Celebrating the Start Menu
It’s official, the Start menu is making a return to Windows later this year. While Microsoft initially claimed that few users even bothered to click the Start button any more, public demand has forced them to finally relent and give us back the Start menu we’re all familiar with, at least to some degree. While the new Start menu might not be exactly the same as the old, it’s fairly certain that the old searching and browsing features will be present, just like they were in Windows 7.
Could Microsoft be right about people not really using their Start menus any more though? Since Vista introduced the quick search bar in its Start menu, most users simply click, search and launch the program they want. There’s nothing wrong with this method of course, but getting a deeper understanding of the Start menu and how it works can make you more productive. Have you ever downloaded a program that didn’t come with a proper installer? Many useful tools developed by hobbyist programmers simply come shipped as a .zip file. Unless you manually add these programs to your Start menu, you will only be able to launch them by browsing to them in File Explorer/Windows Explorer.
The modern Start menu
Introduced in Windows XP, the modern Start menu uses two folders on your PC to store shortcuts. The folders are as follows:-
C:\Users\(your username)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
Any shortcuts that are placed in the first folder will only show on your Start menu, while shortcuts in the second folder show on everyones Start menu. This allows different user accounts to have different items on their Start menu. This shouldn’t really be thought of as a security feature, more one for convenience. Removing a shortcut from a users Start menu won’t stop them browsing to the program in File Explorer and running it manually. Limited accounts and User Account Control are the mechanisms Windows has to restrict unauthorised users from making changes to the computer.
You have probably noticed that you can browse the Start menu by opening it and then clicking on “All Programs”. This can be useful, if you can’t remember the name of a program or it doesn’t seem to be showing up in a search. If you use this feature regularly, you may want to occasionally tidy up the Start menu and we’ll show you how in the following tutorials.