Start menu madness

FI-Log-On-With-Larry-SchneiderDear Larry,

When I click the Start button followed by All Programs, I see a huge jumbled list, and I’m always forced to scroll down to find my Program menus. How did my Start menu become so chaotic and how can I bring order to it?

F. N.

Dear F. N.,

You’re not the only one afflicted with this mélange of mayhem. Microsoft originally designed the Start Menu so that each program’s assorted icons could be tucked away into individual menus. For example, you’d click Start, All Programs, Microsoft Office to find Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Similarly, you’d click Start, All Programs, iTunes to access the iTunes icons.

Then one day, some company decided, “Why should our software’s icons be hidden away in a submenu for the sake of organization? Let’s stick them right at the top of the Start Menu so that we can remind users of our wonderful company name and the programs they love.”

Yeah, right.

One company after another followed suit, and the result was a mishmash. Countless companies are to blame for this, but the one that really gets my goat is Adobe. Adobe Acrobat Reader is the gold standard when it comes to reading pre-formatted documents. There’s no questioning its value … but why, Adobe, must you crowd the desktop and start menu with icons to start Acrobat Reader along with an icon to find your website?

No one should ever really need an icon to start Acrobat Reader. It opens on its own when it’s called for. Who needs this junk?

So it’s time to take control of this mess and restore organization to your computer. We begin when we left-click the Start button, then right-click All Programs and left-click “Open.” Left-click the Start button and then right-click All Programs again, but this time left-click “Open All Users.” Note that your Start Menu is created from a consolidation of the icons in these two windows.

We’ll start with one of the two windows that opened, then proceed to the other. You should see a yellow “Programs” folder and possibly one that’s called “Default Programs” and another called “Windows Update.” Any other icons that appear here probably shouldn’t, so either highlight and delete them or drag them to your desktop should you want to deposit them somewhere else later on.

Again, all that should remain are a yellow Programs folder and possibly a Default Programs and Windows Update icon.

Next, click the Programs folder to open it. You’ll see a list of yellow folders and more program icons trailing at the end. It’s these program icons that show up at the top of the All Programs list. I suggest you delete what you don’t need or want, then drag the rest into appropriate folders. Don’t worry, deleting these icons doesn’t remove the program from your computer.

Ambitious users might want to go one more step and consolidate the folders (and icons within them) into a list that makes sense for them. Separate the wheat from the chaff, and the next time you click Start, it will take you seconds to find the icon you’re looking for, not minutes.

This is Larry Schneider, logging off.

Larry Schneider is the owner of Accent on Computers, a Greenwich-based consulting firm — now in its 16th year of business — catering to individuals, businesses and professional offices. PC and Mac services include computer setup, training, troubleshooting, virus resolution, networking, Internet, database, and programming. Call 203-625-7575, visit or send email to [email protected]

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