How to Bring Back the Start Menu in Windows 8 and 8.1

Windows 8 and its subsequent update Windows 8.1 was designed with the growing touch devices in mind. One of the biggest flaws of its design is the lack of start menu. The Start menu in MS Windows is the Holy Grail, the one place from where you can access all your programs and settings. Microsoft tried replacing it with the Windows Start Screen.While useful for touch devices, the full screen start menu of sorts isn’t that attractive for desktop and laptop users which even have touch screen functionality. The giant buttons would confuse a first time user. I had trouble getting used to this new interface even in my touch screen laptop. The first thing that I was looking for was the desktop.

Every Windows user has known and come to love the Start menu over the years. Removing it was a big mistake but the mistake will soon be corrected in the upcoming Windows 10. For the current users who want to add the start menu back to their Windows machine, there’s a simple solution—just install a software that replaces the Windows home screen as the startup screen, brings back the desktop as the first screen after logging in and more importantly adds the start menu back to where it was.

Start Menu by Classic Shell

Now there are different desktop software or apps that can bring back this functionality. But the best one that I’ve seen is with the help of this software called Classic Shell. You don’t even need to look at the alternatives because this one comes packed with all the features that allow you to configure the start menu and other options to the finest detail. And yes, it is free.

After downloading and installing the software, you will be shown different options to configure different details of the start menu and other Windows enhancement options.

Here’s the first screen of the settings of Classic Shell settings

Classic Shell Settings


You can select the style for the start menu. There are three styles to choose from:

  1. Classic style
  2. Classic style with two columns
  3. Windows 7 style

I prefer the Windows 7 style because that format is what I am used to with my previous version of the operating system.

Then, there’s this other option that allows you to replace the start button itself. I prefer the default one.

Clicking Ok to this option alone brings back the start menu. But there are so many configuration options that deal with many aspects of Windows 8 and 8.1.

Here are some useful options that you can find in the other three tabs of the settings.

Basic Settings

You can configure whether clicking on the start menu button opens the home screen or the start button. You can also configure Shift + Click on the start button to open the Windows Home Screen; if you need to use it for some reason. There’s another option called Skip Metro Screen which is useful for avoiding the metro screen when your computer starts up.


This option is related to the design of the start menu. You can choose whether or not to show user picture on the start menu, choose the icon sizes and other visual accessibility options.

Customize Start Menu

In this final tab you can choose whether to display and access the start menu items as link or as a menu. For example, you can configure the Control Panel menu item to be displayed as a menu. Then when you move your mouse to Control Panel, it will display all the options that you could access from the real control panel. It just reduces your clicking and browsing time.

Advanced Settings (Show all Settings)

Control Panel as Folder
Besides the four basic settings, you can click the checkbox on “Show all settings” option available on top. Clicking this shows 13 total tabs that you can access to configure the advanced options. Now that is a lot of options and for those people who are just looking to add a start menu back, they don’t even need to touch or look at these.

Classic Shell Advanced Settings
The options that are available are for advanced users who want to fine tune additional details. From the advanced options you can configure language, sounds, animation, search box, general behavior and a lot of other options. Browse through them if you think you need them. You can always backup and restore the settings.

Final Words

Classic Shell is the one stop software solution for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users who are trying to get their start menu back. It is the number one start menu software that you can find with millions of users actively using it. There are other alternatives such as IOBit StartMenu8. It is simple when compared to Classic Shell. But I highly recommend Classic Shell.

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