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Windows 7 hints and tips

Edit the Start menu in Windows 7

The Start menu can easily and quickly become a bit of an untidy mess when you start to install software. Each program adds its own menu entries and you end up with a long list of items with no structure. Of course, there are already submenus for Accessories and a few other items, but these aren't enough.

After you have installed half a dozen programs you will want to organise the Start menu items into folders to impose some sort of order on them. For example, you could have an Internet folder for any software that is used with the internet, like web browsers, instant messengers, email, and even web page designers. You could have a utilities folder for useful tools, and an Applications folder for programs like office suites, photo editors and so on.

With Windows XP this was quite straightforward and in the C:\Documents and Settings folder were the account folders for each user that had an account. Within each account was a Start Menu folder and this enabled you to edit the Start menu contents. There was also an All Users account that contained items that were accessible to everyone and the Start Menu folder contained menu items that were common to everyone's Start menu.

A quick way to edit the Start menu was to right click the Start button and select Explore All Users to edit the common Start menu contents or right click and select Explorer to edit just your private Start menu.

This doesn't work in Windows 7. Right clicking Start just gives options to access the properties or to open Windows Explorer. There isn't a C:\Documents and Settings folder and if you look in C:\Users where everyone's account folders are stored, there isn't a Start Menu folder. Dig around the disk contents and you'll find the Start menu in C:\ProgramsData. However, it has a padlock on the icon and you can't open the folder. How can we edit the Start menu?

It is actually simpler than you think and instead of right clicking the Start button and selecting Explore or Explorer All Users, you click Start and then right click the All Programs menu instead. Select Open to open an Explorer window to edit your private Start menu items, or select Open All Users to open the Start menu that is common to everyone. Now you can create folders and move items around to rearrange the menus.

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