Reintroduce the original Start Menu and Taskbar to Windows 11 using Open Shell.
While Windows 11 has a fresh new look and features however, many users aren’t satisfied with its User Interface due to its awkward layout and the lack of options for customization. A few of the UIs that have been drastically altered from the well-loved old interfaces include the Taskbar, Start menu, and the File Manager.
Windows 11 did have a couple of registry settings from older versions that could be altered to change many of its functions and designs to the way they worked when they were in Windows 10. However, these settings have been removed from the future versions that will be released Windows 11. This is the point at which Open Shell comes in.
Open Shell Open Shell is a free program that lets users modify the user interface for the taskbar, Start menu as well as the file explorer and many more, for your preferred Windows operating system. Open Shell itself is a alternative to that of the Classic Shell program which is no longer being developed. Open Shell is the continuing development of the Original Shell program for Windows and is currently being developed by a group of volunteers.
If you aren’t a fan of the new Start menu and taskbar that are available in Windows 11 and rather prefer the traditional Start menu which is displayed on the left of your screen you could make use of the third-party application Open Shell to restore them.
Table of Contents
Download and Install Open Shell in Windows 11
Open Shell lets you customize your desktop. Open Shell, you can modify the taskbar and Start menu by combining different styles and skins. It can also help you find programs settings, files, and documents fast, replace the Start button that is new with classic and customized start buttons, and add an individual status bar and toolbar to the file explorer, and much more. Let’s look at the steps to install and download Open Shell in Windows 11.
Open Shell Open Shell is an open-source program which can be downloaded via the GitHub repository. download link.
The first step is to visit first the Open-Shell GitHub page using the above link. Scroll down to the Downloads section, and then click the Downloads button.
It will lead users to the release page , where you will find all versions of the app which have come out thus to date. The most recent version of the application is at right at the very top. Go to the “Assets” section of the most recent version, and then click it to open the download files.
Now, click on the ‘OpenShellSetup_x_x_xxx.exe’ (setup link) to download the installer and save it on your PC. You could also download the installer as an archive format (.7z) and then extract it.
After the installer has been downloaded, double-click on the EXE file to start the installation.
Windows Defender might display an alert in an open-ended box that reads Windows Protected your PC and has a ‘Don’t Run the program’ button. Open Shell does not contain any malware and is safe to use, therefore you should not be concerned about this warning. Go to the ‘More information alternatively.
When you click on the option ‘More information and a second button will pop up. Then, click ‘Run Anyway to proceed.
On the screen that welcomes you to the wizard, click Next to begin the process.
Then, click the ‘I agree to the terms of the License Agreement’ option and select Next.
Then, select the ‘Create a Start Menu folder Option. If you want to alter the location of installation for the application, you can change it by clicking the ‘Browse’ …’ option. After that, click Next to proceed.
Click “Install” to begin the installation.
If you see the User Account Control dialog box appears, click ‘Yes to accept. Then you can click ‘Finish’ for the process to complete.
How to Use Open Shell to Customize Windows 11
After Open Shell is installed, you can alter the options like your Start menu Taskbar and Context menu File Explorer, as well as other components of the UI for your system. If you’re a fan of the old Windows 7 style, or the classic Windows 7, you can make use of Open Shell to make Windows 11 appear more similar to Windows 7.
Once you have installed Open Shell, if you go to the Start menu there will be three apps for setting that include Open-Shell menu settings, Classic IE settings, Classic Explorer Settings, and the Open-Shell Update application.
Customize Start Menu in Windows 11
The Start menu can be opened by clicking on the Windows icon, or by pressing the Windows key. If you have recently downloaded Open Shell, click on the Start menu icon. Open Shell app, click on the “Open-Shell Menu Settings app to launch it.
Alternately, you can look up ‘Open-Shell Menu Settings’ on the Windows search engine and then launch it in the results of your search.
Once the app is open and you are prompted to select the “Start Menu Style” tab, and select one of the three traditional Start menu styles: Classic Style, Classic with two columns, as well as Windows 7 style. Each style comes with a distinct selection of options for setting up your Start menu.
