Home Gadgets How to Replace the Start Menu in Windows 11. Open shell Windows 10

How to Replace the Start Menu in Windows 11. Open shell Windows 10

How to Replace the Start Menu in Windows 11

Get a more compact Start menu with greater information density.

Windows 11 has some interesting new features, but its UI is polarizing. If you’re like me, you downloaded a Windows 11 ISO and did a clean install on a test machine, but don’t like the new version of the Start menu because it takes up more screen real estate and makes you click a button to see a complete, alphabetical list of all your apps.

Fortunately, with a third-party app and possibly a registry tweak, you can get a different style of Start menu that’s closer to the look and feel of Windows 7 than Windows 10 and gives you lots of options. There are a few different utilities out there but I tested with the three most popular: Open-Shell (formerly Classic Shell), a free open-source app, StartAllBack and Start11, which cost 4.99 each and have a lot more functionality.

Below, I’ll show you how to replace the Windows 11 Start menu with any of these third-party utilities and make sure they appear in the right place.

Best Windows 11 Start Menu Replacement

Of the three Windows 11 Start Menu replacements, each has its pros and cons. Open-Shell is clearly the worst, because it doesn’t automatically integrate into the Windows 11 taskbar, forcing you to use a registry hack that messes up the search function. It also looks only like a Windows 7 menu, not the more recent Windows 10 style. However, it’s also the only free option.

Available for 4.99 with a 30-day trial, both StartAllBack and Start11 give you a variety of features, including the ability to have a more Windows 10-style menu and to center or left-align it.

Start11 has a “Windows 10 style” option that looks the most like Windows 10’s Start Menu, including its tiles area. It also gives you more design options such as the ability to set a texture behind the taskbar. And it lets you move the taskbar to the top of the screen, something that requires a really buggy registry hack otherwise.

StartAllBack’s menu looks much more Windows 7 like and it does not let you move the taskbar, but it allows you to set a number of options that are otherwise only available as registry hacks: ungrouping taskbar icons, enabling Windows 10-style context menus and bringing the ribbon back to File Explorer.

However, if you choose Start11, you can do all of these except ungrouping taskbar ions by following our tutorials on how to get a full context menu and how to get Windows 10’s File Explorer in Windows 11.

Windows 11 Start Menu Replacements Compared

Automatically changes taskbarTaskbar on Top OptionWindows 10-Style menuClassic Context MenusRibbon in File ExplorerUncombine Taskbar IconsResize Taskbar IconsCan Center IconsCustom Textures
X X Row 0. Cell 3
Row 1. Cell 1 X Row 1. Cell 3
Row 2. Cell 1 X Row 2. Cell 3
X Row 3. Cell 2 Row 3. Cell 3
Row 4. Cell 1 X Row 4. Cell 3
X Row 5. Cell 2 Row 5. Cell 3
X X Row 6. Cell 3
X X Row 7. Cell 3
Row 8. Cell 1 X Row 8. Cell 3

How to Use StartAllBack to Replace Windows 11’s Start Menu

Download and install StartAllBack from its official website.

Select a theme. I recommend Proper 11. All of the menus have a Windows 7 size and layout but Proper 11 has more rounded corners and the Windows 11 Start button.

The StartAllBack Start Menu has its own search box built-in that functions a lot like the Windows 7 search. You can also click the search icon on the taskbar and get Windows 11’s search feature.

Select Icon size from the Start Menu tab if you want smaller or larger icons. You can also increase the number of icons on the menu here.

Select Never from the Combine taskbar buttons menu if you want your icons uncombined. Otherwise, you can select “Always, hide labels” or “When taskbar is full.” Uncombined taskbar buttons show you a button for each window, even if you have multiple Windows of the same program (ex: your web browser).

Select Windows 10 Ribbon UI from the Explorer tab if you want to get the ribbon menu in File Explorer.

Check Classic context menus on the Explorer tab if you want the full context menus.

On the taskbar menu, you can change the Start button, center the icons or enable dynamic transparency which makes the taskbar transparent except for the foregrounded button. The Start Menu tab allows you to control which icons appear on it.

If you need to go back to the StartAllBack settings menu after closing it, you can find it in the Windows Control panel.

How to Use Start11 to Replace Windows 11’s Start Menu

Download and Install Start11 from its official site.

Choose a Start Menu style. I recommend Windows 10 style, but Windows 7 style is fine too.

Windows 10 Style looks very much like the Windows 10 Start Menu, including the tiles area. These aren’t live tiles that update themselves, but most tiles were never live tiles anyway.

Select a Taskbar size from Taskbar tab. Medium is the default size but you can choose small or large.

Select “Align Top” from the Primary monitor or Secondary monitors menu if you want the taskbar to appear on the top of the screen. If not, leave it at “Align Bottom.”

Click Restart explorer if you’ve changed the taskbar size or alignment.

On the Start Button tab, you can replace the default button with a custom image. On the Taskbar tab, you can set the transparency level, apply a texture or position the icons in the center of the taskbar.

Left Aligning the Taskbar Icons

Both StartAllBack and Start11 give you the ability to left-align your taskbar icons as part of their control panels. However, if you’re going to use Open-Shell, the only free option. you need to align your taskbar icons to the left using Windows 11’s Settings menu.

Also, if you don’t install any third-party utilities, you may still want to put your icons on the left, because that gives Windows 11 a much more traditional feel than it has by default.

To shift your taskbar icons to the left:

Right click on the taskbar and select Taskbar settings.

Open the Taskbar behaviors menu.

Select “Left” from the Taskbar alignment menu.

Using Open-Shell

Open-Shell is a free, open-source utility that gives you a Windows 7-style Start menu and a ton of options for customization. However, this is our least-recommended option, because it requires you to use a registry hack that enables the classic taskbar, but breaks search.

