How to customize the Windows 10 Start Menu

Microsoft caved in and brought back a start menu in Windows 10 after it was replaced with the Start Screen interface in Windows 8.

The Windows 10 Start Menu is not identical to the start menu you know from Windows 7 or earlier versions of Windows, and it is not identical to the Start Screen interface of Windows 8 either. It is a hybrid that combines elements of both worlds in a single interface.

When you open the start menu on your device for the first time, you will notice right away that Microsoft separated it into two panes. The left pane displays popular programs and system links, the right pane tiles.

You may customize the start menu up to a point, and this means not only changing its appearance but also what is displayed by it when you open it.

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Pinning and unpinning items

First thing you may want to do is customize the tiles area as it takes up most of the space of the start menu.

windows 10 start menu remove

You may remove tiles with a right-click and the selection of “unpin from start” from the context menu. For items that you want to keep, you may want to consider turning their live tiles off. Live tiles update the icon regularly with information, for instance new weather information, recent photos or news.

If you like a particular program or app displayed there, you may pin it to the taskbar as well using the context menu for fast access.

You may also pin programs and apps to the right pane of the Windows 10 Start Menu. This can be done from it, by right-clicking on an entry under all apps or most used for instance, and also from File Explorer.

Right-click an executable file in File Explorer and select the “Pin to Start” option from the context menu to add it to the Start Menu of Windows 10.

pin to start

Non-executable files cannot be pinned to Start.

Changing the appearance of the Start Menu in Windows 10

Microsoft added several customization options to the Start Menu that allow you to change how it looks. It is for instance possible to change the size of individual tiles in the Start Menu.

Available sizes depend on the type of tile. If it is a desktop program, you may only set it to small or medium, with medium being the default value for all desktop programs.

Modern apps on the other hand support wide and large in addition to small and medium.

There is currently no option to display text-only entries on the right side of the Start Menu. While tiles may be useful to users on touch devices, desktop users might prefer text-styles as well.

change tile size

You may toggle live tiles as well. Note that live tiles are not supported by all modern apps.

The main Start Menu interface holds two additional customization options. First, you may resize the start menu by moving the mouse (or your finger) to the right or top border. The cursor should change to a resize cursor and you may use it to increase or decrease the height or width of the start menu.

Note that the reduction is limited by the items displayed in the start menu.

The second feature allows you to change group titles. You find titles on top of tile groups in the start menu and may use the feature to add or remove titles from it.

small start menu titles

You may change additional appearance related preferences in the settings. One way to get there is to tap on the Windows-key, type Settings and hit enter. Switch to Personalization and then Start when the Settings window opens.

There you can make the following modifications:

  1. Show or hide the most used applications listing on the left pane.
  2. Show or hide recently added apps on the right pane.
  3. Toggle fullscreen.
  4. Show recently opened items in Jump Lists on Start or the taskbar.

Probably more interesting than that is the option to select which system folders and links are listed in the start menu. Click on “Choose which folders appear on Start” and use the toggles there to enable or display folders.

settings personalization

You may also want to check out Colors under Personalization as it allows you to pick a base color or toggle the auto color feature.

Auto-color picks a system color based on the background image. You will notice that the taskbar and Start use that color when enabled. If you don’t want that, you may pick a different color. Last but not least, you may also disable the transparency of the start menu there.

  1. Automatically pick an accent color from my background
  2. Show color on Start, taskbar and action center
  3. Make Start, taskbar and action center transparent.

start color

Closing Words

If you don’t like the new Start interface of Windows 10, you may bring back a classic Start Menu interface through third-party software. Software such as Classic Shell allow you to bring back a Start Menu that resembles that of Windows 7.


Article Name

How to customize the Windows 10 Start Menu


Martin Brinkmann


Find out how to customize the appearance and program links displayed in the Windows 10 Start Menu.

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