I don’t like the Windows 11 Start menu. I’m not alone either, with colleagues and readers who aren’t fans. But while Microsoft may have removed features and made the user experience worse, there is at least something that can be done about it.
You can pick up something like Start11, which will give you a bunch of customizations. Or you can do what I’ve done, and in all honesty, what I’ve been doing on Windows 10 for a long time now, and that’s using PowerToys.
Specifically, PowerToys Run, a launcher for Windows that lets you open files, folders, and applications without ever touching the Start menu. So if like me the Windows 11 Start menu gets you down, now is a great time to turn to PowerToys.
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What is PowerToys?
PowerToys is a suite of tools designed by Microsoft that extends the functionality of Windows. It’s so good that I think everything should be built into the operating system, but it is. We’ve covered PowerToys in depth elsewhere, but it’s free and very, very impressive.
The tools also cover a wide range of functionality. Obviously there is the launcher, but there are also tools for resizing the image, renaming files, extensions for the file explorer, and much more.
PowerToys is also open source and hosted on GitHub.
PowerToys Run is exceptional
If you’ve ever used a Mac or even a Linux PC, you might be familiar with the idea behind PowerToys Run. Simply put, it’s like Apple’s Spotlight, only for Windows PCs. The idea is that it relies entirely on your keyboard, so whatever you do, quickly press the shortcut, start typing, and you’ll get what you’re looking for.
You might be wondering why this is better than just hitting the Windows key and using search? This is a valid question. Ignoring the times when you might have the Windows key disabled, for example, when gaming, PowerToys Run is more streamlined than the old normal Windows Search. And because it only searches for local files, you don’t get any web results or anything that clogs your results.
More than that, you have full control over the results you get in PowerToys Run. If you only want to see a few results, you can decrease it or increase it if you want to see more. In my experience, PowerToys Run has become so good that I don’t need to see more than three results and it will have found what I was looking for. It has a built-in calculator, unit converter, and even access to basic shell functionality and registry search. All applications can be run as administrator from the results or send the path directly to your terminal.
Of course, you don’t want these plugins, just disable them.
PowerToys Run looks like a powerful user tool, and it is, but it’s also perfectly accessible to the average person. It takes a bit of practice to stop yourself from using a mouse to open files and apps, but once your brain thinks that way it’s much more efficient. If you don’t like the new Start Menu or hell even love it, you have to try PowerToys Run.
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