Microsoft’s new Start menu for Windows 11 has been a divisive feature. Some people like it; some hate it. Either way, the new Start menu doesn’t offer the same level of flexibility and customization as the one in Windows 10. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it as is.

EE: Windows 11: Tips on installation, security and more (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

You can enable or disable recently-added apps, most-used apps, and recently-opened items. You can choose which folders you wish to see on the Start menu and remove, add or move specific Start menu icons. Further, you can shift the Taskbar to the left so the Start button goes back to its more familiar spot. Here are a few ways to tweak the Windows 11 Start menu.

First, let’s look at the new Start menu to see how it looks and works. In Windows 11, click the Start button on the Taskbar.

At the top of the window is a Search field to let you search for apps, files, settings and other items. The next section shows all apps that have been pinned, either by you or by default. Click the up or down arrow to the right to see all the pinned apps. Most of the pinned apps are already installed; some are installed the first time you click on them. Accessing all installed apps requires an extra step by clicking the All Apps button.

The Recommended section displays recently added apps and recently opened items, including apps and files. The bottom section displays your profile icon from which you can change account settings, lock the PC or sign out. The power button on the right allows you to put Windows to sleep, shut down your computer or restart it (Figure A).

Figure A

You can tweak the Start menu through the Settings screen. Click the Settings icon in the Start menu. Select Personalization and go to Start in the right pane. Don’t need to see recently-added apps? Turn off its switch. Want to see the most-used apps appear on the All Apps screen? Turn on that switch. And don’t need to see recently opened items? Turn off its switch (Figure B). Now click the Start button to see what appears in the Recommended section. From there, click the All Apps button to see most-used apps at the top of the list. You’ll likely want to experiment with the various options to see which combination works best for you.

Figure B

Next, you may want to add certain folders to the Start menu so you don’t have to hunt for them. At the Start settings screen, click the option for Folders. Turn on the switch for any folders you wish to access from the Start menu (Figure C). The icons for those folders will appear at the bottom of the menu to the left of the Power button.

Figure C

You can further tweak the Start menu by removing, adding and moving specific apps. Click the Start button and right-click an icon for an app that you rarely use. If you truly don’t need it, simply uninstall it from here. Otherwise, click the option for Unpin from Start (Figure D). If the app was already installed, then you can still access it from the All Apps screen.

Figure D

To add an app to the Start menu, go to the All Apps screen. Right-click an icon that’s not already in the Start menu and select Pin to Start (Figure E).

Figure E

Next, you might want to rearrange the icons on the Start menu so that the apps you use more often are nestled at the top. Right-click on an icon you want at the top and select Move to Top (Figure F).

Figure F

After moving certain icons to the top, you’ll likely find it easier to manually move them to specific spots. Just drag and drop any icon into a different and preferred position (Figure G).

Figure G

You can run commands on certain Start menu icons directly from the menu. Right-click on the icon for File Explorer, for example. Here, you can open the Computer Management console by clicking Manage, go to the System About screen by clicking Properties, map a network drive or disconnect a network drive (Figure H).

Figure H

Finally, you can move the Start button back to its traditional spot in the left corner. Go to Settings and then Personalization and then Taskbar. Click the setting for Taskbar behaviors and change the Taskbar alignment from Center to Left (Figure I).

Figure I

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