How permanent is the "Remove from this list" action on the Start menu?


From Windows XP to Windows 7, the Start menu showed the programs it thinks you’ve run most frequently, by employing a conceptually simple but complicated-in-practice algorithm. You can right-click an item on the menu and select Remove from this list. What exactly does this option do? Does it reset the points back to zero, or does it ban the program from the Start menu for all eternity, or something in between?

It resets the points back to zero and marks the program as has never been run by the user.

This causes it to vanish from the frequently-used list, but if you start running it, it will start earning points again, and if you keep running it enough, it will claw its way back onto your frequently-used list.

If you want to ban a program, you can mark it as No­Start­Page.

Comments (22)
  1. George says:

    This doesn't seem to be the case on Windows 7. I had Calculator somewhere in the middle of my list, then I selected "Remove from this list". Of course it disappeared. But after I started Calculator just once, it re-appeared again in the middle of the list. Shouldn't it take a few launches to get back, or at least show at the bottom? Looks like the program got all of its points back.

  2. LtCmdrKeene says:

    The order or position on the list isn't affected, once it "makes the list", it's displayed there.  It doesn't move ever higher with rank until it's the top of the list (or would you prefer most-frequent be at the bottom to support Fritt's law?).

  3. I agree with George. I like to remove document-driven programs (like Word) from the MRU list, because I only launch them by opening documents. In XP, when I removed an icon, it took some time to reappear, and when it did, it slowly crawled from the bottom. In Windows 7, sometimes (maybe after launching the program from the Start menu?) the program instantly reappears in the former position. I use the small icons view, which gives space for about 20 icons in both OSes, and that allows the effect to be clearly seen.

  4. @LtCmdrKeene: what you proposes about Fritt's law is interesting. I also thought for some time about inverting the Start menu MRU list. After all, it made a lot of sense after moving the "All programs" item to the bottom for the very same reason. Then I realized that we scan a list top-bottom, so the first items we read are the top ones. The time and cognitive load of having to scan all the list to find the most recent programs (which would be in the last positions) would negate any benefit gained by Fritt's law.

  5. alexx says:

    Have you verified this on Windows 7, Raymond? Because as others have said, Windows 7 MFU list behaves differently than what you described in the article. Also the NoStartPage trick doesn't work.

    @George: I solved that problem by pinning Calculator to Start menu ;)

    [I did not reverify with Windows 7. I'm assuming they didn't change it since XP. -Raymond]
  6. Klimax says:

    I'd say/think it's effect of "many programs have same points". Then some sorting or ordering has to happen. (From observation)

  7. Douglas says:

    Curiously, when you get to the support.microsoft.com link for the "How To Prevent a Program from Being Displayed in the Most Frequently Used Programs List in Windows XP" article, there is a System Tip:

    This article applies to a different version of Windows than the one you are using. Content in this article may not be relevant to you.

    Visit the Windows 7 Solution Center

    That visit link takes you to the Support for Windows 7 home page. Good luck finding the equivalent article for Windows 7 there.

  8. SMW says:

    @LtCmdrKeene and @Antonio 'Grijan': It's Fitts's Law.  There's no 'r' in his name.

  9. Nick says:

    SMW:

    Oh, you misunderstand.  Fritts is Fitts sociopathic twin.  Instead of a target easy to hit, it presents a target that unpredictably moves around. Spacial memory is, after all, just a crutch weaker minds lean on! :P

  10. contextfree says:

    Does the new "sort by most used" Apps view in 8.1 use the same algorithm as the Start menu MFU did?

  11. Patentastic says:

    "I have a few future entries about patents; the response to this article will determine whether they stay on the schedule or quietly vanish like the stories about Bob."

    Promises promises :(

    More broken promises

    Raymond really needs to have a list system like a todo list

    [They quietly vanished. -Raymond]
  12. NoStartPage does not work for the Windows 7 menu. I first thought it didn't work only for shortcuts that used AppUserModelIDs but it doesn't work at all. NoAppUserModelIDs works but it was easier to just add NoStartPage for the EXE than finding the shortcut's AppUserModelID.

    TweakUI which could add NoStartPage worked on Windows Vista/7 x64 via a compatibility shim but the shim broke on Windows 8 x64 and MS is denying the shim broke. :(

  13. Oops I meant NoStartPageAppUserModelIDs works. Was a typo.

  14. Patentastic says:

    "The details of the method by which the programs on the Start menu are selected are still patent-pending."

    Is the patent still pending *hint hint* ?

