Windows 10 introduced many updated and the visual design wasn’t spared. If you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 to take advantage of the new functionality, but preferred the aesthetics of Windows 7, there are steps you can take to best mimic the older operating system.
From changing the Start menu to removing the lock screen, you can get Windows 10 looking more how you want it and what you’re used to. The great thing is that the majority of these tweaks can be done without using third-party software.
If you’ve got your own advice to share on getting Windows 10 looking like Windows 7, please be sure to share it with us all in the comments section below.
Windows 8 saw a big transformation to the Start Menu. In fact, Menu was dropped for Screen, offering users a tiled-based approach to program access, though Microsoft back-peddled on the decision and reintroduced the Start button come 8.1. With Windows 10, the more traditional styles of 7 have been combined with the tiles of 8. But for those of us who don’t care for the new look, there’s no in-built way to return to the classic design of the Start Menu.
That’s where a program called Classic Shell comes in. Head to their website, click Download Now and then run the installation wizard. Once installed, perform a system search for classic start menu and select the relevant result.
The first screen will allow you to select the style for the Start Menu, so click Windows 7 style. You can then delve into the other tabs, which will let you customize the look and functionality of the Start Menu even further.
For example, click Start Button if you want to use a custom image in the Taskbar. Head to the Customize Start Menu tab to have full control over what quick links will appear on your Start Menu. You can personalize nearly everything and get it functioning and looking exactly how you had it on Windows 7.
Login with a Local Account
Microsoft is very keen to get everyone joining their ecosystem and making full use of their services like OneDrive and Office 365. Part of that means using a Microsoft account and it’s being pushed in Windows 10, too. It allows your settings and files to be synced across all Windows 10 devices, but those who don’t want to have their user account always connected can opt for a local account instead, like how it was on Windows 7.
First, press Windows Key + I to launch Settings and click Accounts. If your account is a Microsoft one, you’ll see Sign in with a local account instead near the top of this window. Click this and you’ll be asked to verify your password. Do so, continuing to follow the wizard through and setting your local username and password. Everything on your account will be the same as before, expect now it’s entirely local.
If you want to add a new local user account, navigate back to the Accounts screen. From here, select Family & other users from the left menu. Then select Add someone else to this PC. A new window will open asking how the new user will sign in, so click The person who I want to add doesn’t have an email address and then on the next screen click Add a user without a Microsoft account. It’s slightly cumbersome to get here, but now you’ll be able to create the new username and password as you follow the wizard through.
Remove the Lock Screen
The Windows 10 lock screen shows things like the date, time and notifications, but it’s really just an extra step before you can get to to the login screen. While it might make sense on mobile devices, there’s no harm getting rid of it on desktop. Doing so will require minor fiddling in the registry, so only proceed if you’re confident in following the instructions.
Press Windows Key + R, type regedit, and hit OK. If User Account Control pops up, click OK again. Once the Registry Editor has opened, navigate to the following section:
Now right click an empty space in the right pane and select New > Key. The key will be highlighted automatically; rename it to Personalization. Select the key you just created, right click in the right pane again and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the value NoLockScreen. Double click it, set the Value data to 1 and then click OK.
Your changes will take effect immediately. The lock screen will be disabled and the relevant settings within Windows will be deactivated. If you ever want to re-enable the lock screen, navigate to the NoLockScreen value again and set the value to 0.
Notification icons like the speaker and calendar have seen some visual changes in Windows 10. Using the registry we can change these back to their Windows 7 designs. Again, the registry should be used with caution. Press Windows Key + R, type regedit, and press OK to launch it.
To bring back the old vertical volume control design, navigate to the following registry path:
Select Edit > New > Key and name it MTCUVC. Then select Edit > New > DWORD (32-bit) Value and name it EnableMtcUvc. Double-click the newly created DWORD, set the Value Data to 0 and click OK.
To bring back the analogue clock and smaller calendar design, navigate to the following registry path:
Go to Edit > New > DWORD (32-bit) Value and name it UseWin32TrayClockExperience. Next, double-click the DWORD, set the Value Data to 1, and then click OK.
Cortana has been promoted heavily with Windows 10. It’s Microsoft’s alternative to Siri and Google Now, a personal assistant that will help you search, along with tracking packages, creating calendar events, setting alarms, and more. You might not be using it, but that doesn’t mean Cortana isn’t disabled completely.
Press Windows Key + I to launch Settings, then search for cortana. Select Cortana & Search settings and the relevant options will open from your Taskbar. To disable Cortana, all you need to is set that top slider to Off.
If you want to get rid of the search bar from the Taskbar, which will still be there even if Cortana is disabled, just right click the Taskbar and go to Search > Hidden. Alternatively, you can set it to show only an icon that opens the search when clicked.
Style like Seven
There’s nothing inherently wrong with change, but some elements of Windows 7 looked better than they do in Windows 10. The great thing is that you can mix and match them, picking and choosing from the best of each version.
With Windows 10 applying forced updates, we could see the visual design change down the line without getting a say in it, but hopefully these tweaks will always be available to retain the classic Windows 7 look.
Have you used any of these methods? Do you have your own customization tips to share with us to get Windows 10 looking like Windows 7?