How to get classic XP ‘All Programs’ menu on Windows 7 [Guide]

The Windows XP Start menu was one that included the All Programs Menu which expanded across the desktop. Microsoft removed that from Windows Vista/7, replacing it with a program menu that remains within the Start menu. However, with a little tweaking of the registry you can restore the XP All Programs Menu on Windows 7.

Open the registry by entering regedit into Run. Then navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders. Double-click on Favorites to open the Edit String window below.

XP menu

There you should change the value data to: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs. Click OK to close the window.

Now locate HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders in the registry. Click UserShell folder, and then double-click on the Favorites entry. Enter C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs into its Edit String window and click OK.

XP menu 1

Now close the registry, right-click the Start menu and select Properties. Click the Customize option the Start Menu tab to open the window below, and select the Favorites menu check box. Then click OK to close the Customize Start Menu window.

XP menu 3

You should reboot windows, and then click on the Start menu. There you should find a Programs option on the right of the Start menu which opens an All Programs Menu similar to one XP had as in the shot below.

XP menu 2

It isn’t an exact replica, but the tweak still adds a classic XP All Programs Menu without any third-party software. This classic menu includes arrows to the right of each folder which opens their contents. To remove the new menu, you can select a restore point; or deselect the Favorites menu check box on Customize Start Menu window.

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  • David Roper

    [@BearPup] Well, curiosity got the better of me. I googled and went to the website and watched the 5 minute demo on YouTube. I am SOOOO impressed. Everything is 1st grade easy as in 1st grade school simple. i dare any Dottecher to watch the 5 minute video and not want it. I am sold. It will be my desktop in about 10 minutes from now.

    This is NOT to take away anything from Matthew’s article at all. His help is to do menus without downloading anything at all. I am lazy however…and… sorry, gotta go now

  • BearPup

    [@David Roper] You’re welcome. I’ve been a vocal proponent of that program since day 1. For me its the ultimate organization. One big alphabetized Start Menu, with icons and text as cues for each program. After security software, it is the first program I put on a new installation of Windows – including the paid Pro version on each of my computers.

  • David Roper

    [@BearPup] Good to know from a fellow DotTecher that actually has used it (Start Menu X) successfully. Thanks BearPup from all of us.

  • BearPup

    I know of an easier way – albeit with 3rd party software. Start Menu X, which has been reviewed here at dotTech, does the all program layout by default. It has a freeware and Pro version (I’ve used the Pro version for years), and works with Windows XP through 8.1 .

  • MikeR

    Thanks and well done, Matthew. No point in me saying anything else: David’s already done it for me.

  • Craig

    How do I get this in Win 8.1?
    Thank you

  • David Roper

    Matthew, you have done it again. This smacks of being witchcraft worthy of the best tip of the year as far as I can vote.

    Thanks from all of us Win 7 users.