When you have selected the style of the start menu then, you must check the ‘Replace Start button box. Select one of the icons for the start menu. “Aero” is the most reliable Start menu icon that has an Open Shell icon. After that, click OK to save the settings.
When you click OK The New Start Menu will be displayed in the left-hand right corner on the taskbar.
Classic that has two columns
Windows 7 style:
With Open-Shell it is possible to create a custom icon to serve as your Start button. To do this, click the option ‘Custom’ beneath Replace Start, and select the ‘Pick Image button.
Choose the logo or image you would like to put on the menu’s start button, and then click OK. The image should have .PNG or .BMP format and must be of a small size. There are many kinds of Windows Start menu icons from the classic shell website for no cost.
This will add the new button for starting to the taskbar.
To alter to alter the Keys as well as Mouse functions, click the tab ‘Control’ and select ‘Basic Settings’ tab and alter the options below.
- Change Start menu behavior for left click
- Change Start menu behavior for right-click
- Change Start menu behavior for middle-click
- Change the behavior of the Start menu to accommodate keyboard shortcuts
- Change the menu items that start
- Hide and reveal Start menu items
The settings that have been modified to the default setting will appear bold.
Customize Start menu skins for the Start menu
You can also alter your Start menu skins to alter their appearance. To do this, go to the tab ‘Skins’ and select a skin from the menu dropdown.
After you have selected the skin, you’ll be presented with a variety of options that will assist in further customizing the appearance of your start menu. Simply check or uncheck the options to alter the options.
For instance, you could make use of your skin choices to change the following settings:
- Show/hide user profile picture
- Allow Small icons to be displayed in the Start menu
- Change the main menu color as well as the color of the side menu
- Change the color of text for columns with different colors
- Include images as background for different columns of menus
- Modify the opacity of the menu’s start screen
- Change Transparency Level
- Reduce glass color etc.
After you have made modifications to the options After making changes, click OK to apply.
Customize Start Menu Items
You can also remove or add items from the menu’s Start menu, modify the options (including its command icon, link label, etc. ) as well as create sub-menus.
Start Open Shell and go to the Customize Start Menu tab. As you can see, there are two menu columns: current menu items on the Start menu as well as options for commands to be included in the Start menu.
For adding a new command to your Start Menu you must first choose the location where you wish to place the command in the current menu and then double-click or select the option in the ‘Available Commands to enter’ menu and then enter.
In the following example In the below example, we would like to add the word ‘Control Panel under the ‘Settings’.
To do this, locate and click ‘Settings’ on the left, then choose ‘Control Panel’ on the right. Double-click it or click and hit Enter. You can move the item from the Available commands to the desired location in the menu currently available.
The selected item will be added to the menu. item you have selected to the menu currently displayed.
To modify an item in the menu you must right-click the item and select Edit Item in the contextual menu. To delete a menu item choose the option ‘Delete Item from the context menu.
Within in the Edit Menu Item dialog box You can make modifications to menu items such as links, commands labels, tips and icons. Additionally you can arrange and personalize sub-menu items by using the following options, such as sorting the sub-items (ascending or ascending order) and inserting sub-items in buttons, tracking items that are recent and hiding extensions. At the end you can click OK to save your modifications.
If you wish to create a sub-menu beneath the menu that is in place, click the menu item to left, and choose the option to create a sub-menu. Then drag an option from right into the submenu that is empty.
Customize Start Menu Sections
To alter to customize Start menu section as well as menu options, visit the Main Menu section of the Open Shell window.
We have option of changing the following choices:
- Modify All Programs style
- Hide/Show App Shortcuts
- Modify the folders for pinned programs
- Enable jumplists
- Modify the size of the menu’s start pane
- Main menu items to sort
- Setup Shutdown command options.
Modify General Start Menu Behavior
The section allows you to modify the Start menu’s behavior, as well as other functions.
