Classic Shell: FAQ

General Information
Classic Start Menu
Classic Explorer
Classic IE
Performance Tips

General Information


Classic Start Menu
Why Classic Start Menu? What's wrong with the Windows 7 menu?
How do I disable the classic start menu per user?
How do I modify the expansion delay for sub-menus?
How do I enable or disable the menu animations?
How do I create skins for the start menu?
How do I customize the start menu?
How do I add a custom folder to the start menu?
How do I remove the Start Screen shortcut from the main menu?
How do I change the default shutdown action in the main menu?
How do I stop the opening of the settings the first time I use the menu?
Can I search my PC from the Classic Start Menu?
Can I make the start menu look like the XP menu?
Why doesn't the start button look pressed when I open the start menu?
I disabled the active corners. Why does Metro still show up from time to time?
I want a classic start menu, but I don't like this one. What else is there?

Classic Explorer

Classic IE

Performance Tips

Forum Spam

General Information

What is Classic Shell?
Classic Shell™ is free software that improves your productivity, enhances the usability of Windows and empowers you to use the computer the way you like it. It has a customizable start menu, it adds a toolbar and a status bar for Windows Explorer and supports a variety of other features. There are 3 major components - Classic Start Menu, Classic Explorer and Classic IE. Look here for the full list of features.

What is not Classic Shell?
Some people have misconceptions about the scope of Classic Shell. Here's some of the things that it is not:
  • It is not an Explorer replacement. It adds some UI elements to Explorer, but this is still the standard Windows Explorer that you know and love
  • It does not implement the Desktop environment in Windows 8. The Desktop you see in Windows 8 is part of the operating system that you can access from one of the Metro tiles. Classic Shell just makes it easier to get to it
  • It is not a "make my computer look exactly like Windows XP". It only brings back few select features from the XP days, not everything. You are not going to find the puppy search here
  • It is not a theme or skin for Windows. Classic Shell only changes some visual aspects of Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer. These features are very limited in scope. No other applications are affected

What is the story behind Classic Shell?
The project started back in 2008 as a small utility to replace the copy UI for Vista. In 2009 a friend switched from XP to Vista and complained that the Up button was missing. That was the second feature that was implemented. Later in October 2009 I switched to Windows 7 and was very disappointed that the classic start menu was gone, so I went to make my own. After the start menu was done I decided to make this project public and added it to Source Forge. The rest is history.

What are the system requirements of Classic Shell?
Classic Shell supports Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. There is only one installer for all and it covers both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. Not all features are supported for all versions of Windows.

Does Classic Shell support Windows 10?
Starting with version 4.2.4, Classic Shell fully supports Windows 10.

Does Classic Shell support Windows RT?
No, Classic Shell does not work on Windows RT (either 8 or 8.1). There are two reasons for that. First, Windows RT runs on devices with a different CPU, which is incompatible with regular Windows applications. And second, Windows RT does not allow non-Microsoft software to run on its desktop.

Is Classic Shell Free?
Yes, Classic Shell is free for both personal and commercial use*.

You are permitted to distribute the Classic Shell installer or offer it for download on your website, as long as:
  • You do it free of charge
  • You don't misrepresent the origin of the software
  • You don't modify the software in any way
  • Wrapping Classic Shell in a secondary installer or bundling with other software is not allowed
The Classic Shell name and logo are trademarks and cannot be used to identify other products or services.

* "Commercial use" means you can use it in a commercial environment - your office, school, etc. It does not mean you can sell the software.
If you are operating a computer shop it is permitted to install Classic Shell for your customers as long as you do it free of charge. If you do this on a large scale a donation is encouraged.

I know it's free, but can I still donate to the project?
Yes, The Classic Shell project accepts donations:

There are other ways to support Classic Shell too. Report bugs or feature suggestions. Help other users with their problems. Mention how cool it is on web forums or to your friends :)

Is Classic Shell open-source?
Yes, the latest version of Classic Shell 4.3.1 is open-source. The source code can be downloaded from Source Forge.

How do I report bugs or suggest new features?
Please submit bug reports to the Bug reporting forum. Post feature requests in the Feature requests forum. You can also use the Discussion forums.
Discussion forum in Russian is also available.


How do I install just Classic Start Menu or just Classic Explorer?
After you agree to the license terms the installer will ask which features you want to be installed. By default all components are checked. Uncheck the ones you don't want.

The installer fails with error code 2755. What can I do?
The exact cause of the problem is not known, but is most likely related to access permissions. The problem can be resolved by using the hidden Administrator account to run the installer. Follow this link for instructions: Use the Administrator account only if you encounter this problem. For most people it should not be necessary.

