How to Customize Windows 11

Tweak the operating system to your exact specifications

What to Know

  • Open Settings > Personalization > Start to add shortcuts to Settings, File Explorer, and other folders and apps to the Windows 11 Start menu.
  • Select Settings > Personalization > Colors to change the color of the Start menu and Windows 11 UI.
  • You can add, move, and remove app icons from the Windows 11 Start menu with your mouse or touch.

Windows 11 offers a variety of ways to customize the operating system’s colors, Start menu, and other aspect of the UI. This guide will walk you through all of the basic steps for changing the various Windows 11 settings to get your device looking the way you want.

While some of these tips can be used on older versions of the Windows operating system, the majority are exclusive to Windows 11 due to its slightly revamped design and settings.

How Do I Customize My Start Menu in Windows 11?

By default, the Windows 11 Start menu displays three rows of app icons at the top, recently opened files along the bottom, and the basic Power button icon to the right of your profile picture and name.

The Windows 11 Start menu.

Fortunately, the Start menu can be customized quite a bit by moving some elements, removing others, and adding additional features.

  1. To move an app icon on the Windows 11 Start menu, long-click the icon and drag it to where you want it to be.

    Hover your mouse cursor over the app section and then use the wheel on your mouse to scroll up and down the list. You can also swipe up and down with your finger if your Windows 11 device supports touch controls.

    Moving the Microsoft Edge app icon from the Windows 11 Start menu.
  2. To remove an app icon from the Start menu, right-click or long-press its icon and select Unpin from Start.

    Doing this will just remove the shortcut to the app from the menu. It won’t delete or uninstall it. All your apps are accessible at any time via the All apps link in the top-right corner.

    Windows 11 Start menu with the Unpin from Start option highlighted.
  3. To add an app to your Start menu in Windows 11, select All apps in the top-right corner, right-click the app icon, and select Pin to Start.

    Windows 11 Start menu with the Pin to Start option highlighted.
  4. To add or remove other features from the Start menu, open Settings and select Personalization > Start.

    You can find Settings via the All apps section or by typing Settings while the Start menu is open.

    Windows 11 Personalization settings.
  5. To hide recently used files from the Start menu, turn off the switch to the right of Show recently opened items in Start, Jump Lists, and File Explorer.

    You can turn these options on and off as many times as you like so feel free to experiment with the look and feel of your Windows 11 Start menu.

    Windows 11 Start personalization settings with the Show recently opened items option toggled off.
  6. To remove new and used apps from the Recommended section of the Windows 11 Start menu, turn off the switches next to Show recently added apps and Show most used apps.

  7. To change the color of your Start menu in Windows 11, open Settings > Personalization > Colors and select a color from the options under Accent colors.

    Uncheck the switch next to Show accent color on Start and taskbar to have a basic black or white Start menu when in Dark or Light mode respectively.

    Windows 11 Accent Color options in Settings.

How Do I Customize My Windows Operating System? 

As with the Start menu, many other aspects of the Windows 11 operating system can also be customized.

  1. To switch to Windows 11’s Dark or Light mode, open Settings > Personalization > Colors and select Light or Dark from the menu next to Choose your mode. Select Custom to use one mode for the operating system and another for apps.

    Windows 11 Dark and Light mode settings.
  2. To add a transparency effect to app windows, menus, and other parts of Windows 11, turn on the switch next to Transparency effects.

    Windows 11 Transparency settings.
  3. On this same screen, you can choose an accent color for your Windows 11 Start menu and app windows.

    You can also disable custom colors by turning off the relevant switches under the color selection area.

    Windows 11 accent color settings.
  4. From the main Personalization screen in Settings, you can select from a number of default themes.

    Themes are a collection of background images and complementary color settings. Choosing one will change the appearance of various aspects of Windows 11 simultaneously.

    Windows 11 theme options.
  5. For more theme options, select Personalization > Themes.

    Windows 11 settings with Themes menu item highlighted.
  6. At the top of the screen, you can manually set different theme elements such as a background image, mouse cursor style, and startup sound.

    Windows 11 theme customization settings.
  7. On the bottom half of the screen, you can select from other pre-downloaded Windows themes or download new ones via Browse themes.

    Windows 11 settings with Browse Themes menu item highlighted.

How Do I Switch Back to Classic View in Windows 11?

While there isn’t a built-in option to get Windows 11 to look exactly like a classic Windows operating system such as Windows 95 or Windows 7, there are several minor changes that you can make that will get you close.

How Do I Change Windows to Classic View on Desktop?

In addition to downloading a classic Windows background wallpaper, you can also download retro Windows app icons for free and then add them to your Windows 11 desktop via Settings > Personalization > Themes > Desktop icon settings.

  • How do I customize the resolution in Windows 11?

    To adjust the screen resolution in Windows 11, right-click the Desktop and select Display SettingsScale & Layout > Display Resolution and select your preferred dimensions from the drop-down menu.

  • How do I customize the Windows 10 Start menu?

    To personalize the Windows 10 Start menu color, go to Settings > Personalization > Colors. To display more tiles and show certain apps on startup, visit Settings Personalization > Start. If you'd like to adjust Start menu icon sizing, right-click the item > select Resize > and choose a different size.

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