Here, you can alter the following settings:
- Allow Open-Shell to start automatically when you launch Windows
- Look for Windows updates during the shut down
- Configure Time delay to show menus, information tips for folders and apps, as well as split buttons.
- Allow drag and drop of items from the menu of Start.
- Utilize single, multiple columns, or auto columns to display items in submenus.
- Change User profile picture
- Create shortcut folders
- Enable pre-cache icons, etc.
To alter a delay, click the option, then change the number next to it.
Customize Start Menu Appearance
Alongside skins, Open Shell provides you with options to alter the way that the Start menu appears. The first step is to switch to the ‘Menu Style tab, and then alter the settings to suit your preferences.
To alter the Start menu appearance, try these options:
- Change the size of icons, both large and small. sizes
- Define the width of Sub-menu
- Modify the Horizontal and Vertical positions offset
- Animation to change Main and Sub-menu
- Change the main menu as well as sub-menu animations (how they appear prior to when the time they go away).
- Modify the length of fade-in animation of the item you have selected.
- Modify the Start menu’s DPI value that controls the size of icons, text and other graphic elements
- Set the Start menu shadow glass behavior, glass shadow, and the opacity.
- Customize Font smoothing
Customize the Context Menu of the Start Menu
Let’s see how you can customize the the right-click menu of the Start Menu. Navigate to the “Context Menu tab in Open-Shell and set the following options:
- Enable/Disable right-click menu (context menu)
- Switch Cascading right-click menu to add additional settings within an additional menu.
- Allow New Shortcuts and Folder options by right-clicking on the Start menu
- You can enable to enable the File Explorer option in the right-click menu. You can choose a specific folder as the default destination to using the File Explorer command in the Start menu.
- Switch on the option ‘Pin into the Start menu (Open-Shell) to the menu for Start.
Customize the Search box in Start Menu
All Start menus include an option to search that lets you look up your computer’s apps settings, files, settings and more. The default search bar is able to search all over your computer for content. However, under the Search Box tab, we can set the location Windows is able to search your device.
- Switch off or on the Search box on the Start menu, and then choose the method to use it.
- Create search for custom search hint
- Tracking usage of toggle
- Enable or Disable Auto-Complete
- Setup Programs and Settings Search including index locations
- Toggle search for files
- Allow or disable Internet search
- You can enable the ‘See More Results Option.
Customize the Taskbar in Windows 11
Open Shell is primarily used to alter the look of the start menu . It provides only a handful of options to personalize the taskbar. But, you are able to alter the appearance of the taskbar by altering the opacity, color, text texture, and color.
Within Open Shell, in the Open Shell app, move to the tab ‘Taskbar’ and then select ‘Customize Taskbar’. You can now alter the appearance of your taskbar using three options Opaque, Transparent and ‘Glass’.
When you have selected the Taskbar appearance, you are able to alter the taskbar transparency, color and the color of the text. To change the color of the taskbar or the color of the text on the taskbar choose the option, then click on the small rectangle with three dots.
The dialog box for color where you can select your preferred color. After that, click “OK” to apply the.
Customize File Explorer using Open Shell
Open Shell also lets you modify your File Explorer interface. After Open Shell is installed, you’ll see an extra menu bar within the File Explorer window, which contains tools for using File Explorer (as as shown below).
To alter the settings of the traditional explorer to change the settings for the classic explorer, click on the Shell icon on the bar menu.
Check the “Show all settings” option to show all settings of the explorer. You can modify File Explorer’s navigation pane, title bar, settings for the toolbar toolsbar buttons, status bars, the file pane, as well as UI language.
Under the Navigation Pane Under Navigation Pane, you can alter the style of navigation pane display/hide the horizontal scrollbar the spacing between items within the tree of folders, auto navigation delay, etc.
In the Toolbar options, you are able to alter the size of the icons. The tab ‘Toolbar buttons’ allows you to add, remove and modify buttons on the toolbar to improve usability.
