How To Customize And Make Better Use Of Windows 8 Start Screen

The new Start Screen is the most visually interesting feature in Windows 8. Replacing the old Start Menu, the new Windows 8 Start Screen has received a mixed response from the users. Some are loving it while others want the good old Start Menu back. It would have been a better move from Microsoft if they transitioned from the Start Menu to the Start Screen slowly.

If you are new to Windows 8 Start Screen but are used to the Start Menu in Windows 7, I must say it’s a better setup. The only problem people are having is that they are unable to make better use of it. Today we will discuss different aspects of it and how to make better use of it by making it the dashboard.

Opening the Start Screen

First of all, we will learn how to open the Start Screen using different methods. All are useful and can be used on different occasions according to your ease.

You can use the following shortcut key combinations in order to open the Start Screen:

  1. Windows Key on the Keyboard (the easiest and the fastest one)
  2. Ctrl + Esc
  3. Windows Key + C + Enter

You can also drag your cursor to the bottom left corner of the screen (or tap your finger on the bottom left corner of a touch-enabled device) and left click to open the Start Screen.

Customizing the Start Screen

The background of Start Screen can be customized. By default, Microsoft uses the same color in the Start Screen as used in the current theme. You can change the background color and style of the Start Screen by following the steps below:

  1. Go to the Charms bar (Windows Key + C) -> Settings -> Change PC Settings
  2. Select Personalize from the left hand menu and Start Screen from the right hand top menu.
  3. This will give you the option to customize the color as well as the style of the Start Screen.


Organizing the Start Screen

This is where the power of Start Screen comes in. You will need to spare a little time to organize it. If you are used to installing and uninstalling new software on your computer, then you will have to organize the Start Screen regularly because the new programs usually add tiles to it.


By default, the first Start Screen group includes tiles from Microsoft utilities and other essential tools like Desktop, Calendar, Weather etc. After that, all the tiles are added sequentially as they are created. There can be a maximum of 16 tiles in a group. You can create different groups by dragging a tile and dropping it on the newly created vertical column. When you’re done, click on the minus sign on the bottom right of the screen.


This will create a zoom-out effect, and you will see the Start Screen tiles and groups on a single screen.


You can hover your mouse cursor on any group to highlight it and right click on the group to name it.


You can also remove the tiles from the Start Screen to keep the Start Screen as clean as possible. Remove the apps by right-clicking on a particular tile and selecting “Unpin from Start”.

You can access the removed tiles from “All tiles” which can be found by right-clicking any blank area of the Start Screen and selecting “All apps” from the menu.


This will open a list of icons of all apps that are installed in the computer. You will notice a minus icon at the bottom right corner of the All apps screen. Clicking on the minus button will bring a list of groups of the Start Screen apps.


Creating Custom Tiles

Since our purpose of the Start Screen is to make it our dashboard, we will need to pin different apps and files to the Start Screen in order to make it more productive. Normally, you can easily pin a file to the Start Screen by right clicking on the file and selecting “Pin to Start Screen”

If you have special requirements about the app and want to customize the look and feel of the tile and also add parameters to the tile, you can use a utility called OblyTile. OblyTile can customize several aspects of the tile including tile name, path of the program that includes parameters for increased control, the tile image, and also small image. You can also change the background color of the tile.


Using the old start menus instead of the Start Screen

For whatever reason, if you are still not satisfied with the new Start Screen, you may want to download any of the following apps for bringing back the Start Menu in Windows 8.

Usman Khurshid

Usman is a technology enthusiast and loves tweaking Microsoft products. In addition to MakeTechEasier, he contributes regularly to

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