The best tip for using the Windows 8.1 Start button

Brent Schooley / Saturday, June 29, 2013

There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not the new Start button in Windows 8.1 is useful or not. Some people, including myself, have said that all they did was add pixels to draw attention to something you could already do in Windows 8.1 (click in the left corner to go to Start). These people, myself included, had not used or configured Windows 8.1 in a way that shows off how the new Start button functionality can be even better than the old Start menu for desktop junkies. It just needs to be configured properly. So, what’s a Desktop junkie to do?  I’ll tell you.

How to properly use the new Start button if you’re a Desktop junkie

Here’s what to do:

  1. Go to the Desktop.

  2. Right-click on the taskbar and click Properties.

  3. In the ‘Taskbar and Navigation Properties’ window, go to the ‘Navigation’ tab.

  4. Turn on “Show my desktop on Start”.

  5. The bottom three checkboxes are where the magic is. Configure these based on the following recommendations/descriptions:

  • Make sure to turn on “Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start”. This will default the Start screen into the Apps view which is a suitable replacement for the Start menu we used to have.

  • “Search everywhere instead of just my apps” comes down to preference. If you want to limit searching in the Apps view to just Apps, turn this one off. I’ve left it on.

  • “List desktop apps first in the Apps view when it’s sorted by category” is pretty handy if you’re really looking to make the Start button work like the old Start menu. I’ve turned this one on as well.

My configuration looks like this:


And the resulting “Start menu” looks like this:


Hopefully this will appease some of the naysayers. I think this is actually a pretty solid change Microsoft has made once it’s set up to be most effective for desktop users.


If you want to comment or reach out to me, the best place to do that is on Twitter @brentschooley. I can also be reached via email at