What is the right way to uninstall Classic Shell?
To uninstall Classic Shell follow these steps:
  1. Stop the start menu if it is installed (right-click on the start button and select “Exit”)
  2. Open a new Windows Explorer window
  3. Make sure the toolbar is hidden (if you uninstall while the toolbar is visible, the menu bar in Explorer will get stuck in the visible state and you won’t be able to hide it)
  4. Close all Windows Explorer windows
  5. Open Control Panel -> Programs and Features and double-click on Classic Shell. Then follow the instructions. You may have to restart Windows to complete the process.
  6. If you installed any additional skins for the start menu you will have to delete them manually

After I uninstalled Classic Shell I can't hide the menu in Explorer any more. What do I do?
If you missed step 3 from the uninstall instructions and you are having problems with the menu, you have two options:
  1. Go to the registry, open the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar\ShellBrowser key and delete the ITBar7Layout value as described here:
  2. Install Classic Shell again and uninstall it following all the instructions

What is the right way to upgrade to a new version of Classic Shell?
In most cases it will be safe to install a new version on top of the old one. Usually the installer will find all applications that use Classic Shell and will try to restart them cleanly. You can choose to not restart those applications, but then you will have to log off as soon as possible to complete the install.

How to disable the auto-update feature?
The Classic Shell Update component checks weekly if there is a new version of Classic Shell and will show a notification popup.

To disable the automatic check first run Classic Shell Update from the Classic Shell folder in the Programs menu. Then uncheck "Automatically check for new versions".

You can also completely uninstall the update feature. Run the Classic Shell installer, select Change, then remove the Classic Shell Update component.

What are the command line parameters for the installer?
The ClassicShellSetup.exe installer supports many command line parameters:
    <no command line> - runs the installer normally
    extract32 - extracts the 32-bit MSI
    extract64 - extracts the 64-bit MSI
    help - shows the command line help
    <some msiexec options> - the options are passed to msiexec
       * if the options contain %MSI% (all caps) the token is replaced by the name of the extracted MSI file
       * if %MSI% is not found, the setup runs "msiexec /i <MSI file> <some msiexec options>"

    /qn - runs the installer in quiet mode
    /x %MSI% /qb - uninstalls the product in basic UI level
    /f %MSI% - repairs the product
    /l* log.txt - runs the installer and logs the process in the log.txt file
    APPLICATIONFOLDER="C:\Programs\Classic Shell" - sets the installation folder
    /qn ADDLOCAL=ClassicExplorer - installs only Classic Explorer in quiet mode
    /qn ADDLOCAL=ClassicStartMenu - installs only Classic Start Menu in quiet mode
    ADDLOCAL=ClassicStartMenu,ClassicIE - installs the Classic Start Menu and Classic IE. Note: there must be no space before ClassicIE
    /qb START_MENU_FOLDER=0 - runs in basic mode and skips the creation of a start menu folder
    NOSTART=1 - suppresses the automatic launch of the start menu after install

When uninstalling or upgrading I get an error about a missing MSI file. What do I do?
Windows keeps a copy of the MSI file in its C:\Windows\Installer folder. If the file is missing or corrupted, the attempt to uninstall or upgrade Classic Shell will fail.
If that happens, you must locate the installer for the same version you currently have. Visit the All Downloads page for instructions how to find older versions.

Once you find the correct installer, run it and select the "Remove" option.

You may also attempt to repair the missing MSI file with the following command:
ClassicShellSetup.exe /fv %MSI%
This will repair the cached copy of the MSI file and after that you should be able to uninstall or upgrade Classic Shell.

How do I save and load settings?
You can use XML files to back up and load your settings. The easiest way is to do it from the Backup button of the Settings dialog.

You can also do it from the command line. Use the "-backup" command line switch to save the settings and "-xml" switch to load the settings.

You have to do it separately for each component:
Classic Start Menu: ClassicStartMenu.exe -backup <xml file> (save the start menu settings)
Classic Start Menu: ClassicStartMenu.exe -xml <xml file> (restore the start menu settings)
Classic Explorer: ClassicExplorerSettings.exe -xml <xml file>
Classic IE: ClassicIE_32.exe -xml <xml file> (note that you must use ClassicIE_32.exe even for 64-bit Windows)

Why does my browser (or anti-virus software) claim that the download is not safe?
After every new release there people who report that their browser or AV software blocks the installer and shows a warning that it is not safe. This is because these programs use a heuristic that marks any newly released file as suspicious. For example Norton AV reports new files as WS.Reputation.1, which means - not enough downloads yet for this file to gain the necessary reputation.

