[Windows] Start Menu X replaces your Start Menu with something more customizable — even works with Windows 8!

2013-02-20_214635Windows (bar Windows 8) comes with a Start Menu. However, that Start Menu isn’t easily customizable… at least not like how people would like it to be. That is where Start Menu X comes in. This program replaces your Start Menu with a more customizable menu. It even works with Windows 8, bringing back the Start Menu.


Main Functionality

Start Menu X replaces your default Start Menu, or adds a Start Menu in the case of Windows 8, with a more customizable Start Menu. With Start Menu X, you can easily add whatever you want to the Start Menu — folders, files, documents, programs, etc.

Take note Start Menu X has a freeware and a paid (Pro) version. We specifically reviewed the freeware version but we will mention the differences between the two.

[Note: You may have heard or used Tidy Start Menu, Vista Start Menu, Start Menu 7, and Start Menu XP. Those programs are by the same developer of Start Menu X and are no longer actively developed. All of those four programs have been succeeded by Start Menu X.]


  • Allows users to customize the menu as desired, adding any folder, file, document, program, etc.
  • Supports ‘Virtual Groups’, which allow you to group common files/programs/etc. into one sub folder for Start Menu X without actually grouping them in a folder in Windows. Comes with five groups — System, Graphics, Office, Games, and Internet — and these must be manually enabled if you want to use them, they are disabled by default.
  • For Windows XP, Vista, and Win 7: Completely replaces the Start Menu, so using the Windows key brings up Start Menu X instead of default Start Menu
  • For Windows 8: Adds a Start Menu, and has the ability to automatically skip Start Screen upon Windows 8 boot
  • Allows users to skin Start Menu X. The program itself comes with five skins with users having the ability to add their own custom skins if desired.
  • Allows users to ‘scale’ (increase font size of) the menu
  • Can replace Start Menu button in taskbar with a custom button; comes with Angry Birds, Apple, Windows 7, and Windows 8 orbs to pick from
  • Start Menu X has a built-in search box in the menu (like in default Vista and Win7 Start Menu)
  • Start Menu X can be manually resized and/or detached from the taskbar
  • The following features are available in Pro version only (not available in freeware version): Tabs, ability to change structure, ability to modify virtual groups and create new virtual groups, ability to execute a program by clicking a folder, and the ability to sort files by name


  • Has an extremely annoying delay when hovering over folders
  • Default transparent skin makes text extremely hard to read if the background window is white. You need to manually change to a different skin to fix this issue.
  • Start Menu button/orb replacement is poorly implemented. The custom orb simply overlays over the default Start Menu button instead of completely replacing it.
    • Note: There is a freeware program ‘Start Button 8’  by the same developer which claims to allow for skinnable Start Menu orbs in Windows XP/Vista/Win7/Win8. My guess is that program fixes the poor implementation of Start Menu X’s skinnable orbs. However, I have not downloaded Start Button 8 so I cannot confirm that. Take note that during installation of Start Menu X you will be asked if you want to install Start Button 8 or not; it is explicitly opt-in, so you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
  • No offline Help


2013-02-20_213725Start Menu X replaces your Start Menu with a more customizable menu. The biggest advantage to Start Menu X is the fact that it allows you to add any folder, file, document, program, etc. that you want; you cannot easily do that with the default Windows Start Menu. If you had folders or drives, Start Menu X allows you to access the contents of that folder/drive plus all the subfolders in that folder/drive.

As per my tests, Start Menu X uses roughly 32 MB of RAM. That isn’t too bad for a program that is likely on all the time but is isn’t exactly low either.

As I’ve mentioned multiple times, the use-case behind Start Menu X is a more customizable Start Menu. In that regard, it does a fairly good job although you will need to shell out for the Pro version if you want enhanced customizability. However, in my opinion there is one annoyance of Start Menu X that almost kills the program (at least for me).

I’m not sure if it is just my computer or if the program is designed to behave this way, but I noticed there is a very annoying delay (roughly .5 secs) between when you hover your house over a folder/drive in Start Menu X and when Start Menu X displays the contents of that folder/drive. This delay, although short, is extremely annoying and slows down productivity. There is no option within the program to change this delay.


