Organize Your Start Menu

One of the nice things about a new PC is that it looks so clean. However once you start to accumulate software the Start Menu can quickly become a cluttered mess. Windows 95 automatically alphabetized icons, but did not allow for much customization. Starting with Windows 98 Microsoft allows far more customization but puts each new program at the bottom of the list. Also, if you have too many items the list scrolls vertically. Fortunately there are ways to fix that.

You can quickly sort icons alphabetically by opening your Start Menu's Programs folder, right clicking, and selecting the Sort By Name option. Folders appear at the top of the list, with icons alphabetized towards the bottom.

Windows XP has a nice feature that allows you to "pin" frequently used programs to always appear on the main Start Menu view. Simply right click an icon and select the Pin to Start Menu option.

Users with Windows 98 or later can add their own folders to the Start Menu, creating a similar list for frequently used programs. To do so, right click the Start button itself and select Explore (or Explore All Users). File/New Folder will create a new folder here, which will appear on the main Start Menu list. Name it "My Programs" or something similar. Copy icons from your Start Menu into this folder so they will also appear in this special folder. We recommend using your right mouse button to drag icons directly from your Start Menu so you can be sure you are not moving the icon from its original location.

You can also reorder icons in the Start Menu by dragging them vertically within their folder. Create subfolders under Programs to sort your icons by category.

April 2003

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