Software

How to customize the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Start menu using the "Pare It Down" technique

Microsoft tweaked the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Start menu, making it easy to tailor it to suit your needs.

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The Windows 10 Anniversary Update introduced several new features in addition to modifying a number of existing ones. Among the more notable existing features that received a tweak is the Start menu.

To make it easier for users to find all their applications, Microsoft reformulated the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Start menu so that it displays the All Apps list on the left side of the Start menu by default, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Figure A
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update Start menu displays the All Apps list on the left side by default.

After playing around with this new Start menu configuration, I discovered that this tweak allows my Pare It Down technique to create a much more functional version of the classic Start menu. I first demonstrated the technique last year in Manipulating Windows 10's Start Menu. With that technique, I advocated removing all the tiles and then resizing the Start menu. But the primary display on the left side of the Start menu was the Most Used list, as shown in Figure B, so you still needed to click the All Apps icon to access your applications. As such, while nice, the technique was a little less than satisfactory.

Figure B

Figure B
The old technique didn't quite fit the bill.

In previous versions of Windows 10, the Pare It Down technique, was less than satisfactory, because you still needed to click the All Apps icon to be able to access your applications.

However, the tweak that Microsoft made to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Start menu changes all that. Let's take a closer look.

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Pare it down

As I mentioned, the first thing you need to do in the Pare It Down technique is remove all the tiles from the Start menu. To do so, right-click on each tile and select the Unpin From Start command, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Figure C
To remove tiles, just select the Unpin From Start command.

Now, position your mouse pointer over the right edge of the Start menu. When it turns into a two-header pointer, just click and drag the right edge toward the left, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

Figure D
You can use click-and-drag to resize the Start menu.

On the far left side on the Start menu, you'll see a section containing icons for accessing your user profile, Settings, and the Power controls. But there are more things you can add to the left section. To choose the icons appearing in that section, access Settings | Personalization and select the Start tab, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Figure E
You can customize the Start menu from the Start tab.

Then, access Choose Which Folders Appear On Start, as shown in Figure F. For my Start menu I turned on everything except HomeGroup and Personal folder, because I want to put all the functionality back into my customized Start menu.

Figure F

Figure F
You can add all the main folders to the Start menu.

As you can see in Figure G, with the All Apps being the default display, the pared down Start menu has the look and feel as well as all the functionality of a classic Start menu right in Windows 10. And once you begin to launch the applications you use most often, they will appear in the Most Used section. (You can remove any extraneous applications by right-clicking and selecting More > Don't Show In This List.)

Figure G

Figure G
The pared down Start menu looks and acts like a classic Start menu.

When you click the hamburger icon at the top right of the Start menu, you'll see a full menu showing the items you have added to the panel, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

Figure H
All your main folders are easy to access as well.

More Windows how-to's...

What's your take?

With the tweaks Microsoft made to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Start menu, paring it down and adding the main folders allows you to basically create a classic Start menu right in Windows 10. Will you take advantage this technique? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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