How to replace the Windows 11 Start Menu with a third-party app

Start Replacement 11 Windows 11 Start Menu

The Windows 11 Start Menu has captivated a lot of people with its high-quality layout and lack of customization skills. Instead of optimizing and improving previous menu designs from Windows 7 and 10, Microsoft opted for a backwards design that left many of us wondering, “What were they thinking?” Well, if you hate the new Start Menu in Windows 11 as much as you do and want something more usable and customizable, your best bet is to switch to the Start Menu replacement.

Many third-party apps can replace the Windows 11 Start Menu with a more familiar look and layout, and a variety of ways to customize it. The software I use on my Windows 11 machines is Start11. But, there are other utilities worth checking out as well, including StartAllBack and Open-Shell Menu. Here’s how to get the Windows 11 Start Menu you deserve.

start 11

At $5.99 per license, stardock start 11 It lets you choose from four different Start menu layouts. The Windows 7 and Modern models offer a traditional two-column view with all your favorite apps or apps on the left and shortcuts to various Windows features and sites on the right. Windows 10 style uses the familiar menu and tiled screen combination. There is even a Windows 11 style, but it offers more features and flexibility than the built-in menu. I’ve always liked the two-column view, so I’m using the modern style menu (shape 1).

Start 11 Start menu options


Whichever menu you choose, you can modify its look, layout, and design. You can choose a regular menu that uses the full width or a more compact design that shrinks some items. Moreover, you can configure the list of all applications, add and remove shortcuts, adjust the color and appearance, and decide when and how the Start menu 11 (Figure 2).

Start 11 configuration options


Start 11 also provides much-needed assistance to the Windows 11 taskbar, which itself has been criticized for its limitations and lack of flexibility. You can modify the color and transparency of the taskbar, adjust its size, choose where it should appear on both the primary and secondary monitor, and decide if and when taskbar buttons should be combined (Figure 3).

Start 11 taskbar options


Another bonus is that you can rename, move, and delete folders and shortcuts right from the Start menu just as Windows allowed you long ago. Whether you use Start 11 as is or dive into its many customizations, you’ll find this a friendly and effective alternative to the Windows 11 Start Menu (Figure 4).

Start 11 Start Menu



At $4.99 per license, StartAllBack It is a basic Start Menu alternative but still quite capable. Right off the bat, the program asks which theme you’d like to use for the menu, and offers three options: Proper 11, Kinda 10, and Remastered 7. Despite their names, all three start in the traditional two-column layout with program shortcuts running on the left and Windows features on the right. . Instead, the differences between them are more aesthetic and depend on whether you prefer rounded or square corners, for example (Figure 5).

StartAllBack Start Menu Options

Staral Pack

After choosing your preferred theme, head over to the program’s Start Menu section to tweak the menu’s style, appearance, and functionality. You can control the size of the menu icons, choose to display recent apps in their own folder, choose to highlight recently installed programs, and set up shortcuts on the right side as menus or links (Figure 6).

StartAllBack configuration options


Like Start 11, StartAllBack has the ability to beautify the taskbar. You can choose a custom image for the Start button, specify a visual style for the taskbar, and specify how the taskbar buttons will be combined. Best of all, you can place the taskbar at the top, bottom, left or right, a capability that Microsoft introduced in Windows 10 but discontinued in Windows 11 (Figure 7).

Taskbar Options StartAllBack


StartAllBack even clicks in File Explorer, allowing you to choose between a ribbon or command bar interface, launch the classic search box, and restore classic context menus from Windows 10. If you want to replace a simple but clever Start menu, StartAllBack is a good option (Figure 8).

StartAllBack Start Menu

Open Shell Menu

open shell menu

Although not specifically designed for Windows 11, Open Shell Menu It is a free Start Menu alternative that works in the new operating system with a bit of convincing. After downloading and installing the program from its site GitHub page, you will need to enable the new start button to access the menu. To do this, click the normal Start button in Windows 11, go to All Apps, select the folder for Open-Shell, and click the shortcut for Open-Shell Menu Settings.

On the Settings screen, choose the Start menu layout you prefer – Classic 1-column, Classic 2-column, or Windows 7 2-column. Then check the box for the Start Replace button and select one of the included images (Figure 9).

Start Menu Options Open-Shell Menu

Open Shell Menu

While you are in the settings screen, you can tweak many other options. You can specify how the Open-Shell Start menu will launch, show recent or frequently used programs, choose the behavior of the shutdown button, and choose to display the search box. Then, you can tweak the skin options to adjust the size of fonts and icons. A section of the taskbar allows you to adjust the taskbar’s size, color, and transparency. Then you can choose which features you want to see in the Start menu and whether they appear as links or as menus (Figure 10).

Open-Shell menu configuration options

Open Shell Menu

To dig deeper into the program, check the box Show all settings and review additional options. Otherwise, click the “Start” button to see the results. While it’s not quite as polished as Start 11 or StartAllBack, the Open-Shell Menu is definitely worth considering, especially if you’re looking for a free Start Menu alternative (Figure 11).

Open Start Menu from Shell Menu

Open Shell Menu