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How to Get Windows Start Button Back in Windows 8

Updated on January 12, 2015

What Happened to the Start Menu in MS Operating System Version 8?

I was hired to set up a brand new Toshiba laptop for an acquaintance that is not very computer savvy. His new Toshiba Satellite came with the latest operating system for Windows which is Version 8. I did not buy Windows 8 when it was first released, so I had not used it before. I heard about the bugs and didn't want to deal with it until Microsoft worked out its issues.

One of the issues my client was having with Windows 8 OS is that he could not find the start menu button. He figured it was just hidden somewhere and wanted me to find it for him and put it back where it belonged. On any computer with a Windows 8 OS (operating system) there is a "Charms Bar" that replaces the Start button.

Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, decided for all of us that a "Start Menu" was no longer necessary or relevant for anyone working on the computer and did not install one. I love it how they decide what billions of PC users need or don't need to run their computers. For all of you having this problem, the solution is quite easily remedied.

There are Several Ways to Get a Windows 7 Style Start Menu

  1. Changing the Registry Value
  2. Downloading and Installing a Free Application from Source Forge
  3. Buying and Installing a 3rd Party Utility Start Menu

Windows 8 Start Screen

Screenshot of Windows 8 Start Page
Screenshot of Windows 8 Start Page

Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, did not include the "Start Menu" we have all been so use to using in the older Windows XP and in the newer Windows 7 operating systems. I can only assume they are attempting to force, I mean train people to use the Start Touch Screen. Once you get use to it, it does have some attributes that Windows 7 doesn't have, however; for those of you that don't have a touch screen computer, it can have a bit of a learning curve.

With that being said I still find it much faster and easier to use a button to launch a Windows 7 style Start Menu.

For those of you who are like myself and my client, and want the use of the old Start Menu, there are several options you can choose from. There are the options of buying applications that go beyond just installing a Start Menu by allowing you to have more control over their look and feel, but I am only going to tell you about the two that are free, one of which is the one I used on my clients laptop.

In my book free is better especially for something like this.

Changing Registry Attributes

I got this information from www.geek.com when I was searching for the easiet and fastest free way to get the Start Menu on Windows 8 OS. I do not like messing with the registry as I am not educated enough to fix it if I mess it up. Because of that, didn't go this route. If you are comfortable making registry changes, then you can use these instructions

  • Launch the registry editor (win+r > regedit >enter)
  • Drill down to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
  • Double-click on RPEnabled
  • Change the value from 1 to (zero)
  • Tap enter or click OK

According to the Geek, "The change will take place immediately - just tap the Windows key on your keyboard twice to try it out (the first press will slide the Metro start screen back into view).

Once you make the change, the trademark Windows 8 start screen will no longer appear after you log in. Instead, you'll be greeted by an interface that looks almost exactly like your existing Windows 7 desktop - the only real difference being the squared-off window borders on your applications. Whether the menu makes it as an option in the final Windows 8 release is unknown, but I'm sure Microsoft will be getting plenty of feedback about its removal."

Classic Shell Start Menu

The Classic Shell "Start Menu" is the the one that I found the easiest to install that is free to use as it comes from SourceForge, the same folks that brought Open Office (MS Office equivalent) to the table.

How to Get and Install Classic Shell:

  • Go to Classic Shell, click the big green "Download" button and download to your desktop
  • Once the Download is completed double click the downloaded icon to install
  • Accept Term Conditions
  • When the Install Menu shows up be sure the "Create a Start Menu Folder" is ticked and click the "Next" button
  • Once installed you will be shown a read me page - you can read it then close it
  • Notice you now have a Windows Start button in the shape of a seashell like this image
  • When you click the Start button for the 1st time a window will open with 3 Start Menu examples
  • Select the Start Menu you are most familiar with or that you like the best
  • Click OK on the prompt
  • You now have a Windows Start Menu Installed
  • Watch the video below if you need help

How to Download, Install and Configure the Start Menu

Do You Use a Windows 8 OS?

If You Own a Computer with a Widows Operating System Do You Want to Install a Start Menu?

See results

Need More Help Using Windows 8? - Windows 8 Tutorials

Will You Install a Start Menu to Windows 8?

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