Most programs have a way to allow the suspected installer to run but it is different for each program so I can't give you more detailed instructions here.

If you can't figure it out or if you want to play it safe you can wait a few days until the new version has gained reputation and is added to the "nice" list by the AV developers.

Classic Start Menu

Why Classic Start Menu? What's wrong with the Windows 7 menu?
Read more about the subject here.

How do I disable the classic start menu per user?
Open the General Behavior tab in the Settings dialog and find the checkbox "Start automatically for this user". Uncheck it.

How do I modify the expansion delay for sub-menus?
You can change the Menu delay value in the General Behavior tab of the Settings dialog. Another way is to change the global system setting.
Follow the instructions here:

How do I enable or disable the menu animations?
You can change the Main menu animation, Main menu animation speed, Sub-menu animation and Sub-menu animation speed settings in the General Behavior tab of the Settings dialog. Another way is to change the global system setting. Open the Advanced system settings, click on the Performance Settings button, check or uncheck the option "Fade or slide menus into view".

How do I create skins for the start menu?
Check out the Skinning Tutorial.

How do I customize the start menu?
You can customize the start menu from the Customize Start Menu tab of the Settings dialog. Drag and drop menu items to change their order or create any new items you want.

How do I add a custom folder to the start menu?
You can add any existing folder to the start menu. Go to the Settings dialog, open the Customize Start Menu tab and add a new custom item.
For Classic style: Add a custom item by dragging the "Custom" item from the right column to the left column in the location you wish.
For Windows 7 style: Add a custom item with right-click and then "Insert New Item". Change the type of the new item to "Custom".
After you created the new item right-click on it and select "Edit Item". Pick a folder from the Link dropdown list, or click on the [...] button to select another folder. Change the label or the icon if you wish. Select "Don't Expand" if you wish the folder to not be expandable as a sub-menu.

How do I remove the Start Screen shortcut from the main menu?
You can right-click and select "Unpin from Start menu (Classic Shell)". You can also find the setting "Show Start screen shortcut" in the Main Menu tab and uncheck it.

How do I change the default shutdown action in the main menu?
If you are using the classic menu style (with one or two columns) then you will have to customize the menu items. Go to the Customize Start Menu tab in the settings. Double-click on the Shutdown dialog item in the left column. Pick the command you want from the dropdown - shutdown, restart, logoff, and more. Change the label to the text you want, like "Shut down" or "Restart". Change the icon if you wish.

If you are using the Windows 7 menu style then go to the Main Menu tab in the settings. Locate the "Shutdown command" item near the bottom. Pick from one of the provided choices - Shutdown, Restart, Sleep, etc.

How do I stop the opening of the settings the first time I use the menu?
When you install Classic Shell for the first time and then press the start button, the settings will show up to allow you to choose the style for the menu and the start button. Sometimes, particularly when installing for multiple users on the network, this behavior is undesirable. You can suppress it by pre-setting the menu style in the registry or in the group policies. This forum post shows how: don't run the settings window at furst run

Can I make the start menu look like the XP menu?
The closest you can get is with the XP Luna skin. It makes the start menu look similar to the XP start menu. It supports 2 columns of items and 3 color variations - Blue, Olive and Silver. Note that not all features of the XP start menu are supported. For example there are no fancy shutdown buttons or personalized menus.

Can I search my PC from the Classic Start Menu?
The start menu can search for programs, settings, files, email, and other documents.
In the Classic style you can also register custom search programs (like Agent Ransack of Everything) that let you search for files anywhere on your computer. Also you can register search tools like Google and Bing to search the Internet. Read the documentation for instructions and examples.

Why doesn't the start button look pressed when I open the start menu?
On Windows 7 the start button will not appear pressed when the menu is opened. There is no direct way to make it look pressed. However you have the option to remove the system start button and replace it with a custom button. The custom button will have the correct pressed look.

I disabled the active corners. Why does Metro still show up from time to time?
The active corners are not the only way to activate the Metro features in Windows 8. Some touchpads have support for gestures. Touching it accidentally in a certain way may be interpreted as the swipe gesture to open the Metro screen. Here's how you can disable the gestures:

I want a classic start menu, but I don't like this one. What else is there?
I don't believe you :). In the off chance you will be happier with some other solution, check out these other start menu implementations (some are actually based on Classic Shell). But please report what you don't like about Classic Shell in the Start Menu discussion forum.

