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Although Windows 10 is jam packed with options to customize your user experience, some features are often disregarded by most users.
The Windows 10 Start Menu — designed to incorporate certain features of the previous Windows 8 metro theme — is a perfect example; the new Windows Start Menu incorporates tile and program fencing features, which all too often go unnoticed.
With our helpful tips, you can turn your plain Windows 10 Start Menu into a crisp and beautiful command console!
1. Customize System Settings
Some of the best customizing features of the Start Menu are already present in the system settings. Before jumping into tile customization, let’s go over a few easy changes.
Default Start Menu settings can be found under Start > Settings > Personalization > Start. Some of these settings, such as Use Start full screen, are great options, if you are using a Windows 10 tablet. There is also a Show more icons option, which increases the amount of programs you can add to a fence’s row from 3x to 4x medium tile spaces.
If you’re annoyed by how often you have to open File Explorer to access your Downloads folder, click on the Choose which folders appear on Start option to add certain folders directly onto your Start Menu.
If you’d like to add tiles to your Start Menu, right-click on any program and select Pin to Start. Once a program is added to the Start Menu, you can resize the icon by right-clicking the tile selecting Resize.
Programs like weather applications downloaded through the Windows Store even have built-in live tile features. Chrome applications and universal windows applications can be added to the Start Menu as well, along with any program located on your PC.
By default, you can also activate the fence feature in Windows 10 by dragging a tile below or above another to create a section. You can label the tile grouping in the space provided as well.
These are the most basic and useful default changes you can apply to your Start Menu. We recommend populating your Stat Menu with your favorite and most used application, so you can start customizing!
2. Try Better StartMenu
Better StartMenu is a popular and highly ranked Start Menu customizing program, which offers easy to use tile customization for your favorite programs. The software comes in two parts: Better StartMenu and StartMenu Helper. The Helper program saves the tile data, including the name, icon, and path of the program, while Better StartMenu adds the tile onto your Start Menu.
Although the program lists a cost of $2.99, the trial version has no limitations. When you open the program, a screen pops up with three sections.
The first section tells you to download the StartMenu Helper. Clicking on the section will lead you to a website where you can download the Helper application. The Helper application downloads as a zipped file, so unzip the file to get started. Double click on the application file located in the folder to open Helper.
Better StartMenu Helper
To create a new tile, select New Tile, then click on the Auto Generate all from a single image button to select an image for your tile. This option will automatically resize the picture; if you would like to use a different icon for different sized tiles, click on the image size and select your image.
There are several ways to go about finding pictures for your tile. The easiest way to find large selections of high quality icons is through a website like Flaticons, which provides free downloadable icons packs to use.
Note: Different customization software requires different picture formats to function; Better StartMenu requires PNG files to create custom Start Menu tiles.
Name the tile whatever you’d like under Other options. You may also add a background color, if you are using an icon with a transparent background, along with adding simple or advanced titles.
The Action section will provide a path for your program. The Action Type drop-down menu specifies which type of file or folder you wish to open. This is very convenient if you are, for example, a video editor, who regularly requires access to an external hard drive or raw video folder. The Select entry is where you will link the tile to the path or program you wish to open.
The simplest way to link the path, is to use a tile already pinned onto your Start Menu. Access the file path under Start > right-click tile > More > Open file location. Next, Right-click Program > Properties to access the specific file location and copy the Target location. Paste the location into the Select entry of Better StartMenu Helper.
Click on Generate tile data and your tile will show up in the Better StartMenu program.
After you’ve generated the tile data, open Better StartMenu, click on your newly created tile in the second section and click Pin select tile to Start Menu to add the custom tile to your Start Menu.
Finally, position your tile and enjoy your fully functional and fully stylized Start Menu tile. The potentiality of Better StartMenu is endless, so feel free to tinker with the program to create the perfect Start Menu tiles for your PC.
3. Add Steam Tiles
One of the best looking functions you can provide for your Start Menu is adding game tiles. The Steam Tile application available in the Windows Store serves this very purpose.
The only thing you need to provide for this program is your SteamID. You can access your SteamID by opening Steam > Account Name > Profile > Edit Profile > Custom URL. Add your preferred URL and click Save Changes.
Once you have created your Steam ID, enter it into the Steam Tile welcome screen and you can pin your steam games to your Start Menu.
The difference between simply adding gaming programs to your Start Menu and using Steam Tiles is stark and impressive. This also allows you gaming access without having to open the Steam library.
If you use more than one gaming client, consider Pin More (also available in the Windows Store). Pin More offers the same functionality as Steam Tile, but with a larger range of customization and gaming clients.
Using these programs will not only make your Start Menu a program repository, but a gaming command console as well!
Start Menu Turned Program Platter
The tile service offered in Windows 10 conserves the sleekness of Windows 8 tiles, without the overbearing Metro / Modern UI theme. Customization was the only default feature lacking from turning this service into a genuine facet of the Windows 10 experience. With these programs, you can finally free your Start Menu and take advantage of yet another subtle and dynamic feature present on your PC.
How do you customize your Start Menu, and what customization options would you like to see made possible? Let us know in the comments below!