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The Windows 10 Start menu includes a handy list of shortcuts to common locations (such as Pictures, Downloads, Settings) in a tiny sidebar. Using Settings, you can customize which shortcuts appear there. Here’s how to do it.

First, launch “Settings” by opening the “Start” and clicking the “Gear” icon (or by pressing Windows+I). This gear icon for Settings is an example of one of the shortcuts we’ll be customizing.

In Settings, click “Personalization.”

In Personalization, select “Start” from the sidebar.

In Start settings, scroll to the bottom of the window and click “Choose Which Folders Appear On Start.”

On the “Choose Which Folders Appear On Start” page, you’ll see a long list of common folder locations and shortcuts, each one with a switch. To make one of these appear in your Start menu shortcuts sidebar, click the switch to “On.” If you’d like to hide any of them, set the switch beside them to “Off.”

The next time you open Start, you’ll see the shortcuts you’ve enabled as a vertical list in the far left side of the Start menu. For example, here we’ve enabled all of the possible shortcuts.

The collapsed shortcut sidebar in the Windows 10 Start menu

If you don’t see all of the shortcut icons you’ve enabled, it means your Start menu is too short. To resize it, click the top edge of the Start menu and drag it upward to make it larger. That will make more room for all of the shortcut icons.

RELATED: How to Resize Your Start Menu in Windows 10

Vertically resizing the Windows 10 Start menu

If you want to see labels for the shortcut icons, hover over the Start menu shortcut sidebar area with your pointer cursor (or click the menu button with three lines at the top of the sidebar), and the sidebar area will expand.

The expanded shortcut sidebar in the Windows 10 Start menu

When you click any of the shortcuts that lead to special folders (such as “Music,” “Videos,” or “Pictures,”) you’ll be taken directly to the proper location in Windows File Explorer. Very handy!

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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