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 people are used to using. Read through the following to find the best option to suit your needs.

Tip: If you want to access the Command Prompt, Event Viewer, or Windows Explorer, try using the shortcut Windows key + X before trying the below suggestions. This shortcut key combination opens a menu containing these options and more.

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 to Windows 8.1, as it is 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 would 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:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows and select Start Menu and choose Select Folder

Once these steps have been completed, you will see a new Start Menu section on the Taskbar. This new section contains all of the programs located in the Programs folder in the standard Windows Start Menu.

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