Introducing Winaero’s exclusive Skin Pack for Classic Shell

Update: A newer Winaero Skin, version 2.0 is now available for Classic Shell 4!  Get it here.

After applying the Winaero Skin Pack 1.0 for Classic Shell

Today, Winaero has something special for you, our readers. We are going to share with you an awesome looking Skin Pack for Classic Shell on Windows 8 that makes its massively popular Start Menu look closer to the original Windows Start Menu. It is free for you and exclusively for Classic Shell on Windows 8 only. Click the button below to download the skin:

This is how it looks with a transparent taskbar and skin transparency on:

This is how it looks with an opaque taskbar and transparency turned off:


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

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

Winaero Skin Pack 1.0 for Classic Shell FAQ

Q. What is the Winaero Skin Pack for Classic Shell?
A. Winaero Skin Pack for Classic Shell is a set of settings plus a skin we created at Winaero so the Start Menu component of Classic Shell better matches the Windows 8 look. Obviously, you will need the Start Menu component of Classic Shell installed before installing this. This skin pack is the first version for the Classic style of the menu. For the newer Windows 7 style of the menu added in Classic Shell 4.0, get the version 2.0 of this skin from the link at the top of this page.

Q. What does this Skin Pack include?
A. Winaero's Skin Pack 1.0 for Classic Shell includes a .SKIN file for Classic Shell's Start Menu, a .REG (registry) file containing optimized set of settings, and 2 PNG images of the Windows 7 Start Button/Orb, for large and small taskbar sizes. Download the ZIP file, extract and start the installer.

Q. Why did Winaero create this Skin Pack? What is the advantage over the default look of Classic Shell?
A. The skins shipping as part of Classic Shell do not match the look of the Windows 7 Start Menu or the style of Windows 8. Many settings also need to be heavily tweaked to get a more closer look. We tried to match the look on Windows 8 while making some changes from the Windows 7 style. For example, the skin has square corners, not rounded corners, like Windows 8 has. Also, because Windows 8 no longer has blur or glow, the glass is replaced by simple transparency, just like the Windows 8 taskbar uses. Semi-transparent Start Menu without blur makes the content behind it much harder to read, so we made the skin with very subtle transparency, that keeps the content behind it readable.

Q.Which version of Classic Shell do I need for this Skin Pack to work correctly?
A. Because, as of this writing the latest version of Classic Shell is 3.6.6, this Skin Pack is expected to work properly on 3.6.6 and later. While it may work with older versions, some skin feature improvements introduced in later versions may not work well with older versions.

Q. How do I install the Winaero Skin Pack for Classic Shell?
A. Download the ZIP file and extract the installer EXE anywhere. The installer will automatically close Classic Shell's Start Menu, install the skin and settings and then prompt you to restart Classic Start Menu.

Q. Is this Skin Pack usable on Windows 7?
A. No, this Skin Pack is designed only for Windows 8 and matches the look only on that OS. On Windows 7 or Windows Vista, using this Skin Pack can lead to unpredictable look and behavior.

Q. What things does this Skin Pack change in Classic Shell? Why does it need to change my Classic Shell settings?
A. In order to get a closer look of the Windows 7 Start Menu, not only do the skin bitmaps have to be changed, but some settings in Classic Shell also need to be different from what the defaults are. You can back up your settings before installing this Skin Pack and then do the same customizations you do to Classic Shell on your system after installing it. This Skin Pack does not change your Start Menu shortcuts in any way.

Q. I need a Start button with the Windows 8 logo, not the Windows 7 logo.
There is one with the Windows 8 logo in the Classic Shell forum: There are also many other websites to download custom Start buttons such as deviantart. To set a custom Start button image, open Classic Start Menu settings and go to the Start Button tab. Choose the "Custom" option, browse to the image and adjust the size if required.

Q. I do not want all the items in the Start Menu which the Skin Pack adds. How can I remove the items I do not want?
A. It is very easy to remove the items you do not want. By default, we added as many items as possible because users ask frequently how to add a particular folder to the Classic Start Menu. To remove any item, open Classic Shell Start Menu settings by right clicking the Start button, enable All Settings, go to the Customize Start Menu tab. Locate the item you want to remove in the left column and press Delete on your keyboard, or right click the item and choose Delete Item. Click OK to save.

Q. I want to show certain items only as a link. I do not want to expand them as a menu. How do I do that?
A. By default, most items expand as a menu. To show them as a link, go to Customize Start Menu tab in Classic Shell Start Menu settings, locate the item in the left column and double click it. In the Edit Menu Item dialog that appears, check the "Don't Expand" option. Click OK twice. For some items, you may need to set them to "Display as a link" from the Special Items tab.

Q. After installing this Skin Pack, the Start Menu does not match my taskbar color. Why is that?
A. The skin in this Skin Pack *should* match the Taskbar color as long as you use the official Windows 8 Personalization Control Panel to set the color and use an Aero-based theme/visual style. If you modified the Aero color using some other tool, you may need to adjust the color again from the Personalization Control Panel so that the Start Menu will match the Taskbar color. The skin 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 a modded theme or an unofficial visual style like Aero Lite, then the Start Menu color will not match the taskbar color.

Q. I have made my Taskbar opaque. The semi-transparent menu does not match it. How do I disable the transparency?
A. Open Classic Shell settings by right clicking the Start button and go to the Skin tab. Select the "Winaero" skin. The first option lets you disable the transparency for use with an opaque taskbar.

Q. Does the Skin Pack support translated/MUI Start Menu?
A. If you installed a language DLL addon for Classic Shell, 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. There are two exceptions. The "Programs" and "Computer" items will not be translated.

Q. Can I redistribute this Skin Pack?
A. No, while the Skin Pack 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 Pack.

Q. How do I do <insert feature request> in Classic Shell'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 Pack.

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

Q. Does the Skin Pack contain any bundled adware, spyware or crapware?
A. No it is free of malware, adware, spyware or any such crapware. The Skin Pack is a ZIP file inside which is the EXE Installer. As mentioned above, it includes a skin, 2 images and a .REG file to fine-tune Classic Shell settings.

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Author: Gaurav Kale

Gaurav is a software enthusiast from India and Classic Shell tester & UX consultant. He started with Windows 95 and is good at software usability testing. He firmly believes that user experience is just as important as software code quality and architecture for software to be successful.

11 thoughts on “Introducing Winaero’s exclusive Skin Pack for Classic Shell”

  1. How does one get the left hand side of the menu populated?
    It is all white and I only see 2 entries showing:


    I would like to have it show like in the last screenshot above.

    1. The left top area is the Pinned area. You can drag and drop shortcuts there to pin them. Below it is the recently used programs area. Those programs must be launched from the Start Menu to be populated there.

  2. Love Classic Shell, it saved me from throwing my new laptop at the wall as i hate that Metro crap with Win 8. Thank you!

  3. Wow this skin really makes the look perfect. Thanks a lot. Now my Windows desktop looks really slick. :)

  4. So is this an upgrade to regular Classic Shell.

    I wanted the next version of CS, but it still in Beta and may not be stable.

  5. Hi, I recently installed classic shell 4.0.0. Unfortunately, this skin no longer seems to work with the new classic shell.
    I no longer see it in the classic shell settings. Any plans to update this for 4.0?

    1. The older 1.0 skin works in the classic style of the menu but it does not look right on Windows 8.1 (it may look correct on Windows 8.0) because Microsoft made changes to the DWM again in 8.1. I will see if I can update it soon.

  6. Classic Shell it now given to the Community and
    the follower is now Open Shell
    The downloads :

    the Homepage is now in development and should be :
    later …

    best regards

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