CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide
Operating Systems

How to manage both the Start menu and Start screen in Windows 10

Microsoft has been tweaking the Start menu and Start screen in Windows 10 since it started building the new OS. How do you switch between and customize both in Windows 10?

windows10-start-menu-tweak.jpg
You can easily tweak the settings in the Windows 10 Start menu. screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Whether you plan to use the Start menu, the Start screen or both in Windows 10, Microsoft has continually been adjusting the Start area since the debut of the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

The Start menu/Start screen is one of the most critical aspects of Windows 10. After killing the Start menu in Windows 8, Microsoft received a lot of flack from disgruntled PC users. Many gave a thumb's down to the Start screen and urged Microsoft to bring back the Start menu. And that's exactly what the company did in Windows 10, but with a twist. The new version of Windows lets you choose between a new type of Start menu with both shortcuts and tiles and the Start screen with just tiles. So how do you make your choice, and how do you control the overall Start area? Let's look at the process in the latest Windows 10 build.

Choose the Start menu or the Start screen
First, you can choose whether you want to work with the Start menu or the Start screen. To do this, let's assume that you're already in Start menu mode.

  • Click the Start button and then click the link for Settings.
  • At the Settings screen, click the category for Personalization.
  • At the Personalization screen, click the setting for Start.
  • You'll see an option that says: "Use Start full screen."
  • Turn on this option and then click the Start button, and you'll be transported to the Start screen. At this point, if you want to see the Start menu again, click the icon of the three horizontal bars, aka the hamburger icon, in the upper left corner. The left column of your Start menu now shares space with the Start screen. From here you can access both the Start menu and the Start screen.
  • Click or tap the the Start screen, however, and the Start menu disappears.
  • To re-enable the full Start menu, return to the Settings screen and turn off the option to Use Start full screen.

Resize the Start menu
Let's say you prefer the Start menu but find it too small to hold all of the titles. You can resize it.

  • Make sure the Start menu is enabled. Click the Start button.
  • Move your cursor to the top border of the Start menu.
  • Drag and move the cursor up to increase the height of the menu. On the flip side, you can decrease the height by dragging the cursor down.
  • You should also be able to increase the width of the Start menu by dragging the right border to the right, or decrease the width by dragging it to the left.


Color the Start menu and Start screen
Okay, now let's say you want to customize the colors and appearance of the Start menu or Start screen.

  • Click the Start button and return to the Settings screen.
  • At the Settings screen, click the option for Personalization.
  • At the Personalization screen, click the option for Colors. Here you can choose an accent color for your Start menu or Start screen.
  • Scroll down the right pane and turn on the option to Show color on Start, taskbar, and action center.
  • Now scroll up the pane. To let Windows 10 choose an accent color based on your desktop background, turn on the option to Automatically pick an access color from my background.
  • Click the Start button, and you'll see that the Start menu has adopted a new color.
  • If you'd rather choose your own color, turn off the option to Automatically pick an access color from my background and click one of the colors from the palette.
  • Click the Start button, and you'll see the menu has adopted the color you choose.

OK, maybe you're prefer a less solid color for your Start menu or Start screen, one with a little transparency.

  • Go back to the Settings screen for Colors. Scroll to the bottom of the right pane.
  • Turn on the option to Make Start, taskbar and action center transparent.
  • Click the Start button. You'll now see that the Start menu is transparent.

Choose what you see in Start
You can also control which items you see in the Start menu.

  • Return to the same Settings screen where you selected the color and transparency for the Start menu and Start screen. But this time, click the option for Start in the left pane.
  • In the right page under Customize list, you can turn each of the three settings on or off to determine what appears on the Start menu. The first setting determines if you'll see Microsoft's suggestions for apps and content that should appear. The second setting controls whether recently opened programs appear on the menu. And the third setting controls whether Jump List items appear.
  • Next you can establish which apps appear in the Start menu list. To do this, click the link to Choose which folders appear on Start.
  • At the Customize List screen, turn on each folder that you wish to see in the Start menu.
  • Click the back arrow at the top to return to the prior screen.
  • Click the Start button. You should now see all of the folders that you selected appear as individual links.