windows desktop with open 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.

Start menu\programs folder in File Explorer

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.”

uninstall app from start menu

Resize the Start Menu

You can quickly resize the Start menu by dragging the top or right edge of the menu with your mouse.

drag edges to resize start menu

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.

turn on 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.

start menu with extra tiles showing

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.”

unpin from start option on start menu

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.”

pin to start option on start menu

Resize Tiles

You can change the size of a tile by right-clicking it, pointing to “Resize,” and then picking the size you want.

resizing tile on start menu

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.

start menu showing relative tile sizes

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.”

turn live tile off option on start menu

Compared to the example above, you can see that the News tile is back to being a regular tile button.

showing live tile now turned off

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.

Group Tiles Into Folders

You can also group tiles on the Start menu into folders. These folders work much like app folders on a smartphone. To create a new folder, drag any tile and drop it onto another tile. Those tiles will then be grouped into a folder. You can then add other tiles to the folder by dragging them on top of the folder.

drag tile onto another tile

Once you have tiles in a folder, you just have to click the folder to expand it.

Then, you can click any tile inside to launch the app. Click the arrow above the folder to collapse it again.

If you want to remove tiles from a folder, drag them back out of the folder and drop them directly on your Start menu. You could also unpin the tile from your Start menu and then pin it back again if dragging them out is too awkward.

Remove All Live Tiles if You Don’t Like Them

If you don’t like the tiles on your Start menu at all, you can remove them. Just right-click each one and then click “Unpin from Start” until they’re all gone.

unpin from start option

After you unpin the last tile, you can resize the Start menu horizontally by grabbing its right edge and dragging until the tile section disappears. You’re then left with just a nice, trim list of apps.

start menu with no tiles showing

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.

choosing colors in the settings app

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.

more options for colors

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.

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.

app lists on the start menu

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.

turning off app displays in the settings app

Choose Which Folders Appear on the Start Menu

The User, Documents, Pictures, Settings, and Power options are now tucked away in a tiny column on the far left of the Start menu. Click the button at the top left of the Start menu to expand this column.

You can see those same options with their full names and also a lot of nice, inviting open space above them. You can add stuff to that space.

start menu showing expanded folder names

Head to Settings > Personalization > Start. On the right, scroll all the way to the bottom and click the “Choose which folders appear on Start” link.

choosing which folders appear on start in the settings app

Choose whatever folders you want to appear on the Start menu.

choosing which folders appear on start in the settings app

And here’s a side-by-side look at how those new folders look as icons and in the expanded view.

start menu with names showing for folders

Use a Full-Screen Start Menu

On the other hand, if you really like the tiles and miss the full-screen Start experience from Windows 8, you can have the Start menu always open full screen. Head to Settings > Personalization > Start. Turn on the “Use Start full screen” option.

select the use start full screen option in settings

Now, whenever you open your Start menu, you will see it in all its full-screen glory.

desktop showing full start screen

Remove Suggested Apps from Your App List

As you’ve used your Start menu, you’ve probably noticed the occasional suggestions for apps you might want to install appear in your app list.

suggest apps list on start menu

To get rid of those, all you have to do is head to Settings > Personalization > Start and turn off the “Occasionally show suggestions in Start” option.

disable the occasionally show suggestions in start option

Note that these suggested apps are different than the preinstalled apps and ads—like Candy Crush—that you also likely don’t want. To get rid of those, you’ll need to right-click each one and uninstall it. And while you’re at it, you might want to look at how to disable all of Windows 10’s built-in advertising.

And don’t forget: if you don’t like the Windows 10 Start menu at all, you can return to the glory days of Windows 7—and still keep much of the Windows 10 functionality—with a Start menu replacement like Start10 or ClassicShell.

Profile Photo for Walter Glenn Walter Glenn
Walter Glenn is a former Editorial Director for How-To Geek and its sister sites. He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry and over 20 years as a technical writer and editor. He's written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and edited thousands. He's authored or co-authored over 30 computer-related books in more than a dozen languages for publishers like Microsoft Press, O'Reilly, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. He's also written hundreds of white papers, articles, user manuals, and courseware over the years.
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