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Personalize Your Start Menu in Windows XP

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 6/13/2009

In order to work faster and smarter, you need to personalize the Start menu so the things you need are readily available and the things you don’t need or no longer have installed aren’t taking up unnecessary space. There’s nothing worse than having to wade through a disorganized Start menu looking for some program you think should be there but isn’t!

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    Personalize the Windows XP Start Menu

    To customize your Start menu, right-click the Taskbar, choose Properties, and click the Start Menu tab. Click the Customize button for your particular Start menu style. There, you’ll find almost everything you need. Here's Vista's. [See Image 1]

    Personalizing XP's Start Menu is a little differnet than Vista's. With Vista, you simply scroll down the list and select or deselect from the options. In Windows XP you have tabs:

    From the General tab you can:

    • Choose the icon size.
    • Choose the number of programs on the Start menu or clear the list.
    • Show or hide Internet and e-mail programs, and choose between them.

    From the Advanced tab you can:

    • Choose to open submenus by pausing on them with the mouse pointer.
    • Highlight newly installed programs. (This is highly recommend because newly installed programs might be installed under a nondescriptive name and be difficult to find.)
    • Show, hide, and display as a link or a menu Control Panel, My Computer, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, Network Connections, and System Tools.
    • Show or hide Favorites, Help And Support, My Network Places, Printers And Faxes, Run, Search, and Set Program Access And Defaults.
    • Enable dragging and dropping from the Start menu.
    • Enable Scroll Programs, which shows the programs list as a scrollable, single-pane list instead of horizontal pages.
    • List or clear most recently opened documents.

    Configure the items as you like them and OK your way out of the dialog boxes.

    With the Start menu configured, you can perform several additional tweaks.

    • Right-click any item in the left pane to pin it to the Start menu, remove it from the list, or rename it.
    • Right-click any item in the right pane to rename it, view its properties, or see other information.
    • Reorder the items in the All Programs list by right-clicking any program and clicking Sort By Name, rename or delete any items from the list, or see an item’s properties.
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    Adding Items to the Start Menu

    If you have the dragging and dropping option enabled from the Advanced options in the Customize Start Menu dialog box in Windows XP, you can drag and drop to add items to the Start menu or reorder them. Vista let's you do this automatically. To add an item to the Start menu, follow these steps:

    1. Locate the item using Windows Explorer, right-click, and drag the executable file to the Start menu.

    2. Drop the file in the All Programs menu or the left pane of the Start menu.

    3. Choose Copy Here if prompted. Always remember to choose Copy; you don't want to move the file.

    In addition to adding programs to the Start menu by dragging and dropping, you can move programs around to reorder them. Just drag and drop!

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    Classic Menu

    If you’re using the Classic menu, you’ll see different options when you customize the Start menu’s properties. (Remember, right-click an empty area of the Taskbar, choose Properties, click the Start Menu tab, and then click Customize.)

    Customizations are similar to those listed earlier for the XP Start menu:

    • Display Administrative Tools, Favorites, Log Off, and Run.
    • Expand the Control Panel, My Documents, My Pictures, Network Connections, and Printers.
    • Enable dragging and dropping, scrolling the Start menu, using personalized menus, and selecting icon size.
    • Add or remove a program from the Start menu, or sort or clear items.

    As with the XP Start menu, you can right-click any item on the Classic Start menu and delete it, sort the items by name, use drag and drop to add programs or reorder them, and right-click see an item’s properties.

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    Images

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