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Windows 7 - Organizing the Start Menu


Many people keep their start menus in such a state of disarray that it is a wonder that they manage to use them in a remotely efficient manner. If you've installed a lot of programs on your computer, your start menu probably spans two panes of navigation in which folders and shortcuts are scattered all around making it difficult to find what you need. While Windows 7 automatically places shortcuts to your most frequently used programs in first panel of the start menu, it can still be frustrating when you need to find something in the "All Programs" section.

Arranging your start menu is simply a matter of moving around certain folders and shortcuts and deleting the ones you don't need. You can do all of this just by using the Windows Explorer. No third-party software is necessary.

The shortcuts contained in the start menu are located in the following two folders on the computer:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
C:\Users\YourUserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs


The installer for each individual program decides which folder to place its shortcuts in, but they all appear in the start menu regardless. The first folder contains start menu shortcuts that any user of your computer will be able to see. The second folder contains shortcuts that only you will be able to see when logged into your user account. For most purposes, having everything stored in the first folder is ideal and, for the purpose of this guide, that is what we will be doing.

Open both folders in separate Explorer windows so that you can easily drag and drop files between them. Ensure that you replace "YourUserName" with the user name of your account. With both Explorer windows open, drag one to the left and drag another to the right so that they snap to the sides of the screen.

Select everything in "C:\Users\ YourUserName AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" except for the "Startup" folder, right-click and click "Cut." Paste the folder into the other start menu folder by right-clicking in it and pressing "Paste."

"C:\Users\ YourUserName AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" should now be completely empty except for the Startup folder. In this Explorer window, navigate to the other start menu folder. Having two copies of the same folder open will make the next it much quicker and easier to move the shortcuts around.

In "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs," create folders for each category that you want to appear in the start menu when you click "All Programs." For example, you can create a folder called "Multimedia" for all of your multimedia applications such as music and video players.

Delete any folders you don't need. From one Explorer window, drag any shortcuts that you want to retain to the categorized folders that you just created. When you have moved the shortcut, delete the folder which previously contained it. Continue to do this until your folders are properly arranged with shortcuts to your programs contained in their most suitable folders. The changes will take place immediately.

 

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