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Windows XP: Clean the Start Menu

By: Arie Slob

Windows XP Start Menu

The Windows XP Start menu is "polluted" with a number of extra links courtesy of Microsoft. At the top there are links to the Internet and E-mail programs; these default to the Microsoft programs. We'll discuss changing those later.

Under those two shortcuts, we find the "Most frequently used" programs list. But when you start using other programs, you'll notice that Microsoft has given its own an apparent "head start", as they will be slow to disappear from the list.

It is, however, easy enough to remove a program from this list: just right-click on the program you want to remove, and from the menu select Remove from This List. When you right-click, you might also note that Pin to Start menu is an option. When you select that option, the shortcut will be moved to the top of the Start menu, directly below the E-mail link. You can also remove a program that was pinned to the Start menu by right-clicking, and choosing Unpin from Start menu (which will restore it to its position on the lower part of the start menu), or choosing Remove from This List, which will remove it completely from the Start menu.

Next you will notice a great number of links on the right side of the Start menu such as My Documents, My Recent Documents, My Pictures and My Music.

Well, I don't know about you, but that's nothing that I need there! Just right-click an empty space on the Start menu, click Properties, click Customize and select the Advanced tab.

Now you can customize the look & feel of your Start menu in whatever way you want! There are a number of items (Control Panel, My Computer, My Documents, My Music, and My Pictures) for which you have these three options:

  • Display as link
  • Display as menu
  • Don't display this item

It is especially useful to have the Control Panel as menu, as this will create faster access to the individual Control Panel applets.

There are another number of options... I suggest you check it out.

Highlight newly installed programs

One other option I should mention is the Highlight newly installed programs. This is another annoyance you will want to switch off quickly! Not only will newly installed programs be listed with a yellowish highlight in the All Programs menu, you will also receive a pop-up when you open the start menu that tells you New programs installed.

New programs installed

On the General tab (after pressing Customize on the Taskbar and Start Menu properties), you can also change the Internet & E-mail programs listed on the Start menu. The drop-down boxes should contain all programs installed on your system.

Also you can change the number of shortcuts listed on the (left side) Start menu, as well as clear the whole list of programs in one shot.

On the Taskbar and Start Menu properties itself, you can also choose Classic Start menu. Choosing this option will make your start menu look like the Windows 2000 Start menu.