Since the days of Windows 95, the Start menu has been a part of Microsoft's OS and is basically where you can find all your PC's settings, controls, and applications. With different iterations of Windows, the Start menu has also evolved and undergone more than a few changes.

With Windows 11, Microsoft decided to redesign the Start menu again. While the Start menu on Windows 10 had live tiles and was highly customizable, the new version trades this customizability for a more minimalistic look. Because of this, many people are not happy with the new menu and want more customization options.

While Microsoft has yet to offer such options officially, there are a few third-party apps that let you customize the Windows 11 Start menu as you want. And we're going to help you know how you can use them. So, let's get started!

Using Start11

Start11 from Stardock is one of the most popular third-party apps you can use to customize the Windows 11 Start menu. It allows you to add or remove sections, change icons, add tabs, and more. Available for $5.99, Start11 allows you to select from four different layouts for the Start menu.

However, you can customize the appearance, design, and functionality of each option. These tweaks include the ability to configure your app list, edit shortcuts, adjust the color, and even choose how to activate the menu. While you need to purchase a license for the full version, a free trial is available that lets you try out the app for 30 days.

Preview of Windows 11 Start Menu customized with Start11.

You can install and use Start11 by following these steps.

  1. Download Start11 from the official website by clicking on the 'Try Free' button.
  1. Once the setup is downloaded, run it to start the installation.
  2. After the program is installed, you will get a few options. You can choose to buy a key, enter a key if you already have to activate the full version, or start a trial. Click on the last option if you do not have a product key.
  1. Next, you will need to enter your email address in the provided box. Stardock will send you a verification email so it can confirm your email address.
  1. You will get a confirmation message once you've verified your email, and you can start using Start11. Click on the 'Finish' button to begin.
  1. Right off the bat, you can choose whether to have your Start menu left or center-aligned. Choose your preferred option and click on the 'OK' button.
  1. On the next page, you can select the style of the Start menu from several options. These include Windows 7 style, Windows 10 style, Windows 11 style, and more. Click on an option to select it.

    You can also turn the style option off by clicking on the button on the top right.
  1. When you're done, click on the 'Configure Menu' button at the bottom to proceed.
  1. Now, you can choose how the Start menu looks, the appearance of pinned apps and shortcuts, and even control how the power button works. Click on the options you want to change to turn them on or off.
  1. The panel on the left lists each Start menu element separately, so you can customize them easily.
  1. Once you are done customizing the Start menu, close the application. Now, when you launch the Start menu, it will appear with the customizations you selected.
  1. If you like these customizations, it is a good idea to purchase the software since the trial is available only for 30 days. You can do so by clicking on the 'Buy Start11' option in the app.

Using StartAllBack

StartAllBack is another third-party application that can help you replace your regular Windows 11 Start menu with a more customizable one. You get one license for $4.99, and the app lets you choose between three themes based on different Windows operating system versions.

This application also lets you adjust the style of the Start menu, its functionality, and its appearance. You can alter the size of the icons in the menu, highlight new apps, and create links for shortcuts. It even allows you to change the taskbar position, change the UI of the File Explorer, and more.

Preview of Windows 11 Start Menu customized with StartAllBack.

Follow these steps to install and use StartAllBack on your PC.

  1. Visit this link and click on the 'Download' button to download the application. Alternatively, you can purchase a license key by using the button below.
  1. Run the downloaded installer, and it will install the program on your computer. After installation, you will be able to choose a theme for the Start menu. Click on your preferred option to select it.
  1. Selecting a theme will instantly apply it to the Start menu, but all themes will have the menu divided into two panels, like the traditional Windows 7 Start menu.
  1. After choosing the theme, click on the 'Start Menu' option on the left to customize it.
  1. Here you can choose how programs appear in the menu, customize the search function, and the icons to be displayed. Click on the different options to customize them.
  1. Similarly, you can customize the Taskbar by clicking on the option in the panel on the left. StartAllBack allows you to change the appearance and behavior of the taskbar easily.
  1. The 'Tray Icons' option lets you control which icons appear on the taskbar on the right, while the 'Explorer' option allows changing the appearance of UI elements in the File Explorer.

    Additional options, like custom colors for the Start menu, are present in the 'Advanced' section on the left.

If you want to try out all the features of StartAllBack and want to use it for a long time, the best way to do so is by buying a license key.

These third-party apps can help you customize the Windows 11 Start menu easily and bring back features removed by Microsoft. Another option is to use the Open Shell app, which can help you install a different version of the Start menu that you can tweak and adjust as needed.

How to Download and Use Open Shell on Windows 11
Bring back the classic Start Menu and Taskbar to Windows 11 using Open Shell.

Also, when installing such apps, we suggest creating a restore point first. This way, in case something goes wrong, you can always revert your system to its earlier state.