Skip to main content

How to customize the Windows 11 Start menu

An image representing how to customize the Windows 11 Start menu
(Image credit: Future)

Knowing how to customize the Windows 11 Start menu is the key to getting away from some of the changes Microsoft made to the Start menu formula with Windows 11, which may not be to your tastes. 

Thankfully, it’s not hard to make a few tweaks to get the new Start menu into something that feels a little more familiar and intuitive than the menu you get the first time you boot up Windows 11. 

Now, you won’t be able to customize the Start menu to the same extent you can in Windows 10. But there are ways to shape into something that is catered around what you need, not what Windows 11 thinks you need. 

How to customize the Windows 11 Start menu

Windows 11 start menu

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Get to know the Windows 11 Start menu

First off, the Start menu is now located in the middle of the desktop taskbar, rather than on the left hand side. Click on the blue Windows icon to bring up the new menu.  

(Image credit: Future)

The default Start menu tends to serve up a list of pinned apps, seemingly based around what’s on your PC, which can be navigated via the up and down arrows that pop up when you hover a cursor over the two small dots in the middle right hand-edge of the menu. Click on All apps and you can see a full list of apps installed on your PC, listed in alphabetical order.  

(Image credit: Future)

Go back to the main menu, by hitting the back button, and you can see the Recommended section below the pinned apps. These show recently accessed files or installed apps. At the top of the menu you get a search bar that can help you quickly find apps.

(Image credit: Future)

Change the pinned apps in the Windows 11 Start menu

One of the first customizations you might want to do is to change the pinned apps in the Windows 11 Start menu. This is easily done. 

Simply right-click on an app icon and then select the Unpin from Start option in the pop up menu. That’ll remove the app, which can still be found in the All apps menu. 

(Image credit: Future)

To then pin a new app to the menu, simply navigate to an app you want, right-click on it and then select Pin to Start from the pop-up options.  

(Image credit: Future)

If you want to move an app to the top of the pinned menu, for example if it is sitting out of sight, simply navigate to it, right-click on its icon and select Move to top from the options that pop up. 

(Image credit: Future)

And for rearranging other apps in the pinned section, simply left-click on them to drag and drop them where you like.

Change the recommended apps and files

The recommended apps and files section can get bothersome if you feel Windows 11 isn't serving you up what you want to see, so you can tweak this. 

Head to the Settings section of Windows 11. This can be accessed from the Start menu, either as a pinned app, in the all apps section, or simply by searching “Settings.” 

Press the Windows key and the “I” key at the same time to bring up the Settings menu.  

Once in it, click on Personalization in the left-hand-side menu. 

(Image credit: Future)

From the options that are served up, navigate to the Start section

(Image credit: Future)

Here you’ll find a host of options to tweak, including the ability to switch off or on the displaying of recently added apps, most used apps, and recently opened items.

(Image credit: Future)

The Folders menu lets you select which folders and tools appear next to the power button in the Start menu. 

(Image credit: Future)

These range from the standard File Explorer and Settings tools to the Documents, Music, Pictures and Downloads folders. Toggle these on and off as desired.

(Image credit: Future)

Change the background color of the Windows 11 Start menu

To change the background color of the Windows 11 Start menu, access Settings before heading to Personalization and selecting Colors.  

(Image credit: Future)

From there you can select a Dark or Light mode, and choose the accent colors of title bars and window borders.

(Image credit: Future)

Toggle on Show accent color on Start and taskbar and then select a color of your choice from the Windows colors above. 

This’ll apply the color to the Start menu. Just bear in mind this only works in dark mode.  

(Image credit: Future)

Change the Windows 11 Start menu location

If you can't get used to the central location of the Start menu, then you can move it back to the left side. 

Again, access the Personalization menu, and from there click Taskbar. After that, head to Taskbar behaviors.  

(Image credit: Future)

Click on Taskbar behaviors and it’ll expand more options, including the top one, which will allow you to align the Start menu to the left, alongside the taskbar. Or if you’ve already moved it, then you can re-center it using these options.  

(Image credit: Future)

For more Windows 11 tips, check out our guides on how to enable Dark Mode in Windows 11, how to see your Wi-Fi password in Windows 11, how to boot into Windows 11 safe mode, how to set up multiple desktops in Windows 11how to change the default browser in Windows 11, and how to enable God Mode in Windows 11 or 10.


Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face. 

  • mikeypat
    Nice article thanks. It would be great to know how to customise the right click start menu - or even how to fix it as certain options on mine simply do not work - e.g. Device Manager, Task Manager, File Explorer
    Reply