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Classic Windows Start Menu (CWSM)
Windows 7 has eliminated the classic Start menu present in Windows XP, and replaced by a menu that has became slower and tricky for most users. Moreover, incoming Windows 8 seems to have supressed the Start button itself by creating a launch pad very practical for touch displays but not for the most of PC's. Now, you can recover them for free.
For Windows 7 versions, no installation is required, just unzip downloaded file to a folder of your choice (I recommend Program Files\Classic Windows Start Menu, but will work with another one), and double-click on cwsm.exe. In opposition, CWSM will need installation under Windows 8, because it offers some additional features, just follow the installation wizard and reboot when finished.
How does it work?
Since it's a replacement for the Start menu, proceed as usually, with both mouse (left click to open, right click to show context menu), and keyboard (arrow keys to move, return to select or first character of each item). Just one difference, please note that almost every item's context menu has three new entries at bottom, added by CWSM in order to:
Create a folder: type its name and go.
Create a shortcut: a wizard will open to guide you.
Sort: only the current menu, the current menu and any derived submenu, or directly all items in the Start menu.
Only for fixed elements (Manage, Find Files, etc) you have access to their specific properties, mainly icons, and command-line for a few items.
Add new items (even Internet addresses or URL's) with drag & drop. You can delete them from context menu. To move or sort items use drag & drop again to place them at the desired position (you will see a cursor to indicate the insertion point).
Picked from the original Start Menu, it allows users to look for a program or a document by typing any word or set of characters of its name, and CWSM will list in real time all matching items. To use it...
- with your mouse, click directly on the search box and then write your searching criteria, then just click on the desired item, or use scroll wheel to go up and down within the list until you find it.
- with your keyboard, and from main level menu, use Up/Down to highlight the box and press Enter, or just press Tab key to activate the search box, again write the characters to search, and press Up/Down keys to make a different choice. Finally, press Enter to launch. To exit from the search box and return to main menu, press Tab or Escape
Right click on Start menu button to open CWSM context menu and get acces to:
Settings and customization
Settings are grouped into three tabs:
Is the left-side band of the old Windows XP Start menu, I brought it back, with the following settings
You can make additional changes to your Start menu style, open images folder located under CWSM directory. There you will find backgrounds for the Log off (logoffback.jpg) and Turn off (shutdownback.jpg) dialogs. There is no specific limitation about size, but all images will be expanded or shrunk to fit 1/4 of screen dimensions. Additionally, buttons from these dialogs can also be changed, but remember to respect file names. Here you are the chart:
You can also create more styles for selected items or highlighted items by editing or adding images with these names: selected[number].png and hilight[number].png. An alpha channel for this images is not mandatory, it's on you, but you'll achieve better results when playing with transparency. Dimensions are not important, but keep in mind that any image will be resized to fit the selected item.
And finally, just for Windows 8, start button appearance can also be modified: you must create three images named start-normal.png, start-hover.png and start-pushed.png, then restart CWSM to force them to be reloaded.
In order to use it with your own language, I provide three files: settings.ini, specific for each language, and two additional settings.ini.eng and settings.ini.spa to help with translation. I encourage you to make your own translation, because all of these files are Unicode and plain-text format. For example, to display 'Help' into your own language, edit settings.ini, look for the line:
and change it to:
Remember to keep the integrity of all labels to avoid unpredictable behaviors of the menu. This file also keeps user's settings, and all are editable, but avoid that and instead change them through the Settings dialog.
Get fast access to Shutoff through keyboard by pressing Windows key, followed by Space and then numbers from 1 to 4, to select Hibernate, Standby, Shutdown and Restart, or its highlighted character.
Settings file (settings.ini) is usually located at c:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\CWSM\settings.ini.
If you have always launched one item on main menu by one key stroke (for instance, pressing 'T' to 'Turn Off') but now you can't because there are two or more items beggining with the same character, don't worry, by changing LocalShutdown=Turn off to LocalShutdown=Shutdown or LocalShutdown=Close system or LocalShutdown=Quit, so 'S', 'C' and 'Q' will do the work.
Classic Windows Start Menu is available under the terms of a Creative Commons License. If you agree, proceed to download (scroll down to see a version history):
Suggestions are welcome at email@example.com. If you're reporting errors, please indicate OS version, architecture (x86 o x64) and a description as detailed as possible (even attaching a screenshot).
Version 4.0 has basically the same features than previous versions but improved (for those who may be interested in, all base classes have been completely rewritten). For example, 64bits version now it's a native 64bits application.
Version 4.01 beta changes:
added Search Box feature
fixed: setting 'number of recent documents to show' now is saved to disk
fixed: some items that before didn't launch (like built-in games) now work properly
Version 4.02 beta changes:
Search Box improved
fixed: all settings are properly saved
fixed: main menu displays as it should first time is shown
Version 4.03 beta changes:
fixed: Search Box is displayed appropriately when visual styles are disabled
Version 4.04 beta changes:
menus can now include a background image
added customizable color for glowing text
fixed: About dialog now shows real current version
Version 4.05 beta changes:
fixed some display bugs
Version 4.06 beta changes:
fixed more display bugs
added a theme manager
Version 4.07 beta changes:
fixed focus-stealing issue
fixed some minor bugs
Version 4.07w8 beta changes:
adds the missing start button, only for Windows 8 (it will work under W7, but you'll have two start buttons!)
Version 4.08 beta changes (both versions):
improvements to menu behavior and search box
Version 4.08.1 beta changes (both versions):
alpha channel fixed for showing transparent menus under Windows 8 (to enable, uncheck 'Blur background'); no more overexposure effects.
added glowing text in W8 version
fixed some minor bugs
Version 4.08.2 beta changes (Windows 8 only):
now you can skip Metro startup screen.
created a self-installer instead of a zip file.
Version 4.08.3 beta changes (both versions):
drag & drop list to customize main menu
support for multiple image formats, including .gif, .jpg, or .png
customized selection and highlighting images
Version 4.08.4 beta changes (Windows 8 only):
fixed full screen issue
active edges may be enabled/disabled independently
menu frame available, but shows display issues when transparency is also active
Version 4.08.5 beta changes:
menu frame fixed
classic style now looks as it should
fixed some minor issues