One of the features of Windows 7, and earlier versions of Windows, also, is the ability to change some configuration options for the Windows Start Menu and the Windows Task Bar.
I’ve written previously about how to organize the myriad of entries that programs add to the Start Menu — it’s easy to add folders to the Start Menu and to move items into those folders. For more information, see my articles Cleaning Up the Start Menu and Sorting the Windows 7 All Programs Menu – and Organizing it, too .
In this article, I’m going to focus on the configuration options. Our first step is to right-click on the Start Menu’s Orb icon (or button icon, in earlier versions of Windows).
The first tab of the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box is the Taskbar tab. On this tab, you can set Windows to automatically hide the taskbar when the cursor is not hovering over it. All you have to do in order to display the taskbar is to hover over the place where the hidden taskbar would display — and it displays.
Another useful function is to lock the taskbar. This lets you prevent accidental changes to the taskbar. It also prevents you from adding (or removing) items from the Quick Launch area of the taskbar.
The taskbar tab also has a button that opens the customization dialog box for the Notification area (the status area, as it used to be called) area of the taskbar.
The Start Menu tab starts with a Customize… button to allow easy modification of the Start Menu’s available functions.
You can change what happens when the computer’s Power button is pressed. The options are: Switch User, Log Off, Lock, Restart, Sleep, and Shut down.
Finally, the Start Menu tab gives you some options to turn on, or turn off, display of recent items.
If you click on the Customize… button, Windows will display the Customize Start Menu dialog box.
The Customize Start Menu dialog box has options that extend further than the displayed area — you have to use the scroll bar on the right-hand side to see and change all of them.
Some of the significant customizations are the ability to remove items from display (useful if you want to keep children from some of the functions), the ability to have a Devices and Printers link on the Start Menu, to turn off the highlighting (in the Start Menu) of newly installed programs, and to turn off the automatic sorting of the Start Menu.
In the Customize Start Menu dialog box, if you scroll down, you’ll find a checkbox labelled "Run Command". Remember that we’re looking at the customization of the Start Menu.
If you use the Run command, this is the way to return it to the Start Menu (where it was in Windows XP and earlier versions).
The final tab is the Toolbars tab. Sometimes programs will try to add their own toolbars to the Windows taskbar. This tab is used to control that behavior.
As you can see, I don’t like any of these toolbars to be displayed on my taskbar.
At any time, you can click on the Apply button and apply all the changes you’ve made to all of the tabs in the Task and Start Menu Properties dialog box. When you finish making the changes you want to make, click Apply and then Close.
If you don’t want to make the changes (assuming you have not already clicked the Apply button), you can click the Cancel button.