Computers

Windows 10's 'secret' Start menu

It's not really a secret, but it is a convenient way to access important features.

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The original Start button returns in Windows 10, but you also get this extra menu if you know where to look.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Guess what? Windows 10 has a "secret" Start menu. I say "secret," because it's not really a secret -- it's not something you have to turn on, it's just a little trick that makes accessing important features, such as the Command Prompt, the Control Panel and the Task Manager much easier.

To access the 'secret' Start menu, all you have to do is right-click the Windows icon/Start button. You'll see a pop-up menu with a variety of administrative tools, as well as shutdown options and a Desktop link for quickly viewing the desktop (you can also do this by clicking the small, sectioned-off part at the very right side of your taskbar).

These are the options you get inside of the "secret" Start menu.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

If you're using a touchscreen, you can access this menu by tapping and holding the Start button for a couple of seconds. You can also access this menu with the keyboard shortcut Windows key + X.

I'm a big fan of this shortcut menu, because it lets you access tools that you would normally have to go through multiple menus to get to. For example, the Event Viewer, System information as well as the disk and computer management tools can be found in Start > All apps > Windows Administrative Tools, while the Command Prompt, Control Panel, Task Manager and Run command are found in Start > All apps > Windows System. The "secret" Start menu puts all of these handy tools right at your fingertips in one click.

Yyou can replace the Command Prompt link in the secret Start menu with a link to the Windows PowerShell.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

If you happen to be an avid Windows PowerShell user -- and you don't have much use for the Command Prompt -- you can replace the Command Prompt link in the secret Start menu with a link to the PowerShell. To do this, right-click the taskbar and click Settings. Under Replace Command Prompt with Windows PowerShell in the menu when I right-click the start button or press Windows key + X, turn the switch to On.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 25, 2015, and was updated on October 4, 2016 to reflect changes made in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

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