Windows 11 Start menu: 4 features you probably didn’t know

Here are four features you probably didn't know you could use in the Start menu for Windows 11.

Start menu hidden features
Start menu hidden features

Windows 11 comes with a redesigned version of the Start menu that ditches the Live Tiles in favor of more traditional icons and introduces a minimalistic design that lacks many legacy functionalities. However, despite its limitations, the Start menu has many features, including a few you probably didn’t know.

For example, in the “All apps” section, you can use the dialer to quickly jump to a different part of the list to find a specific app. You can add or remove quick access to different locations next to the power menu. You can control how the menu shows recommendations, and you can disable web content from appearing when you perform a search.

This guide will highlight some features you probably didn’t know are available in the Start menu on Windows 11.

Start menu hidden features on Windows 11

On Windows 11, the Start menu hides some interesting features in plain sight that can help you improve the experience.

1. App list dialer

The “All apps” section can include a long list of applications. Although you can use the search feature to find a specific application, you can also use the dial to quickly jump to a particular part of the list.

To use the Start menu dialer on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start on Windows 11.

  2. Click the All apps button.

  3. Click the character that separates the apps alphabetically.

    Start menu dialer 

  4. Choose the letter that matches the first letter of the app’s name to jump quickly to the app location.

    Dialer

Once you complete the steps, the Start menu will show the apps that match the letter you selected.

2. Add folders icons

In the Start menu, you can add quick links to specific places (folders) on Windows 11, including Settings, File Explorer, and Downloads.

To add folders to the Start menu, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Personalization.

  3. Click on Start.

  4. Click the Folders page.

    Folders settings

  5. Turn on or off the items to appear next to the power button—for example, Settings, File Explorer, Downloads, etc.

    Start menu folders icons

After you complete the steps, you will see the icons next to the power button in the Start menu.

3. Show fewer recommendations

The “Recommendations” sections can surface recent apps and files, but if you don’t find this feature useful, you can’t disable it, but you can change the settings to show a few recommendations and more pins, or you can stop showing suggestions altogether.

To show fewer recommendations in the Start menu, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Personalization.

  3. Click on Start.

  4. Under the “Layout” section, select the More pins option.

    Start menu settings disable recommendations

  5. (Optional) Turn off the “Show recently added apps” and “Show recently opened items in Start, Jump Lists, and File Explorer” toggle switches to stop showing recommendations altogether.

Once you complete the steps, the menu will show fewer items and more pins.

4. Disable search highlight

Search highlights are those web suggestions that appear when you start a search from the Start menu or Search interface. If you don’t find web content useful, you can disable the feature, but you need to know where to find the option.

To disable web search suggestions in the Start menu, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Privacy & security.

  3. Click the Search permissions page.

  4. Under the “More settings” section, turn off the “Show search highlights” toggle switch.

    Start menu disable web suggestion search

After you complete the steps, the next time you start a search, the interface will show some quick searches for settings and a list of your top apps.

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.