Getting started with Open-Shell is as easy as downloading the latest version from Github and installing it. Just make sure you choose the right Start button icon. Open-Shell gives you a choice of a couple of Start buttons or the option to upload your own image. However, I found that the custom button images I uploaded were often invisible or parts of them were invisible until I clicked on them.

Your Start button icon appears on top of the Windows 11 Start button, but if the one you choose doesn’t completely cover it and you click an uncovered part, it will launch the Windows 11 Start menu.

The most reliable Start button icon is the default “Aero” button which is a circular shell icon. On our PC, it covered the complete Windows 11 Start button, but if I clicked in the blank space to the left of it rather than directly on the button, I still get the Windows 11 Start menu. The larger, rectangular Start button can solve that problem, but it may cover over parts of your other icons.

Another possibility is to uncheck Replace Start Button in Open-Shell’s options menu and use the classic taskbar hack (see below) and then you’ll get a clickable, Windows 10-style Start button.

Enabling Classic Taskbar

If you’ve installed Start11 or StartAllBack, the programs will automatically enhance your taskbar with some options so we recommend that you skip this section. However, in order to get Open-Shell to use a Windows 10 Start button icon, you need to enable the classic taskbar in the Registry. This taskbar looks and feels a little bit more like the Windows 10 taskbar and has a Search box and a Task View button.

However, neither of these works. The Search box does absolutely nothing when you click on it and the Taskview, in my experience, almost always crashes, causing icons even of open apps to disappear temporarily, so in other words, don’t click it. or better yet, hide it, which we’ll show you how to do.

Open Regedit. You can launch it by hitting Windows R and typing “regedit.” Click Yes if prompted.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Shell\Update\Packages.

Create a new DWORD (32-bit) value by right clicking in the right window pane and selecting New-DWORD (32-bit) Value.

Rename the value to UndockingDisabled.

Set UndockingDisabled to 1.

Close regedit and restart Windows 11. The classic taskbar will be there, but you’ll notice on the left side that the clock, audio and networking icons are missing.

Launch the notification icons control panel by hitting Windows key R and entering shell. then hitting Ok.

Click “Turn system icons on or off.”

Toggle Clock, Volume and Network to On. The icons will now appear on the left side of the screen.

Hide the “Task view” icon (optional). Since this function tends to crash, I recommend hiding the button by right clicking on the taskbar, selecting Taskbar settings and toggling Task view to off.

Hide the search box (optional). Since the search box doesn’t actually work, your best bet is to hide it by using Regedit to navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search and setting SearchTaskbarMode to 0 and then restarting Windows. The good news is that the Start menu replacements have their own search boxes built in.

In the end, you will have a taskbar that works with any of the utilities and looks a bit more Windows 10-like. You’ll also have the Windows 10-style File explorer and right-click, jump-list menus that look like Windows 10 and have all the options on them.

Overall, though, we recommend using StartAllBack or Start11, both of which can properly align themselves on the taskbar and prevent Windows 11’s native Start menu from appearing. If you want to do even more to give your Windows 11 a classic look, see our article on how to make Windows 11 look and feel like Windows 10.

Stay on the Cutting Edge

Join the experts who read Tom’s Hardware for the inside track on enthusiast PC tech news — and have for over 25 years. We’ll send breaking news and in-depth reviews of CPUs, GPUs, AI, maker hardware and more straight to your inbox.

By submitting your information you agree to the Terms Conditions and Privacy Policy and are aged 16 or over.

Avram Piltch is Tom’s Hardware’s editor-in-chief. When he’s not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you’ll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.

Open Shell not working in Windows 11

Do you know we can customize the Start menu on Windows 11/10 using some free programs? Open Shell is one program we can use to customize the Start menu and add a toolbar and status bar to Windows Explorer with some extra features. It was earlier Classic Start and is the alternative to Classic Shell, which does the same. When the Classic Shell stopped being active, volunteers on GitHub picked it and developed Open Shell based on it. It is being used by many Windows users. Some users are complaining that Open Shell is not working on their Windows 11. In this guide, we show you how to fix it and use Open Shell without any issues.

Open Shell not working in Windows 11

Let’s get into the details of each method and fix the issue. Before that, restart your PC and see if there is any change.

1] Restart File Explorer

Some of the Open Shell users have seen Open Shell working after restarting File Explorer. When the Open Shell is not working on your PC, you need to restart the File Explorer and see if it fixed the issue.

  • Right-click on the Start button to open the WinX Menu
  • Select Task Manager from the list
  • Locate the Windows Explorer process in the list of processes
  • Right-click on it and select Restart

2] Re-register Shell Experience

Re-registering Shell Experience using the PowerShell on Windows 11 might also fix the issue where the Open Shell is not working on your PC.

To re-register the Shell Experience,

Click on the Start menu and type PowerShell

Click on Run as an administrator under Windows PowerShell in the results to open it. Click Yes on the UAC prompt.

Copy/paste the following command in the PowerShell and press Enter

Get-appxpackage.all shellexperience.packagetype bundle |%

See if it has fixed the issue with the Open Shell.

3] Rebuild Windows Search Index

Rebuilding the Windows Search Index also can fix the Open Shell issues on Windows 11. You can rebuild the Windows Search Index following the steps below.

  • Open the Settings app from the Start menu or use the WinI shortcut
  • Click on Privacy security in the left sidebar and then click on the Searching Windows tab
  • Scroll down and click on Advanced indexing options
  • Click on the Advanced button to open a new window
  • Click on Rebuild and wait for the process to complete

Check if rebuilding the Windows Search Index has fixed the Open Shell issue or not.

4] Tweak Registry Settings

You can also fix the Open Shell not working issue using the Registry Settings. You just have to create a new DWORD file naming it EnableXamlStartMenu.

To tweak registry settings to make Open Shell work,

Press WinR on your keyboard to open the Run box. Type Regedit and press Enter

Navigate to the following path in the Registry Editor


Right-click in the path and choose New. Then, select DWORD (32-bit value). Name the file as EnableXamlStartMenu

Now, double click on the newly created DWORD file and set it value date to 0.

