While Windows 10 has an appealing look and feel to some, many of us feel overwhelmed by the massive jump in style from Windows 7. If you’re struggling to feel comfortable with Windows 10, you’re certainly not alone.
The good news is that Windows 10 is highly customizable, so you can engineer its design to look nearly the same as Windows 7. With a few tweaks to elements like wallpaper, color scheme, and default browser, you’ll be back to a Windows 7 look and feel in no time.
Change the Start Menu
Step 1: A download called Classic Shell once allowed you to change key menu aspects to look more like Windows 7. Unfortunately, support for Classic Shell ended in 2017, but the code was picked up and continued with Open Shell, which you can download here. With this free tool, you can modify the Windows 10 Start Menu to resemble the version provided in Windows 7. Once installed, you’ll see six entries on your Start Menu listed under Classic Shell. Here you will want to choose Classic Start Menu Settings.
Step 2: On the Start Menu Style tab, choose Windows 7 style as shown above.
Step 3: Next, head here to download the Windows 7 Start Menu orb (these are just image files, so you can pick them up from many different places if you prefer). Once downloaded, choose Custom near the bottom of the Start Menu Style tab and select the downloaded image. You may need to tweak the button size — we used 60 given the default setting was too large for our desktop resolution.
Step 4: On the Skin tab, choose Windows Aero.
Step 5: Hit OK and you’re done.
If you don’t care much about the other style options, but you do really miss the option to make the taskbar transparent while you work, then we suggest downloading TranslucentTB instead. It will give you that sweet transparency without changing anything else.
Change the wallpaper
Step 1: To install a Windows 7 wallpaper, download the images from here.
Step 2: Right-click on the desktop and select Personalize.
Step 3: The Settings app now appears, defaulting to the Background panel. Make sure the Background drop-down menu reads Picture and then select the Browse button to find your downloaded wallpaper.
Hide Cortana and Task View
Step 1: Right-click on the taskbar, select Cortana and then Hidden to remove Microsoft’s assistant.
Step 2: Right-click on the taskbar and select Show Task View button to disable this feature.
Change the colors
Step 1: Right-click on the desktop and select Personalize.
Step 2: Choose Colors on the left of the Settings app.
Step 3: As shown above, we selected Navy Blue.
Step 4: Next, we’ll switch the colors of the title bar. Check the Title bars option towards the bottom of the panel. You can add the Start and taskbar if you prefer as well.
Swap Microsoft Edge with Internet Explorer
Support has largely ended for Internet Explorer and there are difficulties in using it these days, so we don’t necessarily recommend this step for everyone. However, it is possible to use IE on Windows 10 — indeed, your version of Windows 10 should already have the final release of IE (Internet Explorer 11) available.
Step 1: Right-click on the Microsoft Edge icon and unpin the browser from the taskbar.
Step 2: Search for Internet Explorer using the Start Menu’s search field.
Step 3: Right-click on the result and select Pin to taskbar.
Step 4: Open Internet Explorer, select the gear-shaped Tools icon in the upper-right corner and select Internet options.
Step 5: Once the Internet options pop-up appears, select the Programs tab.
Step 6: On this panel, click Make Internet Explorer my default browser.
Step 7: Select Internet Explorer on the resulting list and then choose the Set this program by default setting.
Here we used the free tool OldNewExplorer. It’s downloaded as an RAR file so you’ll need to install third-party software to unpack the installer. The file to use is OldNewExplorerCfg.exe, and once launched, here’s what you’ll need to change:
Step 1: Select Use classical drive grouping in This PC.
Step 2: Select Use libraries; hide folders from This PC.
Step 3: Select Use command bar instead of Ribbon.
Step 4: Select Show details pane on the bottom.
Step 5: For Appearance style, you have three options: Default, Silver cream, and Flat white.
Step 6: For Status bar style, select Gray.
Step 7: Now open File Explorer. Navigate to Tools and then Folder Options. On the General tab, select This PC in the drop-down menu for Open File Explorer.
Step 8: On the same General tab, uncheck Show recently used files in Quick access.
Step 9: Now uncheck Show frequently used folders in Quick access.
Back in the Windows 7 days Microsoft Gadgets were common: These lightweight apps had quick, basic functions like reporting the weather, showing a clock, giving stock updates, and more. Eventually, Microsoft decided to discontinue Gadgets for all versions of Windows, incorporating some of the more popular Gadgets as system features and leaving the rest behind. Third-party Gadgets were ultimately too high-risk and apt to have security vulnerabilities, so they no longer exist — although some have migrated to the Microsoft Store, like Sticky Notes.
If you miss the way Gadgets used to work in Windows 7, you can liven up your home screen once again by downloading the 8GadgetPack. This provides several old-school Gadgets that are safe and can be used with Windows 10. Options include Clipboarders, Clock, Agenda, App Launcher, and more.