How to Make Windows 10 Look and Feel Like Windows 7

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Windows 10 offers a number of benefits over its predecessors, including improved boot and wake-from-sleep times, the ability to run Universal apps, the Cortana voice assistant and Xbox game streaming. It even has a Start Menu, a key feature  that is infamously missing from Windows 8. But what if you like the improved performance and features of Windows 10, but you prefer the look and feel of Windows 7? While you can't make everything look identical to Microsoft's old operating system, you can change many key elements, including the Start Menu, wallpaper and taskbar.

Windows 10 like 7

I. Install a New Start Menu

Windows 10 brings back the Start Menu . . . sort of. While there is a Start Menu, it's very different from the one in Windows 7 and you may not like the differences. Instead of providing a list of icons and folders, the new Start Menu has a set of flashy, but space-wasting, live tiles on its right side and a list of frequently used apps on the left side. You can add live tiles, but you cannot pin a simple icon to the left side like you could in Windows 7 and XP. Fortunately, you can install a third-party Start Menu that looks and functions the way you want it to. There are a couple of Windows 10-compatible Start apps out there, but we like Classic Shell, because it's free and very customizable.

  1. Download and install Classic Shell version 4.2.2 or higher. As of this writing is 4.2.2 is in beta and available for download from the Classic Shell forums. Earlier versions don't work properly with Windows 10.

  2. Deselect Classic Explorer and Classic IE during the install process. You can try those programs if you want, but we didn't find them particularly useful.


  3. Open Classic Start Menu settings. If Classic Shell is already running, you will see a Shell icon in the lower right corner and can right click it and select settings. Otherwise, you can search for "Classic Start Menu Settings."

    How to Make Windows 10 Look and Feel Like Windows 7

  4. Check Show All Settings  if it is not already checked.

    Check Show all settings

  5. Navigate to the Start Menu Style tab and select Windows 7 Style if it is not already selected.

    Select Windows 7 Style

  6. Download the Windows 7 Start button image  from this thread if you want your Start button to look authentic. There are several custom buttons available. Then navigate to the Start Button tab, select Custom button and browse to the image. If you don't see a Start Button tab, make sure Show All Settings is checked.

    Select custom button

  7. Navigate to the Skin tab and select Windows Aero from the pulldown menu.

    Select Windows Aero


  8. Click Ok. Your Start Menu should look something like this.

    Classic Shell

II. Hide the Cortana / Search Box

On its taskbar, Windows 10 has a prominent search box which invokes Cortana when you click in it. While this box is actually quite useful, it doesn't exist in Windows 7 so you may want to get rid of it. Besides, if you install Classic Shell or another Start Menu replacement, that will come with its own built-in search box. To hide the Cortana box:

  1.  Right click on the search box. A context menu appears.

    add border

  2. Select Hidden from the Cortana menu.

    Select Hidden from the Cortana Menu

III. Get Rid of the Lock Screen

 The Windows 10 lock screen you get when you boot up or wake from sleep looks attractive but wastes your time. You have to click or swipe to get rid of it, and then you still get hit with the login prompt. In Windows 7, you boot straight to login prompt and you can do the same in Windows 10 if you make a simple registry edit.

  1. Hit Windows +R to bring up the Run dialog.

  2. Type "regedit" and hit Enter.

     type regedit

  3. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows in the registry tree.

    Navigate to policies / windows

  4. Right click in the right pane and select New > Key. A new key (looks like a folder) appears in the left pane.

    add key

  5. Rename the key to Personalization and select it.

    Rename it personalization

  6. Right click and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value in the right pane.

    How to Make Windows 10 Look and Feel Like Windows 7

  7. Rename the new value to "NoLockScreen."

    NoLockScreen8. Double click on it, set the value to 1 and click Ok.

    Set it to 1

IV. Add Windows 7 Wallpaper

Nothing makes a computer look like Windows 7 more than using the default Windows 7 wallpaper with the bright blue background and the giant Windows logo in the middle.

  1. Acquire the Windows 7 wallpaper. Windows 10 doesn't come with the old wallpaper, but you can get it a couple of ways. If you still have access to a computer with Windows 7 on it, you'll find the wallpaper at C:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper\Windows\img0.jpg. You can also download the wallpaper from various places that have posted it online, including here.

  2.  Right click on your desktop and select Personalize.

    select personalize

  3. Click the Browse button and select the wallpaper file.

    Click Browse

 V. Give the Window Bars Colors

Windows 10 allows applications to select their own title bar colors, but most programs don't have a custom color set and end up with a depressingly bland white bar. While you can't get back the transparent aero effect in title bars, you can make them show a nice Windows 7 blue. Here's how.

