Windows 10 Start menu: Everything you need to know

I switched from Windows 7 to Windows 8 from day one, and although I’ve dabbled with Start buttons, Classic Shell being the preferred choice, I learned to live with the Start screen, something that became easier once Microsoft released Windows 8.1 and 8.1 Update. But now that Windows 10 Technical Preview is here, it’s time to once again embrace the Start menu.

Windows 10’s Start menu is the perfect blend of Windows 7 and Windows 8.x. Click the Start button and the menu appears, displaying icons on the left and tiles on the right.

The top of the Start menu shows your user name and clicking on it will let you change your account picture, lock the computer or sign out. The power button to the right lets you put your PC to sleep, shut it down, or restart.

Underneath that are icons for Documents, Pictures, PC Settings, and File Explorer. Icons for your programs appear below those, and by default you see Snipping Tool, Calculator, Sticky Notes, Paint and Games.

Click on All Apps and you can access the bundled windows apps and any you've installed. The calculator app still fills the screen, but at least it now runs windowed and can be resized. Scroll to the bottom of All Apps and there are folders for Windows Accessories, Windows Ease of Access, and Windows System.

Right-click on an app and you can open it, uninstall it, pin to Start or pin to taskbar.

The Search box at the bottom of the menu lets you search your PC and the web.

The tiles on the right side of the Start menu look and work the same as the tiles on the Windows 8.1 Start screen. You can launch an app, or if you right-click its tile you’ll be able to unpin it from Start, pin it to the taskbar, uninstall it, or resize it. There are small, medium, wide and large sizes available (although not all sizes are available for all tiles). Live tiles can be turned on or off.

In the top right corner of the tiled section is a Windows Feedback app you can use to send feedback regarding the new OS to Microsoft.

The tiled area on the right expands or contracts as you add or remove tiles. So if you like apps, it will spread right across the desktop. If you hate having tiles, just unpin every one and it will change to a standard Start menu. To get the tiled section back, just pin any app to Start.

no tiles

You can resize the menu by clicking and dragging on the top edge. Want a long, squat Start menu? No problem!

squat

Right-click on a blank area of the tiled section and you can Personalise the menu or access Properties. The Personalise option lets you change the colour of the taskbar, window borders and Start menu. The default choice is Automatic - Windows will choose whatever goes best with your current setup.

Click Properties and the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window will open. Click the Start Menu tab and you can turn the menu off and go back to working with a Start screen. You can also manage your privacy and fully customise the menu. This last option will let you choose how links, icons and menus look and behave. You can also choose which items to pin to the Start list here. Should you want to revert to the original selection, click the Use Default Settings button.

start menu properties

Right-clicking the Start button will bring up the same context menu found in Windows 8.1, with some minor changes.

It’s all very intuitive, and Microsoft has done a great job of blending both worlds. Having got used to the Start screen in Windows 8.x I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to a Start menu, but having spent just a short while with the one in Windows 10 I’m ready to make that change.