Event: I am often asked by clients how do I make Windows 10 work and look like Windows 7?

Stardocks Start10 Menu compared to Windows 10 Menu

Windows 10 is gradually maturing to be a stable and solid OS, however a reasonable number of people still prefer the traditional Windows 7 interface. If you computer was upgraded automatically to Windows 10, or you have recently bought a new computer with Windows 10, there are a ways to make Windows 10 look and respond more like the traditional Windows 7.

Here is the list of the changes we can use to make Windows 10 more like Windows 7:

  • Setup a local account to sign in (without the ‘non-essential’ Microsoft login account)
  • Disarm the Cortana / Search assistant
  • Remove Cortana from the taskbar
  • Remove the Task View button from the taskbar
  • Remove the Action Center button from the taskbar
  • Remove the the Lock Screen
  • Use the classic Start menu (free)
  • Have Internet Explorer pinned to the Start menu or taskbar
  • Set Internet Explorer as the default web browser (and not the new Edge)
  • Change the appearance of title bars
  • Setup File Explorer open to This PC
  • Use Start10 (instead of the free Classic Shell)

Setup a local account to sign in

When you install Windows 10 for the first time, the Windows Install / Setup program wants to convince you to sign in with a Microsoft account (read why later). Actually, an alternative (simpler) option to use a traditional local account, but it is easy enough to miss that option.

The reasons you may want to use a Microsoft account on your computer are for services like you use Microsoft cloud services like OneDrive or Microsoft Office 365 Home or Personal Office. Then there is the ability to sync settings between Windows 10 devices if you own more than one Windows 10 device.

To setup use a local account to sign in.

  • Click on the Start button.
  • Click on the Settings button. (look for the gear).
  • Click on Accounts.

Click the Settings button. Click Accounts.

  • Click on Sign in with a local account instead.
  • Enter your Microsoft account password.

Click Sign in with a local account instead. Type your Microsoft account password.

  • Click on Next.
  • Enter a username. You may create a password for this local account, but it is not necessary.

Click Next. Type a username.

  • Click on Next.
  • Click on Sign out and finish.

Click Next. Click Sign out and finish.

Disarm the Cortana / Search assistant

Cortana is Microsoft’s new version of a AI assistant (like Apple’s Siri and Google Now), and it (she) exists to guide (a search prompt) you while you navigate within Windows 10. As good as Cortana is there is the issue of privacy as Cortana as inevitably it has to collect various pieces of information and personal data to learn to assist you accordingly.

Here we shall turn off Cortana and stop personal data gathering.

  • Right-click on the Start button.
  • Click on Search.

Right-click the Start button. Click Search.

  • Click the Settings button (look for the gear).
  • Click on the switch below the Settings options so that it turns off. Settings include:
    • Hey Cortana – Cortana responds when you say “Hey Cortana.”
    • Lock screen – Cortana works when your device is locked.
    • Taskbar titbits – Cortana interjects once in awhile in the search field.
    • Send notifications between devices – Cortana will give you updates about any connected Windows devices.
    • History view – Shows your history in Cortana’s home screen.
    • My device history – Collects your history from all devices.

Click the Settings button. Click the switch beneath options.

Remove Cortana from the taskbar

Having Cortana as a search field in your taskbar does not resemble Windows 7. So let us remove it.

  • Right-click on a blank spot on the taskbar.
  • Click on Cortana.
  • Click on Hidden.

Click Cortana. Click Hidden.

Remove the Task View button from the taskbar

The Task View button in the taskbar, when it is clicked, brings up a screen that shows all open windows. It is similar to the Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut, but designed for use with tablets. So to remove the Task View button.

  • Right-click over a blank spot on your taskbar.
  • Click on the Show Task View button so that the check-mark is removed.

Right-click a blank spot on your taskbar. Click Show Task View button.

Remove the Action Center button from the taskbar

The Action Center is where Windows 10’s notification appear, and it has an icon in the taskbar.

Action Center is intended for viewing all recent notifications and events. It is not always unappealing to have this clutter. However, it is easy to toggle its on and off in the Settings. If you disable the Action Center, you will still see pop up notifications above your system tray, however, the notifications will not be collected for you to view later.

To remove the Action Center button.

  • Right-click on a blank spot on the taskbar.
  • Click on Settings.

Right-click a blank spot on your taskbar. Click Settings.

  • Click on Turn system icons on or off.
  • Click on the switch next to Action Center so that it turns Off.

Click Turn system icons on or off. Click the switch next to Action Center.

Remove the Lock Screen

The Windows 10 lock screen, is what you see when you first boot, wake your Computer, or immediately after locking it. Typically, the Windows 10 lock screen displays the time and can be optionally to display events like the weather or email message notifications.

Windows 10 Lock Screen

The Windows 10 lock screen you get when you boot up or wake from sleep can be intrusive. You need to click or swipe to exit from it, and you still have a login prompt to act on. With Windows 7, you boot direct to the login prompt (screen) and you can do the same in Windows 10 by using the registry editor.

Launch the Windows Registry Editor by opening the Run dialog (right-click on the Start Button and choose Run), typing regedit, and selecting OK.

With the Registry Editor open, navigate to the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows

Under “Windows” check to see if there is a key named “Personalization” and, if not, create it by right-clicking on Windows and choosing New > Key. Select the Personalization key from the navigation tree on the left and then right-click in a blank space on the right side of the window. Choose New > DWORD (32-bit Value).

