Welcome to the Windows 11 Start Menu

Before we change anything, let’s see what the default Windows 11 Start menu looks like. At the top of the menu, a search field lets you search for apps, files, and settings. The Pinned section shows apps that have been pinned; scroll up and down to see them all. To view a list of all your installed apps, click the All Apps button.

The Recommended section displays recently added and recently opened apps and files. Click the More button to see a longer list. Below this section is your profile icon, where you can change account settings, lock the PC, or sign out. The power button on the right lets you put Windows to sleep, shut down your PC, or restart it.

Change Recommended Apps and Files

If you want to change anything, head to Settings > Personalization > Start, where you can tell Windows to stop showing recently installed apps, frequently used apps, and recently opened items in the Start menu, App List, and elsewhere. Experiment with each of these three options to determine which ones to turn on and off. If you turn all three options off, the Recommended section of the Start menu will be empty.

Add Folders

You can add folders to the bottom of the Start menu from Settings > Personalization > Start > Folders. Turn on the switch next to any folder you wish to see next to the power icon. This way you can gain easy access to Settings, File Explorer, Documents, Downloads, and more.

Add and Remove Pinned Apps

You can tweak the menu further by removing, pinning, and moving specific apps under the Pinned section. Right-click an icon for an app and click Unpin from Start to remove the app from the Start Menu. You will find that the app remains in the App List.

If you wish to add an app to the Start menu, click All Apps to view all your installed apps. Right-click on an item not already in the Start menu and select Pin to Start.

Any apps added to the Pinned section can be moved to your liking. So if you use some more frequently than others, move them to the top of the Pinned section for easy access. Do this quickly by right-clicking the icon and selecting Move to Top. Or simply drag icons into place.

Realign the Start Button

You may have also noticed that the Start button is centered on the taskbar in Windows 11, which is different from its usual spot in the bottom-left corner of the screen. If you prefer the way it’s always been positioned, you can move the entire taskbar into place.

Open Settings > Personalization > Taskbar, then select the Taskbar behaviors option. Use the Taskbar alignment drop-down to change the icons from Center to Left. The Start button, along with the rest of the icons on the Taskbar, will reposition to the bottom left. For more on customizing the Taskbar, check out our guide.

Start Menu Alternative: Stardock’s Start 11

If you still don’t like the Windows 11 Start menu, consider downloading an alternative. A top choice is Stardock’s Start 11, which is still in beta but open to all. For a free, 30-day trial, click the Download the latest update link underneath the green Get the Beta button on the Stardock.com. After that, it costs $4.99 ($3.99 if you’re upgrading from a previous version) and includes 30 days of direct technical support, plus unlimited access to its tech support forums.

The program’s setup screen asks if you want your taskbar left aligned or center aligned. You can then choose a style of Start menu, such as Windows 7 style, Modern style, Windows 10 style, or Windows 11 style. If you prefer the classic two-column Start menu, go for Windows 7 style or Modern style. You can further tweak a style by clicking the down arrow next to it and selecting a compact or grid layout.

Go through the rest of the setup options to customize the Start button, taskbar, and search feature. You can set when and how the Start 11 menu appears from the Control tab. For example, you can tweak it so that clicking the Start button triggers the Start 11 menu but pressing the Windows key on your keyboard triggers the regular Windows 11 Start menu.

When finished, click the Start button to see your new Start menu. Right-click anywhere in the Start menu to modify it by deleting or renaming shortcuts and moving shortcuts to specific folders. You can also return to the Start 11 settings to change any options by right-clicking the taskbar and selecting Configure Start 11.

Start Menu Alternative: StartAllBack

Another good Windows 11 Start menu alternative is StartAllBack, which costs $4.99 ($1.50 if you’re upgrading from a previous version) after a 30-day trial. You’re first asked to choose your preferred two-column Start menu setup with such options as Proper 11, Kinda 10, and Remastered 7.

To further tweak StartAllBack, use the tabs on the left to edit the Start menu, taskbar, File Explorer, and more. When done, click the Start button to use the new menu. Right-click anywhere to delete, rename, or move specific shortcuts.