How To Change & Customize The Windows 7 Start Button Orb

start button change 300   How To Change & Customize The Windows 7 Start Button OrbAccording to a recent poll we held here at MakeUseOf, over 60% of our readers don’t use Windows 8. Let’s say half of these are not even Windows users, and among the remaining, some are still using Windows XP or Vista, and we’re still left with a hefty chunk of Windows users who are probably using Windows 7.

With its countless themes, Aero options and even custom logon screens, Windows 7 is pretty customizable when it comes to looks. There is one thing, though, which is stable across every copy of Windows 7 you come upon: the Start button. With Windows 8 doing away with the Start button, it’s even more important for Windows 7 users to be proud of their ever-so-precious Start orb. So is there a way to customize it? There is, and it’s not even that complicated. Read on to learn exactly how to do it.

Before You Start: Create A Restore Point

This is just a precaution, but since it’s recommended by the developer and it’s really easy to do, there’s no reason not to take it. A Windows system restore point takes only a few minutes to create, and in case something goes wrong and you don’t know what to do, all you have to do is restore it and everything will go back to normal.

To create a restore point, look for “Create a restore point” in your start menu, and in the window that opens, click on “Create”. Give your new restore point a name you will remember. Something like “Before changing into a cool new Start button” will work.

restore point   How To Change & Customize The Windows 7 Start Button Orb

Windows will now create a new restore point, and will notify you when it’s done. If while trying to change your Windows 7 Start button anything at all happens which you don’t know how to deal with, simply run “System Restore” and choose the new restore point you’ve just created.

The odds you’ll need to use this precaution are slim, but you do want to make sure you’re safe. Now that you are, we can get down to business!

Download, Extract & Run The Button Changer

This cool and simple button changer has been created by a member of The Windows Club forum, and you can download it here (this is a direct download link!). Make sure to extract everything in the ZIP file into the same folder, otherwise the program won’t run. The button changer comes with 10 different orbs to choose from, so you can start experimenting immediately.

Note that the program has to be run as administrator. In order to do this, don’t double click the program to run it; rather, right-click it and choose “Run as administrator”. If you try running it and get this error message:

start button change error   How To Change & Customize The Windows 7 Start Button Orb

It’s because you’re not running it as administrator. Click on “Quit”, go back to the program and run it as administrator.

Show Time! Change Your Orb

Now that all the preliminaries are done, it’s time to do some magic. This is what you’ll see upon running the button changer:

button changer 1   How To Change & Customize The Windows 7 Start Button Orb

On the left is a preview of the chosen start button, how it looks when you hover over it and how it looks when it’s clicked. To change your button, click on the Start orb on the right. The program automatically backs up your explorer.exe, and you can restore this backup by clicking the folder icon.

To choose one of the 10 samples that comes with program, navigate to the folder that came with the program and choose one to try.

start button changer 2   How To Change & Customize The Windows 7 Start Button Orb

When you choose one, the program window will change to reflect your choice, and explorer.exe will restart. You should now be able to see your new start orb!

start button changer 3   How To Change & Customize The Windows 7 Start Button Orb

If you want to try anther one, make sure you restore the default first by clicking the folder icon, and only then choose a different orb.

I Want More Orbs!

Are the ten sample orbs not enough for you? There are dozens more available online, and a great place to find lots of them is deviantArt. Look around for ones you want to try, and download them. The easiest way to do this is to extract them into the same folder where the ten samples are, so your entire alternative orb collection is all in one place.

download new orb   How To Change & Customize The Windows 7 Start Button Orb

After downloading some options, follow the exact same process to change your start button into them. The options are almost endless, so you’re bound to find something that’s just perfect for your system.

new start button   How To Change & Customize The Windows 7 Start Button Orb

Want Even More?

Customizing the Start button is lots of fun, but there’s much more to be customized in Windows 7:

Do you know of other cool Windows 7 customizations? Have you found a really cool new Start button you want to share? The comments are your playground!

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.


0 votes

Eric Wilborn

Sometimes the simplest customizations make a theme.

0 votes

Keefe Kingston

This…is super cool! XD

0 votes

Mustafa A.

I used to customize Windows XP like crazy, but totally never even thought of it with Windows 7 for some reason! This mod looks so simple, yet so awesome! I’m definitely gonna try it out, and I’ll check out the other customization articles this one links to! Thanks so much for writing this article and sharing this information! :)

0 votes

Rajaa Chowdhury


Kishan Bagaria is an independent Indian programmer. Besides this orb changer, he also has the DreamScene toggle program to enable videos to run as live wallpaper on the Windows 7 desktop. Pretty neat.

Also you can check a polish freeware known as SunriseSeven. Besides orb changer, it can also do much more customization in Windows 7.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I’ve been using some of his programs for years. His works are amazing. His website is full of customization tools to fulfill your heart’s content. Anyone with penchant of customizing their machine might want to pay his site a visit.
You can also use ViStart (or ViOrb?) made by Lee Chantrey.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Thanks for recommending these, they all look really interesting. I’m definitely going to give SunriseSeven a try.

0 votes


It looks great and simple which is great

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Michael Jan Moratalla

awesome thanks

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Jon Smith

this might not be your expertise, but do you know if you could add a windows 7 start button into the rainmeter bar?

0 votes

Nikhil Chandak

amazing way to customize !!

0 votes

Prasanth Mathialagan

This is awesome!!

0 votes


Windows 8 do not have Start shell so any Start Menu launcher will do it easier:)

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I’ve been doing this for quite a long time without restore point. The software is able to revert the change if I absolutely need to(having too much fun playing with start orbs, I use different one for different theme to match my desktop) but I agree it might be safer that way.

0 votes

Boni Oloff

Long time ago i decide to use this one.
But i change back to the original Windows Button, since it is looks more like windows, and i like it better than other. At least for me, it is the best button so far.

0 votes


Yaara, an interesting piece of fact is that Start8 also allows changing of start orbs but it has to be in .png format since the black background will show if a .bmp start button would be used. In my case I’m using the Windows 7 start orb on my Windows 8 since it’s available by default.

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Thanks Chris!

0 votes

Raunak Jyotishi

its so easy

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c smith

Very interesting. After a thorough look see I will definately be trying out some of thes ideas.

0 votes

Sean A

I have done this before but thanks for the new images

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Alan Cyborg

U should try Win7se. It also allows u to change orbs and much more else.

0 votes

Alan Cyborg

No sorry it is actually sunriseseven

0 votes

Yaara Lancet

Yes, someone already recommended SunriseSeven and it really does look interesting. Thank you!

0 votes

Giggity Goebbels

I prefer the resource hacker method