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Windows 8: The secret Start menu

The biggest and most obvious change in Windows 8 is the removal of the Start button and Start menu. In its place is the Start screen with its tiles for apps from the online store and the software you install. Although there isn't a Start button or menu, there is in fact, a hidden button and menu that provides access to certain programs and functions. You just need to know where to click.

From the Start screen click the Desktop tile to go to the Windows 8 desktop. Move the mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen and let it hover there for a second or two. The Start screen tile is displayed and if you right click the mouse you'll see a menu appear with some useful functions.

Windows 8 language settings

The Control Panel is on this menu and some of the items are from the Control Panel, such as Programs and Features, Power Options, and System. There are some other tools that used to be hard to find in previous versions of Windows, such as Event Viewer and Device Manager. These are now easier to access (provided you know this shortcut).

This pop-up menu is strange, but what is even stranger is that the Start menu still exists! Open an Explorer window on the desktop, select the View tab and tick Hidden items. Now select Computer on the left, double click Local Disk C:, Program Data, Microsoft, Windows. There is a folder called Start Menu. Right click it and select Send to, Desktop (create shortcut). Close the Explorer window.

You now have an icon on the desktop to the Start menu. Double click it and Explorer opens and displays the start menu. Open the Programs folder and you'll see shortcuts to Windows Accessories, and folders and shortcuts to software you have installed.

There are, in fact, two places where Start menu items are held. There always has been. When software is installed you may have noticed that it sometimes asks you if it should be installed for everyone or just for you. This is because there is a public Start menu that everyone can access (the one described above), and a private Start menu that contains only items visible to you. (It's like your Documents folder and the Public or Shared Documents folder.)

Windows 8 language settings

To see your private Start menu open an Explorer window and go to C:\Users\YourName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows. There is your Start Menu folder. You can right click it and send it to the desktop as before if you want a shortcut to it.