Restart your PC and see if the issue is fixed or not. If not, go to the same path in the Registry editor, find the Start_ShowClassicMode file there and delete it.

5] Update Windows

There might be some issue or bug in the Windows Update preventing the Open Shell from working. You need to update Windows to the latest version to fix the issue.

  • Open the Settings app using the WinI shortcut on the keyboard
  • Click on Windows Update in the left sidebar
  • On the Windows Update page, click on Check for updates button to manually run Windows updates

6] Reinstall Open Shell

If none of the above methods fixed the Open Shell issue, you need to uninstall it from your PC and reinstall it. You can uninstall it in the Settings app or from the Start menu. Then, download Open Shell from GitHub and run it to install it.

These are the different methods you can use if the Open Shell is not working on your Windows 11.

How do I get Classic Shell to work on Windows 11?

Classic Shell was last updated in December 2017. You can just download it from the official website and install it on your PC, but it may not work as desired. As an alternative to Classic Shell, Open Shell is developed, which does what Classic Shell does on previous Windows versions.

Is Open Shell available for Windows 11?

Yes, Open Shell is available for Windows 11. You can download it from GitHub and use it to customize the Start menu, and do everything with it like on Windows 10 on previous versions. If you face any issues with Open Shell on Windows 11, you can follow the above methods.

Open-Shell: Regain Your Start Menu in Windows and Much

The single biggest complaint about Windows 8 and 10 is the tiled Start menu. Don’t like it? There’s an app for that.

The Start menu in Windows 8 was its most strikingly different feature. While it was tamed down a little in Windows 10, it’s still quite startling if you’re upgrading from, say, Windows 7.

Unfortunately, that tiled Start screen leaves many with a very negative first impression — a first impression that goes on to color their entire Windows experience.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Open-Shell (formerly Classic Shell) is free software that gives you your favorite Start menu back, as well as restoring and adding functionality to Windows Explorer.

Start is…

This is what most people react to.

On the left is Windows 10’s traditional list of installed programs (not present in Windows 8.1), and on the right is the object of most people’s concern: the tiled portion of the Start menu.

How to Switch Back to Windows 10 Start Menu in Windows 11

It’s powerful, it’s customizable, and works well with the mouse and on touch screens.

And not everyone likes it.

With Open-Shell — also known as Open-Shell-Menu — you can get the old-style Start menu back.

Installing Open-Shell

Open-Shell is free, open source software available on GitHub.

Visit the Open-Shell homepage and look for the release button.

Click on that. On the resulting page, scroll down until you see the installer — OpenShellSetup_xxx.exe.

Click on that to download the installer, and select “run” if prompted. You’ll be presented with a welcome message.

Click Next to view and agree to a license agreement; click Next again to view a menu of installation options.

  • Classic Explorer adds a toolbar and a status bar to Windows Explorer (now referred to as the File Explorer or Windows File Explorer).
  • Open-Shell Menu adds a Start button and a highly customizable traditional Start menu.
  • Classic IE adds a caption bar and status bar for Internet Explorer.

Each of these can be selected (or not) at installation. The default is to install all, and so far, I’ve seen no harm in doing exactly that.

The fourth option — Open-Shell Update — enables checking for future updates. I recommend leaving it selected.

I’ll FOCUS on the Start menu — Open-Shell Menu — for the rest of this article.

Click Next and then Install to complete the installation.

Open-Shell Menu

After installing Open-Shell (and making a choice or two, which I’ll cover in a moment), my Windows 10 Home edition now has a Windows 7 style Start menu:

If you’re not a fan of Windows 7’s approach to Start menus and prefer something even more basic, we can do that, too.

You choose the style you prefer the first time you click on the Start button.

Using Open-Shell

Open-Shell has been integrated into Windows very well. It feels very natural and familiar in almost every circumstance.

Of particular note, however, is that Classic Start hasn’t removed anything. In fact, if you want to re-visit your tiled Start menu, just hold down Shift as you click on the Start button.

And, of course, if you decide you’d rather not use Open-Shell and want to run with the native Windows 10 interface, you can simply uninstall it as well.

Options, we have options!

To be honest, I’ve really only scratched the surface of Open-Shell’s capabilities.

Right-click on your Open-Shell start button and click on Settings, and then make sure that the “Show all settings” checkbox is checked.

The options available allow you to customize just about every aspect of the Start menu.

It’s not just for Windows 8 10

While Open-Shell is most popular for users of Windows 8 and 10, it works in Windows Vista and Windows 7. In fact, it was developed in response to changes in those operating systems. It became a powerful alternative for folks now struggling with Windows 8 and 10.

My recommendation

My true recommendation is that you embrace the characteristics of the operating system you have. If you’re on Windows 10, learn to use the Windows 10 Start menu. That will serve you well into the future and keep you less dependent on third-party tools like Open-Shell 1.

However, if you’re struggling with the newer Windows Start menu, give Open-Shell a try before you give up on that version of Windows.

It might change your mind.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

Podcast audio

Posted: July 17, 2019 in: Windows User InterfaceThis is a major update to an article originally posted January 6, 2013Updated to Open-Shell from the now discontinued Classic ShellShortlink: https://askleo.com/6217 Tagged: Classic Shell, Classic Start, Open-Shell, start menu, Windows 10, Windows 8

Leo Who?

I’m Leo Notenboom and I’ve been playing with computers since I took a required programming class in 1976. I spent over 18 years as a software engineer at Microsoft, and “retired” in 2001. I started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place to help you find answers and become more confident using all this amazing technology at our fingertips. about Leo.

64 Комментарии и мнения владельцев on “Open-Shell: Regain Your Start Menu in Windows and Much ”

Hi leo i don’t even miss the start button on my desktop i rather like the change. but this looks like a awesome program might be worth me looking at. Thanks for the write up :).

