Start Menu Color

Right-click the blank space in Start Menu and choose Personalize, which basically opens up Color and Appearance window to change the color of your taskbar, window borders, and Start Menu background.

Windows 10 - Start Menu - color

Resize the Start Menu

This is actually new. With the new Start Menu, you can now resize the menu itself by simply moving the cursor to the edge of the Start Menu and drag. You will quickly notice that you can freely resize entire Start Menu but only make it flatter or leaner.

Windows 10 - Start Menu - resized

Change how the Start Menu works

Right-click the blank area of the Start Menu and choose Properties to open Taskbar and Start Menu Properties. Navigate to Start Menu tab, and this is where you can control how Start Menu works. You can choose to use the new Start Menu or back to the old Windows 8 time to use Start Screen instead. You can also change a few privacy-related settings as well as clearing out the personal info from the tiles.

That’s it pretty much for now. I am pretty sure there will be a lot more in the final version of Windows 10. If that happens indeed, we will definitely update this post accordingly to reveal them.

Kent Chen

Microsoft MVP, IT Professional, Developer, Geek, and the co-founder of Next of Windows.

Last updated: 10/07/2014

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