Windows 7 / Getting Started

Customizing the Frequently Run Programs List

Every time you launch an application on your PC, Windows is watching. It keeps track of the applications you run to derive the list of frequently run programs. You can find the list of frequently run programs on the left side of the Start menu. This program list can be useful for quickly accessing your applications instead of navigating through the entire All Programs menu.

There are a few cool tweaks for the Frequently Run Programs list that will allow you to customize it to make it more useful for you. The next three sections show you how you can modify the icon size, change the number shown, hide applications from showing up, and pin applications to the list.

Customizing Icon Size

Changing the icons is easy. You just need to change one setting within the Start menu properties. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Move your mouse cursor over the Start button and right-click it, and then click Properties.
  2. This brings up the Start Menu Properties menu that you used in the preceding section. Here you want to click the Customize button.
  3. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the list and uncheck Use large icons.
  4. Click OK to save your change and click OK again to finish.

You have now made some more room so that you can display more frequently run programs on the Start menu. When you click the Start menu, you may notice that there are not any more programs showing up. That is because you also have to adjust the number of programs that will appear. The next section shows you how to adjust how many program shortcuts are displayed.

Tweaking the Number Displayed

By now you have changed the icon size of the Frequently Run Programs list so that you can fit more icons on the screen. Now you can increase the number of programs that will be displayed so that your list of programs will become even more useful. If you decide that you do not want to change the size of the icons, don't worry. You can still change the number of programs that display; you just can't display as many.

Changing the number of programs depends completely on personal preference. Do you like having a huge Start menu that stretches from the taskbar to the top of the screen? Do you like a Start menu with a small footprint? The resolution settings of your screen determine the maximum number of programs that can be displayed. If you accidentally choose too many programs, Windows lets you know by giving you a friendly pop-up message when you try to click your Start menu after the change.

Now that you have an idea of the number of programs that your computer can display, you are ready to get started. To increase the number of programs, do the following:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Properties to bring up the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties settings.
  2. Click the Customize button to show the Customize Start Menu options.
  3. On this screen, locate the Start Menu Size section and the Number of recent programs to display box. You can adjust this value by clicking the up and down buttons or just by selecting all the text and entering in a new number.
    Tip If you want to save even more room and never use the Internet Explorer and Mail client links on the top of the Frequently Run Programs list, clear all the boxes in the Show on Start menu box on the Customize Start Menu window.
  4. After you have entered the number of programs you want displayed, click OK to save your changes.
  5. Then click OK again and you are finished.

The best way to set the number of programs is to experiment with several different values until you get your Start menu looking the way you want it. After you find the value that is just right, you will have a much-improved Start menu.

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