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.