What’s the first thing you think of when you think about Windows 8 – try not to be too rude now? The majority of people will immediately think of the new Start screen, or at the very least the fact that there is no longer a familiar Start menu to work with.
If you’ve made to switch to Windows 8 and you’re finding the Start screen a little restrictive and tricky to get to grips with, or you’re thinking about upgrading but have a few concerns in this area, Windows 8 Start Menu Customizer could be the tools you’ve been waiting for.
This is a free tool that can be used to customize the Start screen in a number of different ways. A big restriction that Microsoft has placed on how the screen can be personalized is in limiting the number of background that are available to choose from; with Windows 8 Start Menu Customizer installed you can use any image you want and even set up a slideshow.
You can download yourself a free copy of the program by paying a visit to the Windows 8 Start Menu Customizer page on deviantART. Click the Download File link to the right of the page and save the file to the desktop. The download is provided in 7Zip format so you’ll need to use a suitable archiving tool to decompress the file.
Having extracted the files, open up the folder that has been created, locate the file called ModernUIStartScreen.ex_ and change the extension to .exe to make it executable, and then launch the app for the first time.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to configure the program so that it runs automatically with Windows so that your personalization options are applied each time you turn on your computer To do this, simply tick the box labelled ‘Run at startup’ to the lower right of the program window.
Customize Your Start Screen
There are various ways in which you can customize the Start screen, but you can start by selecting one of the bundled images. There are twenty images to choose from to the left of the program window and as soon as you click one of the thumbnails it will be automatically set as your new background image.
Each of the images can be tweaked by selecting a new base color, but this is something that is controlled by Windows 8 settings. Click the color bar beneath the image previews and you’ll be taken to PC Settings. Click the ‘Start screen’ link at the top of the screen and you can then choose the colour you’d like to use before returning to Windows 8 Start Menu Customizer.
But personalization is all about using your own settings, and the program also lets you choose image of you own to use as a background. Click the Load Picture button and select the image you’d like to use and then use the selection tool to specify which section of the image should be used – then click Apply & Save.
This is not the only option available to you when it comes to selecting Start screen images; you are not limited to having to select a single image. In fact there are a couple of ways in which you can opt to have several imaged used in rotation. First of all, click the Select Picture button and select the images you’d like to use.
You can then choose between having the Start csreen image changed on a random basis – so that every time you load it a different image will be used – or have a slideshow displayed instead. Just select the Random or Slideshow option and if you have decided to use a slideshow you can then use the Interval setting to choose how long each image should be displayed for.
It does not end there. This is a relatively simple tool, but there are still a few additional options to investigate. On the images front, you can also choose to use the same image as on your desktop as you Start screen background – just tick the ‘Use desktop wallpaper’ box. There’s also the ‘Gaussian blur’ setting that can be used to give a slightly arty look to your images.
There are also a few options to the lower left hand side of the program window. You can choose the number of rows of tiles that should be display by entering the number you would like to use in the relevant box and hitting Apply.
You can also adjust the opacity of both the Start screen itself and tiles. Just move the sliders to the left and right until you have found the setting you want to use -0 unfortunately there is not preview option so you may have to experiment with different settings until you find something that works best for you.
Windows 8 Start Menu Customizer may not bring all of the tweaking options that you may be used to for the Start menu, but it does give you greater control over the appearance of the Start screen that Windows 8 does by default. If you’ve found any other interesting tools for taming Windows 8, let us know in the comments below.