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How to customise the Windows 10 Start menu

Richard Easton
23 Dec 2015
Full screen Windows 10 Start menu
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The Windows 10 Start menu might be back, but it could be better as we show you with our top tips

One of the worst things about Windows 8 was that it ditched the Start menu entirely, replacing it with the much-maligned Start screen. We have to say, though, that the Start screen did have some good things about it, which is why we’re pleased to see Live Tiles integrated with a more traditional menu, as with Windows 7. While the Windows 10 menu will work well for most people, you don’t have to put up with the default settings. Here’s everything you can do to customise it to work the way you want it.

Find out how to use all of the new Windows 10 features

Make the Start menu full screen

By default, tiles live side-by-side with your programs list, giving you almost the best of both worlds. If you prefer Windows 8’s full-screen Start menu, you can turn this back on in Windows 10. If this sounds like madness to you, you might want to give it a go; the way the Windows 10 menu appears and is used is much less intrusive and slow than the Windows 8 version.

To turn on the full-screen menu, click on the Start menu and click Settings. From the Settings menu, select Personalisation and then select Start from the list on the left. This will give you a screen with a lot of different toggles for the Start menu; the one you want to switch to on is,  Use Start full screen.

Full screen Start menu settings

Now, when you click the Start menu or hit the Windows key your Start menu will appear full-screen, but you’ll notice that it’s not as intrusive or as horrible as the Windows 8 version. To revert to the standard Start menu, you can just reverse the instructions above. The full-screen Start menu doesn’t have a Settings link in it, but use the Cortana search bar to search for ‘settings’ and select the application from the search results.

Full screen Windows 10 Start menu

Resize the Start menu

If you don’t want to have the Start menu dominate your entire screen, and want it bigger or smaller than the regular version, you can resize it by clicking and dragging from the top and sides, just like you’re resizing a Windows File Explorer window. You can resize both vertically and horizontally to get it how you want. Note that there’s no option to put the Start menu back to its original size, although it’s easy enough to resize it manually to roughly the same position.

Resize the Windows 10 Start menu

Turn off suggested and recent apps

A recent Windows 10 update added the suggested apps feature to your Start menu, prompting to download apps from the Store that Microsoft thinks that you might be interested in. If you don’t want to be bombarded with this kind of information, it’s easy enough to turn off.

The suggestions only appear occasionally, and if you happen to catch one, you can simply right-click it and choose the option to turn suggestions off. If you don’t see one but want to stop them appearing in the future, open the Start menu, click Personalisation and click Start. Turn off show most used apps and you won’t get any more prompts.

Turn off suggested apps in Windows 10

Change the Start menu’s colours and transparency

Windows 10 gives you bountiful options when it comes to choosing the look and feel of your Start menu. This includes choosing the colour of the menu and whether or not you want it to be transparent. Navigate to the Personalisation part of the Settings application and select Colours. Here you’re presented with a colour picker. Select the one you like and this will automatically change the accent colour, which, as the thumbnail image shows, is used for Live tiles and for highlights in windows.

Windows 10 Start menu colour settings

If you want the colour to fill the entire Start menu, rather than leaving the default dark background, and other elements of the operating system, such as the Taskbar, scroll down to the toggle labelled ‘Show colour on Start, taskbar and action centre’ and turn this on. The Start menu and other Windows 10 elements, such as the Action Centre, have transparency effects turned on by default. If you prefer to have solid colours, toggle the ‘Make Start, taskbar and action centre transparent’ option. You can see the difference in the image below with the solid colour (left) and the regular colour (right).

Windows 10 Start menu colour comparison

Turn off Live Tiles

As in Windows 8, the tiles in Windows 10 can be set to display information from an app (Live Tiles). The Photos app, for example, can show a scrolling slideshow while the News app can show headlines. If you find these distracting or would rather they not appear, turning them off is incredibly easy. Simply right click the tile and select ‘Turn live tile off’ to have it simply display a static icon. You’ll need to do this on a per-app-basis, so you can use this trick to selectively disable the most annoying apps.

Turn off Windows 10 Live Tiles

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