How do I get the start button back in Windows 8?

Windows 8.1 Start ButtonSince the release of Windows 8, Microsoft has been committed to having everyone use the Start screen instead of the Start button and the Start menu found in previous versions of Windows. However, there are a few things that can be done to mimic the Windows Start button/Start menu combination that many users are familiar with. Read through the following to find the best option to suit your needs.

Tip: If you're a power user looking for things like the Command prompt, Computer management, Device Manager, Event Viewer, Control Panel, or Windows Explorer, and don't care about the Start button, try using the shortcut key Windows key + X before trying any of the below suggestions.

Just the Start Button

With the Windows 8.1 update, Microsoft has added a Start button that takes you to the Start Screen. This update does not, however, return the Start Menu found in previous versions of Windows. If you are ok with the Start Screen and just want the Start button, we recommend updating Windows 8.1 as it's the fastest solution and updates are important anyway. If you still want the Start menu (not the same as Start screen), proceed to the following sections of this page.

Create a Windows Start Menu Toolbar

The Start Menu can be made into a toolbar, which allows you access to all the programs you'd normally see in All Programs. To do this, follow the steps below.

  1. Make sure show hidden files has been enabled.
  2. Right-click on the Taskbar and click Toolbars and then New toolbar.
  3. Browse to C:\Program Data\Microsoft\Windows and select Start Menu and choose Select Folder

Once these steps have been completed, you'll have a new Start Menu folder that contains all of the programs traditionally located in the Programs folder.

Install a third-party add-on

There are a few different third-party tools that can be installed in Windows 8 that help mimic the Start button, as well as other features you may have enjoyed in previous versions of Windows. Below are our suggestions on what software tools to try.

  • ViStart 8 - A great, free utility to add a Start menu almost identical to what was in Windows 7. It also includes the ability to skin and lots of other features.
  • Classic Shell - Another free, open source, software tool to add the start menu and other previous Windows features to Windows 8.
  • Start 8 - Another great tool for adding the start button to the Taskbar.

Additional information