Windows 9x: Slim down your Start menu

If you regularly scroll through dozens of items on your Start menu every time you open a program, maybe you should think about putting the menu on a diet.

Two prime candidates for deletion from the Start menu are your Favorites and Documents menus. Chances are you only access your Favorites menu from your browser or folder windows. And you probably rarely use your Documents menu.

Unfortunately, Windows 9x doesn't offer an easy way to remove its built-in menu items, but you can delete some of them by editing the Windows Registry. Messing with Registry settings is risky, however, so be sure to back up your system.dat and user.dat Registry files before beginning.

After creating your backup, choose Start-Run, type regedit, and press to open the Registry Editor. Navigate through the tree on the left until you come to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer. Select the Explorer icon in the left pane, then add the settings in the right pane that turn off the Windows menu items. For example, to make the Documents menu disappear from the Start menu, right-click the right pane and choose New-DWORD Value. Type NoRecentDocsMenu to name the new binary value, and press . Double-click the new entry, type 1 in the Value data box, and click OK.

To remove the Log Off command, add a DWORD Value icon called NoLogOff, and to delete the Favorites menu, create a DWORD Value icon named NoFavoritesMenu. Double-click each icon you create, type 1, and click OK. After removing the menu items, close the Registry Editor and, if necessary, restart to see the changes. To restore a deleted menu item, open the Registry Editor and delete the icon you created, or double-click it and change its value to 0.

To remove the Favorites and Logoff commands in Windows 2000 and Me, right-click the taskbar, choose Properties, click the Advanced tab, and in the list of settings at the bottom of the dialogue box, uncheck either the Display Favorites box or Display Logoff box, or both. If you never use the Start-Run command or prefer to access it only from your keyboard (-R), Windows Me lets you uncheck Display Run as well. When you're done, click OK.

Note: to remove the Documents submenu from Windows Me's Start menu, follow the Registry edit steps described above for Windows 9x.

Removing other built-in Start menu items from Windows 2000 requires the Group Policy administrative utility. To launch the utility, click Start-Run, type gputil.msc, and press . Navigate in the left pane to User Configuration, Administrative Templates, Start Menu & Taskbar. To delete Help from the Start menu, double-click Remove Help menu from Start Menu in the right pane. Select Enabled and click OK. You'll still be able to reach the same help information from any folder window by using its Help menu or by pressing . Likewise, to get rid of the Documents menu, double-click Remove Documents menu from Start Menu, select Enabled, and click OK.

If you disable too many menu items, you may regret it. For example, removing the Shut Down command from the Start menu also disables the Shut Down button when you press --. And when you remove the Search submenu, you also disable the keyboard shortcuts and context-menu options that let you search from within Explorer and folder windows. So, don't disable these items unless you're happy using other software that can replace these functions.

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