In the tab for Status bar You can select to display or hide the any space that is available, the size of files zones, information about the file as well as alter the font style and size.
Enable Classic Taskbar in Windows 11
While the Open Shell allows you to alter the appearance of the Taskbar however, it won’t let you bring back the traditional taskbar. The absence of customizing the taskbar makes it one of the least liked features of Windows 11. If you are unhappy with the newly-designed taskbar, you can follow these steps to turn on the traditional taskbar and the system tray. You can alter the registry to restore the taskbar which is more similar to that of Windows 10 taskbar.
Then, start Registry Editor by hitting Windows + R and then typing
regedit after which click “OK”. If you click ‘Yes’, you are asked to do so by your User Account Control.
After that, go to the following address:
Create a fresh DWORD (32-bit) value by clicking the Packages folder to the left or right-clicking an empty space on the right pane of the window and choosing ‘New’, and then the ‘DWORD (32-bit) value’.
Then, change the name of the registry value you just created in the form
Then you can set your ‘UndockingDisabled’ value at 1.
Then close the Registry Editor and restart your computer.
After restarting the system, Windows 10 taskbar will appear. It will also return the traditional taskbar’s context menu as illustrated below.
This registry tweak can bring back the old context menu on the desktop.
However, you’ll notice that the battery, network, volume icons for notification center and battery are not visible on the left-hand side of the taskbar. To change that, open the Run dialog box (Windows + R) and type
shell:::05d7b0f4-2121-4eff-bf6b-ed3f69b894d9 , and then hit ‘Ok’.
Within the Notification Area icons control panel, click the button that says ‘Turn system icons on and off.’
The next screen will switch between the Network, Volume, Clock and Battery Center icons by using the appropriate drop-down menus. After that, click OK to save the modifications.
If you notice the Search icon on your taskbar, then you can disable it as it does not perform any function. To do this return in the registry editor and follow the following location:
Find the registry named “SearchTaskbarMode” on the right side of the pane, and set the value to 0.
In the end, you’ll have an interface that appears and functions similar to Windows 10’s taskbar. Windows 10 taskbar.
Open-Shell Not Working on Windows 11?
Many users have reported that Open-Shell isn’t working properly in the Windows 11 computers. This could be due to various reasons, including an unintentional error in a program or malware, Open Shell settings not compatible or incorrectly configured or incorrect search index settings, not compatible, a corrupted system or other issues. Whatever the reason the following 8 solutions will assist you in fixing your Open Shell program.
Restart your computer
Before you attempt any other methods to solve the problem It is advised to reboot your computer in case you experience any problems. The majority of issues are resolved with an easy Windows restart. All you need to do is go to the Start menu, then click on the Power button or the arrow icon next to the button for shutting down (in the case of an old-fashioned Start menu) and then select Restart.
If the Start menu on your computer isn’t working, or even connect to the shutdown option Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, press the Power button, then select ‘Shut Down’ on the screen of the lock.
Start the file File Explorer
Windows Explorer is also referred to as explorer.exe is a crucial Windows process that is responsible for the majority of the system’s graphic user interface (GUI) which includes the taskbar, Start menu Open-Shell, and so on. If there’s a issue with this process, it could cause conflicts in Open Shell. Open Shell. In these instances follow these steps for restarting your Windows Explorer and fix the problem:
Then, right-click on the Start menu button and choose ‘Task Manager’. Alternately, you can use Ctrl+Alt+Delete to select ‘Task Manager on the screen of lock.
If Task Manager opens, go to the tab ‘Processes’ and look for the Windows Explorer’ or ‘explorer.exe Process in the list of processes. If you are unable to locate the process you are looking for, simply open the File Explorer window and the process will be listed on the screen.
If you locate that Windows Explorer process, right-click on it and choose Restart in the contextual menu.
When you the screen is activated, it will flash while the taskbar appears to go away and then reappear after a short time. Then, you can check if you can confirm that the Open-Shell is functioning correctly.