Leo, thanks for the confirmation on my feelings about Windows 8! Once I realized the opening Metro screen was nothing more than a full screen “START” button, everything started to make sense! I have installed “Classic Shell” on my new Desktop and find Windows 8 to feel much more at home. My Sister-in-Law just got a new Laptop with Windows 8 and appreciates Classic Shell because she now has a Shutdown button immediately available from the “Desktop”!

I’ve been using Classic Shell since Vista. I’ve always preferred a start menu that shows all of my programs on one screen. I find it much easier than having to click on the top or bottom of the list to get it to scroll. I’ve never understood why MS didn’t allow scrolling the programs list with the mouse wheel.

I’ve done half a dozen Windows 8 upgrades now — actually did all as fresh installs — and have found that Classic Shell can be a bit kinky and sometimes really slow down a computer. We’ve been using Start8 from StarDock.com instead. Even though it costs all of 4.99, it has worked flawlessly with no hit on performance. While Classic Menu sometimes takes some time to get to the desktop, it’s instantaneous with Start8. There are lots of additional choices out there for restoring the “Start” button and menus, and booting directly into the desktop including Startw8, Retro UI, Pokkie_Start_Menu, StarMenuX, and Power8. We’ve tried them all and Start8 has worked the best for us.

My (relatively computer illiterate) sister bought a new laptop with Win8 and asked me to set it up for her…my first experience with it. I don’t have too much trouble with the start menu structure (don’t particularly like it, but no trouble), but when I start an application from it, there doesn’t seem to be a way to ‘exit’ from it or shut it down (no “X” button), and it appears to keep running even if you go back to the start tiles and open something else. Is this correct? Am I missing something in closing or stopping an application in Win 8, and will the Classic Shell app return that functionality when running programs? Please advise, and thanks.

Sure needed Classic Shell when I first installed Win 7. By the way, I’m in IE10, so I skipped the IE9 part of the installation. Still, something installed. Also, bootup to Win 8 seemed to run a little slower, but I think my computer is learning. I spent hours struggling to do some of this customization of Win 8. Microsoft needs to make this readily available.

Its too good, but can I use both the start menus at the same time? I mean the classic one and win 8’s menu.

I’ve installed Windows 8 on my laptop and like it!Hitting the “Windows” button takes me to my old W7 desktop where all my old programs remain. Hitting the same button takes me back to the W8 desktop. Perhaps, in time, I’ll look for traditional “Start” button but, for now, I don’t miss it.I’ll give it another few weeks and then probably bite the bullet and install on my main PC.

After starting I always click ‘desktop’ and then Win 8 is not much different to Win 7. The desktop version of IE is ok.

If I had been offered this in mid-December – when I first upgraded to Windows 8 Pro – I would have jumped at it.Now that I have been using Win 8 for 4 weeks, with standard keyboard mouse, I find it as easy as the old Start Menu and in most cases much quicker. I will save the article just in case but do not see myself changing back.

There’s a feeling of Deja Vu here. I can remember when Windows 3.1 came out. The reception was Ok better than 3.0 but not good until Norton came out with their Desktop product – although you had to have a poky computer to run it properly, and you could only generally upgrade to 2Mb of RAM (no that’s not a typo) remember Win3.xx was a DOS application! And there were other shells too one earlier than Norton although I can’t remember it’s name but it was the first one I saw with right click context menus that ran under most 3.xx variations – and it was faster than Program Manager (not hard). Not too much changes…

You sum up the disappointments with the newer OS nicely with this example above:

” The reaction to this, the Windows 8 desktop, is typically: “Where’s the Start button?!” and “How do I do anything?!” “

My complaint with the newest operating systems (and web sites) is that they now seem to diminish a more intuitive user interface in favor of cleaner, fewer and more austere graphics. I find that even Apple’s newer OS systems are also much harder to navigate intuitively (or obviously).

I don’t get it — Why wouldn’t Win 8 include an obvious “Start” (or similar) button to click on so we can find the features we are looking for?

I am slowing getting used to Windows 8 after calling Microsoft twice (free under warranty). I now can log on without a password – hooray. (The W8 password also opened my hotmail I hated that.) I learned a trick to shut off quickly – hit the Windows key plus C and all the right-side settings appear so I don’t have to hover my mouse to try to get it to appear. It does seem extremely fast compared to my old Vista. Hate the new IE, so use Firefox in desktop.

It’s worth knowing that the old AltF4 key combo still works in Win8. It will shut down Metro or desktop apps and on the desktop with no programs running brings up an option box to shutdown, sleep etc. Just use your up and down arrow keys to select and then press enter.

Not sure I’ll ever need Classic Shell. I confess I am a keyboard bigot… Ever since Windows 3.11, I keep a desktop icon for every program I use, with keyboard shortcuts for each of the 2 dozen I use most. That includes the six Windows Explorer shortcuts that open the most-used directories (uh, folders). When my boss decides to convert us to W8, I’ll be looking for how to clear the tiles off the desktop and go back to keyboard shortcuts.

I’ve been using Win8 (on and off) since it went GA. Fortunately for me most of my interaction is with “old” desktop apps so I rarely have to deal with the Win8 Start Screen. I haven’t found many useful Metro apps that I’m willing to pay for.

One of my main objections to the “Start Screen” concept is I’m working on a non-touch laptop/desktop, so tiles are a HUGE waste of my screen real-estate. And using the mouse vertical scroll wheel to scroll the metro screen and metro apps HORIZONTALLY is totally counter-intuitive.

In one place you say ” if you want to re-visit your tiled Start menu”. Does that mean the shell app removes all tiles from the Metro start screen?

Joe b :there doesn’t seem to be a way to ‘exit’ from it or shut it down (no “X” button), and it appears to keep running even if you go back to the start tiles and open something else. Is this correct? Am I missing something in closing or stopping an application in Win 8,

No you are not missing anything, except the change in concept. Win8 turns your laptop into a phat smartphone. You are right, apps don’t close when you leave them, they just lurk in the background. MS encourages that. If you wish to stop a Metro app, you have to click-hold- the very top of the screen AND drag it down toward the bottom of the screen.

