10 Ways to Customize the Windows 10 Start Menu
Windows 10 finally brought back the Start menu, and it’s more customizable than ever. Here’s a quick rundown of all the different ways that you can make the Start menu your own.
Organize, Edit, Delete, or Add New Items to the Apps List
You can easily get to the Start menu’s folder structure on the hard drive to edit, rearrange, or even add new items. This also gives you the benefit of being able to search for these new shortcuts that you create. And yes, you can do this by dragging items around individually on (or to) the Start menu, but rearranging via File Explorer is much quicker if you have a bunch of things you want to change.
It’s worth noting that the Start menu folder won’t show Universal apps you have installed, so you’ll need to deal with those just using the menu itself. For the most part, you can uninstall any app—except for some built-in apps—by right-clicking them in the Start menu and choosing “Uninstall.”
Resize the Start Menu
You can quickly resize the Start menu by dragging the top or right edge of the menu with your mouse.
Resizing vertically works just as you’d expect. When you resize horizontally, you can increase the Start menu by one full column of icon groups at a time—up to four columns. Unfortunately, you can only narrow the menu down to one column.
You can also set Windows to show a few extra tiles in each column. Just head to Settings > Personalization > Start and turn on the “Show more tiles on Start” option.
With the “Show more tiles on Start” option on, you can see that the tile column has expanded by the width of one medium-sized tile.
Note that if you do turn on the “Show more tiles” option, you can still resize the Start menu horizontally, but only up to three columns of icon groups instead of four.
Pin and Unpin Tiles
You can easily pin and unpin tiles by right-clicking on each one and selecting “Unpin from Start.”
If there’s an app that isn’t pinned, but you want a tile for it, just browse through the list of apps on the left side of the Start menu. When you find what you’re looking for, right-click the app and choose “Pin to Start.”
You can change the size of a tile by right-clicking it, pointing to “Resize,” and then picking the size you want.
Four small tiles fit into a medium tile. Four medium tiles fit into a large tile. And a wide tile is the size of two side-by-side medium tiles.
Unfortunately, the tiling can be a little weird, so if you have an odd number of small tiles, you’ll end up with blank space.
Turn Off Live Tile Updates
If all those flashing tiles end up annoying you, just right-click on them, point to “More,” and then choose “Turn live tile off.”
Compared to the example above, you can see that the News tile is back to being a regular tile button.
For the most part, we find live tiles a little busy for our tastes, but they can be useful for tiles like Weather or Calendar where it’s nice to have some at-a-glance info.
Change the Start Menu (and Taskbar) Color
You can easily change the color of your Start Menu and Taskbar. Head to Settings > Personalization > Colors to get started. Windows lets you pick a single accent color from a preselected group, or you can fine tune the accent color you want by clicking the “Custom Color” button. Just click any color you want to use. You can also let Windows pick an accent color for you based on your current background wallpaper by selecting the “Automatically pick an accent color from my background” option.
After picking an accent color, your next step is choosing where that accent color gets used. Scroll down a bit to the “More Options” section. Your two options here are “Start, taskbar, and action center” and “Title bars.” The first option uses the accent color as the background for your Start menu, taskbar, and action center and also highlights certain items on those elements—such as app icons on the Start menu—with the same accent color. The second option uses the accent color for the title bar of your active window.
Unfortunately, the Start menu, taskbar, and Action Center elements are grouped for color selection, and you can’t make them different colors. We do, however, have a quick registry hack that can at least let you keep a black background on your Start menu and action center. The second option uses the accent color on the title bar of active windows, though we also have another hack for you if you want to use the accent color on inactive windows, as well.
Back on the Colors personalization screen, you’ll also find a “Transparency effect” option for making your Start menu, taskbar, and action center transparent or not. This option does not affect the accent color if it’s used on those elements.
And finally, you can enable a dark mode for settings and apps. While this app mode setting doesn’t affect every app, we do have some tricks you might enjoy for using a dark theme almost everywhere in Windows 10.
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Control How Your App Lists Appear on the Start Menu
By default, your Start menu displays several of your recently installed, most used, and suggested apps, followed by a list of all the apps installed on your system.
If you don’t like these—say you’d rather just see your full list of apps without having to scroll for it—all three sections are easy to turn off. Head to Settings > Personalization > Start. Look for the “Show app list in Start menu,” “Show recently added apps,” and “Show most used apps” options and turn off any you don’t want to see on your Start menu.