Small Icons Windows 7 Start Menu Option

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I’ve been running Windows 7 on my primary desktop computer for long enough now that things are starting to emerge that I want to be tweaked to my preferences or workflow. One of those things is tweaking the Windows 7 Start Menu to be smaller and more compact, instead of using those large icons.

windows-7-start-menu-large-icons Having pinned programs to the Start Menu that I want to have there, the list of options is suddenly very large. It isn’t that there are a lot of programs pinned on the Start Menu so much as each program takes up an usually large amount of space due to the large icons being displayed. The programs listed at the top of the start menu are three-quarters of the way up the screen. Moving the mouse that much kind of defeats the purpose of pinning shortcuts to the Windows 7 Start Menu in the first place.

In Windows XP, right clicking on the Start button brought up a context menu of options to customize the XP start menu. Doing so in Windows 7 does the same thing. However, I couldn’t find an option to use small icons anywhere in the list despite several attempts. I dug through the Display options in Control Panel, and even updated my monitor driver and video drivers just in case, but to no avail.

Finally, while looking to change something else in the Windows 7 Start Menu options I noticed a check box staring me right in the face. I had not seen it previously, because I had gone into the start menu options listing with a preconceived notion of what the option would be. In doing so, I inadvertently made myself blind to the choice I was looking for all along. Only after going into the menus to find a different options, one that I had no idea about what it would say, did my brain register what the menu selection actually said.

Ironically, I had recently written an article about how the Microsoft Office engineers had to re-think the ribbon interface and Backstage view in Office 2010 because, while past usability studies suggested that the "File" menu was too cryptic, over the years, users have grown so used to the File menu that when they first used Office they were confused by its absence. I thought it was a little bit comical because I had no trouble with losing the File menu.

However, in this particular case, I was having an issue with the same thing. When people get used to something, whether computers or otherwise, it can be hard to get them to look at it in a new way.

windows-7-start-menu-small-icons In Windows 7, there is no Use Small Icons option for the start menu. Rather, there is a Use Large Icons options, and it is checked "on" by default. Unchecking the Use Large Icons Box results in a nice, tidy, small, and very usable Windows 7 Start Menu, that now actually has room for even more programs should I choose.

Incidentally, if you are looking for the option to use small icons on Windows 7 Start Menu, you can find it by right-clicking on the Start icon (the little Windows symbol) and choosing:

Properties -> Start Menu -> Customize -> Uncheck "Use large icons" (near the bottom of the list right above the Videos options).

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