Software

How to customize the Windows 10 Start menu with numbered shortcuts

You can streamline the Windows 10 Start menu and make it even easier to access and launch the apps you use most often. This illustrated walk-through explains the steps.

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Image: iStockphoto.com/Tiutiun


In the article How to customize the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Start menu using the "Pare It Down" technique, I showed you how the reformulated Windows 10 Anniversary Update Start menu, which displays the All Apps list on the left side, makes it easy to create a more functional version of the classic Start menu. After removing all the tiles and then resizing the Start menu, the scrollable All Apps display, along with Most Used, provides easy access to all your applications, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Figure A
The pared down Start menu looks and feels like a classic Start menu.

Since I wrote that article I've been looking for ways to make this simulated classic Start menu even better. Recently, I found what I was looking for. By disabling the Recently Added and Most Used sections and then numbering my application shortcuts, I was able to enhance my Start menu even more. Let's take a closer look.

SEE: The Windows 10 Anniversary Update enhances the Settings tool

Caveats

While the technique that I'll discuss in this article involves a relatively simple and safe customization, application shortcuts in the Programs folder behave differently in Windows 10. For example, if you inadvertently delete a shortcut that appears in the All Apps list, you can't simply create a new one. When you attempt to do so, it appears as a tile on the expanded Start menu. So be careful not to delete anything you don't want to get rid of permanently. Just to be on the safe side, make sure that you have a backup of your hard disk. (For a look at how that's done, see How to revive your Windows 10 installation with System Image Recovery.)

Furthermore, keep in mind that this technique will work only on standard desktop applications. Windows Store apps function differently and are not available in the Programs folder.

Making room

The first thing you'll want to do is make room for your shortcuts by disabling the Recently Added and Most Used sections of the Start menu. To do so, access Settings | Personalization and then select the Start tab. Next, turn off Show Most Used Apps and Show recently Added Apps. You can also turn off Occasionally Show Suggestions In Start, as shown in Figure B. When you do so, the number section of the Start menu moves to the top.

Figure B

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

Now, position your mouse pointer over the top edge of the Start menu. When it turns into a two-headed pointer, click and drag the edge toward the top of the screen, as shown in Figure C. By extending the height of the Start menu and having the number section at the top, you will have room for plenty of numbered shortcuts, as we'll see in a moment.

Figure C

Figure C
Use click and drag to extend the height of the Start menu.

SEE: How to tweak the Windows 10 Action Center to make it less annoying

Numbering your application shortcuts

Numbering your application shortcuts is easy. To begin, launch File Explorer and type the following path in the address box

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start\Programs

Then, scroll through the Programs folder and all the available folders and locate the shortcuts to the desktop applications you want to put on your customized Start menu. Rename the shortcuts by adding a number to them. For example, on my test system I accessed the Microsoft Office 2013 folder and renamed the Word 2013 shortcut to 1) Word 2013, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

Figure D
Rename the shortcuts by adding a number to them.

I then copied the shortcut to the Programs folder, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Figure E
Copy the renamed shortcuts to the Programs folder.

After I did so, my numbered shortcut appeared at the top of the Start menu, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Figure F
The numbered shortcuts will appear at the top of the menu.

You can continue renaming and copying shortcuts until you have everything you want to have readily available on the Start menu. As you can see on my test system in Figure G, I was able to place 20 shortcuts on the Start menu, where I can easily access them without scrolling through an alphabetical listing to find what I need.

Figure G

Figure G
You can fill the Start menu with numbered shortcuts, making it easy to find and launch the applications you use most often.

Of course I could have put more shortcuts on my start menu, but my goal was to not have to scroll. On this system 20 shortcuts filled the Start menu.

Also read...

What's your take?

Have you wished for a way to customize Windows 10's Start menu to make it easier to find the application that you need most often? What other tricks have you found for fine-tuning Windows to work the way you want? Share your thoughts and suggestions with fellow TechRepublic members.

About

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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