  15. Nick says:

    [They quietly vanished. -Raymond]

    Why are the topics people find most interesting (and hence discussable) the most often removed from the queue?

  16. ErikF says:

    @Nick: Because those topics also tend to generate the most noise and vitriol, and Raymond doesn't want his blog to become a repeat of Slashdot.

  17. Nick says:

    Erik: One man's noise is another's signal :)  And Slashdot commentary, for all its many, many faults, often has quite interesting discussion.  It would be a shame to lose it.

    [It's my blog, and I consider it noise. Feel free to discuss whatever you like on your own blog. (Also, because Microsoft HR holds me personally responsible for the comments posted to the blog by others.) -Raymond]
  18. Lewis says:

    @ErikF: What happened at slashdot? More ridiculous drama that I missed?

    Besides Raymond can easily make such posts and disable commenting on said posts that could draw out trolls.

    Win-win. We get interesting stories and Raymond gets no illegal threats from Microsoft HR.

    I've seen people discussing raymonds posts on forums, very interesting discussions too. More interesting than the comments not censored here.

    So having comments here is somewhat redundant from the readers viewpoint.

    ["Hey, I have a great solution that creates more work for Raymond. I can't understand why he doesn't do it." (I'm not sure how you concluded that HR's policy is illegal. Employment is at-will, which means that I can be fired at any time without cause.) -Raymond]
  19. Lewis says:

    ["Hey, I have a great solution that creates more work for Raymond. I can't understand why he doesn't do it." (I'm not sure how you concluded that HR's policy is illegal. Employment is at-will, which means that I can be fired at any time without cause.) -Raymond]

    Turning off comments creates more work for you?

    It should be a simple check box similar to "Allow comments" if the blog software is anywhere near good.

    Oh i get it, did microsoft replace that feature with something they thought was "better"? Yes i'm talking about the start menu and metro, ugh!

    I smell an excuse.

    Microsoft is a more hostile work place than i thought.

    [It's a simple checkbox I would have to add to my blog autoposter program and workflow. Besidse, as a matter of principle, I dislike disabling comments, because if I did, Robert Scoble would yell at me. (Also, you might want to read your own employment agreement more carefully.) -Raymond]
  20. damselhazy says:

    blogs.msdn.com/…/77681.aspx

    "Disclaimer: All postings are provided "AS IS" with no warranties and confer no rights. Opinions expressed are those of the respective authors. More legal stuff here."

    That is, I'm the author of my own posts. You, Raymond or your boss is by copyright law not allowed to claim my comments as your own, you can't even be blamed for my comments, legally it is my rump on the line not yours. I do not work for microsoft so HR blame you.

    HR playing the blame-game, how immature and shady legally speaking.

    Microsoft have how many lawyers and they failed to realize this? Was it on purpose to put pressure on you? Didn't the boss check with legal before making that threat?

    Microsoft is breaking copyright law and a few other laws that americans hold dearly. This is interesting.

    Microsoft is practicing censorship by threatening their employers. Is that legal in america?!

    Did you forget to update the page to say you claim the copyright and ownership of the comments?

    Other sites have tried that. It didn't go so well for them at all.

    Does that mean if I justifiably call a team leader at microsoft for a petty egomaniacal moron that have damaged microsoft's reputation and economy, than you will be fired for it?

    Since it is true, it is not deformation of some sort.

    [You seem to believe that I can override Microsoft policy by simply stating something to the contrary on my blog. If only that were true. (Microsoft HR is not saying that the comments are mine. But they hold me potentially responsible for the consequences of comments I allow to remain. So yes, if you say something defamatory and I don't delete it, Microsoft can punish me for not deleting the comment.) -Raymond]
  21. Nick says:

    [It's my blog, and I consider it noise. Feel free to discuss whatever you like on your own blog. (Also, because Microsoft HR holds me personally responsible for the comments posted to the blog by others.) -Raymond]

    Okay. Well I've said it before but I'll repeat: Thank you very much for the time you put into this.

  22. Lots of companies have such a policy where you can't make the company look bad. Look at Adria Richards formerly of SendGrid. arstechnica.com/…/how-dongle-jokes-got-two-people-fired-and-led-to-ddos-attacks

    It doesn't matter what your opinion is on that situation, SendGrid HAD to fire her. She was a developer evangelist for the company, meaning she was a public face for them. After that, no one would want to make contacts with her for SendGrid. That hurts SendGrid and thus she was fired.

Comments are closed.