Get Windows XP look in Windows 10 without themes or patches

Users who remember and like the appearance of Windows XP might not be very impressed by the default look of Windows 10. The appearance can be changed to some extent using UxStyle and third party themes, but in Windows 10, Microsoft prevents the taskbar from being skinned using visual styles (themes). Today, we will see how to skin Windows 10's taskbar to give it a Windows XP appearance without using patches or themes.


Windows 10 with XP taskbar and start menu
All we need is everyone's favorite Start menu replacement and system enhancement tool, Classic Shell. Recently, its developer implemented the ability to skin the taskbar in Windows 10 and earlier versions of Windows too. The user can change the taskbar text color, change the color to make it different from the title bar color, change its transparency or set a background image or texture for the Windows taskbar.

As of this writing, only the beta version 4.2.7 of Classis Shell allows doing this. To proceed, you need to download Classic Shell 4.2.7 from its official web site (use the red button 'Download Beta'):

Download Classic Shell

After that, you need to prepare Windows 10 for a better XP look and feel. Do it as follows.

  1. Right click the Taskbar and pick Settings from the context menu: Windows 10 taskbar settings context menu item
  2. When the Settings app opens, turn on the option called Use small taskbar buttons as shown below: Windows 10 small taskbar buttons
  3. In Settings, go to Personalization -> Colors. Pick the following color: Windows 10 xp color for windows
  4. Scroll down and enable the option Show color on title bar:
    Windows 10 show color on title bar

Now you can close Settings.

Install Classic Shell you downloaded earlier and do the following.

  1. Download the following archive: Download Classic Shell XP suite
    Extract all its files to any folder you like. I will use the folder c:\xp.
    The archive contains the taskbar texture, the wallpaper and the Start button to be used with Classic Shell.
  2. Right click the Start menu button to open Classic Start Menu Settings: Windows 10 open taskbar settings
  3. By default, the Settings dialog opens in basic mode: Windows 10 CS settings basic You need to switch it to the extended mode by ticking the "Show all settings" checkbox to get the following look: Windows 10 CS settings extended
  4. Now, go to the tab called Taskbar and enable the "Customize taskbar" option. There, you will find a number of options which you need to change. Classic shell taskbar tab
  5. Click the option "Taskbar texture" and then click the [...] button to browse for the file xp_bg.png that you extracted from the archive: Classic shell xp taskbar bg
    In horizontal stretching below, set "Tile": Classic shell xp taskbar bg tile This will make the taskbar look like in Windows XP.
  6. Next, go to the Start button tab (the tab to the left of the Taskbar tab in Classic Shell). There, tick the option "Replace Start button" and then click the option "Custom button". Then click "Button image" and then click the [...] button. Again, browse for the file XPButton.png you downloaded and extracted from the archive. You will get something like this: Classic shell XP start button settings Click OK to apply the Start button image.

You will get the following appearance:
Windows 10 with XP taskbar
The taskbar will have an almost authentic XP look. The window frame/title bar color also matches the taskbar.

Now, it is a good idea to apply the genuine bliss wallpaper. While I included it in the archive, I suggest you to read this article: Windows XP support has ended today: A farewell to the venerable OS. There, you can get the 4K version of this beautiful wallpaper.
Finally your Windows 10 will look as follows:
Windows 10 with XP taskbar and wallpaper

You can even enable the Windows XP start menu style in Classic Shell and apply the Windows XP Luna skin: Windows 10 with XP taskbar and start menu

See the following video to watch the whole process of this customization:

Tip: you can subscribe to our official YouTube channel HERE.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment. What do you think about this trick? Do you like the appearance Classic Shell allows you to get?

18 thoughts on “Get Windows XP look in Windows 10 without themes or patches

  1. Mark W

    This is all very well, but it’s the ‘Windows Classic’ window metrics that I’d like.
    No XP colour scheme will be convincing until you have the square minimise / restore / close window buttons.
    I’m used to the Windows 10 style now, but even so…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

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  2. Graham Ansell

    Without themes or patches, you still have to install 3rd party software in order to do so, a Windows 10 theme would be better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    Reply
  3. Peter

    Is there a taskbar skin for Windows 7 yet?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Well, I can make it if you want.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

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  4. Sebastian

    Can you give me the start button and taskbar texture for large taskbar, please?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      the download link is in the article.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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      1. SomeRandomUser

        I don’t see it,where in the article?

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        1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

          http://winaero.com/download.php?view.1884

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  5. Bob

    Actually, I just realized the notification area is not in a separate shade of blue like the XP taskbar had. If you use this image: http://i.imgur.com/quxp91T.png, you can specify border side from both left and right end of the texture image under “Horizontal stretching” . Since the border area is untouched and only the middle portion is stretched, you can get a taskbar like this: http://i.imgur.com/DwLUjQ0.png See how the tray area is shaded in different color :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

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    1. Nitro

      You put the wrong picture, as it looks different and inverted in the screenshot.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Reply
  6. OUTraged

    wtf? “settings”?? I got no settings option when I right click the taskbar……

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

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    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      That’s it because I am running the latest Insider Preview of Windows 10.
      In your case, click “Properties” and enable the same option there.

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  7. zhipengcvn

    Excellent! You guy did a very good job.
    I’d like to give you a LIKE.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Thanks

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      Reply
  8. Phil

    it works on Windows 8.1, can you add the winxp media center theme please???? thank you

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  9. John

    The classic shell program just messes up my system, refuses point blank to run. Every time I hit the classic Start Button, it freezes and has to restart Explorer. Any suggestions please??

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    1. Bob

      There can be many reasons for this. You could post your problem at www.classicshell.net/forum and they will fix it in the next version.

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  10. Ethan

    One last thing. Winaero’s unsupported startup sound changer and a Windows XP startup .wav file.

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