Classic Explorer

What to do when Classic Explorer doesn't work?
  • Open a new Windows Explorer window (Win key+E)
  • For Windows 7: Press Alt+V to open the View menu. Open the "Toolbars" sub-menu and select "Classic Explorer Bar". Keep in mind that the menu will always be displayed as long as the toolbar is visible.
  • For Windows 8: Press Alt+V to open the View ribbon. Click on the down arrow in the "Options" section. Select "Classic Explorer Bar".
If the "Classic Explorer Bar" option is not available or is grayed out, there are 2 things to check:
  1. Run Internet Explorer and go to Tools -> Manage Add-ons. Find "Classic Explorer Bar" and "ExplorerBHO Class" and make sure they are both Enabled.
    Manage Add-ons (Internet Explorer 8)

  2. Open the Internet Options and go to the Advanced tab. Find and check the option "Enable third-party browser extensions". This is usually enabled by default, but may be disabled for server editions of Windows.
    Internet Options
Why is Internet Explorer involved in all this? The thing is that Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer share the same architecture and the same security settings. Since most settings only affect web browsing, Microsoft has decided to call the whole feature "Internet Options".
Note: You may have to repeat the process if you install a new version of Internet Explorer (like IE9).

On Windows 7 how do I place the Classic Explorer Bar before the menu bar?
On Windows 7 if you place the Classic Explorer toolbar in front of the menu bar, so that both are on the same row, then close and reopen Explorer, the toolbar and the menu bar will show on separate rows. This is a bug in Explorer. Unfortunately it wasn't fixed even in SP1.

How do I show the status bar in Windows Explorer?

Windows 7: Go to the View menu and check the Status Bar item.

Windows 8: The status bar is implemented by Classic Shell. Enable it from the Status Bar tab in the Classic Explorer settings.
You may want to disable the built-in status bar from Explorer's Folder Options dialog. The setting is in the View tab.

Why do I sometimes get the default "file conflict" dialog instead of the Classic Explorer replacement?
There are 3 known cases where the "file conflict" dialog is not replaced.
  1. If you copy or move files from a namespace extension to the file system. The reason is that the namespace extension controls the copy operation and may provide any UI it chooses.
  2. On Windows 7 with UAC enabled, if you move a file from a system directory to another directory the operation is carried out by a special protected process called dllhost.exe. Classic Explorer cannot affect that special process.
  3. If you are using a third-party file manager or Explorer replacement. Try unchecking the "Enable only in Explorer" option in the Settings. Depending on the tool you are using, Classic Shell may or may not be able to do something.

Can Classic Shell disable the "Auto-arrange" feature in Explorer?
No. The Explorer in Windows 7 uses a new undocumented control "DirectUIHWND" instead of the documented "SysListView32" control like all the versions before it. The DirectUIHWND control has no public interface and nothing can be done to customize it.
However there is a registry hack you can do to make Explorer to use SysListView32: Auto-arrange - solved?. With that you get the option to disable "Auto-arrange", remove the full-row select and some other features also revert to the Vista way.

Can Classic Shell add Up button to the system SaveAs or Open dialogs?
No. The SaveAs and Open dialogs are controlled by the application - Notepad, Word, Photoshop, etc. It is theoretically possible to do something about it, but there are many problems to do it correctly. Here's just a few:
  1. Every application is unique. There is no way to ensure stable work for arbitrary applications. Often applications take steps to customize their dialogs and there is a great potential for conflict.
  2. Doing anything like this is a guaranteed way to get an endless list of compatibility bugs. Unlike Microsoft I don't have a compatibility lab with access to thousands of applications to play with. If a problem appears with some application that I don't have there is no way for me to debug it.
  3. The first step in any such feature will be to inject code in every running application. This act will most likely be flagged as malware by anti-virus software. It will also negatively affect system performance.
Maybe a future version of Classic Shell will have this feature if I find solutions to all the problems.

Can Classic Shell bring back the classic search, you know, the one with the doggie?
No. Unlike Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer doesn't have a way of replacing the search provider. You can of course add a custom button to the toolbar to run a third-party search application. There are quite a few too choose from: Agent Ransack, Everything Search, Win Grep, to name a few.

What additional buttons can I add to the toolbar?
The toolbar has 8 buttons out of the box - Up, Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Properties, Email and Settings.
You can add more buttons from the settings. The available buttons are Move To, Copy To, Undo, Redo, Select All, and more. You can also provide your own commands that execute an external program.
The extra buttons are not included by default for various reasons. Most do not have a readily available icon in Windows, so you have to provide one yourself. Some do not function well enough to be enabled by default. For example Undo and Redo are not disabled when there is nothing to undo or redo. So the commands that do not pass the quality bar are left as optional extras. Use at your own risk :)

How do I customize the toolbar?
You can customize the Explorer toolbar from the Toolbar Buttons tab in the Settings dialog. Drag and drop buttons to create any toolbar you want. If you are using Classic Shell version 2.8.3 or older, you will have to edit the Explorer.ini file. Read the instructions in the ini file for details. Also check out this post: HOWTO: Customize the toolbar

Can Classic Explorer replace the built-in Explorer search?
No. As far as I know there is no way to seamlessly integrate another search utility into Windows Explorer. The closest you can get is to add a button in the toolbar to invoke another program (like Agent Ransack of Everything) and pass it the current folder on the command line.

