Windows 11 has undergone significant changes, both visually and functionally, compared to previous versions. One of the most impacted parts of Windows 11 is the Start menu. Though the new Windows 11 Start menu looks sleek, it is pretty minimal and closer to a mobile application menu (Android or iOS) than the old Start menu. Gone are all the little visual elements, customizations, and options that make the Start menu your own and come to love over the years.
If you miss the old Start menu style, you can restore the classic Start menu in Windows 11 and take back the control.
In this article, I will show how to get back the classic Start menu in Windows step-by-step. So, let’s get started and bring back the Windows 11 classic Start menu.
Table of contents:
- How to restore the classic Start menu in Windows 11
- Restore the classic Start menu in Windows 11 using Registry (deprecated)
- Windows 11 Start menu replacements
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
How to restore the classic Start menu in Windows 11
To get back the Classic Start menu in Windows, we will use a free and open-source software called Explorer Patcher. It is a pretty lightweight software and gives you a lot of control and quality of life improvements over the Windows 11 Start menu and taskbar.
Though there are several other software (discussed below) that can restore the classic Start menu in Windows, the reason I chose Explorer Patcher is because it is free, lightweight, easy to configure, and doesn’t change too much that you wish you hadn’t installed it in the first place.
Here’s how to restore the classic Start menu in Windows 11:
- Get the Explorer Patcher software from GitHub.
- Double-click on the installer file to install Explorer Patcher.
- Click “Yes” in the UAC box.
- Right-click on the taskbar.
- Choose the “Properties” option from the context menu.
- Click “Taskbar” on the sidebar.
- Select “Windows 11 (default)” from the “Taskbar style” dropdown.
- Click the “Restart File Explorer” link at the bottom.
- Go to the “Start Menu” tab on the sidebar.
- Select “Windows 10” from the “Start menu style” dropdown.
- Click the “Restart File Explorer” link at the bottom.
- With that, you’ve restored the classic Start menu in Windows 11.
Download link: https://github.com/valinet/ExplorerPatcher/releases
Steps with more details:
First thing, follow the link above to open the Explorer Patcher GitHub page. Next, expand the “Assets” section and download the Explorer Patcher software.
After downloading Explorer Patcher, double-click on the downloaded exe file. When you see the UAC box asking for permission, click the “Yes” button to continue. This action installs Explorer Patcher in your system.
As soon as Explorer Patcher is installed, it might restore the entire taskbar and Start menu to Windows 10 style. If that’s what you want and you like it, you can leave it to hear and ignore the next steps. However, if you just want to restore the Start menu, follow the next few steps.
Right-click on an empty space on the taskbar and select the “Properties” option from the context menu. This action will open the Explorer Patcher settings window.
In the Explorer Patcher settings window, select the “Taskbar” tab on the sidebar. Next, choose “Windows 11 (default)” from the “Taskbar Style” dropdown menu. After selecting the option, click on the “Restart File Explorer” link at the bottom.
Next, select “Start Menu” on the sidebar, choose “Windows 10” from the “Start menu style” dropdown, and click on the “Restart File Explorer” link at the bottom of the window.
With that, you should have the classic Start menu in Windows 11.
Though you can stop right here and have a good experience, I recommend you take a look at the following options in the “Start menu” tab in the Explorer Patcher settings window.
- Position on the screen: Allows you to move the Start menu to the left side of the taskbar or keep it centered. If you want an authentic classic experience, move the Start menu to the left side.
- Corner preference: This option lets you choose if your Start menu should have rounded corners and be floated or docked.
- Rounded corners, floating menu: Makes the Start menu float above the taskbar with rounded corners. Choosing this option makes the Start menu look close to Windows 11 with its rounded corners and a gap between the taskbar and opened Start menu.Rounded corners, docked menu: Makes the Start menu dock (stick) to the taskbar with rounded corners. You can think of it as a blend between Windows 10 and 11 styles.Not rounded: Makes the Start menu dock to the taskbar with no rounded corners. A plain Windows 10 look.
Restore the classic Start menu in Windows 11 using Registry
In previous versions of Windows 11, you can just a new value called “Start_ShowClassicMode” to the Registry Editor to restore the classic Start menu. However, that value has been deprecated in recent versions and no longer works. If you are using an older Windows 11 version or want to try your luck, follow the below steps to restore the classic Start menu in Windows 11 using Registry Editor.
