To be able to use your computer more effectively, you should be familiar with as many of its features as you can.

This tutorial covers the basics of the Start Menu.

The Windows operating system (OS) provides a visual interface for you to use to interact with your computer. It consists of a “desktop”, which has “wallpaper” with icons and a Taskbar along the bottom on the screen. On the Taskbar, you will usually find a Start Button – unless you have Windows 8. The Start Button brings up the Start Menu, which is where you can access different programs (apps) on your computer.

Pressing the Start Button when the menu is already open, closes it again.

The Search Box allows you to find programs and file easily on your computer. For example, if you click in the box and type “no”, you will get a list of programs that start with those two letters. Notepad should be on the list. You can simply click on Notepad and the Windows Notepad program will be opened.

Above the Search Box, Windows displays a list of recently used programs, with Programs written at the bottom of the list. (Earlier versions of Windows say All Programs). Clicking on this will bring up a list of all the programs (apps) installed on your computer. Some are listed on their own, while others will be in a folder, like Microsoft Office, because there is more than one progam in the Office suite of programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc). In this case, click on the folder and it will open up so that you can click on the program you want.

On the right side of the menu, you will see a list of items and programs that will take you directly to that item or program. At the top of this list, you will see who you are logged in as, with a picture above it. You can change the picture in Control Panel under User Accounts, if you wish.

Near the bottom of the list is the link to Help and Support, if you need it.

Lastly, you have the button that will shut down the computer. If you click the arrow next to it, Windows gives you other choices such as Restart and Hibernate (sleep).

Now that you have a better understanding of this important feature of Windows and most other operating systems, you might want to look at some of the other tutorials here at

Windows Basics – The Start Button and Start Menu

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