Making the Windows 8.1 Start Menu Your Own by Dean Keith

Windows 8The current version of Windows 8.1 enables more features to help the user bridge the difference between Applications running on the Desktop and Apps running in full screen mode. The addition of the Close and Minimize buttons to the tile Apps screens and enabling tile Apps to be pinned to the Taskbar that now appears when using an App improves the experience for the user.

Historically, I have tried to find the best place to easily access Applications, Websites, or specific files. Should they be pinned to the Taskbar, which only supports Applications and Apps? How do I organize my desktop to see links to Websites or specific files using shortcut icons? The Start Menu in Windows 8.1 provides an excellent way to resolve those questions.

Start Menu Basics
Right clicking in the Start Menu activates the Name Groups option. All tiles on the Start Menu can be separated into Groups. Scrolling the mouse wheel moves you right and left through the groups. Holding the Ctrl key down and then scrolling down with the mouse wheel minimizes the groups. This allows you to select a group and move it to a different position relative to the other groups. This Microsoft video will help you see these options to set up your Start Menu. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/start-screen-tutorial

Start Menu Advanced
As the video shows when in Windows Explorer, you can right click a Folder and choose Pin to Start to add it to the Start Menu. From there, it can added to a group. Now, you have Applications, Apps and Folders pinned to your Start Menu in groups. No matter what you are doing, pressing the Windows Key provides easy access to frequently used actions.

Adding Files and Websites
Unless you are using Internet Explorer (choose Add site to Apps in the Menu Bar – Tools drop down list) there is not a way to do create an icon for websites on the Start Menu from other browsers. Follow these steps to create that Shortcut Icon from any browser:

1. Copy the URL for the website for which you want to create a Shortcut Icon.
2. Press the Windows Key and Right Click on any icon in the Start Menu.
3. Choose – Open file location.
4. You want to be in the Start Menu folder in Windows Explorer. You may need to go up one or two levels in Windows Explorer. Use the Address Bar in Windows Explorer to select Start Menu.
5. You may need to change the Permissions in the Security Tab for the Folder’s Properties to Allow you to Modify the folder.
6. Right Click in an empty area of the folder or use the New Item drop down in the Home Tab to create a New Shortcut.
7. Paste the Website URL in the field and continue with the Wizard to setup the Shortcut Icon.
8. Press the Windows Key and go to the list of all applications (the down arrow in the lower left corner of the Start Menu).
9. Change the sort option of the list to “by date installed.”
10. Right click the Shortcut Icon you created and choose Pin to Start.
11. Go back up to the Start Menu or just press the Windows Key again.
12. Then move the icon on the Start Menu to the appropriate group.

To create a Shortcut Icon for a specific file:

1. Press the Windows Key and Right Click on any icon in the Start Menu.
2. Choose – Open file location.
3. You want to be in the Start Menu folder in Windows Explorer.
4. You may need to change the Permissions in the Security Tab for the Folder’s Properties to Allow you Modify the folder.
5. Right Click in an empty area of the folder or use the New Item drop down in the Home Tab to create a New Shortcut.
6. Choose Browse to navigate to the file for which you want to create a Shortcut Icon, press OK and continue with the Wizard to setup the shortcut.
7. Press the Windows Key and go the list of all applications (the down arrow in the lower left corner of the Start Menu).
8. Change the sort of the list to “by date installed.”
9. Right click the Shortcut Icon you created and choose Pin to Start.
10. Go back up to the Start Menu or just press the Windows Key again.
11. Then move the icon on the Start Menu to the appropriate group.

Change the Icon’s Image
The default icon image is usually boring. Right Click on the icon in the Start Menu folder in Windows Explorer. You can access this folder by Right Clicking on the icon in the Start Menu and choosing Open File Location. Once in the folder, Right Click on the icon and choose Properties in the drop down list. In the Shortcut Tab, (or Web Document Tab for Internet Shortcuts) choose Change Icon and select a new icon image from the list. You can paste this file location into the “Look for icons in this file:” field if you get a location without many icons displayed. %SystemRoot%\system32\SHELL32.dll

An alternative involves searching the Internet for .ico files for an image you would prefer. For example, search for “Facebook ico files” to find a website that allows the .ico file to be downloaded. http://www.iconspedia.com/ appears to be safe. Download the .ico file and save it in a location you can easily find. I save mine in My Pictures folder. When in the Change Icon dialog box, Browse to that location to choose the .ico file you downloaded.

Have fun setting up your Start Menu. I have found it very easy to access anything and open it without having the go to the Desktop by minimizing open windows. It may even replace your need to pin applications or apps to the Taskbar.

Dean Keith is one of our Adjunct Faculty in the BOSS department.  He teaches Emeritus and credit courses and also does computer consulting and technical support in the Dallas Area.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________
For more information on the Business Office Systems and Support department, contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, bjones@dcccd.edu, 972-238-6215.