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Optimizing the Start Menu in Windows 10

This chapter from Windows 10 Absolute Beginner's Guide covers working with and resizing tiles, using groups in the Start menu, and customizing the Navigation menu.
This chapter is from the book

Because the Start menu serves as your dashboard to access the many features and applications contained within Windows 10, you should spend some time organizing and customizing how it looks. There are endless possibilities of tile arrangements using different tile sizes. You can also name organized groups of tiles, or applications, using logical labels.

Organizing All Those Tiles

In Chapter 1, “Meet Windows 10,” you had a quick introduction to the Start menu and became familiar with some basic features. By now you have no doubt begun to pin applications to your Start menu, and you might notice that it can become a free-for-all very quickly, as shown in Figure 3.1.


FIGURE 3.1 The Start menu can begin to look like a random mess.

In this section you will find out how to change the look and feel of the Start menu while maintaining some order. The key to the Start menu is to make things easy to find without pinning so many applications that you are frustrated when hunting for an application.

Accessing the Context Menu of a Tile

Before you change any tile’s appearance or function, you need to open the context menu for that tile. This is different from selecting the tile and opening the application.

The context menu will vary a bit between Desktop applications and Windows apps such as the one shown in Figure 3.2. To open the context menu, do one of the following based on the device you use:

  • common.jpg Touch and hold a tile for a second or two until an ellipsis appears in the lower-right corner of the tile. Select the ellipsis to reveal the touch-friendly context menu.
  • common1.jpg Use your left- and right- or up- and down-arrow keys to move across the Start menu. As you do so, a checkered border appears around tiles as you pass over them. Press the menu key when you have moved to the tile you want to select.
  • common2.jpg Right-click the tile.

FIGURE 3.2 The context menu provides a few tools for organizing your tiles.

Making a Tile Bigger or Smaller

With the context menu you can select the size for any tile. There are four sizes for Windows apps: large, wide, medium, and small (refer to Figure 3.2). Desktop applications that are pinned to the Start menu will offer only two size choices: small and medium. You might prefer smaller tiles to fit more tiles on the screen. Other tiles that have live tile capabilities will work better when a larger size is used. You also can use size to indicate priority or importance to your routine. For example, apps you use often, such as Calendar and Mail, might be represented by large tiles, and apps you use to pass the time, such as a social media app, could be represented with small tiles. The size of the tiles can be changed to suit your individual preference—there is no right or wrong tile size.

To change a tile’s size, follow these steps:

  1. Open the context menu for the tile using the methods outlined in the previous section.
  2. Select Resize. Choose from the size options indicated.
  3. As you make changes to tile sizes, the surrounding tiles will move to accommodate the new size. Figure 3.3 shows a mosaic composed of four different sizes.

    FIGURE 3.3

    FIGURE 3.3 Use different tile sizes to make certain tiles more prominent.

Controlling Live Tiles

Many Windows apps are designed to provide updates, images, and information through the use of Live tiles. This can be distracting in some cases, and you can even feel that your Start menu has become too busy with so many tiles morphing and changing constantly.

Live tiles can be disabled very easily by following these steps:

  1. Open the context menu for the tile using the methods outlined earlier in this chapter.
  2. Select Turn Live Tile Off (refer to Figure 3.2).

Live tiles are generally designed to display more content with larger sizes and usually will not function when set to the smallest size. Some Windows apps also include Live tile options within the app that can provide settings for transparency, images, or which information from the app will appear in the Live tile.

Moving a Tile

You can reorganize the tiles on the Start menu as you like. No rules dictate where certain tiles should appear, so you can move a tile to whatever position you like.

To move a tile, do one of the following based on the device you use:

  • common.jpg Touch and hold on the tile to be moved, and immediately drag it to its new location.
  • common2.jpg Click and drag the tile to its new location. Notice when you click and hold the tile that the other tiles dim and shrink slightly. Also notice how the other tiles on the Start menu seem to move out of the way and open an empty spot as you drag a tile across the screen (see Figure 3.4).

    FIGURE 3.4

    FIGURE 3.4 Moving a tile.

Show More Tiles

One result of pinning more tiles to your Start menu is that your screen can only display so many tiles at a time before you need to scroll down to see additional tiles you have pinned. This is especially noticeable on devices with smaller screens. For this reason, devices like tablets running in Tablet mode will display the Start menu full screen, and the navigation menu will be reduced to a hamburger menu icon.

Having larger screens, desktop and laptop computers will run in Desktop mode by default with a Start menu that takes up just a portion of the screen and an expanded navigation menu. You actually can manually change the size of the Start menu or make it full screen.

To show more tiles, follow these steps:

  1. From the Start menu, hover your mouse cursor over one of the two edges of the Start menu. The cursor will turn into a two-sided adjustment arrow. Select the edge and drag it to reposition the size of the Start menu. The horizontal adjustment will depend on your screen resolution. Release the edge when it is in the correct position.
  2. From the Start menu, select Settings to open the Settings app.
  3. Select Personalization and then Start from the navigation pane.
  4. Under Start, slide the switch to On for Use Start Full Screen, as shown in Figure 3.5. The Start menu will now be full screen with a condensed navigation menu similar to Tablet mode.

    FIGURE 3.5

    FIGURE 3.5 You can use a full-screen Start menu while in Desktop mode if that is what you want.

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