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This chapter is from the book

Other Start Menu Features

Up to this point I've focused primarily on the Start menu's left pane, the left half of the Start menu. You've no doubt noticed that the right half, the right pane, is loaded with menu items, too. If you've ever used another version of Windows, you'll be familiar with many of these options in your Start menu's right pane. As with everything, Vista tries to keep familiar features that work the way you expect, but attempts to improve on them instead of trying to replace what you already know with foreign situations.

Table 3.1 lists the most common items that appear in the Start menu's right pane. Some, many, or all of them will appear on your Start menu, depending on how your computer is set up and depending on how your Start menu is configured.

Table 3.1. Common Menu Programs, Folders, and Options That Appear in the Start Menu's Right Pane

Start Menu Option



Opens the folder where you store most of your files including your documents, videos, pictures, and other data files.


Opens the folder where you generally will keep your non-multimedia files, such as word processing documents and program data. Previous versions of Windows called this the My Documents folder.


Opens the folder where you keep photographs (determined by your Windows Photo Gallery settings, as Chapter 16, "Going Digital with Your Camera or Scanner," explains).


Opens the folder where you keep your digital music.


Opens the folder that contains all your games. Unlike previous versions of Windows, Vista can easily organize all your games in one location: in the Games folder. Your games don't have to reside in the Games folder physically because Vista can put shortcuts to all your games there. Chapter 11, "Taking Time Out with Windows Vista Games," explains how to add your own games to the Games folder to give you quick access to them.


Opens the Search window to perform searches on your computer. The Search window provides more options than the Start menu's simpler search box.

Recent Items

A list of documents and files you've recently accessed and used.


Displays your hardware and allows access to changing properties of your hardware (formerly called My Computer).


Displays your network hardware and software settings and gives you access to modify them (formerly called My Network).

Connect To

Enables you to connect to the Internet (useful if you have a dial-up connection) or other computers on a network.

Control Panel

Provides access to many common hardware and software settings.

Default Programs

Enables you to specify which programs run under certain conditions (such as which player automatically runs when you select an MP3 file from a list of music files).

Help and Support

Provides access to the Vista help system, where you can get help from Vista's help files as well as go online for more indepth support.

In addition to the entries in Table 3.1, two buttons appear at the bottom of your Start menu's right pane. The left button, the Power button, saves your open work and puts your computer into a sleep mode that you can quickly come out of when you're ready to work again. This allows you to shut down almost all the power without having to turn the computer back on from a completely off state, which takes much longer.

The right button, called the Lock button, locks your computer so that nobody can use it without logging in (often with a password). Chapter 4, "Starting and Stopping Windows," explains how to use these buttons and related options to turn on and off your computer as well as place it in sleep mode. (You can change the behavior of this button in your Control Panel's Hard and Sound group's Power Options window.)

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