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Personalize Your Working Environment in Windows 10

This chapter from Windows 10 Step by Step guides you through procedures related to modifying the Start screen and Start menu, managing Start screen tiles, setting the desktop background and system colors, configuring the taskbar, and applying and managing themes.

In Chapter 1, “Get started using Windows 10,” we looked at the Windows user interface elements that you encounter in every Windows session—the Lock screen, the Welcome screen, the desktop, the taskbar, the Start screen, and the Start menu. (The other place you’ll probably spend a lot of time is in File Explorer, which we discuss at length in Chapter 3, “Manage folders and files.”)

Some of the Windows user interface elements might look different on your computer from the ones we show in this book, because the colors and images might have been set by the computer manufacturer to something other than the defaults. One of the things people like to do with their Windows computers is personalize the user interface to reflect things they like and want to see rather than things that other people have decided they should see. And that is what this chapter is about!

This chapter guides you through procedures related to modifying the Start screen and Start menu, managing Start screen tiles, setting the desktop background and system colors, configuring the taskbar, and applying and managing themes.

Configure the Start screen and Start menu

As mentioned in Chapter 1, “Get started using Windows 10,” the Start screen that debuted in Windows 8 and the Start menu that was in Windows 7 and previous versions of Windows have been combined and are both available, all the time, in Windows 10. You have the choice of two Start screen configurations:

  • A full-screen Start screen with the Start menu collapsed on the left side
  • A partial-screen Start screen with the Start menu always visible on the left side

The partial-screen configuration is the default.

02fig01.jpg

Click to view larger image

The default Start screen configuration always displays the Start menu

In either configuration, the Start menu displays predefined content, and the Start screen displays tiles. In contrast to earlier versions of Windows in which you could add shortcuts to specific apps to the Start menu, you now choose only the types of content you want Windows to display on the Start menu, and add custom content only to the Start screen.

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The default Start screen settings

Set the Start screen size

The Start menu configuration that is best for you depends on the way you work—considerations include whether you primarily interact with Windows by clicking or tapping the screen, which method you prefer to use to start apps, whether you depend on live tiles for information, whether you make use of jump lists, and how large your screen is. Your initial preference might be based solely on what you’re used to and comfortable with. You can easily try out both configurations to determine which is more efficient for the way that you work.

Changing the Start menu configuration is a simple one-click process. When you turn the full-screen setting on or off, the change takes place immediately. It isn’t necessary to sign out of Windows or restart your computer to implement it.

You can adjust the height and width of the partial-screen Start screen. When you make the Start screen wider or narrower, the width of the tile groups might change from three medium tiles at narrower widths to four medium tiles at wider widths.

To switch between the default and full-screen Start screen

  1. Open the Settings window.
  2. Click Personalization, and then on the Personalization page, click Start.
  3. In the Start pane, click Use Start full screen. Then click the Start button to test the setting.

To resize the partial-screen Start screen

  1. Do any of the following:

    • Drag the top border of the Start screen up or down to increase or decrease its height.
    • Drag the right border of the Start screen right or left to increase or decrease its width.

To display Start screen tiles that don’t fit on the partial Start screen

  1. Point to the Start screen to display the vertical scroll bar on the right edge.

  2. Drag the scroll box or click the scroll bar to scroll the Start screen content.

Configure Start menu content

On the left side of the Start screen, the Start menu displays information that is related to users and apps. At a minimum, it displays your user account button at the top and the Power and All Apps buttons at the bottom. (The Power and All Apps buttons are also available directly from the Start screen in the full-screen configuration.)

The Start menu can also display the following lists:

  • Most Used app list On a new Windows 10 installation, this list contains links to some standard Windows utilities, or to apps that were selected by the computer manufacturer. As you use Windows, the apps you use most often that aren’t pinned to the Start screen appear in this list.
  • Recently Added app list This list displays apps for a short time after you install them. If no apps have been installed recently, the Start menu doesn’t display the Recently Added list heading.
  • Recently opened items When this setting is turned on, you can quickly access files that you’ve opened with apps that support this feature (such as Microsoft Office apps) from the Start menu or taskbar.

The Windows 10 Start menu does not have an area in which you can pin app shortcuts—you pin these to the Start screen instead.

At the bottom of the Start menu, just above the Power button, you can display links to the following items:

  • File Explorer
  • The Settings window
  • Your Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders
  • The Homegroup and Network windows
  • Your personal folder, from which you can access all your user account–specific folders and settings

The Start menu displays only File Explorer and Settings by default; you must turn on any specific folders or windows you want to display.

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The folders you select always display in the same order

To display or hide app lists on the Start menu

  1. Open the Settings window.
  2. Click Personalization, and then on the Personalization page, click Start.
  3. In the Start pane, do any of the following:

    • Click Show most used apps to turn off or on the Most Used list.
    • Click Show recently added apps to turn off or on the Recently Added list.
  4. Click the Start button to test the setting.

To display or hide jump lists on the Start menu and taskbar

  1. On the Personalization page of the Settings window, click Start.
  2. In the Start pane, click Show recently opened items in Jump Lists on Start or the taskbar to turn jump lists on or off.

To add or remove folders on the Start menu

  1. On the Personalization page of the Settings window, click Start.
  2. At the bottom of the Start pane, click Choose which folders appear on Start to display a list of options, each with a toggle button.

    02fig04.jpg

    Click a toggle button to turn on or off the display of a folder

  3. On the Choose which folders appear on Start page, set the toggle buttons for the folders that you want to appear on the Start menu to On, and the others to Off.