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I'd like to have the "All Programs" menu in the Vista/Windows 7 Start Menu behave like it does in Windows XP, without changing to the "Classic" start menu. Specifically, I'd like the All Programs menu to expand vertically (the more programs are on the menu the higher it goes) and horizonally (as submenus expand) unbounded by the Start Menu dialog as it currently does. I find it more difficult to visualize the set programs installed with the current view. Switching back to the Classic menu would do this but then I'd lose the other goodies such as iterative search.

Any ideas?


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Not solving your problem, but have you tried to get used to the search? I find it many times more efficient. – Phoshi Oct 4 '09 at 15:23
Definitely - in fact I use both. When I don't know exactly what I want I'll expand all programs and usually will get a visual reminder of what I'm looking for, and/or the other options I've got to accomplish the same thing. – Matt Oct 6 '09 at 0:15
up vote 5 down vote accepted

This is the closest alternative I've found, which involves swapping out your Favorites for a Programs menu:

alt text

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I found this which I really like... and it's free!

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Nicely brings back the old start menu on Windows 8.x too – Matthew Lock Jul 5 '15 at 13:09

Personally I surrendered and have learned to accept the new Start Menu Microsoft has been trying to impose on use since Vista. But if you do not wish to install an application for this, here how to do it (sort of):

The end result will be this:

alt text

Let's have some fun:

First make sure to have your My Documents folder displayed as a Menu on the Start Menu

  • Right-Click Start Menu and Select Properties
  • From the Start Menu Tab, click Customize...
  • Search for the Documents item and check Display as a Menu. Apply and go back to Desktop.

Now we are going to include the Programs folder in that list and remove (if you want) the Documents folders.

  • Click the Start Menu and Right-Click the Documents item on the right-hand list. Select Properties.
  • Click Include a Folder... and navigate to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs. Click Include Folder.
  • If you wish you can now remove the two documents folders by selecting them one at a time and clicking Remove. Don't worry. You can see a Restore Defaults button down that dialog box which will put everything back in place in case you don't like it.
  • Accept your changes.

One final touch

  • Right-Click The Documents item on the Start Menu again and select Rename.
  • Rename it to Programs.

And Voilá!

Restoring it to what it used to be before is a no-brainer. Simply click that Restore Defaults button we discussed above and rename the Programs item back to Documents.

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I can see JohnT answer. It's an even better method to this since it doesn't imply reusing an existing menu item like I'm doing here. I'm leaving this answer for the sake of completeness (and because it gave me a lot of trouble to write). But my +1 goes to him. – A Dwarf Oct 4 '09 at 15:58
Hmm.. actually it does reuse an item. On this case, the Favorites item. Still I find it more elegant than my approach. – A Dwarf Oct 4 '09 at 16:01

See the freeware Vista Start Menu, it's even better than what you're asking for.


Another less-flexible option is CSMenu:


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Hi Harry great find. I like this and am going to bookmark it for future. I'm going to start with John T's answer though because it's a native solution. Thanks! – Matt Oct 4 '09 at 16:06

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