Upgrade to a Smarter Windows Start Menu With Start Menu 7 [Windows]

Ryan Dube 09-03-2011

I have to admit that ever since upgrading to Windows 7, I love everything about the operating system. It’s cleaner, faster and more intuitive. However, since I’ve upgraded there’s always one thing that’s been nagging at me, and after reading comments from other Windows enthusiasts about Windows 7, it appears that I’m not alone.


The default start menu that comes with Windows 7 leaves a bit to be desired. Icons and programs are not exactly well-organized, and the ability to access the control panel and other features that were pretty standard in older versions of Windows, seem to require one too many clicks to access in Windows 7, in my humble opinion.

Through the years, we’ve offered a few alternatives for whatever start menu you’ve suffered through.  In 2008, Shankar offered four cool alternatives Best Alternatives to Windows Start Menu Read More to the Vista start menu. Kyle also offered an app called SMOz that helped to organize your start menu. One of the best was actually a start menu alternative Kaly described in 2006 called Tidy Start Menu.  Well, in the subsequent four years, Ukrainian programmer Denys Nazarenko enhanced the app into a new version renamed Start Menu 7

A New Start Menu For Windows 7

I’m not usually one to install Windows add-ons or enhancements. I find that most of them add an additional layer of complexity and memory consumption to an already memory and processor-hungry OS. However, Start Menu 7 really caught my eye because the screenshots on the website showed a menu that’s clean, well organized, and apparently low-profile with system resources. Intrigued, I dove in.

new start menu windows 7

The first thing you’ll notice when you install and run Start Menu 7 is that you don’t only get a new Start Menu, you get an entirely new way to navigate your computer. Gone are the days where every time you want to find a file on your computer, you have to open up Windows Explorer to drill through your directory system. Start Menu 7 puts everything immediately at your fingertips. The above screenshot may look a little bit overwhelming, but follow along and you’ll see just how impressive this little Start Menu is.


The first thing you’ll probably want to do is customize the Start Menu for the folders, applications and system tools you use most often. You do this by clicking the “Add Items” icon at the top.

upgrade windows 7 start menu

In the menu that drops down, you can add commands, folders, a line to format sections of your start menu, or you can click to choose (browse) to find the application you want to add. The coolest thing about this app is that you basically will never need to separately open Windows Explorer again. You can access every folder and file on your PC through the easy navigation system that opens up to the right of the Start Menu. Just click the right-arrow next to the folder to drill down into sufolders, and click to open any file. The scroll bar at the bottom lets you view all files and folders no matter how many you have.

windows 7 start menu


There are more features available if you click on the “Programs” folder, you’ll see three tabs. All Programs is self explanatory, Quick Start lets you add shortcuts to programs or folders that you frequently use and want quick access to, and Autorun gives you access to your Startup folder to see what apps are launching when your PC boots.

new start menu

If you glance at the bottom of the Start Menu, you’ll find a few other useful features. On the left there’s the command/search field. Type “calc” or “notepad” to open up those apps, or start typing a file name and Start Menu 7 will instantly perform the search. To the right you’ll find a golden lock button that lets other users log into a new session while preserving your own session, and then there’s the easy Power button. Unlike the Windows 7 default shutdown dialog, this one is straightforward and shows all your options on one window.

windows start menu


See those interesting clock icons? Click one of those and you can actually schedule the event. I love this feature because I can set the shutdown for an hour after school when I want to automate how long my kids will spend on the computer.

windows start menu

You can use this feature for just about anything – you can even set an exact date and time!  Start Menu 7 also adds some additional functionality in the “Options” section when you click on the “Wizard“.

Upgrade to a Smarter Windows Start Menu With Start Menu 7 [Windows] start78


In the Customize Wizard, you’ll find a few things you can tweak, but my favorite is the shortcut customizer which lets you assign keyboard keys to system actions like restart, hibernate, opening the “Run” dialog box and more.

windows start menu

By the way, if you prefer using your keyboard, just hit the Windows button on your keyboard to launch the Start Menu, and you’ll see keyboard codes show up next to each icon and folder. In the navigation area, just click the section letter and it’ll break down the shortcuts into numbers to access individual items in that box.

new start menu windows 7

Once you get used to it, this is one of the fastest ways I’ve ever seen to navigate Windows with just a keyboard in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in any version of Windows that I’ve used. Give Start Menu 7 a shot and let us know if you think Denys did as good a job with this as I feel he has.

