Enable Windows XP Style Cascading “All Programs” List in Windows Vista and 7 Start Menu

When Windows Vista was released by Microsoft, lots of people complained about new Start Menu functionality. The main complaint was the change in display of "All Programs" list in Start Menu.

In Windows XP, the "All Programs" list was used to show as a drop-out list which provided users more space to browse through programs list but Microsoft changed this behavior in Windows Vista and the "All Programs" list started showing inside the Start Menu and people found it difficult to browse through programs list in that small space of Start Menu.

The same functionality was carried forward to Windows 7 Start Menu.

Today in this article, we are going to share an excellent and popular freeware which can bring back Windows XP style cascading "All Programs" list in Windows Vista and Windows 7 Start Menu.

We all know about awesome "Classic Shell" software which is a freeware for Windows Vista, 7 and 8. The main use of Classic Shell is to bring back the Classic Start Menu and Classic Windows Explorer features in Windows Vista, 7 and 8.

But did you know this software can also bring back cascading "All Programs" list in Windows Vista and 7 Start Menu? Yes. Its a small and overlooked feature of Classic Shell.

If you don't want to get Classic Start Menu in Windows Vista and 7 using Classic Shell but want to get XP style cascading "All Programs" list, just follow these simple steps:

1. First download and install Classic Shell using following link:

Download Classic Shell

2. After installing, it'll automatically replace default Start Menu with Classic Start Menu. To get default Start Menu back, right-click on Start button and select Settings option.

3. Now select "Windows Start Menu" option in "Left Click opens" section as shown in following screenshot:


It'll re-enable default Start Menu for left-click. You can also do the same for "Windows Key opens" section.

4. Now we need to enable cascading feature for "All Programs" list.

Go to "Windows Start Menu" tab and enable "Cascading All Programs menu" option as shown in following screenshot:


5. That's it. It'll immediately enable Windows XP style cascading "All Programs" list in Windows Vista and 7 Start Menu and when you'll click on "All Programs" link in Start Menu, it'll open programs list as a drop-out list as shown in following screenshot:


6. If you want, you can also change the style of cascading "All Programs" list. Again open Classic Start Menu settings window, go to "All Programs Skin" tab and select any desired skin given in the list.


We selected "Smoked Glass" skin while testing this feature in our system and we got an excellent look of "All Programs" list after changing the skin. Following is a screenshot of the new look of "All Programs" list in action:


If you want Windows XP style cascading "All Programs" list in Windows Vista or Windows 7, this freeware is a must have for you.

Feel free to share your opinion or suggestion in your comment...

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Posted in: Software, Windows 7, Windows Vista

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  • Excellent tips, although i had use long time ago and seem good with longhorn M7 theme by longhorn fusion

  • Excellent tip. Been a follower of yours for a while and have already used many of your guides.

  • Excellent,simply great stuff.As much as i'm pleased with Windows 7,and definitely prefer it to W.XP,there are some things as the above,i do prefer the old way they were and now thanks to VG they are again.Much appreciated.

  • One question please VG.re:the' Classic Shell' Does it HAVE TO be on the Start up menu in msconfig or can it safely be unchecked? Thank you.

  • VG

    ^^ No. It doesnt have any startup entry.

  • Well,it appears that you are mistaken VG.I unchecked the entry of Classic Shell in msconfig,rebooted,and checked.Classic Shell was NO longer,the old W.7 style was back.So i rechecked the entry of Classic Shell in misconfig,and upon rebooting it came back.Unchecking it in misconfig disables Classic Shell. It's not a problem for me to have it on the start up list,just letting you know! Thanks again.

  • VG

    ^^ Sorry for the mistake. Older versions of Classic Shell didnt add an entry in startup or may be I never noticed it.

  • Not a problem VG,You're doing a great job,it's much appreciated.

  • I have downloaded Classic Shell but i cant get All Programs Skin to work. I┬┤ve tried with various themes. Both Windows embedded themes and themes i downloaded from your site. I also tried to activate and deactivate aero in Windows.

  • VG

    ^^ I think only the built-in Classic Shell skins will work with this method.

  • Looks like a good program. Thanks for the share.

  • VG,
    I can't find the page of yours which shows how to replace the Favorites link on the Start menu with the list of programs. Anyway, do you have a registry script to change this back to normal? Please, please respond.

  • VG

    ^^ Please check following:


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