Classic Shell 4.2.5: Get Classic Start Menu, Classic IE and Explorer Toolbar Buttons Back in Windows 7 and Later

UPDATE: New version 4.2.5 released which comes with many new features and improved support for Windows 10. Please scroll down to read the complete changelog.

The most annoying problem faced by Windows Vista or later OS users is the removal of classic toolbar buttons e.g. Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, etc. Windows Explorer in new Windows versions doesn't provide these basic toolbar buttons and users have to use keyboard shortcuts keys or menus to perform these operations.

Another annoying problem is the removal of Classic Start menu. New Windows versions don't contain the good old Classic start menu.

Today we are going to share an awesome free utility which brings back the Classic Start menu in Windows Vista and later Windows versions. It also adds good old Explorer toolbar buttons in Windows.

"Classic Shell" is a free small utility which provides:

  • Classic Start Menu
  • Classic Windows Explorer toolbar buttons (Cut, Copy, Paste, etc)
  • Classic IE (titlebar text, progressbar in statusbar in Internet Explorer)

Following are a few screenshots of Classic Shell in action:

Classic Start menu:


NOTE: You can access the default Windows 7 Start menu by pressing "SHIFT" key while clicking on the Start ORB (Start button). You can also change Classic Start menu settings by going to "Settings -> Classic Start Menu" option.

Classic Explorer toolbar buttons, XP style navigation pane, titlebar text and icon:


Its highly customizable, so you can select which buttons should appear in Explorer toolbar by clicking on the "Classic Explorer Settings" button present at last of the toolbar in Explorer.

If you don't get the Classic toolbar in Explorer after installing the utility, press "ALT" key to show Menubar, right-click on it and select "Classic Explorer Bar" option.

Following are a few exclusive features of Classic Shell which you should definitely know about:

Now a new version 4.2.5 of Classic Shell has been released which comes with following changes:

  • Improved support for Windows 10 November Update (Build 10586 or Threshold 2)
  • Improved support for the Microsoft Edge web browser
  • Improved search performance and responsiveness
  • New feature to uninstall Metro (Modern) apps from the Start Menu
  • Full transparency support for Metro and Midnight skins

You can download the latest version of Classic Shell using following link:

Download Classic Shell for Windows 7 and Later

NOTE: Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 are no longer supported by this new version. Version 3.6.8 was the last version to support them. Windows Vista users can download the old version using following link:

Download Classic Shell for Windows Vista


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Posted in: Software, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8 / 8.1

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  • Thanks. After messing up the favorites in IE7? so they always auto-expand, this is the latest f-up from microsoft.

  • VG

    ^^ Yep. It would work like exactly classic start menu.

  • The sharing icons don't work for simple sharing, only advanced sharing. While it's good to have it for one, it should be for both.

    Also, I don't like the fact that the default behavior of this when installed is to change everything to what you want. That's basically evil.

  • Here´s another program that brings more flexibility to Windows Explorer

  • This is awesome. I was worried that my video games would keep being interrupted by the start button. Thank you guys so much. This is just what I was searching for. Thanks! :D

  • @Megan, the sharing icon does work for simple sharing too but the overlay is only shown for folders obviously, not files.

  • what´s about ALT F4? Does not work any longer when using the Classic Shell. Any ideas?

    Kind regards

  • VG

    ^^ Not checked. Check Classic Shell settings. I think it allows you to customize hotkeys.

  • you guy's should try this start button replacement. i found it last night, and it rocks. you can apps to it. boot directly into, but still have access to the start screen.

  • When you use Classic Shell to bypass metro and make win8 on the desktop like win7, Win 7 suddenly looks like a sluggish boat anchor. Only one thing that I had to use the metro interface for, and that was changing user picture. Metro is great for a tablet, but how hard would it have been for a Multimillion dollar company to create a product that figured out during install if you have a touchscreen or not and configure itself accordingly? I'm talking to YOU Ballmer. You could integrate Lotus 1-2-3 and Miami Vice, so why the Cluster Fark with Win 8?

