How to customize the Windows 10 Start Menu

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 29, 2015
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

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.

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.

How to customize the Windows 10 Start Menu
Article Name
How to customize the Windows 10 Start Menu
Find out how to customize the appearance and program links displayed in the Windows 10 Start Menu to personalize the selection and options.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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