Update Open Shell
If installing Open Shell, it also has a different UI to check for updates for the application. If you encounter an error that is not expected on Open Shell or if the application keeps failing it is possible to check for updates.
Start your Start Menu. Search for “Open Shell Update’ then select the program in the search results.
Within the Open Shell update window, make sure that the ‘Automatically check for updates option is selected and then click the button ‘Check Now. If you are in the process of installing any pending updates The app will download and install them.
If you get a message saying “Your Version of Open Shell is up to date Click OK’.
Re-register Shell Experience
Another option that can solve the majority problems with Open Shell problems is re-registering the shell experience. Here’s how to accomplish that:
Then, go to the Start menu, then search for Windows Powershell and then click to open the “Run as an administrator’ option on the first result. Click on it to start it.
Within the PowerShell window, type in the following command and then press Enter.
Get-appxpackage -all shellexperience -packagetype bundle |% add-appxpackage -register -disabledevelopmentmode ($_.installlocation + "appxmetadataappxbundlemanifest.xml")
The command should complete its execution and then shut down the PowerShell window to see whether it has resolved the issue. Open Shell.
Try the following command to reset the Shell Experience Host
Get-AppxPackage Microsoft.Windows.ShellExperienceHost | reset-AppxPackage
Rebuild the Windows Search Index
If this method does not resolve your Open Shell issue, you could attempt to rebuild the Windows index of search. Windows Search Index is a database that allows you to navigate to a specific location and locate items by creating an index of results from searches, emails documents, files and other files on your computer. Here’s how to rebuild Windows Search Index:
Start Windows Settings. Open the Windows Settings app from the Start menu, or by using the shortcut Win+I.
Within the pane left of the Settings, select the Privacy and Security section, then scroll to the right side and click the option ‘Searching Windows’.
Then, go down until you reach next page, scroll down to the Related settings section, and then click on the Advanced indexing option’.
Alternatively, you can also open the Run command box (Win+R), and type control /name Microsoft.IndexingOptions, and click on ‘OK’ to open Indexing options.
In the Indexing Options dialog box, select the ‘Modify’ option.
In the next box, click the “Show all locations” button.
Check all locations off. Change specific locations, then click OK..
Return to Indexing Options. Indexing Options, click on Advanced.
In the newly-created Advanced Options window, click on the button ‘Rebuild’.
Click OK on the box prompting you to accept the decision. The prompt will also notify you that the procedure could take quite a while to complete , and Windows search will not function correctly until it’s completed.
Change Start Menu Registry Settings
“The Open Shell not working’ problem can be solved by altering the Start menu’s registry settings.
Use the keyboard shortcut keys Win+R for the Start box. enter regedit and select OK..
The Registry Editor will go to the next location by via the navigation panel, or paste the following path into your address bar
Once you have reached the correct location, click on the folder ‘Advanced’ and choose ‘New’ then “DWORD (32-bit) Value in the menu below.
Then, change the name of your newly-created DWORD in order to
Then, double-click the value you want to change EnableXamlStartMenu and set it’s value to 0 and then click ‘OK’.
Reboot your system after that and verify whether you can confirm that the Open Shell not working issue is resolved.
If the problem persists, go back to the same location (Advanced folder) and find another registry value called ‘Start_ShowClassicMode’. Then, right-click it and choose “Delete”.
Then, restart your computer.
Check for Latest Windows Updates
Incorrect or outdated system files on Windows 11 may prevent Open Shell from functioning. Therefore, you must keep your system current to address these issues.
To verify for updates To check for updates, open Windows Settings by pressing Win+I. Click Windows Update on the left side and then click the ‘Check for updates’ button in the right side. If there is any pending updates, select ‘Download and Install’ to upgrade Windows.
Reinstall Open Shell
If none of these techniques worked, you may restart the application to resolve the problem. It is necessary to remove the application completely from your PC and then reinstall it using the most recent version available downloaded from the GitHub repository.
That’s it. Now you are able to install and run Open Shell on your Windows 11 PC. Make any changes you’d like in the Windows UI.