There really isn’t too much to Start Menu X. It is simply a third-party Start Menu replacement program that is for people that want a more customizable menu. If that is your cup of tea, then feel free to check out this program… especially seeing as it has a freeware version you can give a whirl before purchasing Pro. Do take note, however, that the above-mentioned delay may drive you nuts. You have been warned.

Price: Free, $19.99

Version reviewed: 5.02

Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/Win7/Win8

Download size: 4.4MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/46

Is it portable? No

Start Menu X homepage

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  • Sheila McColm Cooksey

    I use Start Menu X and when it is the default it works well, but Windows 10 keeps dumping it for their default start menu. This can happen at any odd time during the day and not just on re-boot!! Any way of stopping this behaviour?

  • darrell

    could not register. even disabled firewall still would not register with key.

  • Uetani


    It uses 19.7MB on mine…

  • Denys Nazarenko

    Please update on 5.3 latest version

  • unsatisfied.user

    your startmenuX uses roughly 308MB memory in win 8.1 pro x64 according to task manager

  • Roger Ansell

    I have just purchased start menu X and have been trying to increase the size of the menu without success. In the Vista start menu under options there was a size option. How do I change the size in this new version.


  • Mike S.

    I installed and took a quick look at Start Menu X and, while I’m sure it is a fine program, I must say that I continue to be impressed by start menu freeware Classic Shell. It works well, looks good, has a fair amount of info., and is very customizable. And did I mention, it’s freeware? This is one of those occasions when the freeware is well the equal of pay versions. Highly recommended, especially for those start menu-deprived Windows 8 users.

  • ppsoftware

    i did find handystart handy… it installed without option AND it tried to sell me shareware. i find this kind of crap unfriendly!

  • GF


    I completely agree with Midoc. I don’t understand the usefulness of programs that do what Windows already does.
    Perhaps they are useful for people who have a complex menu, but at this point I wonder how many hundreds of items some people have in their menu…

  • Giovanni

    Other excellent FREE ALTERNATIVES you didn’t mention on GAOTD forum, which deserve a try, are also these:

    http://www.iobit.com/iobitstartmenu8.php (==> Windows 8 users only)

  • Anonymous

    This program is buggy shit. Everyone get Classic Shell. It’s miles ahead of this and has 10 million downloads.

  • Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Phd


    What other systems are you booting to? I assume it’s the same hard drive and you have other versions of Windows and/or Linux?

    I was thinking of a Windows 7 multiboot with Linux and a version of Windows 2000 so I can still use the old driver for my HP All in One Laserjet. HP never upgraded a driver for Windows 7.

  • BearPup

    [@Trev (Down Under)] I don’t know the answer to your question (mine is alphabetized, which is how I want it). Best I can do is suggest you contact the developer, who in my experience does respond to questions. Contact him at: Dennis Nazarenko, supportbox@ordinarysoft.com .

  • Trev (Down Under)

    [@BearPup] Thanks for your reply. Let me put it this way, previous versions only had the option to “Sort by name”, or “Sort Folders first”-(followed by any Applications/Shortcuts, all by name).
    “Sort by name” is the default and is operating from the moment Start Menu X Pro is installed without you touching anything. The only option you have is to select “Sort Folders first”. Therefore selecting “Sort by name” only function is to revert back from “Sort Folders first”.
    You only have the option of one or the other.
    For example you cannot move a Folder up or down 3 places/positions, or put an Apps main Shortcut first in a list (if its not alphabetical), if you know what I mean.

  • BearPup

    [@Trev (Down Under)] If I’m understanding your comment correctly, you don’t have to alphabetize Start Menu X, its a choice, just don’t select ‘sort by name’. And you can set it to list folders first, and then applications, by selecting that option in the right-click menu.

  • Trev (Down Under)

    I don’t know about this latest version but in previous versions of Start Menu X Pro you cannot rearrange order of Folders or Shortcuts, sorting alphabetically is set/locked on and cannot be turned off.
    Did you find that the case Ashraf with this version?

  • Steve

    Ditto. I’ve customized my XP Start Menu with folders, subfolders, etc. Works great.

