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Tweak the Start Menu in Windows 7 and Vista

If you’re moving from XP to Windows 7, you might need some help with the changes to the Start Menu. Here we have put together a list of some useful tips that will help you take control and master the Start Menu in Windows 7 and Vista.

Add Videos to Start Menu (Windows 7)

There are links to several things on the Start Menu by default, but the Videos folder is not one of them. To add it right-click on the Start button and select Properties, and under the Start Menu tab click on Customize.

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Now scroll down to Videos and select Display as a link and click Ok.

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Videos now appears on your Start Menu.

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Add Internet Search to Start Menu

A few weeks ago we showed you how to  search websites from your desktop using search connectors in Windows 7. Another neat trick is adding Internet search to the Start menu (this uses Local Group Policy Editor which is only available in Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate versions of Windows 7).

Go to Start and type in gpedit.msc into the search box.

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In Local Group Policy Editor go to User Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ Start Menu and Taskbar.

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Under Setting double click on Add Search Internet link to Start Menu.

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Set it to Enabled and hit Apply and OK.

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Now when you go to search from something from the Start Menu you will see the Search the Internet link.

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Show More Recent Programs Without making the Start Menu huge

The program icons in the Start Menu are large by default and if you want to display more recent programs, it makes the menu much larger on the screen.

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We can make the icons smaller and add more items by right-clicking on Start \ Properties and click the Customize button. Scroll down and uncheck the box next to Use large icons then click Ok. Under Start menu size increase the number of recent programs to display. 

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The result is smaller icons with more being displayed in the menu without taking up extra screen real estate like in this example.

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Even More Start Menu Tweaks

Here’s a list of more Start Menu tweaks that we’ve already covered,but are worth revisiting to help you take control of the menu. Most of these are for Windows 7 and Vista but a few are for XP too.

These should get you started for now, and we’ll undoubtedly have more in the future. How about you guys? Share some of your favorite Start Menu tweaks that help you manage Windows more effectively.

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 11/3/09

Comments (14)

  1. Zane

    Very good article The Geek.

    This is my challenge for your next one: Is there any way to modify the Documents, Pictures, etc Links on the Start Menu to point to the corresponding folders (like on Vista)?

  2. The Geek

    @Zane That’s a very good question! Will have to look into that.

  3. 0zSpitt

    this is almost exactly what i’ve done to mine, except i don’t have the manly flower as my picture :P

  4. Chris Hunter

    Thanks for the great post, but I need help with this…

    How do I add the Videos folder to my start menu in Vista?

    It looked a lot like the tutorial that you gave for Windows 7, but there was no check box for Videos.

    Sigh.

    Please help?

    Thanks!

  5. erik

    New to the site super happy I found it thanks!

  6. Pete

    I have two solutions for you customization freaks (like I am). First, get rid of the Windows 7 start menu completely. You can use “Vista Start Menu” (the free version) or—and best yet—download and install “Aston2″ for free. That start menu has many different skins and is far superior to the Windows 7 start menu. With BOTH Vista Start Menu and Aston2, the “Programs” tab automatically opens to a “MENU” showing all programs installed. None of this clicking a small arrow and scrolling to find what you want. My suggestion is Aston2. By the way, I am running Windows 7 Premium 64 bit and both programs work perfectly. Actually, you can install both and alternate!

  7. ColinG

    …but does the start menu search work with opera 10 as the default browser?

  8. yasir

    Thanks, great article. I.e. resizing the programs. However, there are still too many programs in my “all program”. How do I group the programs together in a few manageable folder like in XP.

  9. n00b

    to answer yasir:

    C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\StartMenu

    Adjust folders and shortcuts at will.

  10. Dave Stewart

    I’d like the same question answered as Zane actually. I don’t think I’m going to need a library of multiple document folders… just the one I have already.

  11. rob

    how can we get back in the start menu, the open/new office template docs…

  12. Hank8bank

    When i launched the program, my antivirus said this was malware. Just wondering, is it harmful in any way? ( my antivirus is avg)

  13. Michael

    Is there a way to change the right side of the start menu items. (The documents, pictures, music, etc…) I’d like to change which are on top.

  14. tj

    I always organized all my programs into a few categorized folders in the start menu. Unfortunately, in Windows 7, a few programs keep putting them selves down in the root on the main All Programs menu next to my category folders. They are organized correctly in the C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\ address, but every time I start up they create new short cuts there. Is there any way to stop this? The programs (Like AMD VISION) do not have an option to do so as far as I can tell. As more programs get added to my fresh format, more programs start doing this and it is getting quite annoying to have to look through all of them to find my category, or delete them on every start up.
    thanks

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