How to Customize Your Start Menu Using Group Policy

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The “Taskbar and Start Menu” Control Panel item provides you with several options for customizing the Start Menu in Windows. In this Start Menu customization dialog, you can specify which items you wish to see on the Start Menu for better accessibility. If you think the options in that dialog are rather limited, you can configure some of the advanced settings using the Group Policy editor. Many of the options that you can set are for security purposes. For instance, you can prevent users from editing the Start Menu via drag-and-drop methods.

  • Load the Group Policy editor by clicking the Start Menu and then clicking “Run.” Type “gpedit.msc” in the textbox and press the “Enter” key. This step will not work if you are using Windows XP Home. If you are using Windows Vista or 7, type “gpedit.msc” in the search box after viewing the Start Menu.

  • Refer to the left sidebar of the Group Policy editor and expand the “Administrative Templates” folder under “User Configuration.” Click “Start Menu and Taskbar” to see all of the options available. If the left sidebar is not visible, click the fourth toolbar button from the left labeled “Show/Hide Console Tree.”

  • To toggle an option, double-click the item to open up a dialog. Any unconfigured item is set to “Not Configured.” Change the item to “Enabled” or “Disabled’ depending on your preference. Click the “OK” button to save the changes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some of the options listed in the Group Policy editor are found in the “Taskbar and Start Menu” Control Panel item. While there is not much of a risk in tinkering with the Start Menu settings in the Group Policy editor, check out the Control Panel items and do all of the standard customizations so you know what advanced features you need that only the Group Policy editor provides.
  • If you do not notice the changes, restart your computer. Some changes require the user to log off and log back in again.
  • Read the description of the option before making any changes to avoid any unexpected changes after an option is set. Some descriptions explain what happens when the “Enabled” or “Disabled” option is set.

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