Start menu

Updated: 05/13/2019 by Computer Hope
Windows Start menu

The Microsoft Windows Start menu is the primary location in Windows to locate your installed programs and find any files or folders. By default, the Start menu is accessed by clicking Start, which has the Windows logo on it and is located in the bottom-left corner of the Windows desktop screen.

The picture to the right is an example of how the Windows 7 Start menu may appear.

Note

In Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, the Start menu was replaced by the Start Screen. The Start menu returned in Windows 10 and is discussed later on this page.

Tip

You can press the Windows key on the keyboard or Ctrl+Esc keyboard shortcut to open the Start menu.

Tip

If you're more familiar with Apple computers, you can think of the Start menu as the Apple menu.

What is accessible in the Start menu?

Below is an overview of the Windows Start menu found in Microsoft Windows XP and Windows 7. If you have Windows 10 Skip down to the Windows 10 Start menu section.

Left pane

The left pane shows recently started programs, or any pinned program shortcuts. In the above example, there is one pinned program separated by a line and then the recently ran programs.

All programs

At the bottom of the left pane is the All Programs option that displays all programs that have been installed on the computer.

Search

Directly below the All Programs option is the "Search" bar. This useful feature allows you to type in the name of the program or file you're looking for and have the results displayed above.

Right pane

The right pane shows each of the more commonly accessed sections of the computer, such as your Computer, Control Panel, Documents, Music, and Pictures.

Tip

You can find the version of Windows on your computer if you right-click on Computer and select Properties. In the System window you can view basic system properties, including the Windows version and access the Device Manager.

Shut down

At the bottom of the right pane is the Shut down button, which allows you to turn the computer off. You can also click the arrow next to the Shut down button to switch user, log off, restart, sleep, or hibernate the computer.

Windows 10 Start menu

The Windows 10 Start menu made some drastic changes to the Start menu available in previous versions of Windows as is immediately apparent in the picture below. One of the most noticeable changes is the integration of tiles (from the Windows 8 start screen) into the Start menu. From this Start menu, you can access all your programs through the "All apps" option and in the left pane.

Windows 10 Start menu

Should I capitalize "menu" in Windows Start Menu?

In early versions of Microsoft Windows such as Windows 95 and Windows 98, the "M" in Menu was capitalized as shown in the following picture of the Windows 98 Start Menu. With all modern versions of Microsoft Windows such as Windows 7 and Windows 10, the "m" in menu should be written in lowercase. So, when referring to the Microsoft Windows Start menu today it should be written as Start menu.

Windows 98 Start Menu

Operating system terms, Start