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Tech tips

Miss the look of Windows 7? Change these settings

It’s official. Microsoft is no longer offering any support for Windows 7. Support ended on Jan. 14, 2020.

This means Windows 7 will no longer have support specialists backing it up or updating, and in order to have a safe computer, you’ll need to upgrade your OS to Windows 10. Tap or click here to learn how to get Windows 10 for free.

But what if you really like the look of Windows 7, and Windows 10 has features you don’t want? Well, if you’re willing to learn a few tech tricks, we can help you make your computer look and act like it still has Windows 7, starting with the Start menu.

Change the Start menu

The Windows 10 Start menu introduces a new tile format in addition to the traditional, alphabetical, menu list. If you hate this layout, you can get the Windows 7 style back in two ways.

The first involves the removal of pinned apps. It’s not a perfect recreation of Windows 7, but it’s the simpler way to get the idea of the old Start menu back. It also serves as a great visual transition from 7 to 10.

To unpin applications from the Start menu:

  1. Click on Start (the Windows icon), and right click on any of the apps to the right of the list of applications.
  2. Select “Unpin from Start” from the top of the menu that appears.
  3. Repeat for all applications, until you’re left with just the alphabetical menu list.

The second way to get Windows 7 is to download the third-party app Open Shell, once known as Classic Shell. This way is much more technical, but it’ll get you the exact Windows 7 Start menu look you want.

To get and use Open Shell:

  1. Download Open Shell.
  2. Your download should start automatically.
  3. Run the .exe program you downloaded, agreeing to the conditions laid out for you.
  4. Open the program and select the “Start Menu Style” tab.
  5. Click on the “Windows 7 style” option to get the Windows 7 Start menu.
  6. Now, go to the “Skin” tab in Shell, and select “Windows Aero”. Things will really look like Windows 7 once you click “OK.”
  7. To also get the old Windows 7 Start logo, in “Start Menu Style,” check the “Replace Start button” box.
    1. You will now need to download an image of the old Start menu button. Click here to find some Windows 7 and Vista Start button options, right click on your favorite and select “Save image as….” Save it as a name you’ll remember.
    1. Back in Shell, select “Custom” under “Replace Start button,” then click “Pick image…”
    1. Find the Start button image you saved, and select it. Click “OK.”

If you miss the aesthetic of Windows 7, as well as the Start menu functionality, we recommend learning how to use Open Shell. If you just want a simpler menu that’s similar to Windows 7, the unpinning method should do the trick.

Use the File Explorer you like

File Explorer is only slightly different in Windows 10, but there are still new features like the Ribbon. As above, there’s a way to get the idea of the Windows 7 version back, and a way to make things look exactly the same with a third party program.

To get the basic Windows 7 File Explorer structure:

  1. In File Explorer, click on File, then Change folder and search options.
  2. Change the menu next to Open File Explorer to This PC.
  3. Uncheck both boxes under the Privacy section, then click OK.
  4. Right click on any pins under Quick Access you won’t use, and click on “Unpin from Quick access”.
  5. Things should act more like Windows 7 now!

If you hate the ribbon from the Windows 10 File Explorer, and want the Windows 7 look back entirely:

  1. Download the Ribbon Disabler app by clicking here and clicking Download Ribbon Disabler at the bottom of the page. Run the installer.
  2. Run the program by double-clicking on it, and select Disable Ribbon Explorer. If you want to return to the Windows 10 look, click on Enable Ribbon Explorer instead.

Note: Ribbon Disabler makes a backup of the original File Explorer program files, but also replaces them. Meaning this app affects your computer’s core programming and should be downloaded with extreme caution.

Hide the newbies

Windows 10 really pushes Cortana, (its built-in AI helper), its bottom search bar and OneDrive, its cloud storage system. Tap or click here to learn about other great cloud storage programs.

If you have no interest in these new features, you can get them out of your way pretty easily, and this time you can do it without third-party software. Let’s start with clearing up your view.

To hide things in the task bar:

  1. Right click on the taskbar at the bottom of your screen, and click or mouse over the Search option.
  2. Click Hidden.
  3. Right click on the task bar again, and deselect Show Cortana button and Show Task View button by clicking on them.

If you have a Cortana menu instead of Search, click Hidden to make that button go away, and just deselect Show Task View button to make that disappear.

To disable Cortana, and not just hide her, do the following:

  1. Go to Settings, then click Cortana & Search settings.
  2. Click on the Talk to Cortana tab, and set all the switches there to Off.
  3. To make sure Cortana can’t track your data as well, click on the Permissions & History tab, and set all options here to Off as well.

To hide OneDrive:

  1. In File Explorer, right click on OneDrive and click Properties.
  2. In the General tab, check the Hidden box. This hides OneDrive from File Explorer.
  3. To hide the OneDrive icon in your taskbar, see how to disable OneDrive.

To disable OneDrive:

  1. Click the blue or white OneDrive cloud icon, or search for OneDrive in the Start menu, and select More, then Settings.
  2. Under the Account tab, click the Unlink this PC or Unlink OneDrive option.
  3. Click OK, then click OK in the Settings box too.
  4. To fully uninstall it, click on Start, then Programs and click on Add or remove programs.
  5. Under Apps & features, select Microsoft OneDrive, then click Uninstall. Input your admin password and confirm your choice.

So to all the Windows 7 lovers: You’re going to be OK. You can get back more of the classic aesthetic by downloading Windows 7 wallpapers and playing with Open Shell skins.

Updating your OS is important for your computer’s health. Tap or click here to learn more about why that is. It doesn’t mean losing your favorite features though, so long as you’re a little tech savvy.

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