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Sometimes, you don’t know how much you need something until it’s gone. Before Windows 8 came along, it didn’t seem like the Start Menu 2015!? No Way Microsoft! How to Get Your Windows 8.1 Start Menu Now 2015!? No Way Microsoft! How to Get Your Windows 8.1 Start Menu Now Windows 8 won't get a native Start Menu after all. But why wait on Microsoft? Here's how you can help yourself with third party tools like Classic Shell or Start8 and other workarounds. Read More was a particularly popular Windows feature. After it was removed, however, we suddenly realized how much we depended on it.

We have covered alternative Start Menus for Windows 8 Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Start Menu, How I Miss Thee: 4 Ways To Make A Start Menu On Windows 8 Windows 8 brought down the axe on the Start Menu. This is a feature that no one paid special attention to for years but its untimely demise has caused all sorts of despair. Not only... Read More in several different articles. This article looks at creative Start Menu alternatives and replacements that also work with Windows 7. A modern Start Menu can be a good way to bring something fresh to any version of Windows.

Start Menu Reviver

A Start Menu and Start Screen replacement with modern tiles.

The tile-based Start Menu Reviver comes closest to the Start Menu found in Windows 10 Windows 10 In Pictures - A Guided Tour Of The Technical Preview Windows 10 In Pictures - A Guided Tour Of The Technical Preview The Windows 10 Technical Preview is now available to everyone. Some bugs aside, it does look promising. We'll guide you through the new Windows one screenshot at a time. Read More . The left-hand column offers shortcuts to critical system features, including your computer and personal folder, Control Panel, Task Manager, and the Run menu. The second column from the left provides space for your most regularly used applications. The list of all your installed applications comes up when you click the All Apps tile or when you move the mouse from left to right across the Start Menu.

Start Menu Reviver Expanded

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To add & replace tiles, expand All Apps and drag an app onto the desired location. A right-click on the tile brings up the Reset tile option, which lets you clear a location beforehand, though this is not necessary. Through Add tile or Edit tile, you can update the description, manually add or alter the shortcut, change the color and theme icon.

Start Menu Reviver Edit Tile

You can also select to Run As Administrator, a useful option for apps like Notepad or the Command Prompt. To save your changes, click the checkmark in the top right.

Start Menu Reviver Tile Properties

You can change Start Menu Reviver’s color scheme. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be possible to re-size the tiles.

Start Menu 7 (aka Start Menu X )

Start Menu replacement that offers grouping of programs, shut down timer, a selection of skins and custom buttons for Windows XP & up.

Much like the new Start Menu available in Windows 10, you can re-size the menu via the icon in the top right corner.

Start Menu X

Per default, Start Menu X comes up when you click the Start button or the keyboard shortcut SHIFT + Windows key. In Windows 8, hitting the Windows key or double-clicking the Start button will take you to the Start screen. You can change the keyboard shortcut via Options, accessible via the cog wheel in the bottom right corner of the Start Menu. Here you can choose a different skin, change the icon for the Start button, and manage your virtual application groups.

When you install Start Menu 7 or X, you can choose between three different versions: free, PRO, and a 30-day PRO trial. If you go with the trial, you will be able to switch to the free version once the 30 days are up. The PRO version adds one-click-launch and tabs for $19.99.

JetStart

A Start Menu alternative for fans of docks & keyboard shortcuts, released by the makers of the file copying aid 4 Ways To Copy Files (Faster) In Windows 4 Ways To Copy Files (Faster) In Windows Windows 7's file copy dialog is okay. It isn't the fastest when copying a large number of files. However, there are faster ways to copy files. The traditional Windows file copy dialog's worst problem is... Read More TeraCopy.

JetStart is a Start Menu alternative, with some similarities to Windows docklets 3 Multifunctional Docks To Replace Your Windows Taskbar 3 Multifunctional Docks To Replace Your Windows Taskbar Docks take what the taskbar does and make it better: beautiful, effective, and fun to use. Once introduced for the Mac, docks have long been available on Windows. Let me show you the best ones. Read More like RocketDock or StarDock’s ObjectDock; less stylish, but more advanced. Its key selling points are a main window that allows quick browsing and searching of applications, a toolbar with configurable categories, up to four edge menus for docking apps, and launching multiple programs at once.