Can Classic Explorer tweak the registry to enable <insert feature here>?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: No way in hell!
Serious answer: There are hundreds of potential registry tweaks. Some are harmless, others are dangerous, yet others don't play well together. It requires a ton of research to create a stable system that lets you safely experiment with all these settings. There is no way I am spending all that time on such system. And there is no way I want to be responsible when something goes wrong and you brick your computer. Besides, most such registry hacks have unwanted side effects (if they didn't, they would be made into a proper Windows feature). So they don't meet the quality criteria to be a Classic Shell feature.
There are some programs out there that let you control some of the registry settings. Here are few examples:
Windows 7 Navigation Pane Customizer
Tweak-7 and TweakVI

Classic IE

What versions of Internet Explorer are supported by Classic IE?
Classic IE supports all versions of Internet Explorer from 9 and up.

What to do when the caption doesn't show up?
  1. Run Internet Explorer and go to Tools -> Manage Add-ons. Find "Classic IEBHO Class" and make sure it is Enabled.
    Manage Add-ons (Internet Explorer 9)

  2. Open the Internet Options and go to the Advanced tab. Find and check the option "Enable third-party browser extensions". This is usually enabled by default, but may be disabled for server editions of Windows.
    Internet Options

Where is the Classic Shell toolbar in Internet Explorer?
Classic Shell doesn't have a toolbar for Internet Explorer. The so called "Classic Explorer Bar" performs file operations and is intended only for Windows Explorer.
It shows in the list of the IE toolbars because both programs use a shared list for their toolbars. However some toolbars work only in Internet Explorer and some only work in Windows Explorer.

Performance Tips

How do I improve the startup performance?
The Classic Start Menu runs when you log in. It waits 5 seconds and then starts to pre-load the icons for your programs, favorites and Control Panel items. This is done so when you open the start menu for the first time all icons are already loaded and you don't have to wait. The downside is that it may cause slower startup times on low-end machines. This feature can be turned off from the General Behavior tab of the Settings dialog. Look for the setting "Pre-cache icons" and turn it off.

How do I make the start menu open faster?
Every new version of the start menu adds more visual features. While they are pretty, they have performance cost. Here are few things you can do to make your menu more responsive:
  • Make sure the option "Delay loading of icons" is turned on. It is in the General Behavior tab
  • Pick a simpler skin. The glass skins in particular are expensive to render
  • Disable some of the skin options. Options like "Show User Picture" or "Two columns" can be costly
  • Disable the menu animations from the settings. The menu is unresponsive while it fades or slides into view. Disable or shorten the animation duration

Anything I can do in Classic Explorer?
Turn off any Classic Explorer features you don't use. Most features can cost you CPU cycles when they are turned on, no matter if you use them at the moment or not.

Forum Spam

Why can't I log in the forum?
Sometimes you may register on the forum and when you try to log in it won't recognize the user. That's because the forum uses a database of usernames that have been previously used for spam and the account was deleted as soon as it was created.

With the rising popularity of the forum, it has become a target for spammers. Rejecting the suspected accounts has proven the only solution that actually works to reduce the amount of spam. Unfortunately there may be some false positives. A small group of malicious inidividuals are ruining the experience for everybody. And that's why we can't have nice things…

Please try to register again with a different name.

Why do I need my posts to be approved by a moderator?
As a secondary measure to limit the spam, the first few messages from new users need to be approved by a forum moderator. This prevents most people from even seeing the spam message (which often contains illegal or objectionable content).

The forum contains "unnatural" link to my website. Can you please remove it?
Some spammers have managed to sneak in links past the various countermeasures in attempts to boost that website's search ratings. Search engines have started detecting such sneaky behavior and are now penalizing the ratings.

If your SEO service has used such tactics and your rating is now being hurt, contact them to take down the content.

I will be happy to remove the offending link for a cleanup fee of $20 ($100 for express service). Please send the funds to the PayPal account and in the comments include the exact link and the web page that contains the link. Please allow 3-5 weeks (3-5 business days for express service) to process the request.

Classic Shell © 2010-2017, Ivo Beltchev.
All right reserved.