Navigating the Windows Mixed Reality home

Just like the Windows PC experience starts with the desktop, Windows Mixed Reality starts with the home. The Windows Mixed Reality home leverages our innate ability to understand and navigate 3D places. With HoloLens, your home is your physical space. With immersive headsets, your home is a virtual place.

Your home is also where you’ll use the Start menu to open and place apps and content. You can fill your home with mixed reality content and multitask by using multiple apps at the same time. The things you place in your home stay there, even if you restart your device.

Start Menu

Start Menu on Microsoft HoloLens

The Start menu consists of:

  • System information (network status, battery status, current time, and volume)
  • Cortana (on immersive headsets, a Start tile; on HoloLens, at the top of Start)
  • Pinned apps
  • The All apps button (plus sign)
  • Photo and video buttons for mixed reality capture

Switch between the pinned apps and All apps views by selecting the plus or minus buttons. To open the Start menu on HoloLens, use the bloom gesture. On an immersive headset, press the Windows button on your controller.

Launching apps

To launch an app, select it on Start. The Start menu will disappear, and the app will open in placement mode, as either a 2D window or a 3D model.

To run the app, you’ll need to then place it in your home:

  1. Use your gaze or controller to position the app where you want it. It will automatically adjust (in size and position) to conform to the space where you place it.
  2. Place the app using air-tap (HoloLens) or the Select button (immersive headsets). To cancel and bring back the Start menu, use the bloom gesture or the Windows button.

2D apps, created for desktop, mobile, or Xbox can be modified to run as mixed reality immersive apps using the HolographicSpace API. An immersive app takes the user out of the home and into an immersive experience. Users can return home with the bloom gesture (HoloLens) or by pressing the Windows button on their controller (immersive headsets).

Apps can also be launched via an app-to-app API or via Cortana.

Apps in the Windows Mixed Reality home

Moving and adjusting apps

Select Adjust on the app bar to reveal controls that move, scale, and rotate mixed reality content. When you’re finished, select Done.

The store slate in Adjustment Mode (blue frame). Note the app bar (top) has changed to include 'Done' and 'Remove' buttons.

Different apps may have additional options on the app bar. For example, Microsoft Edge has Scroll, Drag, and Zoom choices. 

App bar for 2D apps running on HoloLens

The Back button navigates back to previously viewed screens in the app. It will stop when you reach the beginning of the experiences that have been shown in the app, and will not navigate to other apps.

Getting around your home

With HoloLens, you move through physical space to move around your home. With immersive headsets, you can similarly walk in the available virtual space. To cover larger distances, you’ll use teleportation.

To teleport:

  • Press and hold the Y button on the Xbox gamepad or hold down the right mouse button to enter teleportation mode, which is signaled with a reticle 
  • Gaze or point to place the reticle where you want to go
  • Release the button to teleport where the reticle was placed

Teleportation in the Windows Mixed Reality home


Cortana is your personal assistant in Windows Mixed Reality, just like on PC and phone. HoloLens has a built-in microphone, but other headsets may require additional hardware. Use Cortana to open apps, restart your HoloLens, look things up online, and more. Developers may also choose to integrate Cortana into their experiences.

You can also use voice commands to get around your home. For example, point at a button (using gaze or a controller, depending on the device) and say “Select.” Other voice commands include “Go home,” “Bigger,” “Smaller,” “Close,” and “Face me.”

Store, Settings, and system apps

Windows Mixed Reality has a number of built-in apps, such as:

  • Windows Store to get apps and games
  • Windows Feedback to submit feedback about the system and system apps
  • Settings to configure system settings (including networking and system updates)
  • Microsoft Edge to browse websites
  • Photos to view and share photos and videos
  • Calibration (HoloLens only) for adjusting the HoloLens experience to the current user
  • Learn Gestures (HoloLens) or Learn Mixed Reality (immersive headsets) to learn about using your device
  • Holograms to decorate your world with mixed reality content
  • Mixed Reality Portal (desktop) for setting up and managing your immersive headset and streaming a live preview of your view in the headset for others to see.
  • Desktop (immersive headsets) for viewing your desktop monitor while in an immersive headset

See also