How to personalize your Start Menu in Windows 11

The Windows 11 Start Menu looks and works differently from Windows 10. Gone are the tiles that most people did not like, and back are the shortcuts from the Windows 7 era. However, the differences don’t stop here, as the Windows 11 Start Menu doesn’t display only shortcuts to apps but also recently opened files, frequently used apps, and newly installed apps. If you want to change the way it looks, clear the files from its Recommended section, or add folders to the Start Menu, read this tutorial:

How the Start Menu looks in Windows 11

When you click or tap the Windows logo on the Windows 11 taskbar (also known as the Start button), you open the Start Menu. The same when you press the Windows key on the keyboard.

The Windows 11 Start Menu is pretty crowded

As you can see in the screenshot above, the Windows 11 Start Menu is split as follows:

  • At the top, there is a search box where you can type keywords for things you want to find: apps, documents on your computer, settings, and other items.
  • Below the search box, there is a Pinned section where you see the apps pinned by Microsoft and you. Clicking or tapping on the name or icon of an app opens it. The list displays a maximum of eighteen pinned items. However, the list may be more extensive than that. To navigate it, you can scroll it or click/tap the dots shown to the right of the Pinned section. Read how to pin to Start Menu in Windows 11.
  • To the top-right corner of the Pinned section, there is an All apps button that you can press to see a list of all the apps available in Windows 11.
  • Below, you see the Recommended section that includes recently added apps, your most-used apps, and recently opened items. To the right of this section, you may see a More button. When pressed, it opens a longer list with the same type of items.
  • At the bottom of the Start Menu, you find your username and icon on the left and the Power button to the right.

Where do you customize the Start Menu in Windows 11?

You can customize most of the sections that make up the Start Menu. To access its personalization options, first, open Settings in Windows 11. One way to do that is to press Windows + I on the keyboard. Another is to click Start and then Settings.

Click Start and then Settings

In the Windows 11 Settings app, select Personalization on the left. On the right, scroll down to Start and click or tap on it.

Go to Personalization and then to Start

Now you see the personalization options available for the Windows 11 Start Menu. We will cover them one by one in the following sections, so keep reading this tutorial to its end.

The Personalization options for the Start Menu

How to show or hide items in the Recommended section of the Start Menu

By default, Windows 11 shows your recently added apps and opened items inside the Recommended section of the Start Menu. It can also show your most-used apps there too. To hide these items from the Start Menu, deactivate the following switches:

  • “Show recently added apps” - some users may find it helpful for the Start Menu to include shortcuts to the apps they just installed.
  • “Show most used apps” - Windows 11 analyzes the apps that you frequently use and shows them in the Start Menu if the switch for this setting is enabled.
  • “Show recently opened items in Start, Jump Lists, and File Explorer” - this setting affects all Windows 11 apps that can show recently opened items: File Explorer, Start Menu, and so on.

To turn a switch Off and back On, just click or tap on it.

Set all switches to Off to clear the Recommended section

Choose which folders appear on the Windows 11 Start Menu

By default, the Windows 11 Start Menu only shows the Power button on its bottom-left corner. However, you can add several folders next to it to serve as quick shortcuts to places you visit frequently. To add or remove folders from the Start Menu, click or tap Folders in the list of personalization options.

Go to Folders

You see a long list of folders that can be displayed on Start next to the Power button: Settings, File Explorer, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos, Network, and Personal folder (this is your user account folder). To add a folder to the Start Menu, set its switch On. To remove it from Start, set its switch Off.

Choose which folders to add next to the Power button

If you add all the available folders, the Start Menu gets crowded quickly, making it difficult to tell them apart. Therefore, it is a good idea to enable only the folders you visit relatively frequently. For example, we chose: Documents, Downloads, Pictures, and Settings. Take a look below to see how the Start Menu looks with no items in the Recommended list and just a couple of shortcuts added on its bottom side. Much cleaner, isn’t it?

The Start Menu is clear of Recommended items

TIP: Did you know that you can move the Start Menu to the left, like in Windows 10?

Do you like the Windows 11 Start Menu?

You are probably reading this article to learn how the Windows 11 Start Menu works and see how to improve it by choosing what items are shown on it. One of the things we do not like about it is that the Pinned section doesn’t get extended when you empty the Recommended area. Therefore, you end up with plenty of empty space that doesn’t do anything useful. Hopefully, by the time Windows 11 gets finalized, Microsoft will improve this aspect. Also, before you close this tutorial, tell us your opinion about the Start Menu. Do you like how it works? Would you improve anything? Comment below and let us know.

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