In Windows 7, you have much more control over the programs and files that appear on the Start menu. The Start menu is essentially a blank slate that you can organize and customize to suit your preferences.
Windows 7 introduces Jump Lists for both the Start menu and the taskbar. Jump Lists are lists of recent items, such as files, folders, or websites, organized by the program you use to open them. In addition to being able to open recent items using a Jump List, you can also pin favorite items to a Jump List, so that you can easily access the programs and files you use every day.
By default, no programs or files are pinned to the Start menu to begin with. After you open a program or an item for the first time, it will appear in the Start menu, but you can choose to remove it, or you can pin it to the Start menu so that it always appears there. You can also adjust the number of shortcuts that appear in the Start menu so that it doesn’t get too large. For more information about working with Jump Lists, see Using Jump Lists to open programs and items.
In previous versions of Windows, managing your files meant organizing them in different folders and subfolders. In Windows 7, you can also use libraries to organize and access files by type, regardless of where they’re stored.
A library gathers files from different locations and displays them as a single collection, without moving them from where they’re stored. There are four default libraries (Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos), but you can create new libraries for other collections. The Documents, Music, and Pictures libraries appear on the Start menu by default. Like other items on the Start menu, you can add or remove libraries, or customize their appearance. For more information about working with libraries, see Libraries: frequently asked questions.
The Start menu includes a search box that you can use to find files, folders, programs, and e-mail messages stored on your computer. When you start typing a word or phrase in the search box, the search begins automatically, and the search results temporarily fill the Start menu space above the search box.
The search results are organized into groups, depending on what kind of item each result is and where it's located on your computer. For example, you might see your search results grouped by Programs, by Control Panel tasks, by library (such as Documents or Pictures), and by Files. The top search results—but not all matches—for each group are displayed under a group heading. You can click an individual result to open that program or file, or you can click a group heading to see the complete list of search results for that group in Windows Explorer.
The Shut down button appears in the lower-right corner of the Start menu.
When you click Shut down, your computer closes all open programs and shuts down your computer. You can choose to have this button perform a different action, such as putting your computer into sleep mode or allowing a different user to log on. For more information about changing the Power button options, see Turning off your computer properly.
Some familiar buttons have been changed or removed from the Start menu in Windows 7 (but you can add them back if you want to).
The Printers button is now the Devices and Printers button. You can click this button to display a list of all peripheral devices connected to your computer, including printers, faxes, monitors, and your mouse.
The Network button has been removed from the Start menu, but it appears in the navigation pane of Windows Explorer. You can click the Network button to display a list of all the computers connected to your current network.
The Recent Items button has been removed from the Start menu, although the files and programs you’ve recently opened will still appear in the Jump List for the Start menu automatically. You can also add the Recent Items button back to the Start menu if you prefer.
You might also notice that the classic Start menu option, which gave your Start menu the look and functionality of previous versions of Windows, is no longer available in Windows 7. For more information about adding and removing buttons on the Start menu, see Customize the Start menu.
The Start menu has a new search feature so you can easily find the programs or folders you're looking for. The information is organized more efficiently than in previous versions of Windows, and there are new buttons for locking your computer or putting it into a low-power state called sleep mode. Of course, the Start menu is still the place to find and organize your program shortcuts and links to favorite places. It's also still the place to turn your computer off or log off.
The Search box is one of the most convenient ways to find things on your computer. The exact location of the items doesn't matter—the Search box will scour your programs and all of the folders in your personal folder (which includes Documents, Pictures, Music, Desktop, and other common locations). It will also search your e‑mail messages, saved instant messages, appointments, and contacts.
As you type, the Start menu changes to show the best possible results, with priority given to the programs you open most frequently. As you type more letters, the results narrow until there are only a couple of items left in the list.
You don't have to know the exact name of the program or other item you want to find. You can also search for a type of program. For example, if you don't know the name of your e‑mail program, you can try typing e‑mail to get the right result.
The Run command is no longer on the Start menu, but you can use the Search box on the Start menu in place of the Run command. You can also add the Run command back to Start menu. For more information, see Customize the Start menu.
All Programs on the Start menu is now a single list of folders and programs. When you click a folder in All Programs, the folder expands in place within the list. To get back to the Start menu, just click Back.
When you click the Power button on the Start menu,
saves your work and programs just as they are, and then puts the computer into sleep mode.
If you have a mobile PC, and your battery is running low or the mobile PC has been asleep for a set amount of time, Windows
saves your work to your hard disk, and then turns off your mobile PC.
For more information about turning off your computer, see Turn off a computer: frequently asked questions.