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How To Setup Your Windows Start Menu.

The Windows Start menu is the central place for your programs, apps and settings. It makes sense to get it set up in a way that will help you to use it better. It isn’t difficult to do, even if you don’t really have any experience with computers.

Introduction To The Windows Start Menu.

To open the Start menu you can either press the Windows key on your keyboard or left click once on the Start button.

Opening the Windows 10 Start menu
Opening the Start menu in Windows 10.
Opening the Windows 11 Start menu.
Opening the Start menu in Windows 11.

Windows 10 Start Menu.

On the right hand panel of the Windows 10 Start menu is the Live Tiles area. The Live Tiles are just links to apps that have been pre-installed on your computer by Microsoft.

The centre panel is where you’ll find a list of all the programs and apps currently installed on your computer. The list is in alphabetical order and you simply scroll down to find the program that you’re looking for.

The left hand panel is where you’ll find the power button to shut down your computer and also the Settings button (it’s the gear wheel).

Windows 10 Start menu open. Live tiles and programs list are indicated by callouts.
Live tiles & programs list in Windows 10.
Settings icon and Power button indicated on Windows 10 Start menu.
Settings icon and power button in Windows 10.

Windows 11 Start Menu.

The Windows 11 Start menu has been redesigned but still performs the same functions as it did in Windows 10.

At the top is the pinned apps section. Similar to the Live tiles, pinned apps are mainly links to programs or apps installed on your computer by Microsoft.

Below the pinned apps is the Recommended section. This section will self populate depending on the programs/apps that you use, together with recently accessed files and folders.

To see the programs list in Windows 11, you have to click the All Apps button. Clicking the All Apps button will open an A-Z list of the programs and apps currently installed on your PC.

Finally, in the lower right corner is the Power button (icon).

Windows 11 Start menu is open and the Pinned apps and Recommended areas are indicated by callouts
Pinned & Recommended Apps in Windows 11.
The All Apps and power buttons are marked in Windows 11.
All apps & power button in Windows 11.

How To Setup Your Windows Start Menu.

The Live Tiles area of Windows 10 and the Pinned Apps area of Windows 11 are both customisable. Meaning that you don’t have to settle for what’s already there, you can change every item or have nothing at all. Adding your own programs and folders to the pinned area makes them easy to find and quick to launch.

But having too many Live Tiles or Pinned Apps just clutters up the menu making it harder to find what you actually want. For most of us, on our home computers, we’ll barely, if ever, use any of the tiles or apps that are on the Start menu by default. So they can by removed (unpinned) out of the way.

Setting up your start menu like this makes it much cleaner and easier to use. With less useless clutter you can quickly find the items that you’re looking for.

The Windows 10 Start menu is open. All the Live Tiles have been unpinned.
Windows 10 Start menu looking lean.
All items have been removed from Windows 11 pinned area except for the Settings app.
Windows 11 with a clean Start menu.

A Note About Unpinning From Start.

Removing Live Tiles or Pinned Apps from the Start menu like this is called unpinning. It is not the same as uninstalling the programs/apps.

Programs and apps that have been unpinned are still installed and available on your computer.
So if you should change your mind later, and you want to begin using a program, you can always pin it back again.

How To Unpin Items From Your Start Menu.

Open your Start menu and take a good look at the programs and apps that are pinned there. Are there any at all that you want to use. My guess is that there won’t be. Most of the items are simply a form of advertising. Begin by unpinning everything you don’t intend to use right now.

To unpin an item (a live tile or an app), right click on it. On the menu that appears, left click Unpin From Start.

Unpinning a Live Tile in Windows 10.
Unpinning an item from Windows 10 Start.
Unpinning a Pinned App in Windows 11.
Unpinning an item from Windows 11 Start.

Don’t be afraid to be brutal. Many beginners will often say that they don’t really know what they might do with there computer. It’s something that I here all the time. And that’s fine, it’s OK. What we’re doing here is to setup the Start menu to make it better. That means clearing out the unwanted extras.

Just keep in mind that anything that you unpin (remove) can easily be re-pinned (replaced). In fact, that’s what we’re going to look at next.

