Microsoft changed the Start menu layout in Windows 11 with a completely different look. With fewer customization options available initially, now there are additional layout options introduced with 22H2 update. Therefore, make sure to update your Windows 11 version to make use of the latest Start menu layout options.
Default Windows 11 Start Menu
Start menu has the following sections in the layout:
- Search – clicking on the search box will open Windows Search.
- Apps – pinned apps show the apps that you want to access quickly and you can click on “More apps” to view the complete list of installed apps on your system.
- Recommended – this section shows the recently added apps, accessed documents and files.
- Account profile – click on your account name to switch to another user, logout /lock and access account settings.
- Power button – shows sign-in and booting options like restart, shutdown and sleep.
Be default, Windows 11 will show the Start menu and other icons in the center of the taskbar. However, you can change the location to left corner like Windows 10.
Change Start Menu Layout
Right-click on the Start menu icon and select “Settings” to open Settings app and navigate to “Personalization > Start” section.
Here you can view additional layout and customization options for Start menu.
- More pins – shows more pinned apps and reduces the recommendation section’s size.
- Default – as shown above, default menu is equally divided into apps and recommendation section.
- More recommendations – shows more recommendations by reducing the pinned apps. This will show navigational dots to show pagination for the pinned apps sections.
Select your preferred layout to instantly change the appearance of your Start menu. More pins and more recommendations layouts will look like below:
Show or Hide Recommendations
Though recommended section helps to quickly access previously opened files and apps, not many people use this option. It is rather easy to find the files using Windows Search or from File Explorer search. In addition, showing confidential files and private pictures in the recommend section can also cause privacy issue. Fortunately, you can disable the following in the recommended section below the layout option in the Settings.
- Show or hide recently added apps
- Show or hide frequently used apps
- Enable or disable quick access files in Start menu and File Explorer. Remember, disabling this option will also hide quick access files in “Home” section of File Explorer.
Show Folders Next to Power Button in Start Menu
Be default, Start menu layout does not show any quick access icons next to power button. The latest Windows 22H2 update allows you to show the folders nearer to power button. You can enable or disable the folder icons to show under “Personalization > Start > Folders” section in Settings. The folder icons include quick access to Settings, File Explorer, Documents, Downloads, Pictures, Music, etc.
After enabling the folders, it will look like below in the Start menu.
Creating Folders in Start Menu
The best feature introduced in Windows 22H2 update is allowing users to create folders in Start menu. All what you need is to drag and drop a pinned app icon on another to create a folder. Click on the folder and provide a name to have your custom app collections. For example, you can collect all Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook in a single folder.
After creating a folder, you can right-click on it and move to front if it is not already in the first position. However, you cannot pin the entire folder to taskbar.
Change Start Menu Layout Color
As you know, Windows offers light, dark and custom color mode for all apps. You can also make use of this option to change the color of your Start menu layout.
- Go to “Personalization > Colors” section in Settings app and choose your mode as “Custom”. Select either dark or light mode for Windows and apps.
- Similarly, set the “Accent color” to “Automatic” to allow Windows to set the color or choose “Manual” and select your custom color.
- Scroll down under “Accent color” section and enable “Show accent color for Start and taskbar” option.
- Press the Windows key on your keyboard to open Start menu and check the layout is changed as per the accent color you have selected in Settings app.
Note that the Start menu color will work only with dark or custom color mode for Windows. It does not work with light color mode. Though you can use dark mode, we recommend choosing custom option so that you have an option for using light mode for apps if required.
At this point, the design trend is to provide customization options for screens instead of offering new features. After decades of having simple Start menu in Windows OS, Microsoft finally started providing options for users to customize the appearance. However, whether these design changes add productive value or not is a big question and depends upon the user’s perspective. Also, remember that there is no “Restore Default” button to reset the Start menu back to its default layout. If you are playing around the settings, then you need manually change them back.