Windows XP has a nice, new Start menu. And you can customize it more thoroughly than with any earlier version of Windows.

1.Click Start, click Control Panel, click Appearance and Themes, and then click Taskbar and Start Menu.

2.On the Start Menu tab, click either Start menu or Classic Start menu to choose which version of the Start menu to use, and then click Customize.

In the Customize Start Menu dialog box, you can choose what Windows XP displays on the Start menu and in what form. However, there are some Start menu customizations that you can't do through the user interface.

Each time you run a program, Windows XP adds it to the list of frequently-used programs you see on the Start menu. You might not want every program you open to appear on this list, however. For example, I don't want to see Notepad in this list nor do I want to see Command Prompt.

You can choose which programs do and don't pop up in this list by customizing HKCR\Applications. This key contains subkeys for a variety of programs that Windows XP knows about. The name of each subkey is the name of the program file. Thus, you see the subkeys notepad.exe and explorer.exe in HKCR\Applications. If you want to customize other programs, add its subkey to this key. For example, to customize whether Command Prompt appears in the list of frequently used programs, add the subkey cmd.exe to HKCR\Applications. To add a subkey:

1.Open the key under which you want to add a subkey, and then right-click in the right pane.

2.Click New, and then click Key.

3.Type the appropriate subkey.

Then, to keep the program off of the list, add the REG_SZ value NoStartPage to it. Figure 2 shows what this looks like in the registry. To add a value:

1.Open the key under which you want to add a value, and then right-click the right pane.

2.Click New, and then click the type of value, such as String Value, you want to add.

3.Type the appropriate value.

On the Start menu, you can sort the All Programs menu. Windows XP sometimes adds new shortcuts to the bottom of the All Programs menu when you expect them to appear in alphabetical order. In either case, finding the program you want to run is difficult when the sort order of the Start menu gets out of hand.

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MenuOrder contains the sort order of the Favorites menu and Start menu. The subkey Favorites contains the sort order of the Favorites menu. The subkey Start Menu contains the sort order of the classic Start menu, and the subkey Start Menu2 contains the sort order of the new Start menu.

Deciphering the contents of these three keys is next to ridiculous, but you can remove any of them to resort the corresponding menu in alphabetical order. For example, to restore the All Programs menu to alphabetical order, remove the subkey Start Menu2. To remove a subkey:

In the left pane, right-click the subkey you want to remove, and then click Delete.

To restore the Favorites menu in both Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer, remove the subkey Favorites. I typically remove MenuOrder to resort all of the menus at the same time.