Download Classic Shell for Windows Vista/7/2008 –

 Windows 7 has proven to be strong successor to Windows Vista and has introduced several new visual enhancements.  Of course, these new enhancements aren’t without fault.  Several components you may have become familiar with from previous Windows versions are nowhere to be found – until now.

 The Windows Start Menu, introduced with Windows 95, has evolved in appearance over the years, but it’s primary function has remained the same – to provide a central, organized location to store shortcuts for installed programs as well as system utilities like the Control Panel and Dial Up Networking Connections.  With Windows 7, the Start Menu, now replaced with a “Windows Button” (without text) has taken on a drastically new look and feel without the ability to use the “classic” interface available in previous Windows releases.  If you find the new Windows 7 menu too bulky or want to ease into it, Classic Start Menu will help.

 Additionally, most users of Windows 7 have adapted to and like the new Aero interface which provides a more visually rich and interactive UI.  However, the more detail aware or those with technical background, will make note of something clearly missing – a toolbar in Windows Explorer.  The common tasks toolbar from earlier versions of Windows (cut, copy, paste, undo, etc.) is not present or available in Windows 7.

 Classic Shell, comprised of Classic Start Menu and Classic Explorer, reintroduce these previously taken-for-granted features – and it’s free!

 Classic Start Menu

  • Drag and drop to let you organize your applications
  • Options to show Favorites, expand Control Panel, etc
  • Shows recently used documents. The number of documents to display is customizable
  • Translated in 35 languages, including Right-to-left support for Arabic and Hebrew
  • Does not disable the original start menu in Windows. You can access it by Shift+Click on the start button
  • Right-click on an item in the menu to delete, rename, sort, or perform other tasks
  • The search box helps you find your programs without getting in the way of your keyboard shortcuts
  • Available for 32 and 64-bit operating systems
  • Has support for skins, including additional 3rd party skins
  • Fully customizable in both looks and functionality
  • Support for Microsoft’s Active Accessibility
  • Converts the “All Programs” button in the Windows menu into a cascading menu
  • And last but not least – it’s FREE!

NOTE: To customize the Classic Start Menu settings once installed, click the Windows button (Start), go to Settings, Classic Start Menu

If you have used the start menu in older versions of Windows you’ll feel right at home:
Classic Start Menu

Pick from 8 default skins, download more from the Internet, or make your own!

 Classic Explorer

  • Adds a toolbar to Explorer for some common operations (Go to parent folder, Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Properties, Email). The toolbar is fully customizable
  • Replaces the copy UI in Vista and Windows 7 with the more user-friendly “classic” version similar to Windows XP
  • Handles Alt+Enter in the folder panel of Windows Explorer and shows the properties of the selected folder
  • Has options for customizing the folder panel to look more like the Windows XP version or to not fade the expand buttons
  • Can show the free disk space and the total file size in the status bar
  • Can disable the breadcrumbs in the address bar
  • Fixes a long list of features that are broken in Windows 7 – missing icon overlay for shared folders, the jumping folders in the navigation pane, missing sorting headers in list view, and more

 Toolbar in Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer in Vista/Win7 doesn’t have a toolbar like the one in Windows XP. If you want to go to the parent folder you have to use the breadcrumbs bar. If you want to copy or delete a file with the mouse you have to right-click and look for the Delete command. The right-click menu gets bigger and bigger the more shell extensions you have installed, and finding the right command can take a while.

To solve the problem, the Classic Explorer plugin adds a new toolbar:
Explorer Toolbar

Hold the Control key when clicking the Up button to open the parent folder in a new Explorer window.
Hold the Shift key when clicking the Delete button to permanently delete a file.

Additional Up Button

Some people have asked if I can make a small Up button and put it next to the Back/Forward buttons in the title bar of Explorer. If Up is the only button you need from the toolbar, this will save you screen space:
Up button in the title bar

Right-click on the button to bring up the Classic Explorer settings.

New copy UI

In Vista when you copy files and there is a conflict you are presented with this:
Copy in Vista

What’s wrong with it?

Well, for starters it is half a screen full of text that you have to read. Also it is not immediately clear what parts of it are clickable. You have to move the mouse around to discover the UI like in a video game. And finally the keyboard usability is dismal. The Classic Explorer plugin brings back the simpler dialog box from Windows XP:
Copy in XP

It is immediately clear what is clickable (clue – the buttons at the bottom), there is easy keyboard navigation (press Y for “Yes”, A to copy all files) and you can still see which file is newer and which is larger. And of course just like in Windows XP, holding down Shift while clicking on the No button means “No to All” (or just press Shift+N).

If you click on More… you will get the original dialog from Windows. From there you will see all the details and you’ll get an extra option to “Copy, but keep both files”.


Important Note: Only the UI is replaced. The underlying system that does the actual copying is not affected.

Alt+Enter in the navigation pane

Alt+Enter is universal shortcut across Windows to bring up the properties of the selection. But in Vista and Windows 7 it doesn’t work in the left pane that shows the folders. It works fine on the right where the files are. This is broken compared to Windows XP where Alt+Enter works in both places.
To solve the problem, the Classic Explorer plugin detects when you press Alt+Enter and shows the properties for the currently selected folder.

Status bar

In Windows 7 the status bar in Explorer doesn’t show the free disk space and the size of the selected files. Classic Explorer fixes that:
File size in status bar

When no files are selected the total size of all files in the folder is shown.
Classic IE9

  • Adds a caption to the title bar so you can see the full title of the page
  • Shows the security zone in the status bar
  • Shows the loading progress in the status bar

 Custom title bar and status bar in Internet Explorer 9