How to give Windows 10 the look (and sound) of Windows 7

How to give Windows 10 the look (and sound) of Windows 7


Windows 7 has reached the end of life (EOL), which means that it will no longer receive security updates from Microsoft. You really can’t delay upgrading to Windows 10, but it looks so different from Windows 7 that the change could be a daunting prospect.

Fortunately, you can make the change less confusing by using free software to bring back the appearance of the operating system you know and love. All of these tips are easy to try and can make Windows 10 much easier to master.

Before you begin, we recommend that you create a folder in which you will store all of the wallpapers, icons, and other files that you download along the way. This will make them easier to find, and if you decide to switch to the standard look of Windows 10, you can easily erase them all at once.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

1. Get the wallpaper

The easiest way to make WIndows 10 more familiar is to grab one of the classic wallpapers, and WPArena has compiled a list of all the official Windows 7 backgrounds for download. Just save the design you’ve chosen in a convenient location, right-click on it and select “Set as desktop background”.

Can’t settle for just one design? Right-click on an empty space on your desktop and select “Personalize”, select “Background” in the left menu and choose “Slideshow” from the drop-down menu. You can now choose a set of different wallpapers to rotate at regular intervals.

(Image credit: Ivo Beltchev)

2. Restore the Start menu

Microsoft has tried to completely get rid of the Start menu in Windows 8, replacing it with a colorful screen of rectangular tiles much like the app selector on your phone. The Start menu has returned to Windows 10, much to the relief of many, but it still looks very different from the one you know and love in Windows 7.

Fortunately, you restore the menu to its former glory using a free tool called Open-Shell-Menu (formerly Classic Shell). To try it, download the latest version and run the installer as shown. There are no potentially unwanted programs to worry about.

Launch the program, click on the “Start Menu Style” tab and select “Windows 7 Style”. Click ‘OK’, then open the Start menu to see the change.

You can also right-click on the taskbar and uncheck “Show task view” and “Show Cortana button” to hide two tools that were not present in Windows 7. You can also change the option “Search” in “Hidden” (the Search bar will always appear in the Start menu).

(Image credit: Ivo Beltchev)

3. Get the Start button

Open-Shell-Menu does not include the classic Windows 7 start button, but you can download a copy from the old Classic Shell forums. Download the BtartButtons.zip file from the top post and extract the content to a convenient location.

In the Open-Shell-Menu, select the ‘Start button’ tab and check ‘Replace Start button’. Click on “Custom button” then select “Image of the button” and go to the location where you saved the icons and experiment with the different options to find one that suits you.

(Image credit: Chime Softwares Ltd)

4. Recreate the Aero theme

One of the most attractive features of Windows 7 was its Aero Glass theme, which gave windows and toolbars a soft, translucent appearance. Yes, it was more resource intensive than the simple design of Windows 10, but it looked awesome and modern PCs shouldn’t have a hard time handling the effect.

Open-Shell-Menu can help recreate this look for the Start menu. Select the “Skin” tab and choose “Windows Aero” from the drop-down list to apply the effect.

For the taskbar and other windows, a little program called Glass2K can help. Download and run the software, and use the slider at the bottom of the window to adjust the transparency of the taskbar. You can also right-click on any window to change its opacity, but keep in mind that this will affect the entire window, not just its title bar.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

5. Restore the startup sound

This last tip is far from essential, but it’s fun. Download the joyful Windows 7 startup sound in MP3 format (the various download options are on the right) and then use Online Audio Converter to convert it to WAV format.

Now type “regedit” in the Windows 10 search box to open the Registry Editor. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER> AppEvents> EventLabels> WindowsLogon. Double-click “ExcludeFromCPL” and change the value data from “1” to “0”. Close the Registry Editor.

Look for “Sound” to open Windows audio options and select “Sound Control Panel” on the right side. Click on the “Sounds” tab and check the “Play Windows startup sound” box. Select “Windows Connection” from the list of sounds above, then click “Browse” and navigate to the Windows 7 startup sound that you downloaded.

Click on “Test” to verify that it works and click on “Apply”, then restart your PC and dive into nostalgia.

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