Start Menu in Windows 10: A closer look at the Good and the Bad

Windows 10 is considered the last operating system from Microsoft but believe me, the features will keep on changing based on feedback from both Insiders and the regular users of the operating system. There will not be any Windows 11 but the Windows 10 items – like the start menu – may change in future. This article talks about the Start Menu as it is present in Windows 10.

Fig - Windows 10 Start Menu Explained

After much uproar when Start Menu & Button was removed in Windows 8, Microsoft brought back the Start button in Windows 8.1. It was an eyewash though. The Start Button was nothing but a hotspot that would let you toggle between desktop and metro screen. Of course, it had a WinX menu too, which has been carried forward to Windows 10 as well. I will come to it in a while but first let us take a look at how the Start Menu works in Windows 10.

Start Menu in Windows 10: How does it work?

The Start Menu in Windows 10 has been designed – keeping in mind – the touch users. That is why it includes Live Tiles. But there was no need to include huge icons in the menu even for touch. People can successfully tap on smaller items and get their work done.

Fig 2 - Start Menu Left Side - All Program and PC Settings

In other words, the Start menu is nothing like the one you saw in Windows XP and Windows 7. It does the work – and better too!

It is divided into two distinct parts: left and right (we’ll call it that for ease of explaining). The left part is the main part that contains all the items on your computer. You have to click on All Apps to see the items. This is just like All programs in Windows 7 but goes a step ahead by including Control Panel, PC Settings and Administrative tools in the menu.

The left part is scrollable, so you can scroll through all the items on your hard disk plus the admin items. You can use the mouse wheel or use can simply scroll if on touch device. The items are organized by alphabets. The first part of Start Menu – left side is Most Used Programs followed by Recently Installed programs. The All Items option also shows “New” if you have installed any new programs.

The right part, (towards the right of red line I drew in the image above) is the place where you can pin items. And you can change location, shape and size of icons. There is nothing more you can do unless you get creative and think of something that you can share with us.

Customizing the Start Menu

When it comes to customizing the Start Menu, you do have many options. You can pin items to Start menu’s right side and changing the size and location of the shortcuts, and more.  The left part – All Items – can be customized by dragging and dropping to arrange them but the scope is limited to Alphabetical arrangement. You can pin to the right side by right clicking on the menu item and click Pin To Start. If on Touch device, tap and hold until the context menu appears. The items on the right side can resized to small, medium, large and wide as it was in Windows 8.1. For some items, only small and medium sizes are present. You can also turn off the Live tiles to save processor energy.

Actually, there are quite a few things you can change in Start. You have to go to the Settings in Start Menu and click on Personalization.

Read our detailed post on how to customize Start Menu in Windows 10.

Start Menu WinX Menu: You cannot customize it though

As I said, one of the features of Windows 8.1 has been carried forward to the Windows 10. And it is the WinX Menu of the Start Button.  From this menu, you can quickly access Control Panel or its items, Turn off your computer, etc. You also find Run and Command Prompt among other useful shortcuts.

So, is the Start Menu good or the bad?

The initial impression was not so good, as I had to deal with huge icons. But as I worked on the operating system, I started liking it. I can have large icons in the right bar instead of going through the All Programs list. Also, the Frequently used Programs list and Recently used Items list helps me save on time, that I would have otherwise spent on locating the programs, apps or data files.


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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN


  1. Muliano

    Good article – It’s good as long as you can rid of apps that you don’t use; i.e. Games, Reading List, etc. I like more control of the apps that I use; not what Microsoft wants me to use.

  2. Arun Kumar

    Thank you. In most cases, you can right click on MS apps and select uninstall so that they are removed.

  3. Freemale221g

    If you need real control over your start button just get Classic Shell it lets you choose how you want your start button to look. It lets you make your start button look like windows 7, classic style, or classic style with 2 columns. Plus it has a lot of setting to help with the look, feel, and functionality of the start button. It also allows you to keep the windows 10 start button as a pinned option on the Classic Shell start menu. It also allows you to access it in other ways in the settings.

    It works great on my system so far.

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