How to replace the Windows 11 Start menu with Stardock's Start 11

Don't like the Windows 11 Start menu? Consider a Start menu alternative such as Stardock's Start 11. You can go back to the Start menu styles of older versions of Windows.

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The Windows 11 Start menu jettisons the familiar Windows 10 layout with a less familiar and more stark approach. The new menu shows only pinned and recommended apps and requires an extra step to access all your installed apps. Further, the Windows 11 menu lacks the familiar flexibility and customization options found in the Windows 10 menu. People who use only a few apps may find the new menu workable. Those of us who rely on a lot of apps and prefer to customize the menu will likely be frustrated.

SEE: Windows 11: Tips on installation, security and more (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

For anyone who dislikes the new Start menu, there are alternatives. And one of those is Stardock's Start 11. Priced at $4.99, Start 11 will restore the traditional Start menu from previous versions of Windows and let you customize the look, layout, colors, and other elements. Here's how it works.

In Windows 11, browse to the Stardock Start 11 website. Click the button for Get the Beta. Normally, the program sells for $4.99. But if you've used a previous version for Windows 10, you should be able to buy it for $3.99. Complete the transaction and download the program. If you wish to try before you buy with a 30-day trial instead, click the link at the website for Download the latest update.

The first screen that pops up asks whether you want the Taskbar left aligned or center aligned. Make your choice and click OK. The next screen asks which style Start menu you prefer. Choose among Windows 7 style, Modern style, Windows 10 style and Windows 11 style. If you prefer the traditional two-column Start menu, you'll want to opt for Windows 7 style or Modern style. Click the dropdown arrow for the style you select. Now you can further customize the look and layout by selecting a compact or grid layout. Any option you select appears in the preview window so you can see how it will look (Figure A).

Figure A

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Next, click the entry for Start button. To customize the Start button beyond its default appearance, make sure the Taskbar is left-aligned and then turn on the switch here. Click the dropdown menu to look for a specific icon image. Click the Download button to find a greater variety of Start button images from the web. Select an image you like (Figure B).

Figure B

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Click the entry for Taskbar. Here, you can change the look and texture of the Taskbar, determine what happens when you right-click on it, and change the size and position. You can even control the position when running a dual-monitor setup, a scenario that otherwise hasn't worked properly for many Windows 11 users (Figure C).

Figure C

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Click the Search entry. At this screen, you can customize the Search feature to determine when and how it should work (Figure D).

Figure D

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Next, click the entry for Control. This screen helps you decide when the Start 11 menu appears and when the Windows 11 Start menu appears. For example, you can set the option so that clicking the Start button triggers the Start 11 menu but pressing the Windows key on your keyboard triggers the Windows 11 menu (Figure E). When done, close the Start 11 Settings window.

Figure E

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Click the Start button to see and use the Start 11 menu. If you chose the traditional two-column display, pinned items appear on the left, while specific Windows locations and features appear on the right. Click the All Programs entry on the left to see all installed programs. From here, you can manage and customize the Start menu itself. Make sure you're in All Programs mode. Right-click on a specific app in the menu. Depending on the app you chose, you can uninstall it, delete it, rename it, and pin or unpin it in the Start menu (Figure F).

Figure F

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To more effectively manage and customize the Start menu, right-click on the entry for All Programs. Choose Open to open one window. Then choose Open All Users to open another window. Doing so brings you to the two Programs locations in File Explorer where you can create and delete folders and move shortcuts into specific folders (Figure G).

Figure G

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Finally, to customize Start 11 still further or change any of the customizations, go to the Stardock folder in the Start menu and select Start 11. That will open the same Settings screen that appeared when you first set up the software.

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