How to add a (simple) start menu to Windows 8 without third-party programs [How-To Guide]

A major change in Windows 8 is the lack of a Start Menu — you know the cornerstone of Windows since… forever. Because of this new change, many programs have cropped up to fill the void, allowing you to add a start menu to Windows 8. What if you don’t want to use third-party programs? Can you still have a start menu in Windows 8? Oh why yes you can good sir (or madam).

Simple Start Menu

Before you get sweaty palms of excitement, take note this start menu I speak of isn’t Start Menu in its full glory. Rather, this is a simple start menu that shows you things like the Programs folder and recent/common programs. See the screenshot above to understand what I mean.

How To Add Start Menu In Windows 8 – Part 1

To add a start menu to Windows 8, do the following:

Step 0: Make sure your taskbar is not locked. To check if your taskbar is locked, right-click on a blank spot of the taskbar and see if Lock the taskbar is checked. If it is checked, click on it to uncheck it. If it is not checked, you don’t have to do anything.

Step 1: Right-click on a blank spot of the taskbar and select Toolbars -> New tool bar…:

Step 2: Browse to Local Disk (C:/ drive) -> ProgramData -> Microsoft -> Windows, single left-click on the Start Menu folder, and hit Select Folder:

Congrats! You now have a “start menu” on your Windows taskbar:

How To Add Start Menu In Windows 8 – Part 2

Now that we have a start menu, we want to position it properly. So…

Step 1: Grab the columns of dots and move it as far left as possible:

Step 2: After you move the column of dots, you should see Programs and Windows Update on your taskbar; there will also be another column of dots on the far left of the taskbar. Grab the columns of dots on the far left and drag it to the right of Windows Update and then, while still dragging the column of dots, move it to the left until it stops just to the right of Start Menu:

If you do it correctly you should have something like this:

Congrats! You are done with the start menu. You can start using the menu by clicking >> next to Start Menu.


It isn’t the Start Menu we know and love but it is something, which typically is better than nothing. Hope you enjoy. -.TechBill

This article has been written and submitted to dotTech by .TechBill. Please give him a round of applause in the comments below for this nice tip.

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  1. internet explorer

    You may need to update this article, as I have read somewhere that Microsoft has done something to the Windows 8 RTM version which prevents users from booting directly to the Start Menu, at least without installing a third party program. Since I don’t have Win8 (yet?), I don’t know if MS’s action affects your solution, but you may want to address it either way.

  2. lol768

    I totally agree with you. Windows 8 (with the Metro UI), GNOME 3 and Unity are (in my opinion) 3 complete mistakes. I see no reason to keep changing user interfaces if the previous versions work fine. I don’t have a tablet and I don’t want one. For that reason I won’t be upgrading to Windows 8 and I’ll probably stick with Linux Mint and Windows 7 (as some programs aren’t yet compatible with Mint)

    I’m currently using Cinnamon, which is a fork of GNOME shell. They’ve modified it to work like GNOME 2 (simple menu, choice of 1 or 2 panels etc) and the Linux Mint developers are working on it.

  3. Mags

    @Ashraf: I can understand some not really needing it. However for me it is a necessity and I’m assuming that many in my position would also feel the same way. I run my own business from home and find myself using it often.

    I’d just like to know why M$ got rid of it, what was their reasoning for doing so. What have they come up with to replace it?

  4. Mags

    Well, at this point I am not a happy camper re Win 8!

    First they give us the horrid Start Menu in XP and Vista, but at least we had the choice to revert to the Classic Menu. That was my preference for those 2 OS.

    With Win 7 we didn’t have that option any longer so started using Win 7 Start Menu and actually grew to like it.

    NOW M$ has taken that away. Bah Hum Bug! And what do we get a trick that gives us something similar to the Original Start Menu Classic. Now that I’m used to Win 7 Menu I don’t want to go backwards.

    Not that I’m knocking the trick if one wants to use it, but not for me.

    Between this article and your previous one re Win 8 I don’t think I’ll be upgrading unless they make it better for PCs and bring back the Start Menu.

    Looks to me like M$ is trying to push people into getting tablets.