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How to Customize the Vista Start Menu

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 6/19/2010

The Windows Vista Start menu is a new and improved version of its predecessors, making it even easier to access the programs you want to use. Learn how to customize it even more, so that it better suits your needs.

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    Customize Start Menu Programs

    The most recently used applications will be kept at the ready in the left side of the Vista Start menu. However, if there are certain programs that you use on a regular basis you can pin that program to the Start menu permanently. To do so, find the program in the Programs list. Right click it and select Pin to Start Menu. The item will then be placed permanently to the upper left side of the Vista Start menu. To rearrange the pinned items, click one and drag it to a new position in the list. To remove a pinned item from the Vista Start menu, right click the application name in the list and select Unpin from Start Menu.

    Article Image You can also remove a recently used program from the Vista Start menu list by right clicking it and selecting Remove from This List.

    If you want to customize the number of programs displayed in the Vista Start menu, click Start and type in Taskbar. In the Programs list, select Taskbar and Start Menu to open the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window. Go to the Start Menu tab and click the Customize button. Under Start Menu Size, change the number of programs to display. You can also choose whether or not you want your default web browser and email application pinned to the Vista Start menu by selecting or clearing the check boxes at the bottom of the window.

    Article Image If you would rather no recent programs appear on the Vista Start menu, there is an option that allows you to customize this as well. On the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog, clear the check boxes in the Privacy section of the Start Menu tab.

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    Start Menu Appearance

    Have you ever wished the Start menu was at the top of the screen, or perhaps along the side? While you cannot move just the Start button, you can move the Vista taskbar and take the Start button along with it. To do so, right click any blank area of the taskbar. If Lock the Taskbar is selected, click to deselect it. Click on any blank area of the taskbar, hold down the mouse button and drag the taskbar to the top or a side of the desktop. When you drop it, the taskbar and Start button will line up with the top or edge of the screen. To lock it into place, right click the taskbar and select Lock the Taskbar.

    Article Image You may have noticed that there is a graphic at the top of the right side of the Vista Start menu. You can customize this image with a picture from the Vista gallery, or with a picture of your own stored on the computer. To change this graphic, double click it in the Start menu to open the User Accounts window. Click Change Your Picture and select a graphic from the gallery, or click Browse for More Pictures. Select the image you want to use on the Start menu (it will appear on the Welcome Screen, as well) and click Change Picture.

    Article Image 

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    Still Don't Like It?

    If the Vista Start menu just doesn't tickle your fancy, you can always change the Start menu to Classic View. To do so, open Taskbar and Start Menu Properties and go to the Start Menu tab. Click Classic Start Menu, and then click OK.

    If you have customized the Vista Start menu and change your mind, that's no problem either. On the Start Menu tab of the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window, click the Customize button. Click Use Default Settings, and then click OK to restore the Start menu to default.

    For even more Vista tips and tricks, check out the Bright Hub series Understanding and Working with Windows Vista, as well as The Vista Sidebar: Windows Vista Tips and Tricks.

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