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Release Date:
2016-05-23 | Changelog
Submit Date:
Windows 7/8/8.1/10 (32-Bit/64-Bit)
User Rating

(84 Votes )
FreewareFiles Editor's Review

 Editorīs Rating

Classic Shell is a free program that brings back Windows XPīs popular shell features to Windows Vista/7/8/8.1 users. It was initially developed in 2008 to replace Vistaīs user interface. As users became more disappointed with the features that were missing in later versions of Windows, the development of the program continued, and it currently has three major components: Classic Start Menu, Classic IE and Classic Explorer.

Main Features

  • Customizable Start Menu
  • Caption and status bar for IE
  • Status bar and toolbar for Windows Explorer
  • Find documents, files, programs and settings
  • Quick access to pinned, frequently-used and recent programs
  • Latest version supports animated start buttons

This means Classic Shell is not only meant for Windows 8 but also Windows Vista and 7. It replaces the Windows 7 Start Menu with the Classic Start Menu found in Windows XP. However, this does not mean it will make your system exactly like Windows XP, as it does not bring back everything found in XP. The latest versions support Windows 8.1.

Using Classic Shell

The installer gave us the option to install all three Classic Shellīs components or choose the one to install. The latest version offered us more customization options. For example, we chose from several styles of Start Menu whose appearance we could customize to suit our own preferences. We also had the option to replace the Start button with our own preferred design.

We used the Classic Start Menu to put the commands we used frequently onto the top right section for fast access. We also used Classic Explorer to make common features more accessible. However, it is important to note that Classic Explorer does not replace the conventional Windows Explorer but only adds some UI elements to it, making it more useful. In fact, Classic Shell uses features and functions of the stock Windows operating systems to make them easier to access and use.

Although Windows 8.1 has brought back the Start button, it simply takes users to Windows 8 Metro Start page, which is full of tiles that many people do not like. At least many people are not used to the new Start page. Classic Shell entirely replaces the Start button in the latest Windows operating system with the Start Menu.

We found it relatively easier to add and move programs than in Windows 7 Start Menu. For example, we only had to drag and drop program icons onto the menu to add them or change their order. We could also easily remove items from the menu. In addition, we could specify command line options and add links to batch files and other programs.


Classic Shell makes it easier to use the Windows operating system, especially the latest Windows 8.x versions. The program does not simply change the UI but helps people to be more productive because they can access commonly used features faster. Although the software is no longer open-source, you can still download and use it free of charge.

Software Product Description

Classic Shell is a collection of features that were available in older versions of Windows but were later removed. It has a customizable Start menu and Start button for Windows 7/8 and Windows 10, it adds a toolbar for Windows Explorer and supports a variety of smaller features.


  • Classic Start Menu (with skins)
  • Classic Explorer
  • Classic IE9
  • Toolbar for Windows Explorer
  • Classic copy UI
  • Show file size in Explorer status bar
  • Status bar
  • Alt+Enter in the navigation pane
  • New copy UI
  • Additional Up Button

FreewareFiles Clean Award FreewareFiles tested Classic Shell 4.2.5c on 2016-05-23 using leading antivirus scanners and found it 100% Clean.

User Reviews
"Great program!"

Reviewer: -John    Review Date: 2015-07-29
Average Rating (84 Votes )
Pros:  It gives users ability to emulate xp, vista, 7, 8, or 10 start menu with additional perk of being able to disable the super annoying metro/sidebar popups under windows 8 settings.

Cons:  Metro still loads

Other Thoughts:  Great program! What is sad, is the Developer Preview version of 8 (before consumer release version) had a start menu that you could enable via RPEnable registry key that was identical to the one in Windows 7.

It also had the awesome gadgets (weather, etc) like 7 did.

In addition to seeming to be somewhat faster than the normal version of 8, they also had the windows experience index still enabled.

If THIS version had been released, it is certain Windows 8 would have been a runaway smash hit.

Instead, they took out the start menu, gadgets (supposedly due to security risks), the windows experience index, the cooler apps (the ones in DP were far cooler than the ones in 8.0 or 8.1, even though I dislike the apps but if they had to include some?) (by version 8.1) & ruined things in general.

It does not seem to work to try to import 8dp explorer to 8.1 (as a matter of testing) as well as the required en-us folder & the RPEnabled reg key, though the prior version of 8.0 RTM had ability to utilize the explorer from windows 7 & thus the start menu from that OS as well.

Why they want to ruin an OS they had perfected at the developer preview stage, I will never know!!!

I am certain someone somewhere will take time to analyze the existing .dll files in the system directory to find out what is missing/different to bring back the old capabilities.

For the present, Classic Shell does help prevent what would definitely become an inconceivable amount of frustration without this valuable utility.

I still long for/wish/hope for the official integrated start menu like in prior releases.

Maybe it is too much to hope for, but I do!

Microsoft, if your listening, Metro is/was a flop! NO METRO!

Next release, if there is Metro included in any form, I am not going anywhere near it. All it does is slow things down. Metro apps (from my own testing) run a slight bit slower in some cases, to a good bit slower in others. No need to duplicate functionality that already exists in the desktop (and slow things down!!!)

Thank you!!!
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