Get the best looking Start Menu for Classic Shell 4+ with Winaero Skin 2.0

It is time once again to share our exclusive freeware skin, now updated for Classic Shell 4. With the recent release of Classic Shell 4, it has added many improvements. The most notable for me is the new style of the Start Menu, called the "Windows 7 style". It looks like the original menu, only issue is that the Start Menu color does not match the Taskbar color out-of-the-box. So, we have updated our skin to make it exactly match the Taskbar color and provide a polished look for Classic Shell on Windows 8. Winaero Skin 2.0 is compatible with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.


The updated installer will safely walk you through all the available options.

Winaero Skin OptionsIt is recommended that you disable the transparency of the Start menu and Taskbar so it matches the Modern UI look (this is the default option of the installer, but you can change it to make it transparent). Because of removal of Aero Glass in Windows 8 which had special effects such as blur, glow, shadows and reflections, all transparent interface elements look a bit weird now on Windows 8. Together with Winaero ColorSync, your Taskbar, Start Menu and Start screen colors can be in harmony.

Here is how our skin looks with the opaque Taskbar and Start Menu:

Opaque Start Menu


And here is the transparent menu and Taskbar:

Transparent Menu and Taskbar

We have compiled a FAQ covering it, so read the rest.

To download Winaero Skin 2.0 for Classic Shell, click the button below:

download button

Winaero Skin 2.0 for Classic Shell FAQ

Q. What is the Winaero Skin 2.0 for Classic Shell?

A. Winaero Skin 2.0 for Classic Shell is a skin we created at Winaero so the Start Menu component of Classic Shell better matches the Windows 8 taskbar. Obviously, you will need the Start Menu component of Classic Shell installed before installing this. The original skin was quite popular and people asked for an updated version for the major new version of Classic Shell which coincided with the release of Windows 8.1.

Q. Why did Winaero create this skin? What is the advantage over the default look of Classic Shell 4?
A. The skins shipping as part of Classic Shell 4 do not match the color of the Windows 8/8.1 taskbar. The Windows 8.1 taskbar is in fact so transparent that the same level of transparency if used in the Start Menu makes the content behind it much harder to read, so we made the skin opaque by default. You can still turn transparency on, we tried to keep the content readable with a transparent menu.

Q.Which version of Classic Shell do I need for this skin to work correctly?
A. Because, as of this writing the latest version of Classic Shell is version 4.0, this skin is expected to work properly on 4.0.0 and later. It will not work with older versions of Classic Shell (versions 3.6.x and earlier).

Q. How do I install the skin?
A. Download the ZIP file and extract the installer EXE anywhere. The installer will automatically close Classic Shell 4's Start Menu, install the skin and then restart Classic Start Menu.

Q. Is this skin usable on Windows 7?
A. No, this skin is designed only for Windows 8/8.1 and matches the look only on those OSes. For Windows 8.0, you can also use the first release of this skin which was designed to work with Classic Shell 3.x. On Windows 7 or Windows Vista, the built-in Aero skin of Classic Shell is good enough.

Q. Does this skin reset or change my Start menu settings or customizations?
A. No, with this new version, only the skin settings are changed. Your Start Menu settings and items will remain intact.

Q. What happened to the Start button included with this skin?
A. Windows 8.1 already reintroduced the Start button which Classic Shell 4 uses by default, so there is no longer a Start button included as part of this skin.

Q. After installing this skin, the Start Menu does not match my taskbar color. Why is that?
A. The skin is supposed to match the taskbar color. It works best with the color set to "Auto" so that when you wallpaper changes, your Taskbar and Start Menu color also changes. Also, if you used a modded theme or an unofficial visual style like Aero Lite, then the Start Menu color will not match the taskbar color.

Q. How can I make my Taskbar and Start Menu non-transparent (opaque)?
A. You can choose in the skin installer if you want your Taskbar or Start Menu to be transparent or opaque. By default, it is set to be non-transparent but you can run the skin installer again to change it to transparent.

Q. Does the skin support translated/MUI Start Menu?
A. Yes, if you installed a language DLL addon for Classic Shell 4, some elements in this skin will be translated. To fully translate all items, you must install the Windows language pack for your localized or base language edition of Windows.

Q. Can I redistribute this skin?
A. No, while the skin is free to use, you may not distribute it. Instead of redistributing, you can point your users or friends to our website to download the skin.

Q. How do I do <insert feature request> in Classic Shell 4's Start Menu?
A. To get general support for Classic Shell, ask in the Classic Shell forum at We will only answer questions related to this skin.

Q. How do I uninstall the skin?
A. To uninstall, simply select another skin, and delete the file from your ..\Program Files\Classic Shell\Skins directory.

Q. Does the skin contain any bundled adware, spyware or crapware?
A. No it is free of malware, adware, spyware or any such crapware. The skin is a ZIP file inside which is the EXE Installer.

Let us know in the comments whether you like the Winaero skin 2.0 for Classic Shell and show us how your Windows 8 desktop and Classic Start Menu look with this skin.


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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

19 thoughts on “Get the best looking Start Menu for Classic Shell 4+ with Winaero Skin 2.0”

  1. I’m not getting the matching color results shown in your example. Here’s a screenshot of the same background as your example with automatic color matching of the wallpaper enabled and opaque Start menu and taskbar.

    1. Are you running Windows 8 or Windows 8.1? Check on the Menu Look tab in Classic Start Menu settings. The Glass Color intensity and blending values change the shade of the menu. You can tweak the values yourself safely from 0 to 100 to match the look. For Opaque Start Menu+Taskbar, they should be Intensity=80, Blending=10. The installer sets them but if some reason some error occurred while setting those values, then it may look different. Also, if you have the Aero Glass mod installed, it may look different.

      1. Windows 8.1 but here’s what happened… instead of running the installer I extracted the .SKIN7 file and manually installed it. Therefore it skipped the 80/10 setting. Thanks for helping me figure it out.

        1. Just for note, you can trust our installers. We are people who respect the integrity of your PC to keep it free of crapware :)

    1. Yes. Right click Classic Shell’s Start Button -> Settings. Type “transparency” into the search box of the Settings dialog and uncheck “Disable taskbar transparency” option.

      1. Thank you. Tried it, but the taskbar/menu colours are no longer consistent with that option disabled (maybe that’s default behaviour?)

        1. If one of them (the taskbar) is transparent and the other (Start Menu) is opaque, or vice versa, you might need manual color adjustment. You can adjust the Start Menu colors from the Menu Look tab (experiment with the settings for glass Intensity and color blending).

  2. Thanks for a great skin, on a new win 8.1 install the installer ran fine under my ADMIN account but I had to work at getting to to install under my limited account. It would not install as a limited user with a classic two column classic shell menu
    1 changed limited account to admin type temporarily
    2 install the skin and allow it to use win 7 classic menu
    3 i had to reenter a few of my classic shell settings and when I set the menu type back to two column classic your skin still worked
    4 changed account back to limited

    Maybe an install for all users feature would have been helpful

  3. Help me please i installed your skin and now my task bar is solid color and all my folders have changed to this blue boarder, and i went in to my theme and there is this rainbow auto think that has appeared and it seams to change my boarders all the time, how did it get there how do i get my theme back to the way it was, this thing changed some things. please help.

  4. Apparently it was the last option in the installer (turn on opaque something…) after i unchecked it while reinstalling the theme my old colors are in order…

  5. You don’t realize the importance of a date on your page. Win 10 is still getting monster changes and distortions to the registry.

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