Best Free Start Menu Replacement


Don't let the name of this program put you off; it works on all the most popular versions of Windows.

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Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide


Start Menu 7 is the new name for the former Vista Start Menu and is an alternative to the plain Start Menu you find in XP and Vista. It loads instantly, and is highly customizable. The enhancements are most obvious on Vista.

Instead of presenting a search-based interface or All Programs, it effectively provides a hierarchical menu of  Program folders together with some other features. It's very customizable. It doesn't change any system settings, so it's perfectly safe to install, so try it for a few days, and then remove if you don't like it. On my test system, Vista's Search (Start button) failed to find all installed programs, but Start Menu 7 listed them all.

You can also keep your original Start Menu and use it along with Start Menu 7 until you get more comfortable with it. Please note that this version no longer supports Windows NT but support for Windows 7 has been added.

The picture and other graphics on the developer's website should help you to make your mind up as to whether or not to use it.

Start Menu 7

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

Quick Selection Guide

Start Menu 7
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
loads instantly, highly customizable.
may overwhelm with information, takes some time to get used to.
4.95 MB
Unrestricted freeware
Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista/7


This software review is copy-edited by Glyn Burgess. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.


replace windows start menu, start search, search programs

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Average: 3 (21 votes)
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by Louie G on 24. November 2013 - 6:09  (112501)

Some of the best features of this program are: 1) It can be set up to highlight recently installed programs. That way if any programs give you problems, you can quickly see which ones you just installed. I don't remember how long it highlights them, but I think it's for at least a week. 2) It's great for using without the mouse. Faster method than the built-in menu. A friend of mine that has this program only uses it mouse free. 3) Being able to make your own personal categories, other that just the All Programs, Quick Start and Autorun categories. 4)Can change the size of the font and the length and height of the program window. And more. It's a great program!

Frank Tracy

by shnbwmn on 30. October 2013 - 5:15  (111880)

Just like to recommend what a few other people have mentioned - Classic Shell. Small download, installs with no hassles, and uses hardly any system resources. It has lots of settings to fiddle around with, and (you can choose to install this or not) it adds some additional functionality to Explorer.

by Phil Rowley (not verified) on 30. October 2012 - 21:34  (101623)

I's suggest having a look at LaunchMate : while written ages ago it's run in every computer on which I've tried it - including my new Windows 8 laptop.

It's small, highly configurable and hides itself (if auto-hide is switched on) to a single line at the top of the screen.

On my screen it could probably have 25 categories with 25 programs in each. It can also include direct links to conytrol panel, shut down options &c &c

Well worth a look !


by Johnny 5 on 19. February 2012 - 1:36  (89039)

I have put Start Menu 7 on 2 computers so far and it didn't work right on one and crashed on the other. Going back to Classic Shell which never gave me any problems.

by tipguy (not verified) on 3. February 2012 - 16:12  (88222)

Not as I expected! it only put a icon in the tray beside the clock that it the start menu principal still look the same, no change.

by Beachscriber (not verified) on 2. January 2012 - 16:52  (86420)

I don't see anyone mentioning Classic Shell from SourceForge. I'm just busy trying it out now. Seems good so far.

by louis (not verified) on 20. September 2011 - 18:44  (79966)

dose it work and how do i get it

by Tony (sight editor) (not verified) on 1. July 2010 - 17:22  (53586)

I have just been playing around with a desk shell replacement. Not sure if it is here but looks like the right place
Works on Win7 64bit great. Has different themes. I got stuck for a while and realised it was Wordweb that was the conflict. After that I found it easy to navigate giving me a clean desktop

by Anonymous on 9. April 2010 - 13:31  (47299)

I like Codysafe. It's handy, nice looking and has lots of features I could not find in other launchers.
Have a look

by DesElms on 12. April 2010 - 23:07  (47519)

An app launcher is not the same. This category is for Start Menu replacement tools. Plus, CodySafe is more than just a launcher, it's also a collection of freeware/open-source applications. It's intended for use on a USB drive... that sort of thing... so that a person can just carry said drive around in his/her pocket and if s/he needs a computer, s/he just finds anyone's, and inserts the USB drive, launches and uses whatever applications on it, tyhen saves one's work to the USB drive, then unplugs said drive when s/he done and gets up and walks away.

