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How Do You Customize Your Windows 10 Start Menu?

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How Do You Customize Your Windows 10 Start Menu? 

The default Start menu layout in Microsoft's press materials


While after the Windows 8.1 “experiment” there are many users out there who can survive without it, the Start menu continues to be an essential part of Microsoft’s operating system.

And the Redmond-based software giant knows it very well.

This is, in fact, one of the reasons the company keeps improving the experience with the Start menu with every new feature update, not only in terms of looks, but also when it comes to usability.

Even though the number of tweaking options for the Start menu in Windows 10 isn’t necessarily overwhelming, customizing the look and feel is one of the first things many users do after installing the operating system.

In the last few months, I’ve seen more and more users who turn to a Start menu without live tiles.

As long-time Microsoft fanboys certainly remember, live tiles are a feature borrowed by Windows 10 on the desktop from Windows 10 Mobile. They haven’t improved much since their debut in Windows 10, and their poor adoption is likely to lead to live tiles going away from Windows 10 at some point in the future. Or, at least, this is what people with knowledge of the matter suggested.

No matter if live tiles will go dark or not, they still play an important role in the customization process of the Start menu. But live tiles, in their turn, are closely related to Microsoft Store apps, which not everyone is using, hence live tiles themselves suffer from the poor adoption I told you about.
One of my past Start menu layouts with a purple accent color

At this point, Microsoft offers a dedicated Start menu customization page in the Settings app:

Windows 10 > Settings > Personalization > Start

The following options are available in Windows 10 May 2019 Update (version 1903):
Show more tiles on Start (enable additional columns of live tiles)
Show app list in Start menu
Show recently added apps
Show most used apps
Show suggestions occasionally in Start (Microsoft Store apps that Microsoft thinks you’d like)
Use Start screen (convert the Start menu to a Windows 8-like Start screen)
Show recently opened items in Jump Lists on Start or the taskbar

And that’s pretty much it. Other options that are available in various Settings sections let you change colors or use a different theme, but these aren’t configuration options specific to the Start menu, but to the operating system overall.

And because we’re here to talk about Start menu customization, here’s how I use it:
My current Start menu with an orange accent color

I don’t typically do a lot of customization for the Start menu, but I do prefer to use orange because it’s one of my favorite colors. The biggest problem with this setup is the icon flashing whenever there’s something that requires my attention, as icons blink orange as well. This means the blinking is sometimes more difficult to notice, but I think I just got used to it.

The tiles that you see pinned to my Start menu are there just because they look good, as otherwise I’m not an avid fan of Microsoft Store apps. I mostly rely on Win32 programs for my daily routine.

In the past, I used the Start menu without any live tiles for a simplified UI, but I switched to this nearly-default look because most of the apps that I need are pinned to the taskbar anyway. So the way it is right now just works for me, albeit as I said, the live tiles are there just for their looks.

So how do you use your Start menu? Are there any customization features you’d want to see being added in a future Windows 10 update? Support for custom backgrounds maybe?





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