Microsoft

Create your own Classic Start Menu in Windows 7

Greg Shultz shows you how to create your own Classic Start Menu in Microsoft Windows 7 right alongside of the operating system's new Start Menu.

In his recent article, "The Most Popular Windows Blog Tips of 2010," CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic, Mark Kaelin, reported that the most popular Windows 7 tip of 2010 in Windows Blog was my February 2010 article "Put the Classic Start Menu in Windows 7 with Classic Shell." This really surprised me because the most popular article covered how to do away with a Windows 7 feature rather than how to use one of Windows 7's new features.

Oh well, I guess that just goes to show you that old user interfaces die hard.

In any case, Classic Shell is a very good program and must be popular as it has steadily advanced from version 0.9.10 to version 2.9.2. However, using Classic Shell isn't the only way that you can get a Classic Start Menu in Windows 7. In fact, you can create your own Classic Start Menu and position it right next to the new Start Menu in Windows 7. With this side-by-side arrangement you can have the best of both worlds. You can use your custom Classic Start Menu for the majority of your tasks and then use Windows 7's new Start Menu when you have time to get used to how it works.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to create your own Classic Start Menu in Windows 7 right alongside the operating system's new Start Menu.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download and as a Slideshow Screenshot Gallery.

Using a Toolbar

In order to create your own Classic Start Menu in Windows 7, you'll use the Toolbar feature. As you know, this feature has been a part of the Windows operating system for a long time and allows you to create Toolbars right on the Taskbar.

To begin, right-click an empty spot on the Taskbar, hover over Toolbars, and select the New Toolbar command, as shown in Figure A. (Take note of the Lock the Taskbar command, you'll need to use it in the next step.)

Figure A

Access the Toolbars submenu and select the New Toolbar command.
When you see the New Toolbar - Choose a Folder dialog box, type the following path in the Folder text box, as shown in Figure B.

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

Figure B

Type the path to the Start Menu folder in the Folder text box.
To continue, click the Select Folder button. You will then see the Start Menu Toolbar appear next to the Notification Area, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

The new Start Menu Toolbar will appear next to the Notification Area.
Stay on top of the latest Microsoft Windows tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows Desktop newsletter, delivered every Monday and Thursday. Automatically sign up today!

Moving the Start Menu Toolbar

Now that you have created the Start Menu Toolbar, you'll want to move it next to Windows 7's Start button. To do so, right-click on the Taskbar and select Lock the Taskbar to remove the check mark. Once the Taskbar is unlocked, hover your mouse pointer over the Toolbar handle, just to the left of the "S" in Start Menu. When the pointer turns into a double-headed arrow, just click and drag the Toolbar handle toward the Start button, as shown in Figure D. As you do, drag the handle slightly under or over the icons on the Taskbar in order to get the Start Menu Toolbar to its new position.

Figure D

When the pointer turns into a double-headed arrow, just click and drag the Toolbar handle over to the Start button.
When you position it, you'll see all the folders inside the Start Menu folder. To hide them, click and drag the Taskbar handle, just to the right of the "u" in Menu, to the left to cover up those folders, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Click and drag the Taskbar handle as far to the left as you can drag it.
Now, right-click on the Taskbar and select the Lock the Taskbar command. When you do, you'll see a slight side effect — just an edge of the folder icon appears, as shown in Figure F. However, it is nothing to worry about.

Figure F

A slight side effect to the technique leaves a sliver of the folder icon visible on the Taskbar.

Filling out the Classic Start Menu

At this point, your Classic Start Menu contains the Programs menu and links to Default Programs and Windows Update, as shown in Figure G.

In Beltchev's Classic Shell, the Classic Start Menu contains these links as well as links to Documents, Settings, Search, Help and Support, Run, and Shutdown. Fortunately, you can populate your Classic Start Menu with all these links. To do so, you will need to create shortcuts on your desktop and then move them to the C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu folder. Let's take a closer look.

Figure G

At this point, your Classic Start Menu contains only the basics.

To begin, launch Windows Explorer and navigate to the C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu folder. This folder is a special system folder, and as such, you will not be able to create your shortcuts in it. So, minimize that window so you have access to the Desktop.

Documents -- To create a shortcut to Documents, click the Windows 7 Start button, type Documents in the Search box, and then when Documents appears in the results list, right-click it. Then, select Send to | Desktop (Create Shortcut) command, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

You'll use the Send to | Desktop (Create Shortcut) command to create some of your shortcuts.
Control Panel — To create a shortcut to the Control Panel, click the Windows 7 Start button and this time, type Control Panel in the Search box. Then follow the above steps to create a shortcut on the Desktop. In keeping with the Classic Start Menu, you'll want to rename this shortcut Settings. Search — To create a shortcut to Search, right-click on the Desktop and select the New | Shortcut command. When you see the Create Shortcut dialog box, type the following command in the Location text box, as shown in Figure I. Be sure to include the colon at the very end of the command.

C:\Windows\explorer.exe search-ms:

Figure I

Be sure to include the colon.

To continue, click Next and save the shortcut with the name Search.

Help and Support — To create a shortcut to Help and Support, click the Windows 7 Start button, type Help in the Search box, and then when Windows Help and Support appears in the results list, right-click it. Then, select Send to | Desktop (Create Shortcut) command. Run — To create a shortcut to the Run dialog box, click the Windows 7 Start button and type Run in the Search box. Then follow the above steps to create a shortcut on the Desktop. Shut Down — To create a shortcut to the Shut Down command, right-click on the Desktop and select the New | Shortcut command. When you see the Create Shortcut dialog box, type the following in the Location text box:

Shutdown.exe -s

To continue, click Next and save the shortcut with the name Shut Down.

Now, restore Windows Explorer and move all the shortcuts from your Desktop to the Start Menu folder. Because this folder is a special system folder, you will see a Destination Folder Access Denied dialog box, like the one shown in Figure J, and will have to click the Continue button to proceed with the Move operation.

Figure J

You will have to click the Continue button to proceed with the Move operation.
When you complete the operation, you will have your own Classic Start Menu in Windows 7, as shown in Figure K, without having to use any third-party tool. As you can see, to match the original Classic Start Menu, I have changed some of the icons and used drag and drop to arrange the icons on the toolbar.

Figure K

You can create your own Classic Start Menu in Windows 7.

What your take?

Do you prefer the Classic Start Menu to the one that comes with Windows 7? Will you use this technique to create your own? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

Editor's Picks