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Show the Classic “All Programs” Menu in the Start Menu in Windows 7

There are a lot of new users to Windows 7 who are not happy with the new Start Menu and wish they could revert to the Classic menu. Here is how to at least get back the Classic “All Programs” Menu.

Remember the Classic Start Menu in XP where you could show the All Programs Menu? Let’s take a look at getting that back in Windows 7.

sshot-2010-07-12-[22-16-17]

Note: This trick uses a Registry hack so you’ll want to make sure you back up the Registry before making any changes.

Get All Programs Menu Back

First click on the Start Menu and type regedit into the Search box and hit Enter.

regedit_Start

Now we need to navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders. Double-click on Favorites on the right side…

sshot-2010-07-12-[20-57-40]

Now change the Value data to the following and click OK:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

sshot-2010-07-12-[21-01-10]

Next scroll down a bit further to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders. Double-click on the Favorites entry.

sshot-2010-07-12-[21-02-25]

Again we need to edit the Value data to:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

sshot-2010-07-12-[21-04-01]

After making the changes close out of the Registry Editor and right-click on the Start Menu and select Properties.

sshot-2010-07-12-[21-07-14]

In the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties Window click on the Start Menu tab then click on the Customize button.

sshot-2010-07-12-[21-08-42]

Scroll down and click the box next to Favorites menu, click OK, and reboot your system.

sshot-2010-07-12-[21-09-10]

When you come back from the Restart you will see Programs on the right side of the Start Menu and have a list of All Programs similar to that of XP.

sshot-2010-07-12-[23-15-17]

While it’s not quite the same as the good old XP days, if you’re looking to get the All Programs Menu back, this Registry hack will do the trick without installing 3rd party software.

If you’re not comfortable making changes to the Registry, check out some 3rd party solutions which we have covered…

Editor’s Note: The registry hack at the heart of this idea was originally figured out by our friend Vishal over at his Tweaking with Vishal site. Thanks to him for the original find.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/13/10

Comments (19)

  1. Aled

    I followed these instructions exactly and it did nothing. After rebooting my start menu is exactly the same. :/

  2. Aled

    Duh, never mind. It works, I was just expecting the wrong thing to occur. Apologies!

  3. Abhishek K. Pandey

    Thats a nice trick. I love registry hacks of all types, and this one is good one too. Well, I don’t think the present menu in Win 7 is bad though. Yes, its a bit on looks, but provide almost same functions, when you click on “All Programs”.

  4. DrakMrak

    It is no good tip
    - slow down start Windows 7
    - sometime no correct start Windows 7
    I have big problems start Win7 after this trick …
    I must start win7 in Safe Mode and back all changes next start is OK

  5. soomon

    want a real classic start menu?
    use the software classic shell from http://classicshell.sourceforge.net/index.html (see screenshots there)
    can’t live without it :)

  6. Oreb

    Worked like a charm. Unfortunately W7 Pro puts half of the start menu in the admin start menu and only the all user start menu is shown here. It’s not that hard to combine them; I did it that way in XP.

    But I’ve developed my own system ‘forcing’ the default start menu to show truly all my programs.

    Great idea though and I’m leaving the change in so it’s there if I decide I need it.

    Thanks as always.

    O.

  7. Xander

    Well, I’ve never modified my Windows 7′s start menu in any way and when I click it, my first option I’m presented with is “All Programs”.

    Something’s wrong with your copy?

  8. CGA

    Nice one, thanks:)

  9. jasray

    I honestly think most users would prefer Vista Menu which has been revamped, works with Windows 7, and functions 64bit just fine.

    http://www.vistastartmenu.com/index.html

  10. Joe

    I tried your “Show the Classic “All Programs” Menu in the Start Menu in Windows 7″.
    I did it twice and it did not change anything. I checked my settings and they seemed to be correct.
    Are others having this problem?

  11. Prabhu

    oops…………..I dont like this.. it overwirtes my favorites folder…. i badly need all the fav links… how do i rolback to previous things????

