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The first step is to ruthlessly eliminate unwanted tiles from the Start screen.
Right-click each tile you want to remove so that it shows a checkmark in the upper right corder, as I've done here. (If you accidentally select a tile that you want to keep, just right-click again to clear the checkmark.)
When you've selected the fill list, click Unpin from Start in the App bar along the bottom. The selected tiles are removed from the Start screen. The programs themselves remain available for use.
This is a good time to choose a different background color and pattern for the Start screen.
From the Start screen, press Windows key + I (that's a capital eye, not a lowercase ell) to open the Settings pane on the right. Click More PC settings at the bottom of the pane, then choose Personalize to display this set of options.
Choose a background color from the slider along the bottom and one of the size background patterns from the boxes above it. You don't need to do anything special to save your changes.
Tap the Start key to return to the Start screen.
When you install a new Windows desktop program, such as Microsoft Office, the installer adds your icons to the right side of the Start screen automatically. If you're setting up a new user account on a system where apps are already installed, you can add icons to Start manually by searching for them.
Tap the Start key to switch to the Start screen, and then begin typing to filter the list of available programs and apps, as shown here.