  • Sometimes you get the feeling that Windows has become a textbook example of over-thinking it. The new office-like "Ribbon" in Windows Explorer (or File Explorer, these days) seems at first glance to optimize access to its tools and options. But after enabling the Classic Explorer Toolbar within this great software and then adding the buttons you want, you might be asking yourself 'what the heck is all that ribbon stuff about?' Better-yet, when you're back to the tried-and-true simplicity of Windows' classic menus, and then you add some of the great tools that VG has freely provided for years (such as the click-and-install context-menu tweaks to enable/disable hidden files and file extensions) pretty soon you find yourself just trying to return Windows to the way it was back-in-the-day. (Nothing against MS, mind you, we're forever grateful.) The term 'utility' doesn't quite cover what this particular software can do. If you want the ability to choose which options you need to enjoy your own classic simplicity, this one rocks - and then rocks some more. Thank you Ivo for making Classic Shell.

    [Tip: You can create a transparent .PNG with your favorite image editor and plug it in with the custom-button option on the Classic Start Menu, so that there is no visible button on the taskbar, yet clicking on the space opens the start-menu.]

    Thanks, VG, for keeping it simple. And for keeping us sane.

  • Classic Shell is showing up in games when it isn't supposed to. Once a game goes full screen I can often see the Classic Shell start bar icon displayed in the lower left corner of the game. I've googled around quite a bit. Anyone got an idea as to why it's showing through? The Classic Shell icon shouldn't be always on top all the time.

  • @ D

    Don't ya hate it when you're looking for a straight answer to a problem, and what you find are a bunch of guesses and speculation or techno-babble and crazy things to try like a three-page tutorial on editing your registry? (Never do that last one, by-the-way.) Well, forgive me because that's exactly what I'm about offer. Wish I had a better answer for you. At least you'll know someone is out there.

    Sounds like the cause of your problem could be a number of things that often fall under the general heading "...don't display [this thing or that thing] when in full screen mode". I looked at the 'Start Button' tab on the "Classic Start Menu" options in Classic Shell for you, but I didn't see anything like that. However, there are a couple of things on that option dialog that you could try.

    If it helps, I didn't really like seeing a button at all, so I just made a little 28x28 pixel transparent button with my image editor and then selected the "Custom Button" (and Button Size "0") options on that dialog. Of course, your custom button might still show up, I guess, even though it's transparent. Then again, maybe not. Now, I sure hope someone knows exactly how to fix your problem, and I'm just the guy with egg on his face, swinging in the dark. I can deal with that.

    If you want to try the transparent button but you don't have a tool to make one or it's quicker to save it from the web or have it emailed or something, let me know (in another post here) and I'll get it to you.

    This is just my way of giving something back to VG and this website for all of the help I've found here over the years. Gotta pay it forward.

  • @D, in which games does the Classic Shell Start button show up, please tell.

  • I can't enable the Classic Explorer Bar in Windows 8 :(

    Use QTTabBar, instead.

  • @NZero, try the troubleshooting steps here to enable the Classic Explorer bar:

  • @Anonymous

    Thanks a lot. It works. I totally forgot that IE stuff :D

    I prefer Classic Explorer Bar over QTTabBar, because it allows me to add custom commands, which is very useful.

  • VG

    ^^ Yes. All can be done using its Settings.

  • Here is the full changelog: which mentions other minor features :)

  • Wow! The newest version of Classic Shell features a Windows7-styled Start Menu. Now we've got a real free alternative to Start8 and StartIsBack. And most of all, it works well with Windows 8.1!

  • I like this programm, Now Windows 8 can be used logically.
    I am very happy with the tool you made.

  • @VG

    I want to correct a mistake done by you.You have mentioned that in the title it's for Windows Vista.But in bottom of article you mentioned that Vista versions are not supported by you.So disappointed. :(

  • Classic Shell 3.9.1 beta (Aug, 2013) released.

  • Sorry for late in sharing update. Classic Shell 3.9.5 Release Candidate (Sep, 2013) released.
    Changelog :

  • Classic Shell 4.0 is the best Start Menu out there now. It now even exceeds Start8 and StartIsBack at features and Explorer.exe memory consumption was lowest with Classic Shell

  • Wow Classic Shell search is so fast now in 4.0. It is faster than Start screen or old Windows 7 menu search!

  • Windows 8 has to be the worst OS ever. Constantly locking up, Pop Ups always opening and taking forever to close. Programs take up to 4 minutes to open. Totally worthless OS, Makes me want to take a sledge hammer to my new Dell Laptop. I typicallyh don't hate things, but I hate this OS. Someone fix this piece of cr@p.

