Hate the new Start menu layout in Windows 11? Replace it with these 5 free apps and skins instead

Microsoft provides extensive documentation on how Windows 11 Start menu layout can be customized to look like what you want. For various reasons, many users are unhappy with the new Windows 11 Start menu. Free software is only free software

This guide will not show you how to customize your Windows Start menu, but will instead show you the free version (free software) available in the Microsoft Store, GitHub, and elsewhere to use as a replacement for the Windows 11 Start menu.

Replace Windows 11 Start Menu Layout

Windows 11’s new Start menu layout offers limited customization options. Using apps like Stardock’s Start11 allows you to make Windows 11 look and act more like Windows 10. The problem is Start11 is not freeand I’m not sure I want to pay for another app that doesn’t have all the features I want.

There are similar paid apps, but they are often outdated. StartAllBack (formerly StartIsBack) is a tool to only modify the Start menu of Windows 10, but it cannot be used on Windows 11.

Another, Start Menu X is free to download, but charges $10 for the “pro version” of software that looks like it was created at the very beginning of Windows 10,

Windows 11 users (and those staying on Windows 10) want to be able to edit and customize their Start menu however they want. In this guide, we will look at the best free github projects to customize start menu layout on Windows 11.

SystemTrayMenu is an “open source alternative ‘Desktop Toolbar’ or ‘Start Menu'” available on GitHub. SystemTrayMenu expands the system tray menu to act as a Start menu from the right side of your screen.

(via SystemTrayMenu on GitHub)

SystemTrayMenu also gives the user more control over accessing specific file and folder paths to launch applications, folders and files.

An added bonus is that SystemTrayMenu is portable, so it doesn’t need to be installed right away. After downloading it, you can install it whenever you want by unzipping the folder and clicking SystemTrayMenu.exe begin. If you prefer to install the app on Windows 11, you can download SystemTrayMenu from the Microsoft Store.

Open-Shell-Menu, otherwise known as “Revival of the classic shell,” is available on GitHub (Classic Shell was discontinued in December 2017). Open-Shell-Menu is a freeware that allows you to set your Start menu layout on your favorite Windows operating system (Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10).

windows 11 start menu layout

Although Open-Shell-Menu does not specifically state that it is compatible with Windows 11, your best option for installing this software is to download Open-Shell-Menu setup file from homepage.

Rainmeter is a desktop customization tool that can help you customize your entire Windows 11 desktop, not just the Start menu.
windows 11 start menu layout

Rainmeter offers a wide range of customization options, with the ability to add customizable skins to your desktopwhich include PC hardware (and peripheral) usage counters, audio visualizers for Spotify, and more!

Rainmeter has a large GitHub repositorybut you will have to download the tool from their website.

Launchy is an open-source, cross-platform keystroke launcher utility that helps you completely get rid of your Windows 11 Start menu layout. Launchy is a free download on windows 11but the developer does ask for an optional donation of $3 to keep the application operational.

windows 11 start menu layout

Launchy can also help you get rid of Windows 10 and Windows 11 icons and File Explorer. Launchy indexes programs in your Windows Start menu, so you can launch documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes.

Launched a plugins available for additional functionalityincluding the ability to allow you to index special system folders and files.

windows 11 start menu layout

ValliStart is a Start menu replacement to change the default one on Windows 11. ValliStart is not an application, but rather a Rainmeter skin you can download and install the skin in Rainmeter. ValliStart offers 8 different color schemes and 15 other customizations.

Be sure to check out all the other JaxOriginals Rainmeter Skins and Mods.

What do you use to replace the Windows 11 Start menu? Let us know in the comments!

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