JetStart

Per default, JetStart doesn’t add functionality to the Start button. Settings can be managed via the main window. The default keyboard shortcut is Windows key + S, but on Windows 8 that’s already taken. You can change the shortcut to another key combination in Preferences. Do set a convenient shortcut for the JetStart Toolbar! You can also assign the Windows key to showing JetStart.

JetStart Preferences

From the main menu, you can assign which applications should show up in the customizable toolbar or the edge menus. Right-click an application and select the respective destination. You can add custom categories via the Properties option.

JetStart Category

A properly configured toolbar will give you quick access to your most frequently used programs.

JetStart Toolbar

If this sounds like something you’ll be using a lot, you should also look into JetStart Pro (~$21), which supports launching with mouse buttons, a Startup Manager, and multimedia keyboards.

A Start Menu For Every Taste

At the end of this, you may miss Classic Shell. It’s not been included because we have mentioned Classic Shell mutliple times 8 Features Missing in Windows 8 and How To Get Them Back 8 Features Missing in Windows 8 and How To Get Them Back Microsoft removed a variety of features from Windows 8. Many of them aren't great losses to most people, but they are if you depended on them. Luckily, Windows 8 isn't yet a locked-down mobile operating... Read More before (our Classic Shell review Make Windows 8 Suck Less With Classic Shell Make Windows 8 Suck Less With Classic Shell Make Windows 8 usable for people who think it's not. Add a start menu to the desktop and tweak the way Explorer and Internet Explorer behave, all thanks to a piece of software called Classic... Read More ). We also tested Handy Start Menu, but decided not to include it here becuase it comes packed with bloatware How To Remove Bloatware & Avoid It On New Laptops How To Remove Bloatware & Avoid It On New Laptops Tired of software you never wanted consuming your laptop's resources? Your computer isn't free ad space. Here's how to get rid of bloatware. Read More and, apart from grouping applications, similar to Start Menu X, it doesn’t add anything innovative.

Did you spot a Start Menu that meets your requirements? Did you arrange yourself with the Start Screen or would you recommend any other tools not menioned above?

  1. Muskrat
    January 3, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    Hello all!

    I've used for years Jettoolbar as a startmenu replacement, but now I prefer launching things from the keyboard, and Promptu (akin to Launchy, needs .NET) is my choice.

    Both are free & work nicely, on XP (32) and 8.1 (64) – you'll find them easily.

    So my strange point of view is that, if you want it so, there are actually only slight cosmetic differences between XP and 8.1 (as long as you don't look under the hood, of course); which suits me perfectly.

  2. Sebriano
    December 22, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    I just laugh at all the people who can't modernise... "why have they changed everything, bloody microsoft"
    If you people like familiar so much, why did you upgrade anyway?
    I've been an avid linux user for the last 5 years. But windows 8.1 has been enough to bring me back to dual-boot with linux and MS, and is fabulous once you've taken the week to get used to the changes.

    • Tina
      December 23, 2014 at 10:37 am

      Wow, a Linux user who likes Windows 8.1 so much they decided to dual boot!? That's rare!

      Do you still need Windows for anything or is it just because you like to play with it?

  3. Warren
    December 19, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    what about the IOBit replacement Start Menu 8? It's free, it gives options of switching back and forth between the modern start menu, plus you can have the option of simply using a traditional Windows 7 version. You can change the start button itself, so if you don't like what is already there, make it what you want, plus many other options I have found handy. I have never paid for it, never seen an ad, never come across bloatware getting installed (in fact IOBit will sometimes install it as bloatware to their programs, that's how I found it). However, I discovered it runs on it's own and doesn't take up too much memory.

