54 replies on The Complete Guide to the Windows 7 Start Menu

  1. Jon Austenaa says:

    Is there a way to get small program icons on the start menu? So i can have twice the number of shortcuts in the same space.

  2. Jon Austenaa says:

    I found it! It was hidden all the way at the bottom on the Customize Start Menu list.

  3. VicVicVic says:

    Hello, thanks for a great guide. There are two things that I’d like to do with my Start Menu. The first I know is possible, but I’m not sure about the second.

    1) I’d like to make my Start Menu bigger (increase its height, to be specific). I’ve seen someone post a screenshot here: http://news.softpedia.com/images/news2/Build-a-Monster-Windows-7-Start-Menu-to-Dwarf-Vista-039-s-6.jpg Unfortunately, he didn’t talk about how to achieve this.

    2) Would it be possible to pin a folder to the Start Menu? For example, after installing Microsoft Office, a new folder is automatically created with applications such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Publisher. Would it be possible to pin the Microsoft Office folder, and have the three applications I mentioned in the Jump List?

    Thank you!

  4. George says:

    1. It’s quite easy to setup a ‘monster Start-Menu’ 🙂 This is what you need to do to make the Start Menu bigger:

    Right-click on the Start Menu orb or on the Taskbar and select Properties.
    Click on the Start Menu tab from the ‘Start Menu and Taskbar Properties’ window.
    Click on the ‘Customize’ button.
    Now look at the bottom of the new window at the ‘Start menu size’ and increase the number of recent programs to display. The maximum number is 30.
    You can also increase the number of recent items in the Jump Lists even if this won’t have any impact on the size of the Start Menu. The maximum number is 60.
    Then click on ‘OK’, again on ‘OK’ and you should have a ‘monster Start Menu’.

    2. We will soon write a tutorial about how to pin a custom folder to the Taskbar. 🙂

  5. VicVicVic says:

    Thank you for replying with the information, George!

    I’m not trying to be difficult, but I’ve never really liked the idea of displaying recently opened items. Even on Windows XP, I did not allowed such a feature to be present. Even before I posted here, I actually did see the “Start menu size” options in the “Customize Start Menu” tab of the Taskbar Properties, but kind of ignored it because I had no interest in viewing my recently opened programs (sorry I failed to point this out before).

    Now, with that said, would it still be possible to increase the start menu size? Thank you very much!

  6. George says:

    Yes, you can increase the Start Menu size, but the process is the same. If you don’t want to see the most recently used items in the Start Menu, pin down the items that you want to see.

  7. Occulus says:

    The problem I have with the “pin to start menu” option is that I’ll pin one too many programs to the start menu and half of them vanish until I remove one of them. My start menu is now totally borked and I have to remove everything and start from scratch. I haven’t found any way to increase the allowable number of pinned items, and I *really* dislike the fact that adding one too many makes half the list disappear.

    How do I fix this?

  8. George says:

    Occulus, I’m sorry but I can’t replicate the same behavior of the Start Menu on my system.

    The maximum number of items the Start Menu can display depends on the resolution of your screen.
    By default it should be 15 recent items and 15 pinned items and if you pin more than 15 items, they will decrease the number of recent items.

    However, I made some tests with different resolutions, with and without the ‘large icons’ option. This is what I noticed:

    – with large icons in the Start Menu, the maximum number of items I could pin on a 1280×1024 resolution screen was 22.
    – without large icons on the same resolution I could pin 39 items on the Start Menu.
    – with large icons in the Start Menu, the maximum number of items I could pin on a 1024×768 resolution screen was 15 and without large icons 27.

    The bottom line is this: the greater the resolution of your screen is, the more items you can pin on your Start Menu. Also, as a rule, with the ‘large icons’ option disabled you can pin even more items.

    During all these test, nothing vanish from my Start Menu.

  9. VicVicVic says:

    After a lot of tinkering with Windows 7, I was able to find a solution to the requested tweak I posted above last week regarding making the Start Menu bigger.

    I checked at least 15 Web sites on the Internet and couldn’t find anyone else with a solution, so I decided to post a tutorial myself to help others, and it can be found here: http://windows7forums.com/tweaks-guides-howtos/18866-tutorial-how-increase-decrease-height-start-menu.html

    Take care,
    Victor Ly

    • ChowBoy says:


      YOU DA MAN! Just what I needed to fix this “see all pinned programs” conundrum.

      Thanks for sharing.


  10. ASCII72 says:

    I have installed Win 7 Ultimate and when I click the start icon there is nothing in the white area, and the All Programs doesn’t have anything there either.

    I can’t figure how to setup the default programs like Vista did.

