[Manual Method] Get “Classic Start Menu” Back in Windows 7 Without Using 3rd Party Software

We all know that Microsoft has removed good old Classic Start menu from Windows 7. There are lots of free utilities mentioned here which can bring it back.

We have also posted a tutorial in past which can be used to get a similar XP styled start menu in Windows Vista and 7:

Get Windows XP Styled Classic All Programs List in Windows Vista and 7

Today we are going to share another interesting method to bring back Classic start menu in Windows 7 and the best part is that it doesn't require any 3rd party utility.

This manual method takes advantage of our Get Quick Launch toolbar back in Windows 7 tutorial.

So without wasting any time, here we start our tutorial:

1. Right-click on Taskbar and select "Toolbars -> New toolbar...".


2. It'll open Browse dialog box. Now paste following string in the "Folder:" text box:

%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

Press Enter and click on "Select folder" button.

3. It'll immediately add Programs toolbar to Taskbar.


4. It'll add it near the system tray. Right-click on Taskbar and uncheck "Lock the taskbar" option.


5. You'll see a placeholder to drag the toolbar. Click and hold the drag-handle and drop it just after the Start ORB (Start button).

6. It'll move the Programs toolbar near start ORB (Start button) but you'll notice that the children folders under "Programs" toolbar will become visible and will start taking lots of space of Taskbar. No need to worry! Double-click on drag-handle of Taskbar button toolbar (where you see currently running applications icons). It'll automatically move the Taskbar button toolbar and you'll see only "Programs" text in the newly added toolbar which you wanted actually.


7. As you can see in above screenshot, it looks very close to Classic start menu and we are not using any 3rd party software in this method.

Thanks to our reader "Juan C Walls" for this trick...

UPDATE: The path which we set in Step2 contains program shortcuts which were installed for all users in your system. It doesn't include program shortcuts which were installed only for your current user account. If you want to show all program shortcuts, then create a new library of any name such as Start and add following 2 folders in the library:

%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
%appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

And then set the Start library as path in Step 2.

Thanks to our reader "Leon Straathof" for this tip...

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Posted in: Windows 7

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  • Nice One Good Tricks

  • This only brings up programs. It doesn't bring back the ability to shut down. Most of the time I can't "sweep right" in Windows 8 and bring up the hidden menu to shut down the computer. Then I'm left with a hard shut down, which I'd rather not do.

  • VG

    ^^ You can check following:


  • In Windows 8 %appdata% is not understood. Web search led me to Microsoft site which mentions using appdata for backward compatibility, but only through Windows 7.
    When I create a folder as you instruct in Windows 8 using the %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs command, the command text appears but does not lead to any folder.

  • VG

    ^^ Its working fine here in Windows 8. %appdata% environment variable is still recognized by Windows 8.

  • I don't understand step 5 as I don't know what you mean about a placeholder or what it looks like. I've tried dragging the arrows beside the program and the program at the right hand side in the toolbar but it's not moving. thanks.

  • Hello, could you explain the update after #7? It says to "create a new library of any name such as Start and add following 2 folders in the library:
    %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
    %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs"

    If I create a new folder in Libraries called "start" then try to cut and paste it says "start is empty No folders have been included in this library" and then an option to Include a folder. Was able to add this path"%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" But it won't let me add the other one"%appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs".
    Maybe i'm not even close to what I should be doing so that's why I humble myself and ask for your help, usually figure things out, but i've been without a computer for awhile and this windows eight has changed and hid everything.
    So please and thank you for any help in clarifying this for me.

  • VG

    ^^ When you create a new library, right-click on it and select Properties. Now add 2 folders mentioned in the end of the above tutorial using add folder button. After that you can copy your library folder path and use it in step 2.

  • thanks great tip

  • It still won't let me add either folder. It is fine until it gets to "\Programs" and then it sort of zones out.
    Finally got a "Start Menu" to show up on the toolbar but "Programs" is listed behind it rather than in it and when it comes up it's a full screen, not a list.

  • Classic shell is far superior to this "work-around"

  • I have more idea (without start button)

    1. Download Start Killer.
    2. Install Start Killer and run it.
    3. now add that programs
    4. Good to go!

  • I don't like this. How do I undo it?

  • VG

    ^^ Just uncheck the toolbar from Taskbar context menu.

  • An easier way to create a better "Start Menu" is:
    1) Create shortcut to: explorer shell:::{7be9d83c-a729-4d97-b5a7-1b7313c39e0a}
    2) Place shortcut in taskbar
    This will call up the GUID for the Programs Folder, which contains both:

    %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs (Current User)

    %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs (All Users)
    This method brings up Start Menu folder for both user locations.
    Libraries method is confusing & has problems.

    All that is left, is to create shortcuts to:



    Control Panel/Device Manager/Printers

    User Documents/Pictures/Videos

    Etc, & add to the menu

    Once shortcuts have been created, add them to Current User if you only want them available for you, or to All Users if you want everyone to see them.

    This shortcut should make it much easier for those wanting to create a start menu from a single shortcut.

  • Edit:

    For programs + fast access (Internet Explorer/other shortcuts at top, just like in the "real" start menu, create a shortcut to:

    explorer shell:::{865e5e76-ad83-4dca-a109-50dc2113ce9a}

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