  12. John Doe

    To get it back, change the first key back to:
    c:\users\\favorites
    And the second to:
    %USERPROFILE%\Favorites

  13. ginmemphis

    WTF!!! The correct title: “Show the Classic “All Programs” Menu in the Start Menu in Windows 7 –AND LOSE YOUR FAVORITES!”

    The little tiny problem of losing Favorites isn’t even mentioned. I’ll title this “Why I’m unsubscribing to How-to Geek.”

    Thank you to John Doe for the original keys.

  14. THRAK

    @ginmemphis: Same thing happened to me. Lost my Favorites in IE (they got replaced with elements from the Start Menu and its sub-menus). And the Favorites Toolbar icons don’t display, never mind they exist in the relevant profile folder.

    On top of that, after making the changes, clicking the Start button still doesn’t default to All Programs (so waste of time). I just get a blank chunk of real estate where the recently-used junk wanted to go, and then still have to click on All Programs to get to the nitty gritty.

    I myself wouldn’t care, but I’m trying to configure a new Win 7 system for my 73-old mom, who’s so used to XP, I’m trying to do my best to make the menus very similar, for her transition from old system to new.

    @John Doe: Thank you for helping me reverse-engineer the mess I got into! I skimmed through the backed-up Registry file, but I couldn’t find the original values due to much of the values being stored as Hex. My hope to find what the original values needed to be was thoughtfully addressed by you.

    Funny that the hack works for some, but not others. Must be a difference in Win7 version, or maybe even patches applied / not applied…?

  15. Android

    ..didn’t work on my Windows7 Ultimate..first registry hack from you guys that didn’t work! I’ve gone over the steps a few times and am confident I followed the instructions perfectly..the only different events while following the steps were that I had to create the Favorites strings to both places in my registry..and after the hack when I went into properties to check the Favorites Menu box, it was aready checked..
    ..all insignificant differences I believe..
    ..oh, well, every one of the other registry hacks I’ve gotten from “geeks” worked immediately so I have nothing to complain about..in fact, special thanks to you geeks for those!! :)

    ‘droid

  16. Jesper

    Woops.. removed my Favorites in IE…… not good!

  17. Doc

    Great tip. For those who need their Favorites and to avoid the conflicts, just implement the tip for either “Downloads” or “Documents” instead of “Favorites”.

    Works like a charm with no glitches as it does with Favorites. Oh yes, backup, backup, backup,….. Be sure and note the original data for your deleted registry setting changes for reinput to reverse procedure if you have to rollback changes. Suggestion, do a complete export (backup) of your registry before making any changes to your registry. Makes for easier rollback.

    To get the “new” Start Menu “Program” to recognize and display as a menu for both All User and Logged on User Start Menu items, migrate (move, not copy) all logged on User Start Menu contents into C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs folders.

    Again, back up both Start Menu locations before making changes in case you change your mind later.

    Don’t forget to reboot.

    Platform performing without conflicts: Windows 7 Home Premium.

    Hope this helps for those who really want to use this trick.

    From this tweaker who hasn’t been satisified with any 3rd party software for this purpose, this one works for me. Kudos to the authors and for a great site! Keep up the great work.

  18. Laura Watson

    Thank you for this great hack. It’s exactly what I wanted; to be able to see all my program startup folders at once. This is the only hack that has worked. As per some other suggestions, yes I could pay for a third party application, but I’ve always been DIY. Apparently the person that can’t put things back the way they were before the registry edit didn’t follow directions. BACK UP YOUR REGISTRY!
    Some people are best advised to leave their registry alone if they are unwilling to do this.
    I wonder if you could create another key called programs or similar with same data so that people could keep their favorite menu?
    Anyway, Thanks again.

  19. bob jones

    I tried it and my Start menu disappeared. I can’t get it back. Anyone have any ideas? Right now, i cannot access my Start menu so i can’t get at all Programmes either

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