    Is there a way to have windows explorer show less superfluous data??

    The Win 7 installation is over the Vista OS, and there doesn’t seem to be any conflicts.

    William Henry

    • Ciprian says:

      So, what you are saying is that the Start Menu is empty. It has no shortcuts on the left side area, even when you click on All Programs. Let me know if i I understood this correctly or not.

  11. Andrew says:

    I know you can choose whether or not you want large icons in the start menu, but is there a way to keep the pinned programs icons big and make recently opened programs icons small?

  12. Andy says:

    What I miss from the Classic Menu most, is the hotkeys. I could just hit the Win key, then the “U” for “shUt down” and bingo, with another hot key I could restart or shut down. All in a split second. How can I do that without the Classic Menu (without wasting a 15 seconds to use the mouse), please? Without that I need a 3rd party software to give me back the Classic Menu. Thank you in advance!

  13. Anonymous says:

    You can link a folder to the start menu by creating a shortcut to it and dragging the shortcut to the Start button.

    • Anonymous2 says:

      Yeah, but then you have to leave the shortcut on your desktop for the link to work, plus if the folder has contents it won’t “expand” to see the contents you can only click and see the location of everything on your drive. Not ideal 🙁

  14. Craig1768 says:

    Is there a way to remove/hide the ‘search programs and files’ from the start menu without removing it from Windows Explorer and Control panel? I know that you can disable the ‘search’ features from the control panel… but that removes all capability of being able to search with Windows Explorer/Control Panel. It would be awesome if during the Windows 7 upgrade that they allowed you to have more control of the worthless ‘functionality’ that is comes with. Frustrated.

    Anyhow, any help would be greatly appreciated.

  15. Ascii72 says:

    The problem was Windows 7 RC, I have reverted back to Vista and the programs are back, thanks for the feedback.

  16. MichaelInHouston says:


    Has anyone posted a comment / solution to your question? I use the keyboard all the time and with XP, I press the Windows key on the keyboard and press W for Word, E for Excel, etc. It’s fast.

    It seems like a nit for most people but if you constantly open and close these programs, it’s faster than reaching over to the mouse, aim for the start button, click, aim for the program, click, oooops wrong program. close the program, aim for the start button, aim for the start button, click, aim for the program, click, oooops wrong program again. aim for the start button, click, aim for the program, click, got it!! woohoo! do that a couple times a day, a couple times a week, well you get the message, a waste of time.

    my preference of pressing the windows key on the keyboard, pressing w, bam… I get Word. pressing the windows key on the keyboard, pressing e, bam i get Excel, etc etc…

    also when pressing the windows button, the default for the cursor is in the search programs and files. why??? it’s sorta like arriving at your front door, stopping, and pulling out a pair of binoculars and searching for the door knob where it has been for years…. searching for programs and files should be an option, not default because everyone is not searching for programs and files all the time. they want to use their computer.

    Craig1768 (not verified) – 04/02/2010 – 05:57

    Is there a way to remove/hide the ‘search programs and files’ from the start menu without removing it from Windows Explorer and Control panel? I know that you can disable the ‘search’ features from the control panel… but that removes all capability of being able to search with Windows Explorer/Control Panel. It would be awesome if during the Windows 7 upgrade that they allowed you to have more control of the worthless ‘functionality’ that is comes with. Frustrated.

    Anyhow, any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Craig1768 says:

      No, there is no solution to this that I have found yet. I am not quite sure what you are getting at about the hot keys with office products. I understand that you can hot key and avoid the whole menu, but technically I could just short cut everything on the desktop also. I don’t think that it possible to do.

      I was just kinda bent that I shut off the ‘search features’ in the control panel area, which was awesome, it shut it off on the start bar, but now when I have windows explorer open, I can’t do a simple ‘find’.

      Thanks for your message.


    • Harlquinth says:

      Hi Michael,

      Just wondering if you’ve managed to find any sort of a solution/workaround for this problem as I’m having exactly the same issue! With windows XP I type ‘winkey’, ‘n’ to open notepad, ‘v’ for volume control, ‘e’ for my editor, ‘w’ for WMP, etc, but it’s impossible to do this with windows 7!

      If you did manage to find out anything and could let me know I’d be most grateful.

      Many thanks, Harlquinth.

  17. fincastle says:

    When I shift and right click an excel document that I want to pin to the Start menu, “Pin to Start Menu” is still not an option. I see only 3 options: “Customize Quick Access Toolbar,” “Show Quick Access Toolbar Below Ribbon,” and “Minimize the Ribbon.”

    What have I done wrong? I used to be able to pin Excel docs to the Start menu and used this feature all the time.

