Your guide to using the all new Start menu in Windows 11
Windows 11 offers a revamped Start menu, one that’s a lot more user-centric. Apart from modifying the interface, Microsoft has also changed the position of the Start menu icon. It’s now centrally located, although you have the option to change the Taskbar alignment to the left.
A bunch of new features have been added to the Start menu in Windows 11 while many, from the previous versions, have been excluded. Live tiles seem to be the most prominent exclusion since they have been a part of Windows for long.
Although users are divided on the functionality of the new Start menu in Windows 11, it’s bound to enhance your Windows experience. Let’s see the various options and customizations available in the Windows 11 Start menu, and how you do them all.
Accessing the Start Menu
There are two ways you can access the Start menu, either by clicking on the ‘Start’ button in the Taskbar or by pressing the WINDOWS key.
Once you are have launched the Start menu, let’s see the various available options and how to use each of them.
Using the Search Bar in Start Menu
When you launch the Start menu, you will find a ‘Search Bar’ at the top. You don’t necessarily need to click on the ‘Search’ bar, rather can start typing right away to make a search.
When you start typing to search for an app, folder, or file, it redirects you to the ‘Search’ menu where the results start to populate as you type.
Say, you want to search for ‘Command Prompt’. You don’t need to enter the complete name of the app, but just entering ‘pro’ (or any part of the name) will display the relevant search results including the ‘Command Prompt’.
You can also narrow down your search by choosing the relevant category. Windows will display results from all the categories by default. You will find three search categories mentioned at the top while clicking on ‘More’ will display more categories in the drop-down menu to narrow down the search to a specific file type.
That’s all there’s to ‘Search’ in Windows 11 Start Menu.
Access Pinned Items or all Apps on your PC from the Start Menu
The next section in the Start menu is ‘Pinned’ where you can pin apps, files, and folders for quick and easy access. The pinned section is divided into pages, with each one displaying a maximum of 18 items.
You can navigate between the pages through the small circles at the right. Each circle here signifies a page. We have discussed navigating through the pinned items in detail later in the article.
Access all Apps installed on your Computer
In the Pinned items section, you will find an option for ‘All Apps’ which will display all the apps installed on the system. For users who want to have all the apps listed in the Start menu, as was the case in Windows 10, the ‘All Apps’ section would be the right way to go.
To view all the apps on the system, simply click on ‘All apps’ and the apps installed on your system will be listed.
The apps here will be listed in alphabetical order with the ‘Most used’ apps listed at the top. You can scroll down and view them all.
In case, scrolling seems like too much of a task, click on any of the alphabets (or symbols, Most Used option) located above a section of the apps. It will now present all the alphabets along with a few symbols and a clock icon(signifies the ‘Most Used’ apps). If you find an alphabet greyed out, none of the apps on the system start with it. Now, simply select an alphabet to view the apps that start with it.
How to Pin an App, Folder, or File to the Start Menu for Quick Access
You can easily pin apps, folders, drives, and files to the Start menu. However, for files, only the executable (.exe) ones can be pinned. Let’s see how you pin various items to the Taskbar.
To pin a folder, executable file, or a drive, right-click on it and select ‘Pin to Start’ from the context menu. Here we’ve pinned a folder.
The other options in the context menu may differ for a file or drive, but you can simply select the ‘Pin to Start’ option to pin them to the Start menu.
To pin apps to the Start Menu, you can either navigate to the location where the app is stored or simply find it in the ‘All Apps’ section. Launch the ‘Start’ menu and click on the ‘All apps’ option near the top-right.
Now, locate the app that you want to pin, right-click on it and select ‘Pin to Start’ from the context menu.
This is the simplest way you can pin an app, although you may navigate to the folder where the app launcher is saved, and pin it to the Start menu just like we pinned a folder.
Navigating Through Pinned Apps and folders
There’s no limit as to the maximum number of items that can be pinned to the Start menu, however, only 18 items will be displayed per page. But, Windows 11 Start menu offers easy navigation between various pages for pinned items via the pagination controls at the right.
You will find various small circles at the right of the ‘Pinned’ section, with each of them signifying an individual page. If you find two circles, there are two pages of pinned items, which indicates the number of pinned items is less than 36. When you hover the cursor over the circles, a downward-facing arrow appears at the bottom that can be used to navigate to the next page.
Alternatively, you can click on the circle itself to navigate to the concerned page. For instance, clicking on the third circle will take you to the third page of pinned items. This comes in handy when you have a lot of items pinned to the Start menu and they are distributed across multiple pages.
Clicking on the downward-facing arrow will take you to the next page of items pinned to the Start menu.
