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Start11 v2 Makes Searching Better, Private

Keep your Windows search data private and local

Thursday, January 4, 2024 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog

At the end of last year, we released Start11 v2 that is packed with new features like three new Start menu designs, pinning folders to the taskbar, and new search experiences. If you haven’t checked out Start11 v2 yet, take a look at everything new here.

The new search features in Start11 make it easier to integrate with popular third-party tools and also clear out any previous search data. While Windows likes to bring in all sorts of external web content into your desktop experience, Start11 keeps things local and private.

There are two new features that are worth highlighting that arrived with v2, integration with the Everything search tool. If you are not familiar with Everything, it sets the standard for quick searching of your local content and with v2, we display the results directly in the Start experience.

To get started, install Everything, and that’s it. Once installed, Start11 v2 is notified of the installation and will automatically display the results within the Start menu.

But what if you want to clear your search history? Start11 v2 makes it possible to remove any previous search data with a couple of clicks.

First, open up the configuration panel, click on Settings backup, and then click “Clear information”. Once you click this option, you will then clear out your history that lets you keep your searches private which is helpful on devices that are used by multiple people.

Start11 v2 is designed to optimize the local experience, we don’t put ads in the Start menu, there isn’t third-party web content being shown next to the results – it’s your data, and only your data.

If you haven’t taken a look at Start11 v2 yet, you can download a free trial here. Or if you are looking for the best value, Start11 v2 is part of Object Desktop that includes other great apps like Groupy 2, Fences 5, and many more.

 

 

How App Canvas Lets You Create Your Perfect Start Menu

Fully customizable from top to bottom

Wednesday, December 20, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog

Start11 v2 is the best way to customize your Start experience on Windows today. With more than 50 new enhancements in the second generation of the app, it’s a significant leap forward in personalization and productivity.

One of the new features in this release is the App Canvas. This is the customizable area in the new menu designs (Pro, Launcher, and App) that lets you create a layout that is personalized to your specifications rather than accepting a default experience.

The App Canvas is the area below the search bar in the image above. By clicking the + sign, or right-clicking in a blank area inside the App Canvas, you can then add Groups, Tabs, Pages, and more to the section.

With drag and drop functionality, it’s easy to create the perfect layout that matches your spec of the “perfect” Start menu. Your definition of perfect will be different than nearly every other user which is the true power of the App Canvas – make your Start menu fit your workflow rather than accepting a default layout designed for billions of users.

There are three core features that can be added to the App Canvas:

  • Groups – Great for organizing apps and content by a topic like Productivity. With a single view of a group, everything is always visible and you can fully customize the color and transparency.
  • Tabs – Similar to Groups but with tab functionality that gives you additional flexibility and appearance options to keep your App Canvas organized with a familiar interface.
  • Pages – As the name suggests, add pages to your App Canvas to put apps that are less frequently accessed out of sight but still quickly within reach.
  • Folders – While technically we consider this still a Group, you can also mirror the contents of any folder from File Explorer to your Start Menu.

All of the components of the App Canvas can be moved around which provides another layer of flexibility. And don’t forget to back up your layout with the new v2 features that let you export your settings to a single file.

If you haven’t checked out Start11 v2 yet, you can download a free trial to see what everyone is talking about. And if you are looking for the best value, Object Desktop includes Start11 v2, as well as our other great apps like Fences 5 and Groupy 2.

A Closer Look at What's New in Fences 5

An all-new desktop experience with Chameleon™

Monday, November 20, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog

Introducing Fences 5, the best tool for organizing your workflow on Windows, is taking a giant leap forward this week. With new features designed to reduce desktop distractions, easier-to-access Peek, and advanced tooling for enterprise deployments, Fences 5 is once again raising the bar on keeping your Windows desktop organized.

New with Fences 5 is Chameleon™ an experience for the desktop that allows you to blend your icons, apps, and folders, into your desktop wallpaper while retaining full legibility and functionality. With Chameleon™, your desktop content becomes less of a distraction while working on your tasks, and with a full range of customization options, you can dial in the exact desktop experience to keep your content organized while minimizing your distractions.

 

 

Also new in Fences 5 is a taskbar toggle for the patented Peek™ functionality. Peek™ is the fastest way to access your Fence groups and with the new taskbar toggle, it is now even easier to access peek. With a simple click on the icon, you can now enable Peek™ with your mouse to help you stay in your flow.