    Any help you can offer will be most appreciated! Thank you.

    • Ciprian says:

      Try dragging the document to the start menu with the mouse. When you place the document on top of the start menu orb, it should show you “Pin to the Start Menu” and, if you drop it there, it gets pinned. Hope this works.

      • fincastle says:

        Thank you, Ciprian — that’s brilliant and it did work! I was hoping to pin the document to “Recent documents” under the Excel program on the Start Menu, but pinning the worksheet to the Start menu will do. Thank you so much! 🙂

  18. Weelz says:

    In the past using XP or Vista there was always a shortcut on the start menu to Outlook or Windows e-mail. I can’t seem to find that on the window 7 start menu. Do I need to find it somewhere else and add it? I’m not quite sure what to do. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?
    Any remarks are appreciated-

  19. Weelz says:

    Thanks for the 411 Ciprian. I’ll give it a shot. It’s the Mom’s new toy, so I’ll give her the info.


  20. Catreece says:

    Guys, I have a problem with the Vista/Win7 “Shut Down” default. How, exactly, do you change that? I’ve searched the Web many times, but there’s no mention of a way to do so. Yet, I know it can be done: I’ve run across a few Win7 computers that have “Sleep” or “Log off” in place of “Shut Down”. This is really annoying at work, as some people will unintentionally shut their computers off when all they meant to do was to log off, then have to wait a good ten minutes or more for their computers to boot back up again. It can’t be done from the Taskbar, as that only affects the power button. So … does anyone know of a way?

    Thanks again for some awesome tips!


    • Ciprian says:

      Hi Catreece,

      I’m sorry but I do not understand what exactly you want to do. You want to change the behavior of the shut-down button found on your computer? The physical button I mean.


  21. Catreece says:

    Hi Ciprian,

    No, but I’ll comment on the Start Menu and physical powerr button in a moment.

    Push the Windows button and bring up the Start Menu. Notice the “Shut Down” button on the lowerr right side. It will, most likely, have a small yellow shield icon with an exlamation mark inside it, on the left. THAT is the default I need to change. And there just doesn’t seem to be any way to do so. Yet I know it’s possible: I’ve seen other computers with “Log Off” or “Restart” in place of “Shut Down”. So there must be a way to do so.

    Now, as to the physical power button: we’re told that all we have to do is to right-click on the taskbar, go to Properties, go to Start Menu, then change the Power Button default (which is always set to “Shut Down”). But I’ll tell you something: it makes absolutely no difference what you set it to – when you press the physical power button, it always goes to “Shut Down”. ALWAYS! I wasted a good hour the other day going through numerous reboots trying to get it to do anything other than shutting down. No dice. Further, when it comes back up and you bring up the Start Menu again, the “Shut Down” button will now indicate “log off” – for a short time. Then it reverts to “Shut Down” once again. And no, it makes no difference if you seleced “Sleep” or “Restart” or “Lock”, it will always show “log off” for a short time before going back to Shut Down.

    Microsoft programmers must be laughing their freakin’ heads off at us end users, knowing that we’re forced to use the Shut Down side menu to log off (or whatever); no more keyboard-based logoffs for us!

    Anyway, hope this clarifies things a bit.

    Thanks again,


    • nSpectre says:

      If you have a Shutdown button with a yellow shield and exclamation point it means there is a pending windows update that needs to be applied to the operating system. Just select shutdown and windows should do so, but pause for a few moments with “Applying update 1 of x”. Once it has applied the update(s) it should shut down completely and the next time you boot the computer the yellow shield and ! should be gone. Note that there may be more than one update to apply that requires a reboot, so just shutdown a few times until all the updates are applied.

      If the yellow shield NEVER goes away it likely means there is an update that is failing to install properly. You can run Windows Update to see which update is “stuck” and determine if it is an update that really needs to be installed. If it’s not, you can uncheck it to “hide” it and Windows should no longer try to install that failing update. At any time you can go back to Windows Update and select “Restore Windows Updates” to unhide that update again.

  22. Mukundh B says:

    Is it possible to remove tasks. That is for ex, there is IE. If you point at it u get a list of tasks like open in private mode. Same goes with FF. Is it possible if remove them?? If so how??

