How do I customize the order of items in the All Programs section of the Start menu?

Raymond Chen

The items in the All Programs section of the Start menu are grouped into two sections, although there are no visible divider lines between them.

  1. Non-folders, sorted alphabetically.
  2. Folders, sorted alphabetically.

We saw earlier that the Fast Items lost their special status in Windows Vista and are sorted with the regular items. Another change from Windows XP is the order of the remaining two groups: Windows XP put folders above non-folders, because that was the sort order imposed by the IShellFolder::CompareIDs method so that folders sorted above files in regular Explorer windows. This deviation from standard sort order starting in Windows Vista was introduced because the guidance for application developers regarding Start menu shortcuts is to place program shortcuts in the Programs folder, with other supporting stuff in subfolders. Given that guidance, it is the program shortcuts in the Start menu that are more important, so they go at the top. If you don’t like the alphabetical ordering, then you can go the Start menu Properties, select Customize, and then scroll down to the bottom of the options tree and uncheck Sort All Programs by name. If you do this, then you can manually rearrange the items in the All Programs menu via drag/drop to put them in whatever order you like.

Pre-emptive snarky comment: “Changing the Start menu from a cascading menu to a tree navigation model was the stupidest idea since unsliced bread.” Yes, I know you all hate it. Old news. Consider this a tip on how to cope with adversity.


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