  1. Right Click on the desktop and select Personalization.

  2. Select Colors from the left pane.

    Select Colors

  3.  Toggle "Automatically pick an accent color from my background" to off if you want to choose a custom color. Or leave it / toggle it to on to have it change colors based on your wallpaper.

    toggle automatically pick

  4. Select a color if you chose to pick a custom color. We recommend the dark blue in the second row for the most Windows 7-like shade.

    pick accent color

  5. Make sure "Show color on title bar" and "Show color on Start..." are toggled to on.

    Toggle show color to on

VI. Replace Edge with Internet Explorer

Windows 7 came with Internet Explrorer as its default browser, with the IE icon pinned to the taskar. If you don't like Edge browser, Chrome or Firefox, you can easily go back to using Internet Explorer as your default browser in Windows 10.

  1. Right click on the Edge browser taskbar icon and select Unpin.


  2. Search for Internet Explorer in the search bar. By the time you type Internet, you should see the icon for it.

    search for IE

  3. Right click on the Internet Explorer icon and select Pin to Taskbar. The IE logo will appear on your taskbar. You might want to drag it to the left so it sits next to the Start button.

    select pin to taskbar

  4. Launch Internet Explorer.

  5. Select Internet Options from the menu.

    select Internet options

  6. Navigate to the Programs tab and click "Make Internet Explorer the default browser." A new window opens with a list of programs.

    Click Make Internet Explorer the default

  7. Select Internet Explorer in the left pane and click "Set this program as default."

    Click set this program as default

  8. Click Ok.


Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
Add a comment
  • philip david hartley Says:

    I want to change the Windows 10 desktop on my new laptop. I'm aware there are two ways to do this.

    Either, delete W10 and replace it with W7

    Or modify the W10 desktop only, by using your techniques.

    What would I lose if I used the first option? (briefly) ie is the main difference between W10 and W7 just the look of the desktop, or has W10 got some features that I wouldn't want to lose?

    I'm having trouble getting any answers elsewhere.

  • Aaron Says:

    You can set a custom color for window bars by clicking, "Custom Color", then set the specific RGB value by clicking "More". The dark blue "Twilight" color has an RGB value of 0, 70, 173.

  • Stacey Wieder Says:

    Thank you! This article was super helpful to me.

  • Michael F Says:

    Windows blocked me from installing this. I am an admin, that's not the issue... it literally will not allow me to install it at all. It tries to frame it like it's not compatible, but if you click the "Learn More" button, the MS website basically tells you that it could hurt your computer so it's blocked. Load of crap.

  • Jens Kirk Says:

    What is missing is a skinning feature. Instead of giving us skins Microsoft have ripped anything looking like a skin out. They almost killed the Desktop in Windows 8 and with all the speed they gave, they slammed TaskManager down to what you could expect from Windows 3. For shame. Windows is the most unfinished Windows desktop ever.

  • ZmanLol Says:

    classic shell does not work on my verson of windows 10

  • Saeed Says:

    Has anyone else noticed that MS have taken the “colour” out of Windows with version 10. It’s a dark place compared to all of the versions before.

    They have severely limited the choice of colours users can customise. Why?

    Perhaps the developers of 10 are dumb? Or arrogant perhaps?

    Think about it. If you’re in front of a screen all day (like I am most days) then having a bright white screen of most applications glaring in your eyes cannot be doing you much good. I liken it to having a torch shone in your eyes for 8 hours or so.

    Ever since Windows 95, I have dulled down the application space to a dull green colour and it definitely helps. So much so that anyone who works on my screen also wants the same on their screen.

    In 10, you can’t do this easily or maybe you can’ t at all. I haven’t found a way yet.

    I hope other users will appreciate what I am saying and force a change at MS.

  • Ben.. Says:

    #6 I want to go back to Internet Explorer... said no one ever.

  • Techie Says:

    Thanks for sharing this Avram. It's absolutely helpful.

  • Rehel Says:

    purchased laptop with Windows 10. Do not like it. Am I able to download Windows 7 on this new computer?

  • marcus Says:

    cmd prompt: echo y |format c:/s

  • Back Door Says:

    The removal of the Lock Screen will work on the current version of Windows 10.

    However, I've been a Fast Ring Windows 10 previewer for over 2 years. Microsoft has disabled this registry setting and you will be stuck with a Lock Screen on the next major upgrade. Don't have an exact date but it should happen by Oct. 2016

  • Richard Says:

    Tried W 10; found it difficult to use because of eye pbms - way too BRIGHT, too much white, not enough visual separation lines, and those damn tiles! I inherited diplopia (double vision) which is a nightmare for W 10 users or forcees.

  • Anwser to ronald Says:

    Click WIN + R and write cmd. In console write "format c:" next "y" next "y"

  • Amber Bailey Says:

    I honestly did not like W 10. And yes I'm over the age of 40 you little smart @$$. I like my Start menu and those tiles...well I can see the younger crowd enjoying that. It's just not for me. Something I don't understand is that I was able to back out of 10 as fast as checking it out. So why all these problems????

  • Celnaso Says:

    For those upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10, this is a great article with absolutely perfect screen shots to accompany your Classic Shell download and set up. Microsoft asked me how satisfied I was with my Windows 10 installation results (not very). I suggested they offer a one button option to change to a Classic Shell like Window 7 environment (maybe on the Task Bar or Start Menu) as soon as Windows 10 is installed. Your article made the change super easy, even without that button. Thank you Avram!

