One of the most common uses of the Start menu is opening programs installed on your computer. To open a program shown in the left pane of the Start menu, click it. The program opens and the Start menu closes.
If you don't see the program you want, click All Programs at the bottom of the left pane. The left pane displays a long list of programs in alphabetical order, followed by a list of folders.
Clicking one of the program icons starts the program, and the Start menu closes. So what's inside the folders? More programs. Click Accessories, for example, and a list of programs that are stored in that folder appears. Click any program to open it. To get back to the programs you saw when you first opened the Start menu, click Back near the bottom of the menu.
If you're ever unsure what a program does, move the pointer over its icon or name. A box appears that often contains a description of the program. For example, pointing to Calculator displays this message: "Performs basic arithmetic tasks with an on-screen calculator." This trick works for items in the right pane of the Start menu, too.
You might notice that over time, the lists of programs in your Start menu change. This happens for two reasons. First, when you install new programs, they get added to the All Programs list. Second, the Start menu detects which programs you use the most, and places them in the left pane for quick access.