Here’s how to use Registry Editor to restore the classic Start menu in Windows 11:
- Press the “Start” icon on your keyboard.
- Search and open “Registry Editor.”
- Go to the “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced” folder.
- Select and right-click on the “Advanced” folder.
- Choose “New -> DWORD (32-bit) Value” from the context menu.
- Set the value name as “Start_ShowClassicMode.”
- Right-click on the “Start_ShowClassicMode” value.
- Choose the “Modify” option to edit the value.
- Replace “0” with “1” in the “Value Data” field.
- Press the “Ok” button to save value changes.
- Close the Registry Editor.
- Windows 11 classic Start menu is restored.
Windows 11 Start menu replacements
If Explorer Patcher doesn’t work for you or if you’re looking for alternative options that give you more layout options and freedom to modify different parts of the Start menu and taskbar, you can consider using one of the below Windows 11 Start menu replacements.
Start11 is one of the most popular and highly recommended software to change the look and feel of the Windows 11 Start menu. One of the best things about Start11 is that there are multiple Start menu layouts to choose from. With multiple layout options, you can transform the Windows 11 Start menu to resemble the look of Windows 7, 8, or 10. Other features of Start11 include but are not limited to adding or removing sections, changing the start icon, custom colors, transparency, spacing, and more.
Download link: https://www.stardock.com/products/start11/
StartAllBack is another popular software for getting back the classic Start menu in Windows 11. Though not as feature-rich as Start11, it is pretty good at what it does. i.e., allowing you to customize the Windows 11 Start menu how you want. You can choose between Windows 7, 8, and 10 styles and customize options like the start button icon, fix inconsistent UI elements in the start menu and taskbar, search bar, split into segments, dynamic transparency, and more.
Download link: https://www.startallback.com/
Open Shell Menu
If you are looking for an open-source alternative to Explorer Patcher, then Open Shell Menu is for you. As you can tell from the name itself, it is a collection of utilities that allows you to customize the Start menu’s look and feel. Of course, it has built-in layout options to restore the Windows 11 Start menu to the classic style of Windows 7, 8, 8.1, or 10. Additionally, it also allows customizing the File Explorer with a custom toolbar and status bar.
Though powerful, Open Shell Menu has a bit of a learning curve and takes time to set it up the way you want. If you are someone who likes to tinker with settings and customization options to get what you want, Open Shell Menu is a good option. So, try it and see if it is what you need.
Download link: https://github.com/Open-Shell/Open-Shell-Menu/releases
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Here are a few frequently asked questions about restoring Windows 11 classic Start menu:
You can restore the classic Start menu in Windows 11 using a free and open-source software like Explorer Patcher. Alternatively, you can also use software like Start11, StartAllBack, or Open Shell Menu. These tools allow you to skin the Windows 11 Start menu and make it look like the classic Start menu.
You can use Explorer Patcher, Start11, StartAllBack, or Open Shell Menu to restore the classic Start menu in Windows 11. If you want a no-frills experience, I recommend using Explorer Patcher or Start11.
It used to be possible in older versions of Windows 11. Specifically, you can create a new value called “Start_ShowClassicMode” in the Registry Editor and set it to “1.” However, Microsoft deprecated that feature in recent Windows 11 versions. That means, it is not possible to restore the classic Start menu in recent versions of Windows 11 without using third-party software.
No, restoring the classic Start menu should not have a significant impact on the performance of Windows 11, as long as you use lightweight and optimized software like Explorer Patcher or Start11. In fact, it might even improve the system’s performance.
Windows 11 classic Start menu — Conclusion
All in all, restoring the classic Start menu in Windows 11 is a straightforward process thanks to the tools like Explorer Patcher, Start11, StartAllBack, and Open Shell Menu. Whether you prefer the classic Start menu from previous versions of Windows or simply want to add some customization, the steps and software shared in this article will help you immensely. After customizing the Start menu, you can also restore the classic right-click context menu in Windows 11 and bring back the Windows Photo Viewer to further enhance your Windows 11 experience.
That is all. It is that simple to restore Windows 11 classic Start menu.
I hope this simple and easy Windows how-to guide helped you.
If you are stuck or need help, send an email, and I will try to help as much as possible.