The original version of Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system did something no one ever thought Microsoft would do. With it Microsoft stripped away the Start Menu that’d dominated older versions of Windows and replaced it with the Start Screen, an updated Start Menu that takes over the entire screen and provides users with notifications from their apps.
Understandably, longtime Windows users weren’t happy about this. Earlier this year Microsoft announced that a future version of Windows would actually reintroduce the Start Menu. This Start Menu will still include the apps that are available in the Windows Store, but it’ll not dominate the Desktop.
Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t share any information about when this version of Windows is going to make it to store shelves, nor did it confirm that it would make it available to users through an update for free. Haters of the Start Screen shouldn’t fret though. There are other ways to ditch the Start Screen even before Microsoft reveals the next major version of Windows.
Here’s how to turn off the Start Screen in Windows 8.1 so that you can be more productive and work in an environment that’s a little more familiar. There are two steps to this process. The second step will require that you have internet access to download a free third-party utility.
Get Rid of the Start Screen
Press the Windows key on your device’s keyboard to go the Start Screen. You can also place your cursor in the top-right corner of your screen to reveal the Charms Bar, then click Start.
Now click on the Desktop tile. If you don’t see it on your screen the click the arrow in the bottom-left corner of your screen and click it in the list of installed apps.
Now right-click on the taskbar along the bottom of the Desktop to reveal a pop-up menu.
Click on Properties from the menu.
Click on Navigation.
Uncheck “When I point to the upper-right corner, show the charms.”
Uncheck “When I click the upper-left corner, switch between my recent apps.”
Check “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start.”
Check “Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start.”
Check “List desktop apps first in the apps view when it’s sorted by category.”
Now click Ok.
That’s it. You’re all done. Going forward your Windows device will take you to the Desktop when you first login. To be clear, this doesn’t mean users will get the Start Menu back automatically. Instead, you’ll need to install a separate app for that these days.
Get the Start Menu Back
There are a lot of desktop apps that allow users to do this but one of the most popular is Classic Shell.
First you’ll need to download Classic Shell to your device. Click the blue Download Now button.
Now wait for the software to download then click Run.
Now when you click on the Start button on the left side of your screen you’ll see a new Start Menu that looks sort of like the Start Menu Microsoft included with Windows 7. Click the Classic Shell option on your screen to customize what’s available.
Before you go disabling the Start Screen experience and adding a Start Menu it’s important for you to understand that these are just temporary fixes for the real problem. These steps will prevent you from seeing the Start Screen in certain situations, but there might come a time when you’ll have to dive back into the Start Screen to use things like Notification settings. If you don’t necessarily hate the Start Screen it might be a better idea for you to learn more about what it does and how it behaves than hiding it completely. Perhaps GottaBeMobile’s 5 Tips for Making the Start Screen useful might help. Tips we shared included finding decent Windows Store apps to populate the Start Screen with and provide you with relevant information.
Ditching the Start Screen does not mean you’re done with the Start Screen’s apps and games. Windows will still open these apps by default, plunging you back in the full screen Windows experience. Closing that app by dragging it down to the bottom of your screen with your mouse or clicking the X in the top-right corner should take you back to the Desktop if that happens.
These changes aren’t permanent. Uninstalling Classic Shell from the Programs and Features area will let you switch between the Desktop and the Start Screen and reversing the changes made in the Taskbar properties area will enable the Start Screen’s Charms Bar and multitasking menus. That means you’ll be ready to go the moment Microsoft announces if and when it’ll bring that new Start Menu to all Windows users.