In the past few years, the Windows Start menu has been dangled in front of us and taken away more times than we can count, but it’s finally back—and it’s brought a lot of new tricks. For the first time ever, the Start menu is very customizable, which means you can make it work exactly how you want it to.
We discussed a few of these tips in our guide to tweaking Windows 10, but if you’re looking to dive a little deeper and really change up your Start menu, here’s everything you can to do customize it.
Change the Menu’s Size and Shape
By default, the Start menu will adjust its size based on the resolution of your screen. For example, on my 1900x1200 monitor, it’s pretty wide. I don’t want it to take up that much space, so I resized it to be a bit more compact.
Resizing is so easy you’ll wonder why you’re reading this sentence: just mouse over the corner of the Start menu and resize it like you would any other window. You can make it short and wide, tall and thin, or any other dimensions you desire.
Add, Remove, and Resize Live Tiles
The biggest difference between the Windows 7 and Windows 10 Start menus are, obviously, the live tiles. The ones Microsoft includes by default aren’t necessarily the most useful, so you’ll definitely want to rearrange and resize tiles based on what you actually need.
For example, I don’t need anything in the “Play and Explore” section, so I removed it entirely. Meanwhile, the Weather tile is pretty handy, but it’s much too small to show all the useful information it has, so I made it bigger at the expense of other, lesser-used tiles.
Customizing the tiles is easy: click and drag them to rearrange them, or right-click them to unpin them from the Start menu altogether. If you drag a tile all the way to the bottom of the menu, it’ll create a new category, which you can rename whatever you want.
You can also right-click a tile to pick from four sizes—small, medium, wide, and large—each of which will show different amounts of information. If you decide you don’t want a tile to show live info, but want to keep the shortcut, you can right-click it and choose “turn live tile off”.
Change the Menu’s Color
To change the color of the Start menu and its tiles, right-click on the desktop and choose “Personalize”. Click “Colors” in the left sidebar, and choose your favorite color from the pallette. This will affect other parts of Windows as well, but primarily the Start menu. You can also have it automatically adjust the color to match your desktop background, which is pretty neat.
By default, this will only act as an “accent” color, affecting the tiles on your Start menu. But if you scroll down and tick the “Show color on Start, Taskbar, and Action Center” box, the start menu and taskbar will inherit that color all over.
Customize the Left Sidebar’s Shortcuts
By default, the left sidebar shows a few shortcuts to File Explorer and Settings, along with links to your most used apps. But you can add a few more folders to this sidebar as well.
Right-click on the desktop and choose “Personalize”. Head to the Start tab. From here, you can uncheck options to show oft-used apps or recently opened items. You can also click “Choose which folders appear on Start” to add shortcuts to your personal folders, like Documents or Music, as well as your Network drives or Personal folder.
(And, if you actually liked the Windows 8 start screen, you can tick the “Use Start full screen” box to get back to a more Windows 8-like experience.)
Pin Windows Settings to the Start Menu
This setting’s a bit lesser-known, but quite useful. If you have a few settings that you access often, you can pin them to the Start menu too. Just right-click on any item in the Settings app and choose “Pin to Start”.
Install an Alternative Start Menu
If all this isn’t enough for you, an alternative Start menu might be just what you need. Start menu replacements became really popular in Windows 8 when the Start menu went missing, but they’re still around, and offer a host of features and customizations that the built-in menu doesn’t offer. Classic Shell is still around if you prefer something free and more Windows 7-like, but for Windows 10, we really dig Start10. It’s $5, it blends in beautifully with Windows 10, lets you skin the Start button, and offers a ton of different layouts and tweaks. You can try it out for free before you buy, too, so there’s no reason not to give it a shot.