Adding Items To Your Windows Start Menu.

Now that you’ve cleaned out all the extraneous apps that Microsoft foist upon you, it’s time to start setting up your menu to work for you.

I said earlier that the Start menu should have the items (such as programs/apps, folders) that you use. Not so much the everyday items (they should be on your Taskbar, where possible), but the things that you will be using from time to time and want quick access to.

Since this is a beginners course, you may not actually know what you want pinned to your Start menu right now. That’s fine. If you want to, you can actually just leave the menu empty of any pinned items at all. It certainly makes things much cleaner.

Meanwhile here are a couple of items that I think you should have pinned to begin with. Notepad (which is a simple but very useful text editor app), the calculator app (which speaks for itself) and if you’re using Windows 11, the Settings app.

Windows 10 Start Menu Live Tiles showing the Calculator app and Notepad only.
Windows 10 with the Calculator & Notepad apps pinned.
Windows 11 Start Menu pinned apps showing the Calculator app, Notepad and Settings app only
Windows 11 with the Calculator, Notepad & Settings apps pinned.

How To Pin Items To Start In Windows 10 & 11.

You can pin most programs and apps to your Start menu as well as folders. The actual items that you want to have pinned might be different to me, but again, that’s fine. The main take away here is that you’ll know how to do it.

Pinning items is pretty much the same in both Windows 10 and Windows 11. So to begin, we’ll pin Notepad to Start from the programs list.

Open the Start button by left clicking on it or by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard, and then type “notepad“.

Right click on Notepad (App), which will appear at the top of the search list. On the context menu, left click Pin To Start.

Searching for Notepad app in Windows 10 Start menu.
Pinning to Start in Windows 10.
Searching for "Notepad" in Windows 11 Start menu.
Pinning to Start in Windows 11.

Notepad will now appear in the pinned area of your Start menu. You usually have to close and then re-open the menu to see it.

Now that you’ve got Notepad pinned, you can do the same for the Calculator app. Just open your the Start menu, type “calculator“, right click Calculator (App), then left click Pin To Start.

If you’re computer is running Windows 11, you should also pin the Settings app. You can do it in exactly the same way. Open Start, type “settings“, right click Settings (App), then left click Pin To Start.

Notepad is pinned to Windows 10 Start.
Windows 10.
Notepad is pinned to Windows 11 Start.
Windows 11.

How To Pin Items From The Programs/Apps List.

Searching for a program or app by typing its name is all very well if you know what the name is. But sometimes you don’t, or maybe you’re not sure of the spelling.

That’s fine, you can pin a program directly from the program list. Note that for Windows 11, you need to click the All Apps button to get to the programs list.

Scroll down the list until you find the program/app that you want to pin. Right click on it and then left click Pin To Start.

Pin to start from programs list in Windows 10.
Windows 10.
Pin to Start from All Apps list in Windows 11.
Windows 11.

How To Pin Items From The Desktop.

It’s exactly the same procedure to pin an item from your Windows Desktop. Right click on the item to open the options menu and then left click Pin To Start.

Pinning a desktop shortcut in Windows 10.
Windows 10.
Pin a desktop shortcut in Windows 11.
Windows 11.


Your Windows Start menu should be reserved for programs and apps and possibly folders that you use and want quick access to.

Remove the clutter, unpin anything and everything that you don’t use. You really don’t need it to be there.

Exactly what items you should pin will really depend on what you’re doing with your computer. Everyone’s different. And if you’re not sure right at this moment what you want pinned, then that’s OK too. You really don’t need to have anything at all.

Add and remove items as you use your computer.

You might find yourself using one particular folder for a while, so you’d pin that folder.

Then when you’re done with the folder, unpin it to make room for something else.

The Start menu from my own computer.
This is what my Start menu looks like at the moment. But it could all be different in a few weeks time.

At Home Computer Course.

How to pin, unpin, move and arrange items on taskbar.
Next Page

Setting Up Your Taskbar.

The Windows Taskbar is prime real estate. But it is limited. There’s never enough room for everything. So set it up to work for you.

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