    All good reasons to use it. If you want to download it, the best way to find the downloader is simply search IOBit start menu 8 and download. One thing to watch for though, if you download it through CNET.com make sure you do a custom install because they will add a funky installer to it, and the only way to skip the crap is to do the custom install and make sure you skip or unmark all of the crap they add onto to it. It is a free program, and it can be downloaded straight from IOBit, so DO IT. Otherwise, keep your eyes open.

  4. Kattisch
    December 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I have been extremely happy with Classic Shell. I worked with Win 8 and 8.1 for months and hated it completely (on a touch screen it probably is great), but I found as an IT profession it hampered my work more than simplified.

  5. Nahla
    December 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    This looks interesting...and confusing. But maybe I'l try them. I still don't use the Metro menu in my Windows 8.1 laptop.

  6. vinny
    December 19, 2014 at 10:17 am

    IMHO you missed at least 50 % of the other replacers that are already on the market from the 1st release of W8

    This list is long from complete
    I for myself use the clutter free W7 lookalike replacer Classic Shell.

    Microsoft and you still do not understand we don't want those blocky shapes

    • Tina
      December 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      The objective here wasn't to write one complete list, but to introduce tools we had not thoroughly covered before and which support both Windows 8 and Windows 7. I have linked to other articles covering Start Menu alternatives throughout the article.

  7. Krish
    December 19, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Is JetStart a replacement for Launchy ?

    • Tina
      December 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      Well, sort of, but not really. Launchy is more minimalistic and you just start typing what you need into a search box. JetStart is more like a combination of Launchy and ObjectDock.

  8. selma silvett
    December 19, 2014 at 3:43 am

    I use the free app Startw8. It docks in the left corner of task bar. Gives programs, start and stop options. Must be careful to manage search engines in google chrome--It will install unwanted programs. I had no problem getting rid of bloatware. I use it on windows 8 and windows 8.1.

  9. CJ Cotter
    December 19, 2014 at 2:29 am

    UGGHH! The menus in those pictures look exhausting! I don't like complicated.

    I create my own grouping categories, and EVERYthing fits in one of them. I use a folder icon changer to make the Start Menu folders stand out and easily recognized. They are:

    Astronomy, Calendars, Time
    Computer Hardware Utilities
    Computer Security
    Display Options
    Earth Sciences
    eBook Tools & Programs
    Internet Tools
    Multimedia
    Reference
    System Tools
    Updaters
    Utility
    Visual Graphics

  10. Mo
    December 18, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Classic Start is what I use on Windows 8, and I love it. It closely mimics Windows 7 start menu, which I think is the best start menu to date from Microsoft.

  11. James Bassett
    December 17, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Star Menu Reviver looks excellent so I installed it but came up against a pretty significant issue. If you have your Task Bar up the right-hand side of the screen (and, with widescreen monitors, you really should otherwise you are wasting precious screen space) then SMR doesn't work.

    Clicking the start menu brings it up but the default is for All Apps to appear when the mouse is to the right. So All Apps appears. However, when I move my mouse to the left, All Apps disappears and the menu jumps away from where the mouse is. I now move the mouse to the right and All Apps reappears and the main menu jumps back to the left. There is literally no way of clicking on the Menu.

    I had to move my taskbar back down to the bottom of the screen in order to be able to access the Control Panel to Uninstall it.

    I wonder how well any of the other Start Menu replacements cope with those of us who don't keep the Taskbar in the default location?

    • Doc
      December 18, 2014 at 1:48 am

      The biggest complaint Windows 8 users had was everything was different; they had no idea how to manage the Start Screen and Charms bars. It seems that's not something that bothers you, but would drive other users crazy.

      I, for one, have been setting the Taskbar to auto-hide since 1995, in which case it takes up next to no screen real estate unless it's needed. SMR probably never thought anyone would move the taskbar from the bottom (although newcomers from Mac or some Linux distros would move it to the top!), so they never tested that configuration.

    • Tina
      December 19, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      As Doc said, the developers probably didn't have people who move the Taskbar in mind. Sorry you had such a horrible experience with it!

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