For those who don’t want to add the toggle to the taskbar, Fences 5 has a new option where you can enhance the “show desktop” button on the taskbar that is next to the system tray. With the new option enabled, you can change the default behavior of this button to be either a left or right-click to Peek™.

Fences is used in many industries from Education to Healthcare and to help our enterprise customers deploy and manage their fleet of desktops, Fences 5 has new functionality that is deigned to make it easier to capture configurations and load them on login.

 

 

New with Fences 5 for Business, is the ability to import and export configuration directly from the config panel or command line, options to lock configurations from manipulation, and the ability to load configurations on login from local and network locations are available.

And a lot more! There are updates to the configuration panel to make it easier to find a specific setting, new functionality from the drop-down menus inside of a fence to access frequently used items, enhancements to the Fences’ engine, icon customization options, and more.

 

 

When we started working on Fences 5, we had two objectives: how can we reduce the distractions of the desktop and how can we make Peek ™ even easier to use?

Chameleon™ is a feature that once you experience it, it’s hard to go back to a classic desktop. With all of the content you aren’t using melting into the background, it no longer pulls your eyes away from the task you are focused on but when you need your desktop, it’s a simple mouse gesture or single click to bring all of the content back into focus. It sounds trivial but for those who use their apps in a windowed view and not full screen, Chameleon™ is going to be your new best friend.

By adding Peek™ to the taskbar, we are making the best productivity enhancement to the desktops even easier to access. This update was the direct result of customer feedback as there is a keyboard shortcut to enable Peek™ (Win Key + Space) but we found it was not easily discoverable. 

Fences 5 is available as a Release Preview and you can learn more about Fences and all of its features, here. Or if you are looking for the best value, Fences 5 is included in Object Desktop too.

Start11 v2 Is Ready, Now with Rounded Taskbars and a Lot More

Turn your taskbar into a modern experience with new style options

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog

Today is the day, Start11 v2 is ready for prime time – we are taking the Release Preview tag off and adding new features. Rolling out now is the latest version of Start11 v2 with new features for the taskbar as well as a significant number of bugs being squashed.

If you want a deeper dive into many of the new features in Start11 v2, check out this earlier post from the release preview, but there have been a couple of additions since our initial release. Especially the updates for the taskbar - let's dive in.

Easily the biggest request we got after announcing Start11 v2 was the option to round the corners of the taskbar and we are happy to share that this feature is now included in the release today. And, not only can you round the corners, but in true Stardock fashion, you can fully customize the layout with various options to dial in the perfect taskbar for your desktop.

To begin building your modern taskbar, click on the Taskbar option in Start11 v2, then click the Taskbar blur, transparency, color, and rounded corners dropdown menu. From there you can select the intensity of the rounded corners, your preferred offsets on both the X and Y axis, and more.

One of the neat features that is included is how the taskbar can adapt if you are using a full-screen app. When a taskbar is floating with rounded corners, it can create an odd visual experience on the sides and below the taskbar when using an app that spans the entire display. To help reduce this visual irregularity, you can have the taskbar dynamically adapt to a traditional style layout when a full-screen app is detected.

These are the little things that add up that make Start11 v2 a truly great experience on Windows 10 and Windows 11. While the work is never done and we will continue to monitor feedback and patch bugs, this is a major milestone that we are crossing as we have taken Start11 from a product that brought back old features of Windows to a new era where we are adding new functionality that makes Windows a little more personal and a lot more productive.

Introducing Start11 v2

The industry’s most advanced Start menu just got better

Thursday, October 26, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog

Introducing Start11 v2, the industry’s most advanced Start menu, is taking a giant leap forward today. With more than two dozen new features and even more quality-of-life updates, this is the biggest update to any Start product in history.

With this release, we have 3 brand-new Start menu designs, tabs for the Start menu, new functionality for the taskbar, backup and restore options and dozens of enhancements that let you customize menus to your exact specifications to make Windows more personal and productive.

New Start Menus

Windows Pro Style

When we set out to build Start11 v2, we wanted to take the idea of a centered Start menu but make it look professional while also blending in seamlessly with Windows 11 and 10 – thus the creation of the Pro (or Professional) Style.

With a two-tone color scheme that compliments your own color or the system accent color, the Pro Style works perfectly centered or on the left side of your taskbar. And with the ability to add tabs and groups to the application canvas (left side of the Start menu), you can turn this Start menu style into the perfect platform for keeping your tasks and applications organized.