  23. Keith says:

    One thing that’s missing in your guide (and, judging by a Google search, it’s probably because it can’t be done!) is how to use shortcuts to folders to bring up sub-menus directly from the Start menu (not the All Programs menu). Under Windows XP, I added my own sub-folders of short-cuts directly under the Start Menu folder, containing categorized short-cuts to documents or programs. As far as I can see, there’s no way to do this in the “All Improved” start-menu. It’s typical of MS engineers to assume everybody works in the same way and wants to have their hands held. If anybody does know of a way of doing this, it would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  24. Keith says:

    Hi, I just posted a comment (not yet approved, I guess, so can’t respond directly to it), but five minutes after posting it I found a hack. The key is to choose one of the links on the right side of the start menu that you don’t plan to use and which supports adding folders. For example, Music. Right click, choose properties, and you see a list of folders it includes. Remove all of them and add your own folders of short-cuts from the start-menu. Then rename Music to something like “My shortcuts”. It’s not perfect since it’s one extra click compared to having each folder of shortcuts right there on the start-menu, but it’s better than searching for them in All Programs.

  25. Paul says:

    I have set the start menu option for hovering sub-menus to appear. However, I’ve installed Microsoft Office which appears under All Programs. When I hover over the Microsoft Office folder it doesn’t reveal the apps within it. Is there a way to do this?


  26. reachedwin says:

    Bravo! awsome article. I love details. what more could i ask for? well, im in a bit of a rut. I am on a domain and was not able to access “my documents”, my assistant (intern) admin went in and was able to map a drive to my desktop so i can view edit and save my work.
    My question is: how do i link my start menu to that mapped drive? so when i click the windows start button my information is there and not empty. He said that it needs to be changed to reflect the mapped drive. He dose have his hands quite full but this shouldnt be so hard right?

  27. Stuart says:

    Vey informative article. ‘Recent Items’ has been of great help to me but recently they’ve disappeared for Word. Other programs on the start menu still show their display but not Word anymore. Please help. Thanks – Stuart

  28. Noor says:

    My right click is disabled on the start menu i have tried every thing..i system restored to a very old date..didn’t work .. i tried to add a registry didn’t work either.. i tried the costomize but i don’t have an advanced option.. please help..Thank you

    • Ciprian Adrian Rusen says:

      We mentioned that you have two alternatives: one is the right click on the start menu, another is to search for the word “start menu” in the start menu search box and click on the shortcut which is named “Taskbar and Start Menu”.

  29. codrut says:

    Right-click on the Start button, and choose Properties.
    Select the Start menu tab, click Customize.
    Check “Enable context menus and dragging and dropping”

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  31. estella says:

    I hve never learned how to add all of the same documents on a single folder.such as scholarship,rental forms etc….can someone help me

  32. Alouicious says:

    Is there a way (W7P) to prevent a specific program from showing up on the recently opened list presuming other programs being listed there is OK?

  33. S.Selvaraj says:

    In the start menu against the micro soft office excel file i could pin some files; and also the recently modified or created excel file will automatically appear in the unpinned area against micro soft office in the start menu. This facility suddenly disappeared. i could pin excel files as a programme only

  34. Dipankor Coondoo says:

    I have Windows 7 Home Basic OS on my Dell laptop. Start Menu is not popping up when the the Windows icon (button) on the right hand corner of the task bar is clicked. Please suggest a solution.

  35. Deb says:

    I killed my old computer (accidentally). On that computer, when I opened the start menu and point (not clicked, just pointed) to My Documents, someone had arranged it for me that all the files would just show — no window, no clicking. Then I could just point to the file I want and then click to open it. Can you tell me how to do this?

  36. Lefteris says:

    Deb, right click your windows taskbar, click Properties, then click the Start Menu tab, then Customize…
    You will see a list, find Documents and click Display as a menu, then OK, OK.
    Done! 🙂

  37. Rafi says:

    I installed windows 7 now I faced with a problem all of my folders getting shortcut even when I create a new folder after restart my computer folder change to shortcut format.

  38. Angel says:

    Wao man, Thannnnnk you. You have just saved me from reinstalling my windows 7 again. well, this missing games link or shortcut to the right side of my start menu, was driving me insane, I started to think that somehow, it had something to do with my windows installation. Once again, thanks. You are a genius.

  39. judy says:

    i installed window 7 in to my mac book but start menu text is too small i can hardly read it how can i enlarge the size of the text in the start menu

    • Codrut Neagu says:

      It may be that your display has a too large resolution. Only the Start Menu shows small text, or every text from anywhere is shown small? If all the text is small you need to use the scaling feature so that all elements are enlarged.

  40. Marvy says:

    I consider myself experienced, but problems like this humble me. I wish I could post a PrtScr to show you.
    My Start button (in classic view) is half height. And everything opened is also half the size of the toolbar. Usually, all of these have plenty of space around them instead of being 1/4 inch.
    For more than a decade I have kept my toolbar to the right (works for me) and suddenly, today, they became skinny and squashed together looking. How can I change that?? The font settings are the same as ever!

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