Customizing the Windows 7 Start Menu

Customizing the Windows 7 Start Menu One of the greatest Windows features ever introduced by Microsoft is the Start menu. It was the solution to the never-ending clutter of and shortcut to the desktop. Windows 7 presents an increased number of options and efficiency over the classic start menu in previous Windows versions, it provides the user an excellent means to control all aspects of your windows environment. The Windows 7 start menu is no different.
Herein, we will show you how to access the customizing aspects of the Start menu, and some considerations.
The Start menu gives you easy access to main components of your Windows 7 operating system, such as a very good Search feature, the Control Panel, Devices And Printers, Network Connections, Run dialog, and other components.
Before learning how to access the Start menu customizing features, let’s take a look at some considerations.
It is important to keep in mind that every customization you make could have an effect on the computer’s performance, and your “user-experience.”

Start Menu Considerations
First consideration is what Microsoft is calling ‘Privacy’ settings. You will find this in the main Start menu Properties. Mainly a user preference, this setting truly allows you to present recently user programs and data, such as documents, images, spreadsheets, etc. A negative to this setting may reduce the efficiency and performance of your computer.
When determining how many recent programs to display, consider the impact and reality of use. Often, the more icons you have, the more congested it can get and actually reduce the usefulness of the menu. You would be wise to only allow as many programs as you use. If your use of programs is limited, ‘Pin’ more of them to the upper section of your Start menu and the Taskbar.

Start Menu Customization Steps
Step #1: On your Taskbar, right-click the Start menu orb, or button, and select Properties. Doing so opens the dialog box to the Start menu section by default.

Step #2: Before you ‘Customize…’ the menu, let’s take care of the options on this Properties tab first. Choose what you want the system to do each time you press your computer’s Power Button. This will most likely be the power and/or sleep button displayed on your keyboard. Note, that many computer’s Bios can also customize what will happen when you press the power button located on the computer tower case.
For laptops, you are probably only presented with one button. The options in the drop-down menu include  Switch User, Log Off, Lock, Restart, Sleep, and Shut Down.
Step #3: Select your Privacy settings, which we discussed earlier.

Step #4: Click on the Customize button to display all the options available to you. This dialog will help you determine what to see on both sides of your Start menu, as well as determining the number of recent programs and items to display.
I’m not going to go through all of the options, as most are self-explanatory and a user preference. Note, when selecting some features to display or keep hidden, there are other options for that item. An example would be the Personal Menu. Enabling this would display all the folders in your personal profile, such as My Documents, My Music, etc. The additional option would be rather than simply opening the folder, you could display all the folders in a drop-down menu style and select the folder you want.
Let’s discuss a few of the other features of the Windows 7 Start menu you may or may not choose to display:

Sort All Programs menu by name: This feature allows you to control how the programs are displayed in the Start Menu All Programs view. When checked, the menu will display the programs alphabetically.
Open submenus when I pause on them with the mouse pointer: Checking this item will allow all sub-menus to auto-open after a predetermined amount of milliseconds. Otherwise, you must click on the menu in order to open it.
Enable context menus and dragging and dropping: This feature will provide you the right-click contextual menu options, as well as the ability to drag and drop. In most cases, this is an option you want to enable.
Highlight newly installed programs: This is truly a personal preference feature. Checking it will highlight the program folder in All Programs of all newly installed, or added, programs. Personally, I do not use this feature.
Use large icons: To increase the amount of room for more icons, you may choose to not display larger icons, but as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, if you present yourself with too many icons, it will get confusing and actually makes the sue of the Start menu inefficient, so take care with this option.

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