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 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 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.
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 . 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is a Start Menu alternative, with some similarities to Windows docklets 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.
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.
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.
A properly configured toolbar will give you quick access to your most frequently used programs.
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 before (our Classic Shell review). We also tested Handy Start Menu, but decided not to include it here becuase it comes packed with bloatware 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?