Rearranging Items Pinned to the Start Menu
You can also rearrange the items pinned to the Start menu by simply holding and dragging them. Also, you can move them across pages. This will help keep the items you frequently access on the first page.
To move an item pinned to the Start menu, hold and drag it to the desired position and release the click. In case you want to move it across pages, hold and drag the item to the bar at the bottom, wait for the next page to appear, and release the click at the desired position to drop the item.
How to Unpin an App or Folder from the Start Menu
You can also unpin the items that you no longer need from the Start Menu.
To unpin an item, right-click on it and select ‘Unpin from Start’ from the context menu.
The item will now be removed and the other items will all shift by one place to fill the vacant space.
Find Freuently Opened and Recently Added Items in the ‘Recommended’ Section in Start Menu
Recommended items are generated by Windows based on your activity and the items that you frequently open. All three, files, folders, and apps are displayed in this section.
You can customize this section, and enable or disable certain items from being displayed here. Let’s see how you do that.
First, right-click on the ‘Start’ button in the Taskbar and select ‘Settings’ from the Quick Access menu. Alternatively, you can press WINDOWS + I to launch the ‘Settings’ app.
In Settings, navigate to the ‘Personalization’ tab from the left, and then scroll and select ‘Start’ from the right.
You will now find three options listed here with a toggle next to each.
- Show recently added apps: Enabling this option displays the apps that you have recently installed in the ‘Recommended’ section of Start menu.
- Show most used apps: Enabling this option will list the aps that you frequently use in the ‘Recommended’ section.
- Show recently opened items in Start, Jump Lists, and File Explorer: As the name suggest, enabling this lists the recently opened items (files) in the ‘Recommended’ section of the Start menu, and in the Jump lists and File Explorer.
Enable the toggle next to the option to list the concerned items in the ‘Start’ menu.
Add Folders to the Start Menu (next to Power button)
You can add folders from a pre-set list to the Start menu. These folders will appear at the bottom-right next to the ‘Power’ button in the Start Menu.
To add folders to the Start Menu, click on ‘Folders’ in the ‘Start’ menu ‘Personalization’ settings.
You will now find a list of folders listed here, turn on the toggle next to the folder that you want to be displayed in the Start menu.
The folders that you enabled earlier will be listed at the bottom of the Start menu, right beside the ‘Power’ button.
Sign Out or Switch User Account from the Start Menu
At the bottom-left of the Start menu, you will find the user account you are presently signed in with. Clicking on it will list a few options to make some quick changes.
When you click on the user account, three options will appear.
- Change account settings: The first option here is to change the account settings. Clicking on it will launch the ‘Your Info’ section of the ‘Account’ settings.
- Lock: The second option here is to lock the PC. If you stepping away from the sytsem and don’t want others intruding, simply select this option. You will have to authenticate when trying to unlock it later. Alternatively, you can press WINDOWS + L to lock the PC.
- Sign out: Selecting this option will sign you out of the current user account. If you have multiple user accounts on the PC, select this to sign out and choose another one.
Do remember that signing out is not the same as switching the user. When you sign out, all the data is lost while in case you switch users, the data for the current user account will be saved and when you open it back, you will find things the same as when you left.
In the same menu, you will find the other user accounts listed at the bottom, and clicking on one will switch the user account. This way, you don’t lose any data and can pick things up where you left off.
Sleep, Shut Down, Restart your Windows PC from the Start Menu
The last option in the Start menu is the ‘Power’ icon, which is located at the bottom-right corner. When you click on the ‘Power’ icon, a menu pops up with three options.
- Sleep: This puts you your PC in a lower power state where the data is saved but other components are turned off to save power. If you plan to resume work in a while, you can simply put the PC to sleep and later pick things where you left them.
- Shut down: This will simply turn off the PC and close any running programs or tasks. When in this state, your PC consumes no power.
- Restart: This option will shut down the PC and then automaticaly restart it. This comes in handy and fixes trivial bugs or errors on Windows.
Move Windows 11 Start Menu to the Left Side of the Taskbar
The centrally located Taskbar icons interface in Windows 11 is not well received by everyone, and many prefer the old way, where the ‘Start’ menu icon was placed at the left of the Taskbar followed by the other icons. The good news is that Windows allows you the option to change the Taskbar alignment to the left.
To move the Start menu icon to the left, right-click on the ‘Taskbar’, and select ‘Taskbar settings’.
In the Taskbar settings, scroll down and select ‘Taskbar behaviors’.
Now, click on the drop-down menu next to ‘Taskbar alignment’.
Finally, select ‘Left’, and the Taskbar icons will automatically align to the left.
These are all the features and customizations available in and for the Windows 11 Start menu respectively. You can now customize the Start menu, as you please, for a finer and more refined experience.