Bringing back the “Start” menu to Windows 8 is fast becoming a cottage industry. There are multiple options for getting the Windows 8 start menu back, but we’ll also make a case for learning to live without it.
Where did the start menu go? If you miss the start menu, there are lots of software options to get it back.
- You can use the Start8 app ($4.99) to get the Win8 Start Menu back: http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/features.asp.
- One freeware option to be avoided is Vi Start 8. Vi Start installs some other junk on your system stealthily (some kind of registry cleaner) so it’s not recommended.
- Win8StartButton makes the start button available again along with making it look like the Start Screen of Windows 8. It’s free, but some options are in German.
- http://www.pokki.com/windows-8-start-menu is freeware that does the same Windows 8 start screen makeover (and more). It also has its own ecosystem of small apps to install. While I think Pokki looks the best of all these apps, it does use quite a bit of ram and also background bandwidth as it polls its own app store.
- 8startbutton is another $5 app that can do more than just bring back the start menu to Windows 8.
- Another cheap recommendation is the $3 Startisback which doesn’t run any unnecessary processes.
- Startw8 is free, and I’ll be ending this list now as there are still numerous others that I haven’t even mentioned.
Do You Really Need the Start Menu?
Since most people place their most used apps directly on their desktop, the new Start Screen is essentially an evolved desktop and Start Menu all in one. Most users will find that the Windows 8 start screen is helping their productivity by keeping their most used apps right in front of them (or available any time they hit the start button).
How do I see all my applications without a start button?On the Windows 8 Start Screen, try right-clicking on any empty space to show the “All apps” button in the lower right side of the display. You can also reach the “All apps” button by swiping up from the bottom of your tablet.
To find an app, swipe in from the right side of your display (on a touchscreen) to bring up the charms menu, hit “Search” and start typing. Pro tip: If you have a keyboard, just start typing from your Start Screen to initiate searching for an app or file.
How do I add desktop apps to the Windows 8 Start Screen? How can I customize the Start Screen?
You can pin any “desktop” apps either to your Task Bar in the Desktop (just like Windows 7) or the Windows 8 Start Screen. The Start Screen allows for both Windows 8 apps (“metro” apps) as well as “desktop” apps to be pinned on the Start Screen. Once you have all your apps showing (for example, by clicking on the “All apps” button as explained above), you can either right click or click-hold-and-drag-down-slightly to select the Pin to Start button and a tile for that application will be added to your Windows 8 Start Screen.
To organize your Start Screen tiles, drag the ones you want to be in one group to the far right side of the screen. Once you have them all grouped together, either right-click or drag down on the group to bring up the “Name group” option.
You can also have Admin programs (computer utilities) added to your Windows 8 Start Screen by selecting this option in the Start Screen’s Settings Charm.
Right clicking in the far bottom left corner of your desktop window will give you access to the task manager. Right clicking on the folder icon in the lower left corner of your desktop screen will popup pinned and most recently used folders.
How do I switch away from a Modern app after it’s open? Is the only option to back to the Start screen?
If you’re using a tablet, swipe from the left edge to the center of the screen. Swiping all the way goes to the last program used (switches programs). Swiping half-way and then holding still for a second snaps the last app used to the left side of the screen. Swiping a little way brings up a list of all recently used programs.
Using the keyboard, Alt+tab switches between all programs (both desktop and metro apps) while Win+tab switches between only metro apps.
Metro apps, once open, remain running in memory. To close the app completely, swipe from the top of your tablet down to the bottom. For keyboard users, an Alt-F4 will close both destop and metro apps.
New keyboard shortcuts. With every new version of Windows comes some minor changes. You can familiarize yourself with the new keyboard shortcuts for Windows 8 by visiting http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/new-keyboard-shortcuts.