Disable Lock Screen in Registry Step 1

Name the new DWORD as NoLockScreen and then double-click on it to change the value. Enter the number “1” in the Value Data box and then press OK to close the window.

Disable Lock Screen Registry Step 2

The change will take effect immediately, and now you will see the login screen and password prompt immediately when logging in or waking the Computer from sleep.

Notes: The above method works with the latest public version of Windows 10 Build 1803, however this may change in future releases of Windows 10.

Use the classic Start menu (free)

The Start menu in Windows 10 is quite a bit different than in Windows 7, which probably really irks those of you who prefer the older OS. Here’s how to change your Start menu back to the way it was using Classic Shell.

The Classic Shell program includes both an overhaul to the Start Menu system that allows you to switch out any Windows 8/Windows 10 system for the classic single column Start Menu that features both a Windows XP, a two-column arrangement, and the popular (traditional) Windows 7 style.

Launch your favorite web browser. Navigate to the website.

  • Click on the Download Now.
  • Click on Run when the file is finished downloading

Click Download Now. Click Run.

  • Click on Next.
  • Click on the checkbox next to I accept the terms…

Click Next. Click the checkbox.

  • Click on Next.
  • Click on Next.

Click Next. Click Next.

  • Click on Install.
  • Click on Finish.

Click Install. Click Finish.

  • Click on Start to bring up the settings menu.
  • Click on Windows 7 style

Click Start. Click Windows 7 style.

  • Click on Select skin…
  • Click on the dropdown arrow next to Skin

Click Select skin. Click the dropdown arrow.

  • Click a skin. Windows Aero is a good choice for that classic Windows 7 look.
  • Click on OK. The Windows Start menu will now look like one from Windows 7.

Click a skin. Click OK.

Have Internet Explorer pinned to the Start menu or taskbar

Notes: You might not have been aware that Internet Explorer can still be used in Windows 10.

Microsoft Edge uses a new rendering engine to help you get the most out of modern web pages and also provides some very fast browsing speeds.

Here’s how to get it Internet Explorer out of (hidden) storage and display it on the taskbar or Start menu.

  • Right-click on the Start button.
  • Click on Search.

Right-click the Start button. Click Search.

  • Enter Internet Explorer.
  • Right-click on Internet Explorer.
  • Click on Pin to Start or Pin to taskbar or both.

Type Internet Explorer. Right-click Internet Explorer.

Unpin Microsoft Edge from the taskbar and Start menu

To remove the Edge icon.

  • Right-click on the Edge button in your taskbar.
  • Click on the Unpin from taskbar.
  • Click on the Start button.

Click Unpin from taskbar. Click the Start button.

  • Right-click on the Edge tile.
  • Click on Unpin from Start.

Right-click the Edge tile. Click Unpin from Start.

Set Internet Explorer as the default web browser

If you wish, you can set it as the default browser in Windows 10.

Here’s how to do it.

  • Click on the Start button.
  • Click on the Settings button. It looks like a gear.
  • Click on System.

Click the Settings button. Click System.

  • Click on Default apps.
  • Click on Microsoft Edge or whatever you have set as your default browser.

Click Default apps. Click Microsoft Edge.

  • Click on Internet Explorer.
  • Click on Switch anyway.

Click Internet Explorer. Click Switch anyway.

Change the appearance of title bars

Windows 7 had blue title bars on open windows. Windows 10 has white as its default title-bar color.

Here’s how to change the color to your preference.

  • Click on the Start button.
  • Click on the Settings button.

Click the Start button. Click the Settings button.

  • Click on Personalisation.
  • Click on Colors.

Click Personalisation. Click Colors.

  • Click on a color.
  • Click on the switch beneath Show color on the title bar so that it turns On.

Click a color. Click the switch beneath Show color on the title bar.

Setup File Explorer open to This PC

With Windows 10, when you open File Explorer, it automatically takes you to a “Quick Access” section that holds frequent folder and files.

The Windows 10 File Explorer “Quick Access” area, which by default is the first section of the Navigation Pane in the left-hand column, is essentially a “Bookmarks” bar for File Explorer. It shows both your most recently-accessed folders and “pinned” folders, folders that you manually assign to this area to quickly get to from any folder in Windows.

To have File Explorer open to This PC:

  • Launch File Explorer from your Start menu, desktop, or taskbar.
  • Right-click on Quick Access.
  • Click on Options.

Right-click Quick Access. Click Options.

  • Click on the dropdown arrow next to Open File Explorer to.
  • Click on This PC.

Click the dropdown arrow. Click This PC.

  • Click on Apply.
  • Click OK.

Click Apply. Click OK.

Introducing Start10:

To make the Windows 10 Start menu look more like the one from Windows 7, there is an excellent low cost application created by Stardock called Start10.

The image below illustrates the difference made possible by Start10. On the left is the default Windows 10 Start menu, and on the right is the Start10 menu:

Start10 side by side with Windows 10 Start Menu

Start10 places a Filtered Search menu back in the Windows Start menu, restores the quick links to core system functionality, maintains the “All Programs” folder metaphor and Texture can be applied to Start10 background and taskbar areas. After installing Start10 you have a number of option as shown below.

Start10 Setup Options

As shown above you can configure the Windows 10 Start menu in three different varieties using Start10 : Windows 7 style, Modern style or Windows 10 style.

Along with that you have an option to change your start button. The Windows Classic style is illustrated below:

Stardock Start10 Classic

Start10 has options to switch to a modern look and the ability to fully customize what the actual button looks like. Start10 comes with a price of $4.99 USD. You test it as a free trail for 30 days.


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