Restore the Classic Start Menu in Windows 7

On October 22, 2009, many PC users were shocked and disappointed to find the much hyped Windows 7 did not include an option for a “classic” start menu.

The community boards on were flooded with posts asking for this now defunct menu style, only to be met with the advice to “move on.” But, many of us simply cannot let go… Fortunately, there are two freeware applications to fix this pesky problem.


VistaStartMenu was originally written to enhance the menus in Windows XP and Vista. Luckily, it integrates seamlessly with Windows 7, fully replacing the out-of-the-box start menu.

The application comes with three skins—one dark and easy to read, and another that truly emulates the classic Start Menu scheme.

vistastartmenu windows skin

But, VistaStartMenu has several features that go above and beyond what we have come to know and love about the classic menu.

Instead of scrolling through several menus to find the control panel (which cannot be restored to “classic” view in Windows 7 either), simply hover over the “All Control Panel Items” shortcut on the start menu and all of the expected control panel icons magically appear for quick access.

vistastartmenu control panel

VistaStartMenu also features quick access to the Power Control menu, which prevents you from accidently clicking “shut down” when you really mean to “sleep” (all too easy in the out-of-the-box Windows 7 start menu). But, if it is still too taxing to open the menu and click “power options,” VistaStartMenu allows you to create Power Option shortcuts by using the F4-F12 keys.

Vistastartmenu shortcuts

Of course, if you choose to have the application start when Windows starts (necessary if you never again want to see the original Windows 7 start menu), it will add several seconds to your start up time.


If the added bells and whistles of VistaStartMenu do not appeal to you, there is another free application called CSMenu that just plain creates a classic start menu. After a five minute installation process, CSMenu does exactly what it claims to do: creates a classic start menu…no more, and no less.


There are no added features and no options to configure—CSMenu just simply gives you back your classic start menu.

So, for those who are banging their heads against the keyboard, longing a start menu circa Windows 98, there are still options out there. If you long for extra features and do not mind a few minor glitches, VistaStartMenu is a good choice.

But, if you just simply want your menu back without any extra excitement, opting for CSMenu is probably the better decision.


Comments [4]

  1. Hi, I am just started to use Windows 7. The windows Start Menu looks like the old style in Windows 95 & 98 (classic). I did a search & followed the steps from the internet how to change back to the default Windows 7 Start Menu, but it doesn't work! (Properties->Start Menu->Customize…->User Default Settings).

    The taskbar status is unlocked, and I tried to restart my PC after these steps, there's still no change.

    How can I can change the Start Menu to the default settings that I saw on the internet?


  2. Grace,

    If your Windows 7 menu looks like one of the older classic Windows menus, that usually means that you have a program installed that is causing it to look that way. As far as I know, you can't get Windows 7 to look like the older Windows unless you have installed a program to do that for you. That's why re-setting the default settings isn't working for you.

    So you need to find the program that is installed that is causing your menu to look this way. The way software programs mentioned in the article above are VistaStartMenu, CS Menu and Sevenclassic. I'm sure there are many others that do the same thing. I would first look in your applications on the menu to see if you have any of these programs installed. If you do, then go to the control panel>programs and features>highlight the program icon, right-click on it and uninstall it. Then reboot your PC and the normal Windows 7 menu should come up for you.

    If you don't find any of these applications on your PC, you might want to have someone look at your PC to determine what program might be doing that. Once you find the program that is causing your menu to change, just uninstall it and reboot and you should be good to go.

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