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Customize Start Menu Programs

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Safe Mode refers to one of the two main ways to launch the Windows® OperatingSystem (OS): 'Normal Mode' and ' Mode'.

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Put some sense and order into the Programs with a Customized Start Menu.

Why? Because you need to make it easy for the computer’s users to find programs they need, to be able to figure out which programs do what, and to find the computer’s maintenance programs.
  • Start Menu information is kept as shortcuts in the ‘Start Menu’ folder. In XP, the location is: C:Documents and Settings{Username}Start Menu Programs
  • If there is more than one user, there will be more than one Start Menu folder.
There is one folder for each user, plus one for ‘everybody’ called All Users.To customize the Programs menu, just add, remove and rearrange shortcuts andfolders within the various Start Menu folders.


Open My Computer, and navigate to C:Documents and SettingsAllUsersStartMenu. As you’ll find yourself using this folder almost every day you may as well make life easy. Create a shortcut from the desktop by right clicking the Start Menu folder and selecting Send To and then Desktop. This creates an icon on your desktop called‘shortcut to Start Menu’. Rename the shortcut, copy it, and paste it into the StartMenu folder. Then select the new shortcut, right-mouse click on it and choose ‘Pin toMenu’. It will then appear in the Start Menu for easy future access.
start menu setupIn the Start Menu folder, you should see a Programs folder and several other entries.The Programs folder contains the programs available on the Start Menu. The other entries, which might usefully include the Start Menu shortcut you created a moment ago, are listed on the Start Menu as shortcuts displayed above a narrow line.

You can easily organize your shortcuts by creating subfolders in the Programs folder and dragging other shortcuts entries into them. For example, to create a Games folder, first you would open the Programs folder, click on the File menu on the Windows Explorer menu toolbar, and then choose ‘new’ to create a new folder. Finally, you would rename the folder ‘Games’.start menu setup
If your computer has more than one User Account, use the same procedure. If, however, different users wish to hide programs from each other, then shortcuts for these programs can moved out of the ’All User/Start Menu’ folder into the individual user’s Start Menu folder.

System Folders in the Programs Folder

Certain folders within the Programs folder are ‘system folders’, which Windows does not like being removed or replaced. Two of these system folders are always present: ‘Accessories’ and ‘Startup’; the third is ‘System Administrative Tools’, which is usually only of interest to technicians, and can be hidden using the Control Panel (Control Panel/ Task Bar & Start Menu/Start Menu/Advanced/ Start Menu Items)

  • The Accessories Folder: Don’t add or remove shortcuts to this folder. It contains files that other users - including technicians - may wish to use, and expect to find there. But feel free to copy shortcuts from there to other folders.
  • The Startup Folder: Windows uses this folder to keep track of programs that have to run at bootup time. Don’t store anything in this folder except programs that you want to run automatically, and remove any that are unnecessary to you.
  • ‘System Administrative Tools’: This is usually only of interest to technicians. You can hide it using the Control Panel (Control Panel/ Task Bar & Start Menu/ Start Menu/Advanced/ Start Menu Items).

Customizing Your Start Menu

There are many ways to customize your Start Menu. Some of these can be discovered by experimenting with the settings in the ‘Task Bar & Start Menu’ control panel.Another way is, instead of filing all your programs by their name, instead you filethem by what they do. Suggestions about how to do this are on the next page.Remember: you can copy shortcuts to each program into as many different places asyou like.

Ideas for ProgramsMenu folders...

Folder Name Notes
Accessories This is a System Folder, and mustn’t be renamed or deleted. You can add any shortcuts you like, but don’t remove any that are normally here.
Artwork Put shortcuts here for all the programs you find useful for creating or editing artwork. You could call this folder ’Artwork’, ’Graphics’, ‘Photos’,‘Pictures’ - or have separate folders for all of these names.
Databases Put links to database programs here: Filemaker, Access, Treepad etc..
Games Shortcuts to games go here.
Internet Everything to do with the Internet goes here - email, browsers, Messenger,and FTP clients, . Most people have shortcuts to their Internet programs on their Desktop, so separate ‘Browsers’ and ‘Email’ folders probably aren’t necessary. But you could have them if you wanted.
Maintenance Everything to do with maintenance and security goes here - including links to items from Accessories/System Tools such as Disk Cleanup.
Microsoft Office, Open Office, etc Some people like to keep their Office items together; others like to split them up into a variety of descriptive folders (‘Word Processor’,‘Spreadsheet’ etc.). You can do either … or both!
Microsoft Office Tools This folder could reasonably be kept inside the Microsoft Office folder.
Movies Shortcuts to movie and DVD programs go here.
Music Shortcuts to music programs go here.
Spreadsheets Shortcuts to spreadsheet programs go here.
Startup This is a System Folder, and mustn’t be renamed or deleted.
Tutorials Shortcuts to tutorial programs - such as typing programs - go here.
Utilities All other programs go here - especially the ones you never use.
Word Processors Shortcuts to word processing programs go here. Don’t forget to copy the shortcuts to Notepad and Wordpad from the Accessories folder.

The aim of this homework is to reorganize the Programs list by what the programs do, rather than what they are called. You can do this on your owncomputer, if you like, or you can do it in a ‘practice folder’.
  • Step 1: Make a shortcut to your All Users Start Menu folder, as describedon page 14
  • Step 2: If you wish to create a Practice Folder, open your Programs folder,and create a new folder there called ‘Practice Folder’. Use this folder tocreate your new-look Programs list. Then, when you are finished with it,you can delete it.
  • Step 3: Create your new-look Programs list.First, create a folder called ’Maintenance’. Move all the shortcuts to your security and maintenance programs into it. Also, copy all the maintenanceshortcuts from the Accessories folder, such as ‘Disk Cleanup’ and ‘Disk Defragmentation’.This has many benefits: it makes it easy for you to find linksto these programs, brings them all into the one place where you or a techniciancan easily find them, and helps remind you when they need to be updatedor run.

    (Important: don’t remove anything from the Accessories folder. Instead,copy anything you wish to move elsewhere. That way, the shortcuts remainwhere other people - including technicians! - would look for them.)Next, create a ’Utilities’ folder. Put there everything you do not normally access from the Start Menu. Examples: Acrobat Reader, WinZip), or programs that only a technician would normally use.Finally, add a collection of folders that describe what the programs do, and move all of your program shortcuts into one or other of them. Remember:you can copy a shortcut into as many different places as you like. See the previous page for some suggestions for Programs list folders.

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