Opening Programs from the Start Menu

Although improvements to the taskbar in Windows 7 have reduced the number of necessary trips to the Start menu (shown below), the Start menu continues to provide access to nearly everything you need to do in Windows.

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Devicesand Printers

Default Programs

Help and Support

-Pinned programs

-Recently used programs

Link to All Programs menu

Start menu search box

Like the default Start menu in Windows XP and Windows Vista, the Windows 7 Start menu is a two-column affair, the left side of which is reserved for the programs you use most often or that you have used most recently. Windows 7 devotes the right side of the menu to various important system folders, such as your Documents and Pictures folders, Control Panel, and Devices And Printers .

Four areas of the Start menu make it easy to run the programs and open the documents you need most. They are listed here in descending order of convenience and ease of use:

• Pinned programs The area in the upper left corner of the Start menu, above the horizontal line, is reserved for the programs you want to be accessible at all times . After you have pinned an item to this part of the Start menu, it stays there (unless you subsequently remove it).

• Recently used programs Windows populates the area directly below the pinned programs with programs that you have used recently. You can change the number and types of programs that appear here; for details, see "Customizing the Left Side of the Start Menu" on page 117 .

• Start menu search box The Start menu includes a search box (at the bottom on the left, directly below All Programs). You can get to anything on the menu, no matter how deeply nested it might be, by typing a few characters into this box. In the preceding illustration, for example, Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 does not appear on the left side of the menu because we haven't pinned it to the top of the menu or used it recently. Navigating to this program's menu entry would require a couple of clicks and a bit of scrolling (one click to open All Programs, another to open Microsoft Office). As Figure 4-4 shows, three characters in the search box are enough to bring Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 to the Programs area of the search results, at the top of the Start menu n

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Figure 4-4 Typing one into the search box is sufficient to bring Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 to the top of the Start menu.

Provided you're not completely averse to typing, the search box pretty much eliminates the hassle of finding items that are buried several folders deep within the menu structure . The Start menu search box doesn't limit its searches to programs, however; it's an entry point to the full-fledged search capabilities of Windows 7 . For complete details, see Chapter 9, "Using Windows Search ."

• All Programs folder Clicking All Programs opens a hierarchically arranged list of program icons similar to that found in earlier Windows versions . The All Programs menu is generated by merging the contents of two folders:

• A personal folder, located at %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\ Programs

• An "all users" folder, located at %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

As you might expect, items stored in the personal folder appear only on your own Start menu. Items stored in the "all users" folder appear on the Start menu of everyone who has an account on your computer.

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