Windows Launcher Style


Taking inspiration from the various mobile launchers that help organize applications on your favorite mobile platform, the Launcher Style is a modern companion of the classic Start menu.

With a prominent account icon at the top, a modern search interface, and a large application canvas to build your perfect Start menu layout, the Launcher Style is perfect for minimalist designs or maximized organization.

Windows App Style

For many, the Start menu is about one thing, and one thing only – your apps. With a default experience to open the All Apps list and a medium-sized application canvas, this style is perfect for anyone who wants the fewest amount of clicks to find all of their apps.

With shortcuts placed at the top, a smaller profile icon, and all of your apps available to scroll immediately, this is a powerhouse of productivity for users who want fast access to all apps at all times.

 

Start Menu Customization

New in Start11 v2 are options for customizing, organizing, and launching your applications. The application canvas lets you get creative with your organization and is a powerful tool for personalization and productivity.

Organization

In the application canvas, you can add tabs to your Start menu, group icons with different colored backgrounds, add pages and folders too. These options give you different tools to accomplish a single task, create your perfect Start menu layout.

And you can mix and match them as well, want a page with tabs, tabs with group, or a page with folders? It’s all possible with Start11 v2.

Customization

New in Start11 v2 is an option that allows you to tint your icons to create a perfectly uniform Start experience. Tint allows you to apply a color theme to all of the icons in your Start menu with a few clicks so that it is a uniform experience.

Each menu allows you to adjust the sizing of icons, spacing, rows, hide icon labels, and more. If there is something you want to adjust within the app canvas, it’s likely that Start11 v2 can be personalized to your desired specifications.

 

Taskbar Enhancements

The taskbar is arguably the most important element of Windows. It’s where open apps live and the anchor for your open windows; it also keeps you informed about what is running in the background with the System tray.

Pin Files, Folders, and Drives

Did you know that in Windows 11 you cannot pin a file or folder to the taskbar? It’s an odd omission from an OS that is designed for productivity but with Start11 v2, you can now pin any file, folder, or drive directly to the taskbar.

With the new pin functionality, you can navigate to your content significantly faster than having to open File Explorer every time.

Folder Menus

While pinning files, folders, and drives to your taskbar is a powerful feature, folder menus (shown above) take it to the next level by allowing you to navigate the contents of the folder directly from the taskbar.

When used with a folder like Downloads, it makes accessing your frequently used content significantly faster. And for OneDrive users, this is the new must-have feature as it makes accessing cloud content, directly from the taskbar a reality.

 

Enterprise Features:

Did you know that Start11 is widely used in businesses big and small all across the globe? From large retailers to small courthouses, Start11 is a tool used by many companies to create standardized desktop experiences across multiple versions of Windows.

With Start11 v2, we are introducing more features that will make the app an even better companion to the Windows desktop.

Kiosk Functionality

New in Start11 v2 is the ability to “lock” the apps that appear in the Start menu from being moved around. With this feature, IT admins can not only deploy a Start menu to their endpoints, but they can also make sure that it does not get altered by the end user.

Login Load

One of the bits of magic that Stardock enables with Fences and now Start11 v2, is that you can load a custom configuration based on who is logging into the device. With tooling that helps you export a configuration, you can load a configuration file, on login, that is linked to a specific type of user.

As an example, you can load a configuration for a bank teller, a different configuration for a loan officer, or a unique setup specifically designed for executives – it’s all possible with Start11 v2.

 

Quality of Life:

With Start11 v2, we not only wanted to deliver new functionality like the new Start menu designs or files on the taskbar, we also wanted to make it easier for our users to backup and restore their Start menu configurations as well.

 

Backup and Restore

New in Start11 v2 is the ability to easily backup your settings to a file and also restore them from a file too. With a simple click, you can export your Start menu configurations to a file that you can then load on a different machine or if you reinstall Windows and want to get back up and running quickly.

Reset and Clear

Sometimes you end up too far down the rabbit hole of customization and you want a fresh Start. New in Start11 v2 is the option to reset all of the settings to their defaults. And if you ever have a scenario where you want to clear your search history, it is now possible to do so from the configuration interface.

 

And a lot more

In total, there are more than 50 changes that are available in Start11 v2, you can view all the updates in our changelog.

When we set out to build Start11 v2, we wanted to continue our mission of making Windows more personal and productive. By removing the constraints of trying to work with the default experiences and creating the app canvas for the new Start menus, it unlocks the creativity of the user to design a Start experience that matches their style and workflow, rather than adapting to to a stock and locked menu.

