Image: StartAllBack

Those of you who don’t like the Windows 11 Start menu have a few choices. You can tweak it to a certain extent. You can wait to see if and how Microsoft improves it in a future version of Windows 11. Or you can replace it with a third-party Start menu alternative. One alternative worth trying is StartAllBack.

StartAllBack replaces the Windows 11 menu with a more traditional Start menu. You can choose among three different menus, customize the menu with different colors and themes, and even spruce up the Taskbar and File Explorer. The software sells for $4.99 (or $1.50 if you’re upgrading from a previous version) for a single license and offers a free 30-day trial so you can try before you buy. Here’s how it works.

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

Browse to the StartAllBack website. To buy the program, click the button for Purchase License key and then click the Buy Now button. To check out the 30-day trial, click the Download button instead. Run the downloaded executable file.

How to install and set up StartAllBack on Windows 11

The setup process kicks off by asking what type of theme you’d like to use. The screen offers three choices: Proper 11, Kinda 10, and Remastered 7 accompanied by descriptions of each one. Despite their names and version numbers, each one uses a traditional two-column layout; the main differences between them are mostly aesthetic. Select the theme you want to use. You can always change it later on (Figure A).

Figure A

Click the Start button and you’ll see the familiar two-column layout with all your programs (or favorite ones) on the left and common Windows apps and locations on the right. Just like in Windows 7, the left column displays recently-used or pinned apps. Click the link for All Programs to see all your installed apps. The Apps folder contains shortcuts for all the Windows universal apps, both ones that are built in as well as ones from third parties.

The right column points you to your Documents, Pictures and Music folders as well as to Control Panel, Settings, and the Run command. The right arrow for the Shutdown command opens a menu with options for switching users, signing out, locking the PC and restarting (Figure B).

Figure B

One key benefit to the StartAllBack menu is that you can manage your shortcuts directly in the menu as well as through File Explorer. Right-click on a folder at the All Programs area in the menu. From here, you can delete it, rename it and run other commands. Right-click on an individual shortcut to see similar commands (Figure C).

Figure C

Within the menu, you can move a shortcut from one folder to another. Right-click on a shortcut and select Cut. Right-click on the folder to which you want to move the shortcut and select Paste (Figure D).

Figure D

With StartAllBack, you can modify and manage the Start menu even more easily and efficiently through File Explorer.

Windows traditionally uses two folders to store Start menu shortcuts. One is for programs installed for all users, the other for programs installed only for the current user. With the StartAllBack Start menu, you can access both folders. Click the Start button and then right-click the option for All Programs.

SEE: Office 365: A guide for tech and business leaders (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The entry for Open All Users points you to the shortcuts for programs that were installed for all user accounts. The entry for Open points you to shortcuts for programs that were installed only for your account. Click the entry for Open All Users to see the ones for all user accounts (Figure E).

Figure E

In File Explorer, select the Programs folder to see most of the folders and shortcuts in the Start menu. In addition to deleting, renaming and moving folders and shortcuts, you can create new folders and then move specific shortcuts into those folders (Figure F).

Figure F

Again, click the Start button, right-click on the All Programs entry and select Open to open a second File Explorer window showing the shortcuts for programs installed for your own account (Figure G).

Figure G

By viewing the Start menu folders and shortcuts for all user accounts and for your account, you can manage and move them around until they’re better arranged. When done, click the Start button and select All Programs and you should see a more efficient and organized menu (Figure H).

Figure H

Next, you can always return to the StartAllBack configuration to adjust the program’s settings. Right-click on the Start button and select Properties. At the StartAllBack window, click the setting for Welcome to change to a different layout. Click the setting for Start Menu to adjust the icons and attributes of the menu. Click the setting for Taskbar to tweak aspects of the Taskbar. You can even move the Taskbar to the top, left or right sides of the screen (Figure I).

Figure I

Click the setting for Explorer to adjust key elements of File Explorer. Finally, click the setting for Advanced to modify the appearance and other elements for StartAllBack (Figure J).

Figure J