The Start menu is a feature of the Windows operating system that provides quick access to programs, folders, and system settings. By default, the Start menu is located in the lower-left corner of the Windows desktop. In Windows 95 through Windows XP, the Start menu can be opened by clicking the "Start" button. In newer versions of Windows, such as Windows Vista and Windows 7, the Start menu can be opened by clicking the Windows logo. Some keyboards also have a Windows key that opens the Start menu when pressed.
The Start menu contains two primary columns. The left column contains a list of the most commonly used programs, as well as an "All Programs" submenu, which displays all the currently installed applications. The bottom of the left column includes a search box, which can be used to search for programs and files. The right column contains links to common folders, such the Documents, Pictures, and Music folders. It also includes links to the Control Panel, Default Programs, and other system settings. The bottom of the right column includes a "Shut down" button, which can be used to turn off or restart the computer, put the computer to sleep, or switch users.
The Start menu is an important part of the Windows user interface since it provides shortcuts to many commonly accessed items. By familiarizing yourself with all the items in the Start menu, you may be able to use your computer more efficiently. If you are feeling extra creative, you can customize the functionality of the Start menu by right-clicking a blank area within the Start menu and selecting "Properties." The resulting window will allow you to modify the appearance and behavior of items within the Start menu.
Updated: May 19, 2011