WinHack – How to Change the Windows Start Button (Win XP)

Will Mueller 19-09-2008

WinHack - How to Change the Windows Start Button (Win XP) winhack Windows XP is, in my opinion, one of the best operating systems. It is extremely customizable (even if it is not intended to be), compatible with nearly everything, and is quite stable. Here I will show you just one way to customize it, to be precise ‘ how to change windows start button text ‘. It will really remind you how much of a hacker tweaker you really are.


First, to do it the easy way, you need to download a program that will really assist you in helping you find what you are looking for and making sure you do not mess up along the way. After you have downloaded it, run the .exe file, so that we may begin tweaking.

First, open the explorer.exe file located here: C:WINDOWSexplorer.exe . You should now be able to see a list of different folders on the side that are made up of numbers in the “String Table” directory. The one we are looking for is folder 37 with the other sub-directory option being 1033. Inside that file there are multiple lines of text – we want to change the “start” text. You can change it to whatever you want, but keep under 20 characters as the tab becomes too large after that. Also, make sure you do not change any of the text on the other lines.

change windows start button text

When you have changed it to whatever you want, click “File,” “Save As,” and save it as explorerhacked.exe. (Note: You can change it to whatever you like, but in this demonstration we are using the explorerhacked file.)

Now, go to “Start,” “Run,” and type in “regedit”. When the Registry Editor loads expand to the following directory: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,SOFTWARE,Microsoft,Windows NT,CurrentVersion, and WinLogon. In that directory find the entry that is titled “Shell” and right-click it. Select “Modify.” Now, type in ExplorerHacked.exe.


change windows start button text

Close the Registry Editor and log back in. You should now see your start button changed to whatever you typed in!

Have fun hacking tweaking!

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  1. Naveen
    December 27, 2009 at 4:39 am

    I use xp3 and when i did these steps my screen is blank . thanks god that ctrl+alt+del did worked and i changed the setting again .

  2. ash
    October 19, 2009 at 3:42 am

    My windows start button gets changed after every boot..initially it shows the right start button then it changes to something weird...not sure if it is due to some virus/unwanted process need to be removed...

    Any help?

  3. John
    March 23, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I did everything described here word for word, however when I log out and log back in, nothing comes up at all. And when I do a CTRL ALT DEL I do not see explorerhacked.exe or explorer.exe, I tried booting with "Last Known Good Configuration" but I had no success with that. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    • Will Mueller
      March 23, 2009 at 7:45 pm

      You could try logging in "Safe Mode" and then going to the registry and changing back to the regular "explorer.exe".

  4. arico
    January 24, 2009 at 10:03 am

    very gooooooooooodd
    thank you for this info

    and be continue

    with my best greeting


  5. digideth
    September 28, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    yup everything worked as expected!

    Get yourself a live xp disc such as minpe. boot you box off minipe or something similar fire up reshacker, folow your setups above, save the file as explorer.exe, reboot into xp and everything will work as planed. name change to start menu success! search link works too!!!

    remember to save a backup of explorer.exe just in case all hell breaks lose.

    keep those great tips coming! :)


  6. digideth
    September 28, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    ya i would click search in the start menu and nothing would happen, i could get to search through a regular explorer window. I have switched back to the unhack explore.exe and search works again. Now i wondering since we changed the name of the exporer.eve to something easier to remember it throws off other functions of the start menu, so im thinking i will try saving a backup of a unhacked explorer.exe on another part of my drive and chaing the name of the hacked one to explorer.exe and see if i can get the search link to work along with the hack. i will post my results shortly.

  7. digideth
    September 28, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    after i did this edit my start menu search link quit working? anyone know how to fix this with reving back to original widos explorer?

    • Will Mueller
      September 28, 2008 at 9:29 pm

      You mean your start menu did not allow you to click on it, or it did not show up? You could just go back into the registry editor and revert the explorer file to explorer.exe instead of explorerhacked.exe.

  8. Nikunja
    September 20, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    No need for so lengthy and complicated process. Just use the “StartBtn Renamer" software and it will work for you.

    link for StartBtn Renamer : [Broken Link Removed]

  9. design
    September 20, 2008 at 9:24 am

    awesome just wat i neddddd

  10. Aibek
    September 20, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Any idea if this can be done on Vista? I mean is it possible to change that round windows icon to something else of the same size.

    • Will Mueller
      September 20, 2008 at 3:11 pm

      I am not sure, haven't tried that yet. You could try searching around all of the Windows system files for the images, but that might take a while. I am sure there must be a way though....

  11. Brainiac
    September 20, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Great tip, thanks!

  12. krazd
    September 20, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Will a screw up here totally destroy your windows OS?

  13. vicki shemwell
    September 19, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Just two things : if using Windows classic, you need to navigate to 38, rather than 37.
    Also, you need to click on "compile script" before saving. I only know this because I'm just an instruction follower, and it didn't work for me at first. I'm enjoying my new button, thanks.

  14. Ken Burkes
    September 19, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    Although it's a bit complicated to use, I find that Resource Hacker is the best tool for the geekiest customization. With Resource Hacker, you can do just about anything with your computer.

    Awesome post Will!