Marty W:Nothing is “intuitive” without some sort of predecessor to provide a user base of experience to provide the context for “intuition”. Actually, there is an intuitive basis for Win8 / Metro, Windows Phones and even other smartphones. They taught people thumb swipes, horizontal scroll instead of vertical scroll and other metro design points. Unfortunately for desktop users, a (large) majority of Windows current users (?), those elements are not intuitive.

When I tried the Win8 Preview in Feb, I lasted about 5 hours before I wiped it in frustration. (Yes bob, one of those frustration points was not being able to close or exit metro apps) After that, I had time to read and learn about the changes in conventions and the other minimal tips that made a difference. The biggest convention I learned was think of the Metro desktop as a really PHAT start menu (and the horizontal scroll).

So can someone remind me why i need a 3rd party program to make 8 work, why don’t i have the option to do this through Windows.Why am i forced to use Metro when its crap on a desktop, why can’t i switch it off.Could it be that 8 is another bloated, mixed up mess, the end result of desktop crashing into touch and like all crashes its very messy.It really shocks me that so called experts recommend this “one size fits all” pile of bloat before its first service pack.8 is a half ready crippled OS that will compromise any hardware its ported to,, avoid like the plague…

@HoppyI agree that Microsoft made a mistake by not putting a Start Menu option in Windows 8, but that’s the reality, and Classic Shell is a simple fix which doesn’t slow down your system. As for bloat, it seems to run a little lighter than Windows 7.

I had problems migrating from IE6 to IE7 and problems migrating from Office 2003 to Office 2007. Took a couple weeks each time but the migrations happened and I found the new way an improvement. Same with Windows 8. I simply believe software works best when I go with its flow. If I do not like the flow, then I go back “across the waters” to the original. And spend no time bad-mouthing the new stuff. New software is generally better than the old cuz developers overcome the old problems.

“cuz developers overcome the old problems.”

Or, more often, create newer more disastrous problems.

Having worked as a software developer, I can say how it works more or less. Bug fixing is a game of whack-a-mole. You fix one bug and sometimes that creates another problem. Fortunately, not always, so you’ll usually have fewer bugs than before the fixes. Eventually we ended up with bug free systems. Usually, once the bugs were almost all fixed, it was time for a total revamp of the system. With a system as large as Windows, this scenario is multiplied by a huge factor and again, when most of the bugs are gone a whole new set of bugs is introduced when the system is upgraded to a new version. From my experience working with Ask Leo! and hearing complaints, I find Windows works amazingly well. The vast majority of complaints are from people who don’t like how it looks, for example, the tile menu which is easily remedied by programs like Open Shell.

I would not say “more often”. It does happen, but developers are not adding more problems than they solve, even if you don’t see the later.

I have just been looking at a website (http://dottech.org) showing screen shots of Windows 1 through 8, where the author Комментарии и мнения владельцев: “. has Windows 8 gone back to the block/tile style of Windows 1 except with higher quality graphics? Yeah, yeah, I think it has.” Interesting thought, that Windows might have gone full circle. Makes 8 a more attractive proposition for me (I am now with XP)

Excellent news! When my XP laptop dies, I may consider W8 after all. Thanks!

Bought a new HP hot rod with Win8 (great deal, no choice). Instead of wiping the HD and reverting back to Win7, I installed Classic Shell to restore the features Microsoft left off (or hid) on Win8. Love it, love it, love it. If Classic Shell has a down side I haven’t discovered it. Thanks, Leo.

Another option, and possibly Leo could do an article on this, is to provide more information about how the new Start screen works. In just two clicks one can get to a screen that shows All Apps, arranged in program groups just the way the old start menu does. One there, I can find the program I want much faster than I ever could by drilling down through the layers after clicking the old start button. In addition, the new Start screen is highly configurable. The default Metro apps can be quickly deleted (or completely uninstalled) if they aren’t helpful. Any other applications, as well as Videos, Pictures, Documents, can be pinned to the Start screen, an organized into groups as well. After decided to stop pining for the old days and decided to learn more about what I had, I found that I can access my files and programs at least as easy as I could with the old start button.

A recent addition to the Stardock Software is ModernMix which allows you to run Metro (full screen only) apps in Windows. You can even pin the apps to the taskbar and start them directly from the desktop. Currently in beta.

Joe B mentioned that he could not close apps in Win 8. Simply press ALT F4 and it will close. Not my super knowledge of Win 8, someone else told me about this.

Windows 8 came bundled with my new H P desktop that I bought a month ago. Though I had not much difficulty in wading through the new start menu, I still missed my old start menu of Vista. Now that you explained about Classic Shell, I feel it is worthwhile giving it a try. Thanks, Leo. You are lucid to a fault, as always.

I have installed Windows 8 Pro 32 bit which I have also installed Classic shell. I would not consider using Windows 8 without it.As I cannot use it with the Metro start menu as it’s just not functional like the old Windows start menu. there are also other start menu software’s that work on 8 Start Menu 7,and Vi start but I find Classic shell is the best one.Andrea Borman.

I have classic shell, but this page will make shutting down Windows 8, even faster.http://blog.laptopmag.com/how-to-shutdown-Windows-8-in-just-one-click

I installed the Classic shell as advised. But when I am working on the internet and need to snip form the images, I cant get the tool. I have Windows 8. My task bar does not show up when I am using the internet. Can you please help

Classic Shell is good software. I much prefer the classic start menu over the XP and Vista/7 start menus, and I installed it in my computers running Windows 7 to get back the classic start menu.

When one of my relatives purchased a cheap laptop with Windows 8 (despite my reservations) and asked me to help set it up for use, the first thing I did was to install Classic Shell on it.

Personally I shall avoid Windows 8 / 8.1 and anything with that “Metro” interface like the plague. If that’s the direction Microsoft wants to go I certainly won’t go with them.