As nice as CodySafe is, it's got nothing to do with start menu replacement tools.

Gregg L. DesElms

Napa, California

Moderator's Comment: Email address removed. Please do not post your email address on this site

by Anonymous on 31. January 2010 - 8:43  (42462)

Vista Start Menu has been on my PC since about May of last year. It has been one of the best pieces of software I've used. I've added all my 'No Install' programs to the menu list on the left. It has been very stable, looks nice and is quite customizable.

by Mr. Mitch (not verified) on 24. July 2010 - 11:35  (54863)

Yes, I liked Vista Start menu so much I bought it. I've been using it for three years now and I use the freeware version at work...I think that is ok in the licensing... I've got to check that.

by Anonymous on 6. February 2010 - 8:36  (42937)

Or you can copy and paste "No Install" programs (or their shortcuts) to the main (All Programs) part of the menu, but you need to use "Paste to this Place", not Paste.

by Magnolia on 3. February 2010 - 5:04  (42670)

You give quite a good recommendation for this software, Anonymous. I'm going to have to see if I can find anything that comes close to matching your comments. You've given me something to really look for now. Glad to hear you like this one, though. We'll still keep it up unless something better comes along. I think some comparisons are in order, though.

by Anonymous on 5. February 2010 - 7:55  (42858)

For anyone interested, check out this review of Vista Start Menu:

by Anonymous on 3. February 2010 - 6:48  (42679)

You should try out zune theme.

by Anonymous on 22. February 2010 - 3:36  (44151)

Zune theme is okay but does not measure up to Vista Start Menu by OrdinarySoft.

by Anonymous on 3. February 2010 - 3:46  (42666)

Also, try right-clicking on different areas of the menu to see more features, such as changing the layout.

by Anonymous on 4. January 2010 - 5:53  (40195)

I've been using Vista Start Menu for quite a while. The four video's at the website made up my mind. Check them out for yourself:

They are very well done, and show a lot of options (though they do also mention the Pro version).

by Anonymous on 31. January 2010 - 23:23  (42498)
by Anonymous on 27. August 2009 - 21:13  (31692)

I prefer zune theme instead of this vista start menu. Firstly, it looks great and does not consume any system resources. Vista start menu consumes too much system resources.

by Anonymous on 27. August 2009 - 21:14  (31694)
by Anonymous on 22. February 2010 - 3:42  (44152)

I have not had any problems with Vista Start Menu using up a lot of resources and I have over 130 3rd party programs, of which about 25 are set to startup up with windows.

by PsychEroc on 14. May 2009 - 21:39  (21597)

The free Vista Start Menu is a feature-restricted version of the fully-featured Pro version (USD $20). IMHO that's not "unrestricted freeware".

by DesElms on 12. April 2010 - 23:09  (47520)

Even worse, the free version of Vista Start Menu's restrictions make it unusable, in my opinion.

Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California

Moderator's Comment: Email address removed. Please do not post your email address on this site

by peter on 15. May 2009 - 6:00  (21614)

Agreed, & changed.

by Anonymous on 14. May 2009 - 13:40  (21559)
by Anonymous on 27. November 2009 - 19:23  (37430)

I believe after visiting the site, it is ONLY for Vista.
DOES NOT work for XP as a Start Menu replacement, it only modifies
the Vista Start Menu IN VISTA.

by DesElms on 12. April 2010 - 23:11  (47521)

That was my take on it, too. Plus, it's a weirder utility than it first seems... not really the answer to the Vista start menu problem.


Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California

Moderator's Comment: Email address removed. Please do not post your email address on this website.

by Anonymous on 1. April 2009 - 17:37  (19054)

This articles is actually very good it will be usefull thanks.

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