  • Ian

    I use Classic Shell Setup. It is free and works nicely with my Windows 7. I am a little doubtful if Classic Shell is so customizable as Start Menu X. May I should play around with Classic Shell.
    Once again an honest review, thank you for your hard work Ashraf.

  • Seamus McSeamus

    When I got my Windows 8 machine, I expected one of my first downloads to be a start menu replacement. However, I decided to give the new start screen a week to see how I liked it, and here I am more than 2 months out still using the start screen.

    It’s certainly different from the start menu, but IMO no less functional. If you don’t like change, then I can see the desire for a return to the known.

  • Alien

    I downloaded StartMenu8 (for Windows 8) yesterday (free) and so far have found it Very similar to the Start Menu on Windows 7.

  • Herman

    [@Scott Youngman]

    Sorry, if I did not make my point… :-(
    I don’t doubt Ashraf’s finding on the 32 MB RAm usage of Start Menu X. What I did mean to say, that Classic Shell does stay below the usage of 2 MB. That is a rather significant difference between the two programs.
    O, and before anyone asks, I have no shares or any other interests in Classic Shell. Until now, since I started using Windows 8, I found I just liked the free Classic Shell a bit more than Start Menu X, that’s all.

  • Scott Youngman

    [@Herman] When you wrote “…IT does not use 32 MB of RAM” I presume you mean Classic Shell. Otherwise it sounds like you are correcting the review to say that Start Menu X uses 2 MB, not 32.

  • Herman

    I forgot to add, it does not use 32 MB of RAM, it stays below 2 MB!

  • Herman

    There’s a simular but freeware program that does almost exactly the same, called Classic Shell (www.classicshell.net). In my eyes it is even better – no delays, good visability and all settings are ajustable.

  • midoc

    I really don’t see any advantage to this type of software. I’ve been organizing my start menu into folders for years, as well as my desktop. Why would I want to install yet another software program to do what I can easily do myself?

  • “Hugo

    “… annoying delay (roughly .5 secs) between when you hover your house over a folder/drive …

  • Tom

    I had the Pro for almost 6 months before I grew weary of the delays, crashes, and duplicate links that I couldn’t hide. In the end, I went back to the Win7 start menu. YMMV.

  • BearPup

    I’ve used its predecessor, Start Menu 7 (freeware) for years and absolutely love the program. I have it set to alphabetize all of my 117 programs, so that everything I own shows up when I click the Start button. Its one of the first customization programs I install on any PC.

    I do agree with the reviewer about the default skin; mine is set to “Classic Vista”. The only drawback to the ‘old’ version I use is that the Control Panel icons are no longer visible, so clicking on Control Panel brings up the Windows Control Panel applet, from where I can click on the individual icons.

    Its available today (2/21/13) for free @ Giveawayoftheday.com. Grab it!

  • johnnylately

    XUS Desktop is now XUS Launcher


  • Allen

    I have a multi-boot system. After installing Start Menu X on Windows 8, I copied the Program folder to my portable programs folder, and it seems to work on my other Windows systems. I also uninstalled on Windows 8 (saving user settings per prompt) and use the portable program instead. Maybe some features don’t work in portable mode, I don’t know. I haven’t had time to test it yet.

  • Ashraf

    [@geoff] Thanks!

    [@Denys] Thank you for your kind words.

    May I suggest adding an option in Start Menu X to control that delay? The delay may be the same as default Windows but it is, in my opinion, a lot more obvious and annoying in Start Menu X and being able to customize the setting for just Start Menu X would be awesome.

    [@Poema] First time hearing about XUS Desktop, thanks.

  • Poema

    I’m using XUS Desktop 1.8 and I’m happy with it.

    By the way no one mentioned that XUS Desktop which is similar to StarMenu X has been offered by GivewayoftheDay.

  • Hi,

    Thank you very much for review! Very professional!! Please note that program takes delay
    from your system settings. So usually by default it should be 400ms.
    Also please note that you should use mouse over rather than click
    since you can hide menu by the click.

  • geoff

    For today only, the Pro version is available for free at giveawayoftheday.com