OK, I decided to uninstall Classic Shell 4.02 and give Windows Classic shell a chance. So far, I’m not too pleased with it on two counts: 1. This new function almost immediately caused freeze up on my Laptop. 2. Upon restarting to complete the full installation, I was greeted with an annoying Pop Up on my Desktop (Which I was only able to eventually close after my initial attempt caused further freeze up!), something that has never occurred with ANY previous Start up that I’ve ever done previously with ANY OS!

If this continues, it won’t be long before I return to the previous Classic Shell Program!

Apparently in my case, the cause of the Start Menu 8 Freeze Up is whenever I highlighted a specific Folder in the “Show As A Menu Item” setting. Therefore, I changed the relevant Menu Items to “Show As A Link.” That appears to be one problem solved! Hopefully, the annoying Desktop Pop Up that occurred upon my Restart to complete the Start Menu 8 installation was a one time thing, as I found that rather unsettling.

‘StartIsBack’ is much better than ‘Classic Shell’ I think.It might cost around a couple of dollars for the licence, but its much closer to the original Win 7 Start menu.

I realize this is a slightly older topic now, however many Windows 8/8.1 users still relies on Classic Shell. It’s a great piece of software for that OS even Windows 7.

However, the last supported version of the app for Windows Vista SP2 (3.8) made my notebook act as though a zombie. Being that I installed several apps on the same day, plus security, it took me 2 months to figure what kept causing the screen the freeze after opening an app. Had to hard shutdown many times because the only thing that would work was that silly neon circle.

Out of curiosity, after trying other things, I thought I’d uninstall Classic Shell, though I though it was a long shot. In seconds, I regained my Vista SP2 install back.

Now, it very may well have been that earlier versions were fine on Vista, but the last supported one wasn’t. So if you’re having freezing issues on Vista Classic Shell is installed, it may be worth removing to see.

However, please let me make this perfectly clear, I’m not knocking Leo on this. I’ve learned many, many things on this site Leo is one of the few who calls it down the middle. Nor did I get the idea of trying it from this article.

I’m just saying, it may cause issues with Vista SP2 computers. Beware.

Classic Shell is the best one and I say this objectively speaking and comparing. I made a comprehensive feature comparison table here of the various Start Menus: http://www.classicshell.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2399

I have used ClassicShell as well in the past, mainly to overcome the problems with the jumping folders in the navigation pane of Windows Explorer in Windows 7, but now that I’m using Windows 8.1, I’ve switched to Stardock Start8. You can try it for free for 30 days, but it’s worth its 4.99 (or €3.73). The look and feel is like it’s a 100% integrated into Windows!

I had said since the moment I installed the public beta of Windows 8 that the new Start Screen was fine and that most Windows users would eventually gravitate to it. But that the Start Menu should never have gone away. To me, that was akin to ripping off a bandage that would, given time, fall off on its own.

I had to google to find out how to shut down or restart Windows, how to fully shut down and how to use the PC without signing in to a Microsoft Account. And I found Microsoft’s shortcut guide to Win8 gestures mouse movements quite helpful.

But there are way too many Windows users that are not interested in what’s new, other than, “Is it faster?” The other drawback was apps taking the FOCUS from the Desktop back to the Start Screen. A one- to two-hour training session is needed, I believe, to make a user comfortable with the changes in Windows.

So Classic Start and the 8.1 upgrade make Windows 8 friendly to XP, Vista, and Win7 users. Replacing a PC, then, no longer requires anything more than a 15 minute (shorter for many) session of turning it on, clicking on some installed programs, shutting it down. Then, showing the new Start Screen – and switching back n forth between the Deskotp and the Start Screen.

In time, the user request to boot to the Start Screen will come, if they are not comfortable changing that feature on their own.

I do recommend getting a touch screen. Remember when a mouse was that strange thing? Now it’s the screen, but the big difference is multi-touch.

Did I mention that I’d love both a Surface and a Surface Pro?!

I have been using this since I bought my first Win 8 first desktop. I absolutely love it and I don’t know what I’d do without it. When I got my laptop I put it on there too. The customization is great and it functions very very well.

Is still available and operative Classic Shell Start Menu for Windows 8.02, on 9/24/2015 ?

As far as my experience goes, it works on all versions of Windows XP through Windows 10.

Is this a little late for questioning Windows 10? When I had my Windows 8 installed it came with a really good opening page at least for me it had all the sports I wanted and the news but when Windows 10 was installed all those cool things I had were gone. I am not sure they are gone it is just that I don’t know where they came from on the Windows 8. I am still not 100% convinced that the Windows 10 is much better than the 8. the thing that the Windows 10 did was it got rid of my Kaspersky and installed the Windows defender. Not sure if I need it or not.Okay thanks

Those pages aren’t a function of which version of Windows you are running. What your comment sounds like is that under Windows 8.x your browser was set to open a home page with that information. Yahoo.com, MSN.com, News.google.com and a host of others are customizable pages which give you the kind of information you are describing. This article explains how to set your browser’s home page:https://askleo.com/how_do_i_change_my_browser_home_page_back_to_what_i_want/

Classic is a very good “Classic” good show.

Running Win7 and just heard about Classic Shell. Not tech-savvy AT ALL! Wondering whether Classic Shell will make my working on my desktop easier. By passed WIn8; considering upgrade to Win10. Any Комментарии и мнения владельцев from an interested but befuddled wannabe? Thanks, Leo

I’m not a befuddled wannabe (I think you mean newbie), but I’ve installed ClassicShell for several newbies, and it makes Windows 8 and 10 look and feel 99.999% like Windows 7 and in some cases even better.

Interesting things about Windows 8 start menu (Which may help you decide on start menu options)

1: Windows 8 (Developer Preview) actually was almost perfect. By enabling or disabling RPenabled.reg key, you could enable or disable the start menu, which Win 7ish, skipped Metro completely. But, they had a 2 hr timer other things that made it impossible to use. If they had released Windows 8 with this Developer Preview instant on/off switch, Windows 8 might have easily become the new Windows 7 replacement.

