Classic Shell for Windows 10

by Wren McMains

Windows 10 does a much better job of combining some of the classic features of the Start Button with the Start Menu tiles introduced in Windows 8. Even if you install the Classic Shell Start Button discussed here, I highly recommend you spend some time organizing you Start Menu tiles based on your interests. Be sure to resize ones that show you more information on a live tile when the size is Wide or Larger. Because I use a lot of programs I still like the Classic Shell Start Button for two reasons: The second column can be configured to give me quick, familar access to tools and folders, and the first column gives me another place I can pin other programs I frequently use in addition to displaying recently used programs. It also supports jumplists.

Classic Shell Start Button

[As of November, 2015 the latest version is 4.2.4, you can see your current version at
the top of the dialog box by right-clicking on the Start button and choosing Settings]

The Classic Shell Start Button is a free program you can download and get back the features of the Windows 7 start button plus many new ones:

Just click on the Download Now button, this site isn't too bad, but many sites have ads that are easy to click on by mistake and end up installing malware you don't want.

When you install this, I strongly recommend ONLY installing the Classic Shell and the CS Update, not the other things that come with it. To do this use the little pull-downs and turn off the installation of Classic Explorer and Classic IE9. Before you click on Next, the setup window should look like this:

Screen Capture

The defaults of the latest versions of Classic Start Button work much better than they did a few years ago. However, I do recommend a few changes, shown below. These settings menus are shown when you install Classic Shell, or can be accessed later by right-clicking on the Start button and choosing Settings:

Screen Capture

I recommend changes on two of the first tabs shown, "Basic Settings" and "Customize Start Button" (see above). After you change these settings check the "Show all settings" box for access to many other tabs. On the Basic Settings tab I recommend 4 changes:

Screen Capture

Note that once you make a change, the name of the category turns to bold. This is very useful later when you come back to the settings, it gives you a clue what you've changed from the initial defaults.

On the "Customize Start Menu" tab my choices end up looking like this:

Screen Capture

I've highlighted the 5 I think I've changed, but I may have changed others, on this tab changes are not shown in bold. After clicking on "Show all settings" (first screen capture above), you can might want to turn off highlighting recently installed programs.

Screen Capture

After you check the "Show all settings" box, you'll see the "Basic Settings" tab has been replaced by a "Main Menu" tab with quite a few more settings. I turn off off "Show Start screen shortcut", just to give me room for one more shortcut on the menu. I recommend you leave it on unless you are happy just using the Win key to get to the Windows 10 tiles and need the extra space on this meau. Other changes I've made he are really a function of the resolution of your monitor and how long you want various lists to be. I recommend you make none of these changes initially, instead after using Windows 10 for a few weeks come back and customize more to your tastes.

Screen Capture

As you can see there are many more tabs, and over 100 features you can customize. If you enjoy using this Start Button you might want to do more customization to mean your own needs.

Pinning Favorite Programs

Be sure to pin programs or Apps you use frequently to one or more of these:

Pin the programs and Apps you use the MOST to the Taskbar.

It's really easy to do from the desktop world, right-click on any program shortcut or name on the start menu and among the options listed you'll see the three choices Pin to Start Menu (Classic), Start, and Taskbar

Tip:  Be sure the first nine programs pinned to the Taskbar are the same on all your machines. Both Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines. This will allow to use the same WinKey+# shortcuts on both. See Windows 8 Shortcuts. For example, my Taskbar currently looks like:

Screen Shot

If I press 7 while holding down the WinKey it starts the Calculator I use. This is because, not counting the (Classic Shell) Start Button the Calculator is the 7th program (counting from the left) pinned to the Taskbar.

Computer Icon for Taskbar

Speaking of the Taskbar, I usually prefer to open File Explorer (aks Windows Explorer) with the "Computer" view instead of the Library view. You can do this with the WinKey+E shortcut, but I also like having a shortcut on my Taskbar that does this. Download this Computer Shortcut in a ZIP file, put it somewhere and then unzip the shortcut on your desktop; then pin it to the Taskbar. On my Taskbar (above) it's the icon between the one that looks like a folder (File Explorer, Library View) and one with a triangle in an orange circle (Media Player). You'll never see it highlighted (showing it's running), instead each time you press it you'll see the folder (File Explorer) icon highlighted again.

Delete Conformation

In Windows 8 when you delete all the files and/or folders currently selected it no longer asks you if you're sure you really want to do that. While many think this is an improvement, personally I find it too easy to hit the Delete key by mistake and like the confirmation. If you want to turn the confirmation back on, right-click on the recycle bin and choose Properties. You'll see this dialog:

Screen Shot

Check the box at the bottom to "Display delete confirmation dialog".

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