Make start menu more like xp

Keyboard shortcuts are very important to my computer use, which brings up a small but annoying problem I've been having in Windows 7.

In XP I was able to place a shortcut to a program or even to a particular file on my Start Menu. If I then renamed the shortcut on the start menu with a unique initial character, I could start a program or access a particular file simply by hitting the Start key and then an initial. For example, for my most common Microsoft Word file, I need only hit Start and then the letter x, and up pops my most commonly used file.

In Windows 7 when I try this I am delayed while Windows performs some sort of search for items starting with an x. In a moment or two, it discovers there is only one such item, and it offers me this item in a list and I must hit enter to get the item to come up.

The negative effect of this is still more pronounced when I start a new session and I know how want to open say three separate files/applications. In XP I can do this very quickly if the names I gave the shortcuts are unique. (And even if I have multiple items, say starting with the letter m, the Start men lets me essentially choose which m item I want by repeatedly hitting m. Very quickly, I learn that such and such file is: Start>mm>enter.)

So my question is: is there a way to tell the Window 7 Start Menu to behave like the XP Start Menu, at least in this regard?
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  1. This may not be the answer you're looking for, but if you open the start menu and hit "tab" before typing "x" then it will switch focus away from the search box and jump to the appropriate item on the start menu. I'm not aware of any way to disable the search box itself.
  2. Actually, this is quite helpful. Nice to know I have that option. Unfortunately, W7 doesn't seem to distinguish that if there is only one menu item starting with x (for example) then it can go ahead and open that item. The keystrokes are adding up....

    Check out that difference to open my daily use Microsoft Word file:

    XP: Start>x (notice how close together the keys; bing, bing, file is open)
    W7: Start>tab>x>enter

    Sounds like I'm headed for another of these situations where software designers don't really know how this guy uses their products.

    Thanks again. Anybody have any other suggestions for how to get the desired result?
    (that is Start>x = file/application)
  3. Are you aware that you can assign shortcut keys to items in the start menu?

    Right-click a start menu item and select "Properties".

    Select the "Shortcut" tab and click inside the "Shortcut key" entryfield so that the cursor appears there. Then press "Ctrl" plus a letter such as "X".

    After you click OK in the properties dialogue box, you can then start your program by pressing Ctrl + Alt + <letter>.
  4. Hey, no I wasn't aware of that, and that is pretty cool. Sounds like that's another possibility, and I really appreciate your super clear instructions!

    On the down side, ha, ha (no fault of yours), I note these shortcuts require two hands, so I'd still rather do it the old XP way. If anybody knows how to make W7 automatically open a menu item as described above, I'd love to hear it.
  5. This prog solved my problem beautifully.
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