Why does the Start menu search box autoselect some items but not others?

When you open the Start menu and type into the search box, sometimes the first search result is autoselected (so you just have to hit Enter), whereas sometimes See more results is autoselected. Is there a method to this madness?

If an item is found in the Programs and Control Panel sections, then the first such is autoselected. Otherwise, the default item is See more results. The theory is that if you are typing a program or control panel name from muscle memory and make a typo, you don't want this to result in a random file opening. (Why are programs and control panels treated differently? Because the list of programs and control panels is relatively static, permitting the development of muscle memory. On the other hand, the other sections like Files and Communications are highly dynamic, and it's unlikely that you're going to get in the habit of always seeing Budget Proposal as the first hit because in an hour's time, it might not be.)

Comments (10)
  1. WndS says:

    The problem with start menu search is, it does not seem to remember my choice. Let’s say I run ABD.lnk 10 times a day, but never run ABC.lnk. Just typing AB never seems to learn what I really mean

  2. required says:

    WindS: Do you expect something in Windows to work as you ever expected?

  3. John Muller says:

    That’s one feature I absolutly hated in Vista.

    If you type quickly, and think you know what you’ll get, for example "C:[enter]" or "cmd[enter]

    What I often actually got was some random other thing beginning with the letter c since the search result list was lagging behind, and the enter key would accept the highlighted default for a search for just ‘c’ instead of a search for the entire string I just typed… often, but not always.

    When I was coding test automation for Vista SP1, one issue that drove me crazy was the delayed auto-expansion of the Programs list on the start menu, since the automation tool I was using would move the mouse, pause until it thought the UI element was ‘ready’ then click, sometimes the menu would have already expanded, so the click would close it instead of opening it.

  4. Nicholas Sherlock says:

    @John Muller:

    Just "Open submenus when I pause over them with the mouse pointer" to "No" in the start bar settings.

  5. configurator says:

    WndS: I use Windows 7 and it’s remembering my preferences quite well…

  6. anonymous says:

    One nice thing Microsoft can do is port the Start menu search keyword improvements in Windows 7 downlevel to poor Vista users who have to type the exact keyword as the name to get search results. A Windows Desktop Update for Windows Vista would be really awesome as the shell differences between Vista and Windows 7 are minor but significant (like Windows 95 -> IE4+Windows 95/Windows 98).

  7. MarkKB says:

    @anonymous: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I type "wor<Enter> and it gives me Microsoft Word.

  8. Dave Harris says:

    @MarkKB – If I type “regedi” I don’t get RegEdit listed. I need to type the final “t”. But this is in Windows 7, so it’s no better there.

    [Dumb question: Did you remember to add RegEdit to your Start menu? -Raymond]
  9. Kalmi says:

    Next question:

    When I type "note" into search box why does Notepad++ appear but not Notepad?


    (btw I’m using Win7)

  10. anonymous says:

    @MarkKB, Bing or Google to learn about the improvements MS did to Start menu keywords in Windows 7 compared to Vista (especially Control Panel), then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

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