Start Menu Work Around for Windows 8

There are a lot of people who just have an issue using the new Start Screen in Windows 8.  I find it easy and have a lot of Desktop apps pinned to the Start Screen.

Windows 8 Start Screen showing Pinned Desktop Apps

Windows 8 Start Screen showing Pinned Desktop Apps

There are some power users that would rather have the old Start Menu back and so far any hack that does this breaks access to the Start Screen as well as some other new features.  This is not ideal I feel as the Metro apps are really cool.  In fact I am using the Metro IE app to create this post.  Thankfully Microsoft gives us a full featured Desktop in Windows 8 and there is an old feature that will work nicely as a work around.  You can still add New Toolbars to the Taskbar.

I believe this feature is as old as the Taskbar itself but I could be wrong and I bet a lot of Windows 7 users do not even realize it is still there.  So let’s get started. Please note that this will not bring the old Start Menu back, just a Start Menu like solution. Also this will not make you lose access to the Start Screen and can work next to it just fine.

First we need to do a few things to make this go smoothly.  First we need to make sure all hidden files are visible as we will be dealing with hidden folders.  This process is very easy now with the Ribbon interface in Windows 8.  Just open any Explorer window and then click on the View tab.  On the right side there will be a group called Show/Hide and above that there is a check box that says Hidden Items, make sure it is checked.

Hidden Items check box needs to be Checked

Hidden Items check box needs to be Checked

The second thing we need to do is copy some icons from one folder to another.  To do this open two Explorer windows and snap them side by side.  One Window needs to go to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu and the other Window needs to go to C:\Users\Default\AppData\Roaming\Microsot\Windows\Start Menu

The two Start Menu shortcut locations snapped side by side

The two Start Menu shortcut locations snapped side by side

That Start Menu folder on the left is under the Default User and the one on the right is under ProgramData.  What you want to do is copy all shortcuts from the Programs folder from the Start Menu folder under Default User and past them into the Start Menu folder under ProgramData.

Most of the default shortcuts are under the Start Menu under ProgramData, however some programs will install shortcuts under the Default User Start Menu folder and you will want to copy those to the other folder as well.

Now lets create the Toolbar.  Right click on the Taskbar and select Toolbars and then New toolbar …

Click on New toolbar... to add the Start Menu toolbar.

Click on New toolbar… to add the Start Menu toolbar.

This will bring up a file dialogue box.  Select that Start Menu folder under ProgramData C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

Select the Start Menu folder under ProgramData

Select the Start Menu folder under ProgramData

Now click Select Folder.  Ok your done now right, well yeah you can call it good but you have probably noticed that this Start Menu Toolbar is on the right side of the Taskbar against the System Tray. Now you can leave it here and if you have the Task Bar locked it will look like it does below.

Start Toolbar Locked on the Right Side

Start Toolbar Locked on the Right Side

Now if you want it more in the place where the old Start Menu was just unlock the Task Bar and move it to the left.  To move it, right-click on the Taskbar and select Lock the taskbar so it is unchecked.

Make sure Lock the taskbar is unchecked

Make sure Lock the taskbar is unchecked

Now you will see three lines of dots appear on either side of the Start Menu Toolbar, click and drag the one on the left all the way to the other side of the Taskbar to where the Start Button used to be.  You will see your Pinned Taskbar icons move to the right and the Toolbar stretch out.  Now click and drag on the three lines of dots on the right side of the Start Menu Toolbar and drag it to the left as far as it will move.  It should make the Toolbar small again and the Pinned icons will be just to the right of it.

Make sure to drag that set of three lines with the dots all the way to the left (both sides of the toolbar) for the best look

Drag that set of three lines with the dots all the way to the left (both sides of the toolbar)

Now when you click the » to the right of Start Menu on the Toolbar will you get an old XP style fly out menu.

Start Menu Toolbar showing Menus in Windows 8

Start Menu Toolbar showing Menus in Windows 8

Is it the old Start Menu, no, am I going to write about a hack to get it back, no.  I love the new interface, Start Screen and all.  I do feel that this Start Menu Toolbar should be enough for any Power Users.  At first I found myself going to this a lot however with the Start Screen and other User Interface options in Windows that I will go more in-depth in another article, I am using this Toolbar less and less.

I will say that this Toolbar makes it easy to Pin apps to the Start Screen, just right-click on them and click Pin to Start.  I suggest doing this and using the Start Screen and other interfaces in Windows 8 more as you go forward using this new exciting operating system.  Check back here for more articles about using Windows 8.

 

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