2: In x32/64 Win 8.0 (Will NOT work in 8.1), you can use a free utility called ex7forw8 to make Windows 8 use the Windows 7 explorer skip Metro loading entirely. Very cool app, works great.

3: ClassicShell is marvelous, though the older 3.6.5 may contain different skins than the modern variants. You can download skins, if you need more, checkmark to disable the metro start screen hot corners under advanced.

If you are using Windows 8.0 instead of 8.1, you will find it is more customizable, lighter on resources, slightly faster. In addition to being able to utilize ex7forw8 to completely bypass Metro

UTTERLY USELESS! Since Win10 it’s 100% obsolete and only generates problems!

Then don’t use it. For me, the metro interface is counterintuitive.

Have classic shell on my box and a cheapo Acer laptop (given to me by BIL who has dementia)

Works the way that “I” work. ‘Nuff said.

I used Classic Shell when I ran Windows 8 because I hated the start menu. That has changed with Windows 10. For me, I find the Win 10 start menu to be a cool hybrid. In fact, I find the live tiles quite useful and use them all the time. Having said that, I get that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:Classic Shell has stopped developing and updating this program, the latest which was released last year is version 4.4.131.The replacement of this program is now called Open Shell and the latest version is 4.4.138.You can download it from here:Good luck and enjoy.

The article was updated to reflect this before you posted your comment, so I’m not sure exactly what I missed?I removed the link because you should be getting it directly from the source, not a download site.

I have been using Classic Shell since Windows 8 which came on my 2-n-1 laptop. I then installed it on my Windows 10 desktop (which came with Win 7) and also use it on my Windows 10 laptop. The makers of Classic Shell/Open-Shell are the perfect customer-oriented developers that I appreciate. I can’t stand using Windows 10 — period! Classic Shell has made it easier and more friendly to use.

With the dozens of computers I’ve upgraded or built in the last few years (including those for our small office), I’ve found that Start10 is the most “satisfying” to use for replacing the Windows 10 start menu. It’s more stable and the the right features for customizing — at least the features that the vast majority of users would conceivably want to use. After a free 30-day trial. it’s dirt cheap at something like 4.99 (sometimes on sale for less – you can install it on two computers). It’s available from the good folks at Stardock.com where they also make “groupy” which essentially does what the abandoned “Sets” was going to do for Windows 10 – namely place all those multiple instances of Word that open for each document with a single instance of Word with tabs across the top (or whereever you choose) for each open file, just like a in browser. You can set Groupy to group together all the documents for one application like Excel, or you can set Groupy to place open documents from multiple applications in a single window with tabs for each application. All in all quite versatile and productive. Same 30-day free trial before purchasing for something like 9.99. Disclosure: I have no financial or other interest in Stardock. I’ve simply found 3 or 4 of their products to be really helpful.

It strikes me that if Windows XP had been released after Windows 10, the Start menu could have been advertised as much improved: it’s visually more appealing, with its pastel shades of blue, it enables easy access to useful items such as recently used files, it is simple to group programs together into categories as required, etc, etc. What a pity that things have regressed so much; it now looks like Windows 95 gone wrong, or, as has been said elsewere, a Frankenstein hybrid of Windows 7 and 8.Nevertheless, as Leo says, Classic/Open Shell does make the transition easier, although I have heard that it needs to be reinstalled after major updates.As some features of the W10 Start menu persist, it is worth knowing that there is a list of standard personalisations of it here:https://www.howtogeek.com/197836/8-ways-to-customize-the-Windows-10-start-menu/Furthermore, after some research, I found that it is possible to introduce goupings into the new “apps” list, even though dragging and dropping or right-click open/explore no longer work. Just edit the folders as in the past in:%programdata% OR %appdata%/Microsoft/Windows/Start Menu/Programs; see:https://www.onmsft.com/how-to/how-to-organise-your-start-menu-apps-list-in-Windows-10.

Today I suddenly found that even if I shift click on Start Menu button in my Win10-64bit, no start menu opens. And if I click without shift key, then Open Shell menu opens.To regain the Win10 default start menu, I uninstalled the Open Shell.But now, not only the start menu doesn’t appear, but some of my apps are behaving very abnormally. E.g. Firefox browser opens only in any one corner of the display.No desktop icons are being shown.Taskbar right click doesn’t work anywhere.

I’ve not heard of this but I would reach out to the Open Shell people for assistance.

Replace Your Windows 10 Start Menu With these Alternatives

Invicti Web Application Security Scanner – the only solution that delivers automatic verification of vulnerabilities with Proof-Based Scanning

The new Start menu in Windows 10 is definitely one of the biggest upgrades to previous versions; right behind Cortana. It’s sleek, heavily customizable, and comes with cool live tiles that show live information from apps.

No matter how powerful it may be, I personally don’t like the Windows 10 Start menu; it just looks like it got beat up by a rainbow. To make it simpler, I tried getting rid of the whole live tiles section, but it wasn’t the right call as I still need it to pin important apps. Thankfully, I found a third-party replacement for the Windows 10 Start menu that allowed me to customize the Start menu exactly as I wanted.

If you are one of those classic folks who prefer the elegant and straight forward design of the Windows 7 era, then I know just the right alternatives to help you. Below you’ll find some of the best Windows 10 Start menu alternatives that will let you completely change the look of the Start menu and even add extra features you never knew you needed.

IObit Start Menu 8

It’s a free app, but IObit does advertise its other programs while installing and in the new Start menu on first use. It does have a paid version that offers automatic updates, but it’s not compulsory to buy it. Start Menu 8 has two Start Menu styles, one is based on Windows 7 style and the other is a bit flat similar to Windows 8 menus.

It has over a dozen built-in Start menu buttons that are actually very high quality. Like other apps, the Start menu is fully customizable and you can add remove items and change icon sizes as you please.