Start11 v2 is available today in release preview for $5.99 (reg. $6.99) and is also available as part of the award-winning suite, Object Desktop.

The Minimalist’s Start Menu

If you like a simple and clean Windows experience, Start11 provides the flexibility for your perfect Start Menu

Thursday, October 12, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog

The Windows Start menu has evolved considerably during the past couple of decades. What is typically considered the focal point of the operating system and the home to all of your apps, has gone from an app launcher to a productivity hub filled with apps, and documents, to a place that shows advertisements.

While Start11 makes it easy to remove unwanted content like advertisements, in my own use, I have gravitated to a minimalist model for my Start menu. Currently, I am running the Windows 10 style but with nearly everything removed.

Like many who are reading this post, the Start Menu has become less of a focus as I try to use keyboard shortcuts as much as humanly possible. This means that I hit the Windows key, type the app or setting that I need, and then use arrow keys to open what I need.

For those who like something that is centered on their taskbar, I have also been using the Windows 11 style but removed all apps and kept deep links to the drives on my PC and in the cloud. This makes it easy to navigate to my content stored locally or in the cloud without having to take my hand off my keyboard which means faster navigation and a better workflow.

The Start menu is a critical part of the Windows operating system and everyone has their own method for how they interact with the app hub. For some, it’s all about the customization and making it a truly unique experience. But for many others, it’s about keeping it simplified so that what is in the Start menu doesn’t get in the way of the work you are trying to get done.

Start11 is easily the most advanced and customizable Start menu replacement available today. If you haven’t experienced it yet, you can download a free trial here or if you are looking for the best value, Object Desktop has all of our popular apps included for one low price.

Stardock Releases Groupy 2, Bringing Tabs to All of your Favorite Applications

Wednesday, June 14, 2023 by redskittlesonly | Discussion: Software Blog

Stardock released Groupy 2, an app that brings a universal tab experience to Windows 10 and 11 today. Groupy 2 is a powerful tool for Windows 10 and 11 that keeps information organized by allowing users to drag and drop multiple applications and documents together which combines into a single window, with tabs showing in the title bar.

Get it Now

The new Groupings feature allows the user to save a group of applications together, pin them to the taskbar, and then launch them all at once – tabbed together and ready to go – with just a single click. The new Accents feature simplifies the process of adding a touch of color to a tab, making it easy to associate a specific task or assignment with a particular color.

 

Multiple tab designs take personalization another step further, allowing users to stylize their experience in a way that best suits their preferences. Groupy 2's updated design matches the Windows 11 interface, providing a sleek and modern look, and its enhanced functionality supports seamless integration with File Explorer.    

 

 

"After releasing our first beta of Groupy 2, we have been listening to our users and adding new features like the ability to hide the Groupy icon in the tab bar and enabling the mica effect in more locations" said Brad Sams, Vice President of Stardock Software. "Groupy 2 is the easiest way to organize the windows on your desktop and has become an essential part of the modern desktop experience."

Starting today, Groupy 2 for Business is also available. Groupy 2 for Business includes advanced distribution tooling and centralized licenses administration for easier management and deployment. 

 

 

Groupy 2 is available for $9.99 for use on up to five devices; it’s also included in Object Desktop which includes all Stardock’s productivity applications, for $39.99. To learn more, visit the Groupy website.     

 

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Groupy 2 is Headed to Steam

Add it to your Wishlist today!

Friday, May 26, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog

A few weeks back, we announced our newest application, Groupy 2. Groupy 2 is the easiest way to add tabs to nearly every application and it looks and operates like a native Windows experience. While you can download the app today from our store, we know that many of our customers like to purchase our applications on Steam.

Starting today, you can now add Groupy 2 to your Wishlist on Steam for when the application becomes available on the platform in the coming weeks.

Groupy 2 is the easiest way to manage all of your open windows on Windows 10 and 11. By adding the familiar tab functionality that you experience in the browser to all of your applications, it is easy to keep keep your windows organized.

Looking to make it easier to identify an app at a glance? With Accents, you can add a splash of color that makes it easy to identify a tab quickly by type, task, or deadline. Or if you want to rename a tab, Groupy 2’s personalization options let you configure the tab experience that best fits your workflow.

Groupy 2 is in active development and we are working on additional updates for the application. If you have any feedback about what you would like to see in a future release, make sure to let us know in our forums.

