Keeping an organized start menu is something that doesn’t even occur to most computer users. As more programs are installed on your machine, more shortcuts icons appear in the start menu until, eventually, it becomes frustratingly time-consuming to find the shortcut you need. Although, since Windows Vista, the new start menu design has helped to alleviate this problem to some degree, having an organized start menu still provides a number of benefits. It is far more convenient and easier to find things if all of the entries in your start menu are organized and arranged into categories.
There are two different methods of organizing your Windows 7 start menu. You can either use a small third-party program for assistance, or you can do it manually. Manually organizing your start menu is easy enough, so there isn’t really any need for installing yet another program on your computer. The following tips tell you how to organize your start menu in Windows 7, though the process is highly similar for Windows Vista as well.
1 – Access the Start Menu Folders
The start menu shortcuts in Windows 7 can be found in these two directories:
The first directory is the global one while the second directory contains any shortcuts specific to your user account. If Windows is installed on a different hard drive, replace the first ‘C’ with the letter of that hard drive. Open up a couple of explorer windows and navigate to these directories.
2 – Merge the Two Directories
For convenience, have all your start menu shortcuts placed in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs. This will mean that the start menu will be the same for all users. If there are any shortcuts that you only want on your user account, they should be placed in the second directory mentioned above.
Cut all the shortcuts and folders (except for the Startup folder) in C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs and paste them into C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs. Now you are ready to sort and categorize the start menu.
3 – Organize the Start Menu Folder
Start by creating a folder for each category. For example, you could have a folder entitled ‘Productivity’ and another entitled ‘Internet Programs’ etc.
To clean up the start menu, move all of the shortcuts you want from their old folders into the new folders you have created. To make this easier, you may want to open the folder in an additional window as well. This will allow you to simply drag the icons across into the new folders. You will likely come across many shortcuts and even entire folders that you never use. You can simply delete these. Deleting these shortcuts will not alter any programs on your hard disk.
Once you have done that, you are finished. When you uninstall programs, you will need to manually remove the start menu shortcut as well, but your start menu will be far more user-friendly. If you only need to move one or two shortcuts, you can also move them around within the start menu itself. If you need to move any more, doing so within Windows Explorer is far more efficient.