When Microsoft announced that the Start Menu was making a comeback in Windows 10 at an event in San Francisco at the end of September 2014, I have to admit that I was both excited and disappointed. I was excited to hear that Microsoft had actually listened to long-time Windows users and was making good on the promise to bring back the Start Menu, which Terry Myerson made earlier in the year at the Build 2014 Conference. However, I was also a little disappointed, because I had finally adapted to using the Start Screen.

Of course, since I’ve been using Windows 10 throughout the Preview program, I’ve grown quite fond of the Windows 10’s Start Menu, which I initially called an amalgamation of the Windows 7 Start Menu and the Windows 8 Start Screen. Now that I’ve been using the Windows 10 release for a couple of weeks, I’ve really been exploring all of the features that Microsoft put into the new Start Menu. It really is a nice piece of work. The best part is that it’s extremely flexible and customizable–nothing like the relatively static Start Menus from the previous versions of Windows. Let’s take a closer look.

Dragging All Apps into view

Even though I had adapted quite well to Windows 8.1’s Start Menu, one of the things that I disliked most was the fact that that the All Apps section was hidden away. On Windows 10’s Start Menu, the All Apps section is still hidden away, but there’s an extremely cool and efficient way to access it. To do so, bring up the Start Menu and position your mouse pointer in the middle of the left section. Then, click and drag upwards (Figure A).

Figure A

You can bring All Apps section up onto the Start Menu with a click-and-drag operation.

You’ll then see the All Apps list sorted alphabetically (Figure B).

Figure B

Once the All Apps section appears, click a letter to display the alphabet list.

If you don’t want to have to scroll through the list to get to an application that starts with a letter at the end of the alphabet, just click a letter and you’ll see the alphabet list (Figure C). You can get to the application by clicking the letter.

Figure C

Using the alphabet list makes it easy to get to apps that appear at the end of the list.

Resize it

If you have a lot of tiles on the Start Menu, you’ll have to scroll down to get to them. If scrolling doesn’t sound appealing, you can resize the Start Menu. You can click-and-drag the top edge to make the Start Menu taller (Figure D).

Figure D

You can make the Start Menu taller by dragging the top edge.

Yu can also click-and-drag the right edge to make the Start Menu wider (Figure E).

Figure E

You can make the Start Menu wider by dragging the right edge.

Use the full screen

If you’d rather have the Full Start Screen along with the Start Menu, you can do that too. Access Settings | Personalization, and select the Start tab. Then turn on the Use Start full screen option (Figure F).

Figure F

If you want to revisit the full Start Screen, you can enable the Use Start full screen setting.

When you have the full Start Screen open, select the menu button at the top left corner of the screen (Figure G).

Figure G

Use the menu button.

You’ll then see the Start Menu slide into view (Figure H).

Figure H

Add the rest of the Start Menu to the full screen display.

Pare it down

If you dislike the tile interface on the Start Menu, you can remove all the tiles. To do so, right-click on each tile and select the Unpin from Start command (Figure I).

Figure I

To remove tiles, just select the Unpin from Start command.

Next, drag the right edge to the left, and you’ll have a very basic Start Menu (Figure J). In this configuration, the Start Menu will just show most used applications and any of the special folders that you want to add.

Figure J

You might want to have a very basic Start Menu.

To add special folders, return to the Settings | Personalization page, select the Start tab, and click the Choose which folders appear on Start command (Figure K). Then, simply turn on those special folders that you’d like to add to the Start Menu.

Figure K

You can add special folders to the Start Menu.

Use small tiles

Now, if the show most used applications feature doesn’t display enough of your applications, you can try the small tile group technique. To do so, you just pin applications to the Start Menu, resize the tiles to the Small setting, spread them out enough display the group heading in between, and give each group a name (Figure L).

Figure L

You can use small tiles and group header names.

When you do, you’ll end up with a more conventional looking Start Menu (Figure M).

Figure M

This will create a more conventional looking Start Menu.

What’s your take?

How do you like Windows 10’s Start Menu? Are you likely to drag, resize, and pare it down? Let us know your thoughts in the discussion thread below.