Open Shell (Classic Shell)

Classic Shell has been the staple alternative to Windows default Start menu for many years. Unfortunately, the Classic Shell developer had to leave the project so he made it open source. Open Shell is the same Classic Shell app, but it’s updated by volunteer developers to stay up-to-date with Windows 10 updates. The main purpose of Open Shell is to replace the Windows 10 Start menu with a Windows 7 like Start menu that can be further customized with skins.

When you first launch the app, you should pick a Start menu style (single or double column) and then apply a skin you prefer (try Metallic, it’s really good). This is sufficient to get a new Start Menu that is simple and functional. However, if you want to further customize, then there is so much more you can do.

The Basic Settings and Customize Start Menu tabs will help configure which buttons to show in the Start menu and which menu to open when you right-click on the Start menu or press the Windows key. You can also replace the Start Menu button with a custom image and change its size too.

When you are ready to take full control over the Start menu, check the checkbox next to Show all settings at the top. This opens a dozen more tabs to fully customize the Start menu. You can control the Start menu button, change main menu items, select right-click menu behavior, change menu design and animations, switch language, manage search box behavior, and much more.

I might be a bit biased being a Classic Shell user for over 5 years, but in my opinion, it’s the most customizable start menu alternative that is also completely free.


StartIsBack definitely has a much better user interface than Open Shell, but it’s a little less customizable. This Windows Start menu alternative is for both the Start menu and the Taskbar of Windows. Any changes you make will affect both the Start menu and the Taskbar.

It comes with 3 Start menu styles which are mostly inspired by the Windows 7 Start menu. You can also select a custom image for the Start menu button or use the Windows 7 button provided by the app. importantly, it lets you change the color of both the Taskbar and Start menu to any color you like.

If you move to the Configure behavior section, you’ll find a bunch of options to configure how you interact with the Start menu. You can select what apps and items to show in the Start menu by default and also change the power button behavior. Furthermore, it’s search option allows you to take your query to Cortana if nothing is found in programs and folders.

StartIsBack is a paid app to replace the Windows 10 Start menu and you can get a lifetime license for 3.99 for a single PC. Although, it does have a 30-days trial version that contains all the features for you to evaluate.


Start10 takes a little different approach to Start menu style. Instead of exactly copying the Windows 7 style, it makes Windows 10 Start menu style simpler. There is a Windows 7 inspired style that uses the basic frame of Windows 7, but well incorporates Windows 10 icon styles and app choices. And also a modern style that functions the same but uses the Windows 10 Start menu background.

A more interesting feature of Start10 is the ability to add cool themes and images as the Start menu and taskbar background. You can even upload a custom photo and apply it as a Start menu background. Just like other Start menu apps, Start10 also lets you configure icon size, pin apps, show recent apps and add programs as links or menus.

If you move to the Control section of the app, you will find many options to control how you open the Start10 menu. For example, you can decide whether the Windows button or clicking on the Start menu icon opens the Start10 menu or Windows 10 default Start menu. This can be extremely useful if you intend to use both the Start10 menu and the default Start menu at the same time.

Start10 is also a premium app and you’ll have to pay 3.74 to get the lifetime license. Although you can use the fully functional 30-days trial version before buying (requires email signup).

Start Menu X

If you are looking to make your Windows 10 menu even more functional than Start Menu X might intrigue you. Instead of dumbing down to the Windows 7 style Start menu, Start Menu X upgrades the Start menu to quickly access apps and folder data. It basically turns any folder or Windows setting here into a searchable menu that shows all its contents by hovering over.

You can access folders and their items right from the Start menu and even access subfolders. The app utilizes the live tiles section of the Start menu to list all the sub-items of folders and apps, and you can adjust the location of each item right from here as well.

Another interesting feature of Start Menu X is its ability to set timer-based power options, such as restart, shutdown, and log off, etc. You can set a specific timer and your PC will use one of the power options when the time is up. This can be extremely useful to shut down the PC while you are away if a program needs to complete a task.

Windows 11 Start Menu | How to get the old style Windows Start Menu back! Free and Easy

Similar to other apps, it comes with a handful of skins and styles to customize the look of your Start menu. Most of the Start Menu X features are available in the free version, but its One-Click-Launch feature is only available in the paid version for 9.99.

Windows 10 Start Menu Alternatives

I find the above as the best alternatives for Windows 10 Start menu. Each of them has its own unique features that make them worth picking depending on your preference. However, there are some more apps as well that can work as an alternative to the Windows 10 Start menu. Although some of them are not being updated anymore, so there is a chance they may break in the future. And others don’t offer enough exciting features that I may put them in the spotlight.

I am still listing them here as some of you might find them useful depending on your needs.


A very simple Windows 10 Start menu alternative that lets you get a Windows 7 or Windows 8 style Start menu. I must say the Windows 7 theme Start menu looks exactly like the real Windows 7 Start menu, and the Windows 8 one also copies the menu styles perfectly. You can also download more skins if the current ones don’t please you. ViStart is also completely free and open source.

Start Menu Reviver

This app works similar to the default Windows 10 Start menu, but it has its own interface and limitations. Start Menu Reviver comes with tiles feature that supports up to 64 tiles that you can scroll through. The tiles are also not limited to apps and settings, you can add just about any file; including media files and websites. A bunch of important settings and folders are listed on the left side, and you can use the All Apps button to view all the installed apps on your PC.

Unfortunately, the Start menu size is very small and there seems to be no way to resize it. This makes it very difficult to navigate the Start menu as titles take a lot of space.

Ending thoughts

I personally use Open Shell as I like its double-column style Start menu and the customization it offers is just mind-blowing. In case you don’t know, Microsoft is also working on simplifying Start Menu and many changes are already shipped to the insider build. If you like those changes, then soon you might not even have to get an alternative for Windows 10 Start menu.



| Denial of responsibility | Contacts |RSS