Computers

How to customize the Windows 10 Start menu

Make the new Start menu look pretty.

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The Windows 10 Start menu got a visual update (I won't say upgrade, because some of us don't like the new look) in the recent Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

The Start menu now has three sections instead of two. On the far left, you'll find icons representing important menu items that vary depending on your settings (more on this later), including your account, settings, and power options. These icons are unlabeled by default, but if you need help figuring out which is which, you can tap or click the menu button at the top of this section (looks like three horizontal lines) to reveal labels for each icon.

Tap the menu button at the top of the far left section to see icon labels.

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The center (but still mostly left) panel now houses a list of all your applications -- there's no more All Apps link, and automatically-populated lists (such as recently added apps or most used apps) simply appear at the top of your app list. You can still access the jump list for apps by clicking any of the letters. The right panel of the Start menu is unchanged.

Okay, so the new Start menu is a little weird. But you can make it less weird -- or, at least, your brand of weird -- with a little customization. Here's how to make the Windows 10 Start menu work for you:

Customize the far-left panel

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The far-left panel of the Start menu can have a minimum of two icons (your account icon and the power options icon) and a maximum of 12 icons. You can customize the icons that appear by opening the Settings menu and going to Personalization > Start > Choose which folders appear on Start. Here, you can toggle on/off the following icons: File Explorer, Settings, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos, HomeGroup, Network and Personal folder.

Switch between the Start menu and the Start screen

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The Windows 8/8.1 Start screen was...not popular. But that doesn't mean nobody liked it -- if you have a tablet, the Start screen is actually pretty useful and touch-friendly. If you're one of the six people who loved the Start screen, never fear, you can get it back by opening the Settings menu and going to Personalization > Start > Use Start full screen. Toggle this option on and bask in your weird, full screen Start situation.

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The full screen Start menu is the default menu if you're using a tablet, while the regular Start menu is the default if you have a desktop. The Use Start full screen menu will force your desktop into tablet mode -- but you can mix this up (or set defaults) by going to Settings > System > Tablet mode and choosing what mode you want your device to start in.

Change the color of the Start menu, taskbar and action center

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To change the color of your Start menu, Start screen, taskbar and window borders, open up the Settings menu and go to Personalization > Colors > Show color on Start, taskbar, and action center. Turn this option on and pick the accent color you'd like to use from the options above. If you'd like your Start menu to be transparent-ish, you can also turn on Make start, taskbar, and action center transparent.

Pin and unpin tiles

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To pin an app to the right panel of the Start menu as a tile, find the app in the center-left panel of the Start menu and right-click it. Click Pin to Start, or drag and drop it into the tile section of the Start menu. To unpin a tile, right-click the tile and click Unpin from Start.

Move and resize tiles

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Switching up your tiles in Windows 10 is like switching them up in Windows 8/8.1. To resize a tile, right-click on it and hover over Resize until the size menu pops up. Depending on the tile/app, you will be able to choose small, medium, wide or large. Most tiles will only be able to be sized to small or medium, but native Windows apps such as Edge or Maps will be able to be sized to wide or large.

To move a tile, click it, hold it, and drag it to another part of the Start menu.

Add more tiles

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The right panel of the Start menu is three medium-sized tiles wide, but you can add a fourth tile by opening the Settings menu and going to Personalization > Start > Show more tiles.

Edit the tile sections

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In Windows 10 (like Windows 8/8.1), you can divide your live tiles into different categories. To create a new category, click a tile, hold it and drag it to the bottom of the Start menu until a solid bar shows up. Drop the tile below this bar, and your tile will end up in its own little section. Click the area above the tile (where you saw the solid bar), and a white textbox will appear. Start typing into the textbox to name your category. To rename a category, click the category name to highlight it and start typing to edit it.

Editors' note: This How To post was originally published on January 26, 2015 and was updated on August 10, 2016 to reflect changes made in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.