How to customize the Start menu on Windows 10

Start menu on Windows 10

Microsoft’s Windows 10 is aligning to be the next best version of Windows and one of its new feature is the return of the Start menu, but it is not like the menu you used to see in Windows 7. The new Start menu consists in two parts: a left column that looks very similar to the classic Windows 7 Start menu to get access to recent Places, Most used and All apps, and there is the right column, which is filled with Live Tiles like you see in the Windows 8 Start screen.

Now to get the most out of the new Start menu in Windows 10, you can configure it to suit your needs in different ways:

Resizing the Start menu

In Windows 10, by default, desktop computers will show the smaller version of the Start menu that you can easily access by clicking the Start button in the bottom-left corner of the screen. However, those users who liked the Start screen in Windows 8 can click the “Expand Start” icon in the top-right corner of the menu to get the full screen version of the Start menu. To shrink the menu back, simply click the “Restore Start menu” button located in the same place.

Expand Start menu button
The Expand Start button is located in the top-right corner of the menu, next to the power button.
Restore Start menu button
The Restore Start button is located in the top-right corner of the menu, next to the power button.

 

(Tablets by default will get the expanded version of the Start menu, which Microsoft calls “Tablet mode” also known as Continuum.)

Depending on the option you choose, Windows 10 will remember it, so if you restart your computer, after signing in, you’ll see the mode left it on.

One of the limitations is that it seems Microsoft is only including two Start menu sizes: the regular Windows 7 like mode and the full screen mode similar to the Start screen in Windows 8. It’s worth noting this, because previous build of Windows 10, included an easy way to resize the Start menu to any size, in the same way users can resize a window on the desktop. However, it would not be a surprise if enough feedbacks reach to the company and changes appear in the final product.

Pin and resize Live Tiles

Like in Windows 8.1 the new Start menu in Windows 10 features Live Tiles, but now they have been optimized for the new menu. You can still click and drag a tile to re-order the position and make each app more accessible. You can right-click a tile and resize any size you want (small, medium, wide, or large). However, strangely enough, it seems that currently you can’t turn off a Live Tile.

Lite Tiles options

 

Live Tiles groups

You can also create groups to arrange apps by category or apps you use the most. To create a new group simply drag and hold Live Tile to the very top edge or bottom of the Start menu and when you see that a new group is created, simply drop the Live Tile. Naming a group is as easy as clicking the empty little tab above the first row Live Tiles and typing a name.

Start menu groups

Quick Tip: If you like the Windows 7 like Start menu mode, you’ll find that arranging apps in such small space a bit complex. To make it easier, expand the Start menu to full screen, rearrange your Live Tiles, create groups, and configure everything the way you want, and then return to the traditional Start menu.

Customizing the left side of the Start menu

Similar to Windows 7, the Start menu in Windows 10 can be further customized. In Windows 10 build 9926, you cannot customize the left side of the Start menu, which currently has two sections: Places, which features quick access to File Explorer, Documents, and Settings. And there is also the Most used section that lists all the most used apps.

You’ll also notice that like in Windows 7, you can now access “All apps” from the Start menu. Click All apps will get you to an alphabetical order of all the apps installed in your system and as you scroll down, you’ll see how the listing jumps from letter to letter like in Windows Phone.

To get access to the some of the Start menu settings in Windows 10, simply right-click an empty space on the taskbar, select Properties, and navigate to the Start Menu tab. Currently, you can change a few privacy settings and set the number of recent items to appear in the Jump List.

Also there is a grayed out Customize button, which suggests Microsoft will include more settings in coming builds to customize how links, icons, and menus look and behave in the Start menu.

Start menu properties options

Changing colors

Like in previous version of Windows, you can change the color scheme of the operating system, but unlike Windows 7, you can also change the color of the Start menu. To change the color of the Start menu, taskbar, window borders, and other parts of Windows 10, right-click on the desktop and click Personalize. While in Personalization, click Color and choose from one of the pre-defined colors sets.

Windows 10 Color and Appearance

You can also change the color intensity and you can use the color mixer to create your own color scheme.

Perhaps, the best way to implement a color scheme in Windows 10 is by letting the operating system select the right colors by scanning the desktop background you’re currently using. This will happen by default every time you install a new Windows Theme or you simply select the first option in Color and Appearance.

However, color detection doesn’t always works perfectly, as sometimes Windows 10 will simply show a black color in the Start menu. I personally don’t like it, so that is why I manually set the color in Windows 10.

Account and power settings

Finally, the Start menu includes a few elements, such as the account options on the top-left corner, which allows to change the account settings, lock, and sign out from the current account. Then there is the power button in the top-right corner, next to the “Expand Start” button, and from this menu you can easily shutdown, restart, or sleep the computer.

Start menu Account menu and Power options

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows expert and the Editor-in-Chief who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He is also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 12 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows, software, and related technologies, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me.