  • Florinel Says:

    I found out that you can change the cursor and the sounds to the windows 7 ones by copying the respective files from any windows 7 machine onto a separate folder and replace the windows 10's default cursor and sounds using the settings:
    now my windows 10 machine is like running windows 7!

  • ronald Says:

    I want to get windows 10 deleted from my laptop

  • Anthony Bello Says:

    Why does Windows 10' fonts, folders, the desktop icons and everything fades after few minutes of inactivity. To get things back normal, I have to restart the computer

  • Dale C. Says:

    Who in their right mind would want to use IE as the default?

  • Conrad Says:

    Does anyone know how to KILL that damn User Account Control?

  • HannTheftAudio Says:

    Yes its true. There is no Themes.rar file. What gives?

  • Sheriff Says:

    This file is no longer available:

    Themes.rar file.

  • Morte A. Says:

    I recently purchased a lap top asus ux305. my question is how can I remove windows 10 pre loaded and instal windows 7 64 bits. the kids in Microsoft are playing games but my choice is to play my game if it is possible

  • oktruthteller Says:

    outright lie .how can u lead people astray like this win 10 is a spying /;malwaare pos.

  • Chris Says:

    Why cant they just leave things alone. windows 7 just worked (mostly). I don't want to run a tablet O/S on my desktop. Yes still run a gruntie desktop and love it.

  • David Says:

    Great Information. Windows 10 is a waste if you were competent with W7... Nor is my PC a touchscreen.

  • George Toombs Canada Says:


  • George Toombs Canada Says:

    Hi Avram hope you had a great Xmas This is mind boggle ing Have a great New Year George

  • Raoul Drapeau Says:

    How many gnomes at MS burn the midnight oil figuring out ways to add odd, unneeded features to Windows 7, which seems to be universally loved, and replace it with this turkey. All, apparently in the pursuit of the millennials' need to have the latest graphical whiz-bang GUIs. And then they give us a few months of free W10 download before they cut W7 loose in a few years, just as they did XP. It almost makes one want to switch to Apple.
    When the big Kahunas at MS see how many of their users are downloading programs to restore the GUI to a previous one they like, maybe they'll stop trying to mold us into a GUI that they think we should like or need.

  • Harry Winstone Says:

    Great Article ! Windows 10 is the pits, and We're the Guinea Pigs. If I had kept Win 10 I'd want it to look and feel like Windows 7. Again, Great article.

  • WhoIsThis Says:

    Is that a joke?
    This don't even look like windows 7

  • david webb Says:

    Windows 7 works. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

  • Luis E. Says:

    I upgraded w7 to w10 a couple of months ago. It was a complete failure, however the installed Classic Shell worked just fine. In the end I decided to wait for a while until they debug the beast. As you know M$ use us as Beta testers so that may take some time.
    Anyway, yesterday I purchased a new disk for my laptop and did a clean W10 install. I don't like it, but I wish to play with it to see how this evolve. In the mean time I reinstalled the old disk with W7 and everything is back to normality.
    Thanks for this tutorial though.

  • Chronia Says:

    Step V no longer works s Themes.rar isn't available anymore or has been removed and directs to a page that says as such :(

  • XPLiCiT Says:

    theme file is no longer available

  • Gallia Says:

    I can't find anywhere:

    Is it ever possible to change (rename , create new ) the columns titles, in the "choose details" of Windows Explorer in windows 10 ?
    Whay is so difficult to find the topic ? Am I stupid?


    thanks a lot

  • anthony Says:

    windows 10 is rubbish and I will not use t again and every one i know who tried it have gone back to there older windows

  • Gobb215 Says:

    I installed and then promptly uninstalled Windows 10 from my laptop the next day when I could not connect to the Internet. My login screen continues to look like Win10, my son's user account did not come back to the login screen. His information is in the system folder under Guest user - but I get figure out how to get it to come back to login screen. The start up menu still looks like Win10. Very frustrated as I am not a computer person who can readily figure all this out. Help.

  • Tom614 Says:

    Thank you. This is really great for those of us who have found ourselves abandoned in the more than 30 days no turning back zone.

  • Sam F. Says:

    If we have a 64-bit system, do we add a QWORD instead of a DWORD?


    Ms needs Linux to help build a better os

  • wert33 Says:

    1. Download the Themes.rar file.

    link defekt

  • Brett Says:

    The registry fix to eliminate the lock screen did not work for my.

  • Bill Says:

    Norton AV removed my Classic Shell download, commenting that was Unsafe. I used the link in the top-most post of forum to which this article links. Bummer.

  • akatoys Says:

    Thank You!

  • Mark Says:

    Thank you! This is really helpful! :)

  • Matthew Spratt Says:

    I can tell you guys are all over the age of 40.

  • Jim Says:

    Did they fix there disastrous mods to Windows Explorer or is it still as seriously messed up (read ruined) as in Win 7?

  • Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director Says:

    Because you want the faster wake times, the better Window snapping and the ability to run universal apps.

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