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Managing the Microsoft Windows XP Start Menu

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Michael Miller, author of TechTV's Microsoft Windows XP for Home Users, Second Edition, discusses how to change the appearance and functionality of the Windows XP Start menu.

This article is excerpted from TechTV's Microsoft Windows XP for Home Users, Second Edition, by Michael Miller (TechTV Press, in association with New Riders Publishing, a division of Pearson Education, 2003, ISBN 0-7357-1351-0).

The Start menu in Windows XP is a lot different than the Start menu you got used to in previous versions of Windows. It does a good job of hiding things you don't use that often, while keeping your most frequently used programs front and center.

Changing the Way the Start Menu Works

Windows XP applies a handful of special effects to the Start menu. You can animate the Start menu when it opens, force submenus to open when you hover over them, and highlight new applications.

To change these special effects, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Properties from the pop-up menu.

  2. When the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box appears, select the Start Menu tab and click the Customize button.

  3. When the Customize Start Menu dialog box appears, select the Advanced tab (shown in Figure 1).

    Figure 1Figure 1 Change the way the Start menu behaves—and what it displays.

  4. To animate the Start menu, check the Animate Start Menu As It Opens option.

  5. To make submenus open when you point at them, check the Open Submenus on Hover option.

  6. To highlight the newest applications, check the Highlight Newly Installed Programs option.

  7. Click OK when done.

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