What You Need to Know About the Windows 11 Start Menu

Typing on Windows laptop on top of lap

Users are voicing their displeasure with some of the changes made to the Start menu in Windows 11. Find out which modifications are prompting the most outcry and what can be done about them.

A hot topic concerning Windows 11 is its new Start menu and the button used to launch it. If you perform a web search using the term “Windows 11 Start menu”, you will see headlines such as “The Windows 11 Start menu sucks” and “Hate the Windows 11 Start Menu? Here’s How to Change or Replace It“.

For longtime Windows users, these headlines probably aren’t too surprising. Microsoft has been in the hot seat for changing the Start menu before. Most notable was when it released Windows 8. In that version, Microsoft eliminated the Start button and replaced the Start menu with a Start screen. The Start screen covered the entire desktop yet lacked search and shutdown options.

In response to users’ complaints, Microsoft made a few modifications in Windows 8.1, such as adding shutdown and search options to the Start screen. It also brought back the Start button, putting it in the traditional spot — the lower left corner. However, clicking the button brought up the Start screen and not the Start menu. Microsoft waited until Windows 10 to switch back to the Start menu, which included some of the Start screen features, such as Live Tiles. Because users were stuck with the Start screen for a while, many third-party vendors started offering apps that added a Windows 7-style Start menu to Windows 8 and 8.1.

The Controversial Changes in the Windows 11 Start Menu

Like Windows 8 users, Windows 11 users are voicing their displeasure with some of the changes made to the Start menu in Windows 11. The modifications prompting the most outcry are the menu’s new location and new size.

Both the Start button and Start menu have moved in Windows 11. The Start button is no longer sitting by itself in the traditional spot that Windows 8 users fought so hard to keep. Instead, it is among a scattering of app icons in the center of the taskbar. Clicking the button brings up the Start menu, which also appears in the center of the screen.

This new position is problematic for some users, especially given the new size of the Windows 11 Start menu. While not as massive as the Windows 8 Start screen, the Windows 11 Start menu is noticeably larger than its Windows 10 counterpart. One computer expert wrote, “How about some humility, Microsoft? What we want out of Start menu is to give us quick access to all of our programs and then get out of the way. However, in Windows 11, the Start menu is designed to be showy rather than functional, sitting in the middle of the display by default and taking up more screen real estate for fewer icons than in Windows 10.”

What You Can and Can’t Do About These Changes

If you dislike the new location of the Windows 11 Start menu and button, you can easily move them back to the left side of your screen. You just need to do the following:

  1. Right-click anywhere there is an empty spot In the Windows 11 taskbar and select “Taskbar settings”. The “Taskbar” page in the “Personalization” section of the Settings app will appear.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of the “Taskbar” page and click “Taskbar behaviors”.
  3. Find the “Taskbar alignment” entry and change its value from “Center” to “Left”.
  4. Close the Settings app.

All the app icons in the taskbar will now be on the left, with the Start button in its traditional location. When you click that button, the Start menu will appear on the left side of your screen.

Although you can change the Start menu’s location, you can’t make it smaller. Microsoft removed the ability to resize the Start menu in Windows 11. While there is always a chance that Microsoft might bring back this functionality in a future update, there are currently no indications it plans to do so.

There is another option, though. Third-party vendors are starting to offer apps that add a Windows 10-style Start menu to Windows 11, just like they did when users were discontent with the new Start screen in Windows 8.

We hope you found this guide helpful. With WAMS, we will be responsible for your small to medium sized firm or business with our IT solutions and managed services. To get in contact with our team of experts, please email info@wamsinc.com or call (800) 421-7151.


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