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How to Customize Windows 7 Start Menu

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 1/27/2011

Windows 7 offers a good control over the Start menu. You can customize Windows 7 Start menu to personalize it. This article offers details on customizing it while also looking at what is new in Windows 7 Start menu.

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    What is New in Windows 7 Start Menu

    The new operating system allows me to customize Windows 7 Start menu so that I can personalize it for faster working. Other than the looks, the basics of Windows 7 Start menu are not much different from that of Windows XP: frequently used program list; Pin programs facility (so that you can eliminate the need of wading through the sub menus and sub, sub-menus); and of course, the easy to arrange – drag and drop method.

    Before discussing how to customize Windows 7 Start menu, let us take a quick look at what is new in the Windows 7 Start menu compared to Windows XP (fig 1). The new Windows 7 Start menu contains two columns as in the Windows XP Start menu. The "user profile" is now on the right column with three default libraries. In Windows XP, you had the option to set the My Pictures, My Music, and My Documents in the Start menu, right side.

    Windows 7 Start menu is a step ahead by offering you four default Libraries: Pictures, Music, Videos, and Documents. You can actually compile a list of all folders on your computer that contain these file types. We will discuss adding folders to libraries when we discuss how to customize Windows 7 Start menu. By default, Windows 7 will not show the Run command. You may add it when you customize the Windows 7 Start menu. The most advantageous change I find is the Search box just above the Start button in the left column. You can search for virtually anything on your computer and/or network.

    The Shut Down menu (fig 2) is now in form of a Jump menu (a new term coined by MS to replace the term "sub-menu"). This means you get all options: Logoff, Shutdown, Standby, etc. under Shutdown.

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    Image References

    Fig 1 - New Start Menu - Customize Windows 7Fig 2 - Shut Down - Customize Windows 7
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    Customize Windows 7 Start Menu

    Fig 3 - Customize Windows 7 Start menu 

    The best method to customize the Windows 7 Start menu is to right click on the menu and select Properties. Using this option, you can control what all what all commands appear on the Windows 7 Start menu. For example, you can enable the Run menu using this Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog (figure) that appears when you select Properties.

    To make navigation easier so that you do not have to wade through the All Programs menu and sub-menus, you can always pin the programs you use most often. For example, if you have to use Calculator, you would normally open the Start menu, then All Programs, the Accessories, and then System Tools to access it. To access it from the Start menu plate, just go to the Calculator once, right click and select Pin to Start Menu. Now onwards, it appears on the main page of Start menu. This is one way to customize Windows 7 Start menu to save your time. If you wish to remove any element (not only the pinned programs), right click on the element and select Remove from this List.

    To add folders to default libraries, right click on the Start menu and select Explore. In the left navigation pane, look for the folders you want to add to the libraries, right click and select Add to Library. Select the library when prompted. You can also use this method to create custom libraries.

    To add folders to default libraries, right click on the Start menu and select Explore. In the left navigation pane, look for the folders you want to add to the libraries, right click and select Add to Library. Select the library when prompted. You can also use this method to create custom libraries.

    Coming back to the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialogs, you can set the action your computer should take when you press the Power button (see fig). You can also specify if you wish to store information about recently used documents and programs. The Customize button helps you arrange, add or remove commands such as Run, Computer, and Control Panel etc. from the Windows 7 Start menu. As you can see, anyone can customize Windows 7 Start menu just the way you customize Windows XP Start menu.