Do you have any other new start menu alternatives for Windows 7 you feel are better? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Related topics: Start Menu, Windows 7.

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  1. Philbert
    May 22, 2011 at 5:54 am

     Has anybody using these start-menu replacements ever actually used the Windows 7 start menu? In addition to being a billion times better than every windows start menu to come before it, it has the distinct advantage of also being the quickest way to launch anything in your computer. Hit the windows key (CTRL+ESC for people without windows keys), start typing the name of what you're looking for. Built in search on the start menu. That is slick. Even better, after a while, Windows starts remembering which programs you launch and they start showing up first. 

    As for third-party start menu/shell replacements... hrm. I used to be partial to... I believe BBlean or something. I'm not sure what.I've since learned that having options is nice, yes. But having too many items to choose from does NOT increase productivity. Fitts law and all that.

    Of course, on my linux box I usually have a terminal open at all times. Command line beats everything else for program launching. 

  2. pixie
    May 18, 2011 at 3:47 am

     I usually just start typing the letter of the name of the app in the searchbox in the win7 start menu. It would start looking up stuff even on the first letter.

    I don't see this as any sort of advancement over that.

  3. Chinmoy Mitra
    March 24, 2011 at 6:42 am

    I beg to disagree with you about the Windows 7 default shut down menu. When I want to shut down my system, I mean exactly that....SHUT DOWN! So I just click "Shut Down" (only one click), and Windows 7 does the rest. And by the way, that is what I mean 99% of the time. If, and when, I need to access any other option (like switch user, sleep, restart, hibernate etc.), I click the down arrow on the shut down menu, and there I have all the options. I would definitely not like to open up a plethora of options every time I want to simply shut down the system. But overall, it is a very good enhancement to the start menu.

  4. Ryan Dube
    March 10, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    I liked Windows 3.1. They destroyed Windows when they invented 95. I like having everything at my fingertips in an instant. :-)

  5. Blowme
    March 10, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Wow a program to do what you can do,adds clutter and disorganization, and makes the Start menu look like something from Windows 3.1 what more could you ask for!

    • Ryan Dube
      March 10, 2011 at 10:22 pm

      I liked Windows 3.1. They destroyed Windows when they invented 95. I like having everything at my fingertips in an instant. :-)

  6. Bheeelaat
    March 10, 2011 at 5:14 am

    nice application

    • Ryan Dube
      March 10, 2011 at 10:23 pm

      Thanks - I thought so too. :-)

  7. Ibrahim Ali
    March 10, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Looks way more cluttered than the original Win 7 Start menu itself - Maybe b/se I was expecting something along the line of the awesome Lancelot Start menu for KDE Linux.

  8. Anonymous
    March 10, 2011 at 1:57 am

    that is one fugly app

  9. Reuben
    March 10, 2011 at 12:07 am

    I don't see how you can say it takes too many clicks to access the control panel. 1 to open Start Menu, 1 to open Control Panel. A total of 2. The same amount as ever.

    • Ryan Dube
      March 10, 2011 at 1:05 am

      Good point - I guess I just like the placement better. With Start Menu 7 it's right above, rather than above and over to the right. Not a huge advantage but still a bonus in my opinion. :-)

  10. Vibin
    March 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    So how is the performance ? will that slow the OS ? and I already have applied "Vistamizer" theme to my XP then won't that interfere if install start menu 7 ?

    • Ryan Dube
      March 10, 2011 at 1:04 am

      Hi Vibin - It didn't seem to affect performance at allin my case, however I haven't tested with Vistamizer installed so not sure if you'll see any conflicts...

      • Vibin
        March 10, 2011 at 3:24 am

        Thanks , I will give it a try.

  11. MDC
    March 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    "Get PRO version" it should not be there! :)

    • Vibin
      March 10, 2011 at 3:25 am

      Same opinion here !

  12. Mike
    March 9, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    One could also try one of the few Windows SHELL replacements to get en entire new GUI. For example:
    Emerge Desktop (no longer available)

    • Aibek
      March 14, 2011 at 9:51 am

      thanks for the links

  13. Srivatsan Venkatesh
    March 9, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    I still like Launchy better. What I do is make a folder with all my desktop shortcuts and then add it to the Launchy catalog. Then I can launch things quickly. Or I use the 7 task bar.