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

Note: The below information applies to the original release of Windows 8. If you update to Windows 8.1 Microsoft has added the Start button that gives you the ability to get to the Start Screen. This doesn't return the Start Menu, but if you're ok with the Start Screen and just want the Start button we recommend getting Windows 8.1. If you have Windows 8.1 or want the Start Menu follow the steps below.

Microsoft is committed to having everyone use the Start screen instead of the Start button and start menu found in previous versions of Windows and therefore has no setting to enable or disable the start button. However, there are a few things that can be done to mimic the Windows Start button. Try one or all of the below suggestions to see what works best for you.

Tip: If you're a power user looking for things such as the Command prompt, Computer management, Device Manager, Event Viewer, Control Panel, Windows Explorer, etc. try using the Power user shortcut key ( Windows key + X ) before trying any of the below suggestions.

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 the above steps have been completed you'll have a new Start Menu folder with all your programs 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 will help mimic the Start button and 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 get just the Start menu back almost identical to what was in Windows 7 with the ability to skin and lots of other features.
  • Classic Shell - Another great free and open source software tool to add the start menu and other previous Windows features to Windows 8.
  • Start 8 - Another great tool to add the start button to the Taskbar.

Additional information