In Windows 8, how can I have a Start menu as in previous versions of Windows?

Microsoft developed Windows 8 with a Start screen rather than a Start menu. In Windows 10 and 8.1, the Start menu is restored; rather than following these instructions, you could upgrade your operating system. For details, see About Windows 10 at IU and About Windows 8.x at IU.

Note:
For help navigating, see Getting around in Windows.

There is no built-in way to revert to the Start menu in Windows 8, but some third-party add-ons mimic its functionality. One such add-on, Classic Shell, allows you to return to the visual styles of Start menus found in earlier versions of Windows.

Classic Shell was not exclusively designed for Windows 8; it will work on most modern versions of Windows.

On this page:


Installing and running Classic Shell

Installation

  1. Navigate to http://www.classicshell.net/.
  2. Click Download Now!, and then click Run. You may have to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
  3. You may be asked some configuration questions. Generally, click Agree, and then click Next. All settings can be changed later.

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Accessing the traditional Windows desktop

The Classic Shell add-on does not replace the Start screen, so you may not immediately notice any differences after installation, especially if you did not restart your computer during the process.

To get to what was known as the desktop in previous versions of Windows, from the Start screen, press Win-Shift. Pressing Win by itself does virtually the same thing, but also automatically opens the Classic Shell Start menu.

Once you reach the desktop, you will see the familiar interface you are used to from earlier versions of Windows.

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Making basic changes to the Classic Shell Start menu

To make changes to your Classic Shell Start menu:

  1. Open the Start menu by pressing Win or clicking the Start button. (In Classic Shell, the Start button may actually look like a seashell.)
  2. Click Programs, choose Classic Shell, and then select Start Menu Settings.
  3. Click the Start Menu Style tab and make your desired changes. Typically, you will not have to restart your computer for your changes to take effect; however, some settings do require a restart.

    Choosing the All Settings radio button at the bottom of the Start Menu Style tab will give you greater control over the look and feel of your Start menu. However, it is recommended that you limit your changes to those found in the Basic Settings radio button until you are used to the way Classic Shell works.

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Making additional changes to the Classic Shell Start menu

You can make additional changes to your Classic Shell Start menu settings by clicking the Basic Settings tab. (The Basic Settings tab is different than the Basic Settings radio button mentioned above.)

Two additional changes are worth noting; these settings can typically be found at the bottom of the Basic Settings dialog box:

  • Skip Metro Screen: This option allows you to boot directly to the desktop. Sometimes, it is necessary for you to reboot several times for this change to fully take effect.

    Note: This setting does not technically skip the new Windows 8 Start screen; rather, it immediately forwards you to the desktop. On a slower machine, you may notice yourself booting into the Start screen, but if you wait a few seconds you will be forwarded to the desktop.

  • Enable Start Button: Once it is installed, Classic Shell will generally always be running. However, if you uncheck Enable Start Button, the Start button will not appear on your screen. The Start menu will still be available via the Windows key, but the Start button itself will not be present.

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Returning to the Start screen

You can return to the Windows 8 Start screen from the desktop in one of two ways:

  • Press Win-Shift.
  • Press Win-c to access the Charms bar on the right side of the screen, and then click the Start icon.

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Removing Classic Shell

For instructions on removing Classic Shell, see Classic Shell FAQ; search for "uninstall".

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This is document bcqy in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2015-08-13 00:00:00.

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