Getting Started with Groupy 2

Adding Tabs to Everything

Wednesday, May 17, 2023 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog

Last week, we released Groupy 2 and if you haven’t taken it for a spin yet, you can find all the details about the new app here. Getting started with Groupy 2 is easy as once the app is running it’s a drag-and-drop experience but fine-tuning how the application works best for you can be a bit of a journey.

When getting started with the new application, the configuration panel is where you will find the general options for the application. But there is a secondary location that allows you to configure how each group is displayed and this panel lets you easily add Accents to a tab.

After creating your first group, in the left corner of the Groupy bar, you will see a small Groupy 2 icon with a down arrow. Clicking that arrow will let you customize how a specific group can be personalized.

It is from this dropdown that you can add an accent color to a tab, rename a tab, save a group, pin a group to the taskbar, and a lot more. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend you add Accents to your tabs as it makes them easy to identify at a glance.

The settings within Groupy 2 are robust but I wanted to call out a couple of them specifically as they are my preferred way of using the application. Of course, how I use it may differ from your desired options, but this is how I get the most out of Groupy 2 for my workflow.

The first option I always change from the default experience is to make it so that Groupy 2 doesn’t try to group apps unless I am holding down a modifier key. I typically use the control button which means that when dragging a window onto another, when I hold control, the Groupy 2 experience lights up and makes it possible to group the apps together.

To enable this feature, in the Groupy 2 configuration panel, go to Grouping settings and the option is under “Manual grouping by dragging settings”.

The reason I prefer this method is that, while the default experience to hold an app over another for a short bit of time to enable the grouping experience is easy, this keeps me from accidentally grouping apps on rare occasions. If you are wondering why we don’t enable this experience by default, that’s because the discoverability of the functionality for onboarding would require more upfront communication.

The other feature that I turn off by default is the “Show a Groupy bar when the mouse moves over the top of a title bar while not in a group”. Keeping this setting enabled is optimal for users who are getting started with Groupy 2 as it notifies the user with a visual cue that the app can be grouped easily but after becoming comfortable with the mechanism, I turn it off.

Once you get used to having tabs for every window on your desktop, you will wonder how you ever lived without them. I find them especially useful when working with productivity apps like Word or Excel but would love to know how you are using Groupy 2.

Microsoft’s Vision for Windows 12 Explains Windows 11

Big changes ahead for Windows

Tuesday, October 18, 2022 by BradSams | Discussion: Software Blog

This past week, Microsoft accidentally shared a mockup of their vision for Windows 12 at their Ignite conference. The mockup, which has the name Windows 11 NV, or Next Valley, is authentic and is likely the direction Microsoft is heading with its OS.

There are three notable items that are worth paying attention to:

  • Widgets are now in the top left corner
  • System tray is in the top right corner
  • Taskbar is “floating” rather than sitting at the bottom of the screen

While we don’t know if all of these features will make their way into Windows 12 (or whatever they are going to call it), it does explain some of the decisions behind Windows 11.

With Windows 11, Microsoft removed the ability to ungroup icons on the taskbar and also defaults to a center-aligned Start menu. Behind the scenes, Microsoft has already said that they rebuilt the taskbar. We also know that the system tray has now been rebuilt and of course, the widgets were rebuilt for Windows 11, too.

I believe that Microsoft has done this is to train the user for the next big transition. To go from Windows 10 to "Windows 12" is a big leap, but with Windows 11, this makes the transition a bit softer. With Microsoft rebuilding much of the interface from scratch with Windows 11, this plays into the narrative that Windows 12 will be another significant change for the OS.

If Microsoft does go this route, and the taskbar becomes more of a dock, it makes sense why the company no longer allows you to ungroup open windows or move the taskbar to the top of the display (both features can be re-enabled with Start11). Out of context, these two changes appear to be a significant regression, and even with the Windows 12 mockup showing the direction, it remains hard to justify why they would remove features that have defined Windows for decades. 

While Microsoft is not sharing if this is truly the direction that they will take with Windows 12, there is a lot of evidence to support that this is where they are looking to take the OS. There are still many questions outstanding about if the company will allow for a “classic” OS layout to be re-enabled, but at this point, considering that they were willing to cut things out of Windows 11, I would think that’s not likely.

It's a bit too early to talk about a Start12, but know that once Microsoft does finally share its vision, and more importantly a build of the next major release, Stardock will be looking to do what we do best and make Windows more personal and productive.




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