  • Has anyone created some updated Up button dll files - looking for Metro like up arrow.

  • Classic Shell 4.0.2 was released.

    New in version 4.0.2

    - New setting to hide Metro apps from the Programs folder
    - Improved compatibility with the final build of Windows 8.1
    - Quick fix for the taskbar showing up on top of fullscreen programs under some conditions
    - Minor bugfixes

  • I downloaded the most recent but it changed the way IE opens up from a link in my mail. I want it to open IE just like I would but I get that big giant E for Explorer and then it goes into the windows 8 kind of screen. Anyone know how I can change it? I've gone through a lot of settings but can't figure it out.

  • Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Now I feel like I am working with a proper PC OS again!

  • Classic Shell 4.0.4 (Jan, 2014) released.

    New in version 4.0.4
    - New ADMX files to allow controlling all settings through group policy
    - Secure download of language files and new versions
    - Multiple minor improvements and bugfixes

  • Love ClassicShell. I was not going to upgrade from XP without it. That and FileSearchEX ... love em both.

  • I need up button and not the other classic features like classic start menu. Do I need to download this, or there is any alternatives that only bring up button?
    Running Windows 7 64 bit.
    Thanks in advance.

  • @CoOl KinG

    Run the setup & select the following options (see image)

  • With 4.04, the apply button is hidden on a small screen.

  • Classic Shell 4.0.5 (Mar 31st, 2014) was released.

    New in version 4.0.5
    - Improved support for high resolution displays
    - Improved support for touch displays
    - New button for the Explorer toolbar to toggle the navigation pane
    - Added support for animated start buttons
    - Multiple minor improvements and bugfixes
    More details:

  • Probably a stupid question, but here goes......After installing classic shell, will I be able to use IE to download Mozilla Firefox and will it then work like it does using windows 7?

  • Most unfortunately I closed viewing the Classic Explorer toolbar. And now I can't get it back. Tried just about everything.

    Option to Show when I right-click anywhere never includes Classic Explorer toolbar.

    Any suggestions??


  • VG

    ^^ Press ALT key to show Menubar, then right-click on Menubar and you should see the option there.

  • VG plz help classic shell is not supported in vista. And can't find any of the registry keys there, any alternatives to customize the buttons in explorer toolbar?

  • VG

    ^^ Download the old version 3.6.8 which supports Windows Vista:

  • Thanks ! a lot .Version 3.6.8 working well in Windows Vista.

  • The only option that shows up for me is "Lock the Toolbars". Please help!

  • Don't see a Classic Shell ver. 425.
    Got ver. 424, and which states "you have the latest" ?

  • Updating from within the program did not work, told me was already latest version. But if you go to their website, and download from there, you can get the most recent one. At least I was able to, the v425 described by the excellent VG.

  • I downloaded from msdn their Visual Studio Chart Project. After running chart project My menu buttons in Visual Studio changed and I lost the ident button. Can somebody help me restore missing button. I found in the VS project and executable and the following two .reg extension files. What do the two files actaull do?

    Take Ownership - Install.reg :

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    ;Created by Vishal Gupta for

    @="Take ownership"

    @="cmd.exe /c takeown /f \"%1\" && icacls \"%1\" /grant administrators:F"
    "IsolatedCommand"="cmd.exe /c takeown /f \"%1\" && icacls \"%1\" /grant administrators:F"

    @="Take ownership"

    @="cmd.exe /c takeown /f \"%1\" /r /d y && icacls \"%1\" /grant administrators:F /t"
    "IsolatedCommand"="cmd.exe /c takeown /f \"%1\" /r /d y && icacls \"%1\" /grant administrators:F /t"

    Take Ownership - Uninstall.Reg

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    ;Created by Vishal Gupta for



    @="\"%1\" %*"
    "IsolatedCommand"="\"%1\" %*"


  • VG

    ^^ The first file adds a new entry "Take ownership" in file/folders context menu to take ownership and full control of that file/folder. Second script removes the option and restores default options.

    Check following for more details:

  • Classic shell start menu is NOT showing up on top of other windows. This makes it impossibly frustrating to try to navigate Windows, when I'm having to constantly minimize anything that is front of the start menu. HEEEELLLP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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