Windows 10 – Start Menu


All hail the return of the start menu!  When Windows 8 was unveiled, the public outcry at the removal of the start menu was huge.  It wasn’t that people were so attached to the icon, but rather the fact that everything was made so much harder to find after it was gone.  Touch or mouse “gestures” were required to reveal hidden menus and functionalities.  Without prior knowledge of the gestures, it was very easy to accidentally stumble on something annoying.  For instance, every time I dragged my mouse cursor across the screen, I accidentally switched to another open app.  As you can imagine, this was quite frustrating.  Surprisingly, Microsoft took this criticism to heart and reinstated the start menu for ease of navigation.

The purpose of this module is to familiarize you with the new start menu layout and customization options.  After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • Find apps installed on your computer
  • Find folders and documents on your computer
  • Add, remove, resize, and rearrange tiles (shortcuts)
  • Change tiles from live to static

While settings and search are both available through the start menu, they will each have their own modules.


As with previous versions of Windows, the start menu is divided into two columns.

Screen shot of the start menu

The left side shows “most used” applications, as well as power options, file explorer, and settings.  By default, the document libraries are not visible here, but I will show you how to add in a moment.

The right side of the menu will look familiar to Window 8.1 users, as these are the same tiles used in the tablet view in that operating system.  Whenever you right click an item on your computer and select “pin to start”, a tile will be created and appear on the right side of the menu.  These icons can be resized, rearranged, removed, or, in some cases “made live.”

Note: Windows is in the process of rolling out a new Anniversary Update, which you may or may not have received on your computer. If you have not received the update yet, your start menu will look like the screen shot above. Several aspects of it have changed, as you’ll see below.


There is now a small third column, to the far left. This column has account options, file explorer, settings and power options. The middle column contains recently added apps, most used apps, and an alphabetical list of all the apps on your computer. The right side of the start menu has remained the same as described above.


Left Column

In the image above, I have already configured the start menu the way I want it.  Before I did that, there were a few annoying things I needed to take care of right away.  The first was this:

Image of Facebook being suggested in the start menu

Because we need more advertisements in our lives, Microsoft thought it might be helpful to suggest apps that aren’t already installed.  If you find this as annoying as I do, you’ll be glad to hear the fix is simple.  Right click your desktop and select “personalize.”  On the left side of the next screen, select “start.”  Toggle the “occasionally show suggestions in Start” to the off position.  Done.

Shot of settings screen to turn of suggested apps

Note: If you have the Anniversary Update, this screen may look slightly different. You can follow the same process to change the suggestions setting.


I got very used to having Documents, Pictures, and Downloads available in the right side of the old start menu, and I couldn’t seem to break the habit of looking for them there.  As mentioned above, using “pin to start” created a tile, but I wanted the icons to appear in the left side list.  Luckily, it’s a simple fix that’s just difficult to find.  Type “folder” into the search bar and select “Choose which folders appear on start.” Note: After typing “folder” into the search bar, the result to change the folder options may appear farther down the list under the Settings heading. Additionally, you may not have a search bar on your taskbar. You may have to click a magnifying glass icon or the circle Cortana icon, located directly next to the start button.

Image of search in progress

Then use the toggles on the next page to add or remove start menu shortcuts:

Screen shot of toggles available

The power icon has some of the options you would expect, though lock, log off, and switch user are no longer in this group:

screen shot of the power submenuTo see those options, click on your name in the top left of the start menu:

Screen shot of the account submenu

You can also change your account settings from this menu.

Note: If you do not see your name in the top left of the start menu, click the three lines in the upper left corner of the start menu. This will expand the picture icons and allow you to click on your name.


Right Column

The right column comes populated with several shortcuts in the form of tiles.  Drag and drop a tile to change its position.  Right-click a tile to modify or remove (unpin) it.  In the example below, I right-clicked the weather tile.  The “resize” option offers us four size options, show which is currently in use.  Changing tile size can affect the information that is displayed.  Some tiles will have fewer size options.Context menu for tiles

The “more” option allows you to add a shortcut to the taskbar (bottom of your screen) or turn a live tile on or off.  A live tile is one that changes its content regularly.  Some examples include the tiles for weather, news, and stocks apps.  Every time a tile updates, it uses data.  If you are on a metered connection, you may want to turn live tiles off to save data.

more context menu optionsWant to pin things to the menu?  Check out this Digital Citizen guide to pinning any type of item to the start menu.


To find commonly used administrative shortcuts, right-click on the start menu icon.


Please complete the following tasks in the start menu:

  • Add and/or a library shortcut to the left column (documents, downloads, pictures, video)
  • Pin an app to the start menu (tile)
  • Pin a folder to the start menu (tile)
  • Pin a website to the start menu (tile)
  • Unpin a tile from the start menu
  • Resize a tile
  • Turn a live tile on/off
  • Drag a tile to a new location on the start menu

What are your thoughts about the start menu in Windows 10?  Tell me all about it in your blog posts for this module, and then see me for your raffle ticket!