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Make Xp Start Menu Behave Like Vista Without Installing Vistart or Any 3rd Party


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With working searchbar, scrolled program menu bar, etc...

As always, Our Guru Vishal Gupta (VG, Credits to him) also has a very good tutorial about :


Just check it out his post below or click the direct link to his awesome tutorial HERE.

Again, thx alot Master VG! :)

Hello everybody. After installing Vista, at first sight i have noticed There are 5 main features on Vista start menu that make it really different with Xp one:

1. Search Bar with Quick Search and File/Program Search

2. Scroll Program

3. Of course, The Skin (black) and GUI

4. The Menu/arrow next to Vista Log off/Shut Down Button

5. User Picture on Right

6. User Account Pictures

Most people choosed to install 3rd party apps on Xp such as Vistart and Vista Start Menu Emulator/VSE for emulating the features in Xp. Surely they (especially Vistart (Y), it rocks! ) are very good and useful apps, even free, with Vista functional features such as searchbar and transparency (though still lack of some i.e Right click/context menu extension feature not like original start menu etc). But still great job!

Otherwise even there are many good-looking Vista themes with fake searchbar GUI only to get "pure Vista in poor Xp". But please, still great job too!

However you can still get the functional features (behavior) without installing any 3rd party app (Except WDS/Windows Search, as recommended update/add on for Xp as Vista). Just use built in Xp Start Menu feature and Windows Search add on that originally from Microsoft (again, not only as a separated desktop search application, Windows Search is also a recommended update for old Xp search companion). Window Search even has same search engine with Vista Search (though the GUI is rather different, but functionality and many features are similar). Please also Visit Wikipedia to read more about Window Search in Vista and Xp. It's also integrated with Windows Explorer as replacement for Xp Search Companion (Rover).

If you like Vista ports and features, you can also consider about Windows Search (i realize there are many desktop search apps that might be better i.e. Copernic, but WDS is always in my heart lol :lol: . Seriously, i love it).

1. Search Bar with Quick Search and File/Program Search:

Install WDS (Windows Search). Download latest version from Microsoft (Version 4.0) Here. After installing, a new searchbar (Deskbar) will appear on taskbar. If not, right click the taskbar > Toolbar > Select "Deskbar" or "Windows Search Deskbar". To arrange it, Right click the taskbar > unlock the taskbar, then drag it under start menu as screenshot : From left to right (Start Button - Searchbar (Deskbar) - QuickLaunch bar).

By using Searchbar you can also search any file and program everywhere on hard disk, so fast, also internet, and even launch the programs (nearly similar with Vista feature). Please also read the help file after installing Wndows Search.

2. Scroll Program:

Right click the start menu, choose Properties > Start Menu > Customize > Advanced. Check "scroll program" box.

Dont forget also make sure to enable some useful features (usually by default) i.e "Enable Dragging and Dropping" etc. Since now, your Xp start menu already has scroll feature (vertical) as well as Vista, not "expand to right" (horizontal) anymore. Even it has "auto-scroll" (when mouse/cursor hover).

3. Skin/GUI:

This is related with Visual Styles/Theme and very personal (taste). Of course Vistart GUI is more similar with original one, but if you just want the "basic taste", Just use your favorite Vista Skin for Xp (either MSStyles and Window Blinds), especially black ones i.e. Zune, Royal Noir etc.

One of my favorite ones is VistaXp by Kol (Credits to Kol) as screenshot. You can also get it for free Here.

That's all. The GUI might still be so far from original Vista Start Menu look, or Vistart will still rule on the area. But to me, at least my Xp start menu still looks better and more comfortable than before... , all done just by original Microsoft/built in Windows tools.

4. The Menu/Arrow next to Vista Log off/Shut Down Button:

Hmmm....so far...any suggestion here, please? Add on? :lol: Yes seems only Vistart has this feature so far... (Thx to tosbsas for telling me). However i just think it's not rather critical/important feature...

5. User Picture on Right:

(Back to theme/Skin). You can also use some handsome Vista theme for Xp with user picture on right (like Vista). So many themes like that. One of my favorite is Vista VG RTM Here (Credits to Vishal GuptaDeviantart/MS-MVP). However i just think it's not rather critical/important feature...

6. User Account Pictures:

Vista User Account Pictures are different with Xp.

Just download all Vista User Account Pictures (Credits to Joshu4, Deviantart) HERE

then extract/copy them to "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\User Account Pictures" (in Hidden "Application Data" folder). Of course alternatively you can also use "browse" feature. Then you can use one of them to replace standard Xp one as user account picture (unless you use your own picture). This is just optional...

Screenshots (Click to enlarge):

1. Xp Start Menu SeachBar:


2. Xp Start Menu Scroll Program (Vertical):


3. Windows Search "Quick Search" Feature (Like Vista Start Menu "Quick Search" Feature):



(Sorry I know most people may already know about this, but i included it only for integrity of this thread... :D ) :

If you want to re-arrange all folders and shortcuts of programs on Start Menu (i.e. to re-classify them: Create "Design applications" program folder for "AutoCAD" and "PhotoShop" shortcuts or "Tools and Utilities" program folder for "CCleaner" and "TuneUp Utilities" shortcuts etc), you can also find them in (either/both) 2 paths :

(All Without Quotes):

[b]1. All users -> (If the programs installed for everyone/general):[/b]

"%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Start Menu\Programs"

or typical value (on C:\):

"C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs"

[b]2. User {UserName} -> (If the programs installed for only me/you): [/b]

"%USERPROFILE%\Start Menu\Programs"

or typical value (on C:\):

"C:\Documents and Settings\{username}\Start Menu\Programs"

For example: If {username}="Andy", so the path becomes:

"C:\Documents and Settings\Andy\Start Menu\Programs"

Just create a new folder, rename it as you want, and drag/move (cut) the program shorcuts/folders there. Delete/move the unnecessary ones i.e Shorcut to Changelog file etc. Finally check the start menu, done. Make them simpler but also better and easier to access... :)

Add On for Xp Start Menu (Optional: Y'z Shadow):

If you still want transparency on Xp start menu and shadow like Vistart and (mimic) original Vista one, then you could also use this very well-known tool: Y'Z shadow (OK sorry :D , this is a 3rd party program/add on, but it's also so simple, cool, light, and actually you can also use it without installing it before). It can give transparency and shadow on Start Menu and also other Windows and some useful features. (It's also already built in some skinning programs like Vista Inspirat/Bricopacks)

- Download Y'z Shadow Installer latest version 1.9:

Crystal Xp: http://www.crystalxp.net/galerie/en.id.960...lorer-tools.htm

- Download Y'z Shadow "Portable" 1.9 (Main software files only/Exe, no need to install):

MD5: 704E0EFE4683E34E0B7253C6E4E8393C , 249 Kb


About Y'Z Shadow Portable:

- The main software files/Exe are never altered/tampered since i took them all only from YZ shadow program folder on "%ProgramFiles%\Y'z Shadow" or "C:\Program Files\Y'z Shadow". Only the unnecessary files such as uninstaller (Uninst0.exe) was removed.

- You can also take them all after installing YZ Shadow installer above as just backup from the program folder above (see the path)->Recommended. After that no reinstall needed. (it seems actually the program itself never needs installer, even all dlls and exes are self-registering...

> SOME FREE ADD ONS FOR WINDOWS DESKTOP SEARCH (WDS) / WINDOWS SEARCH (GET VISTA / WINDOWS 7 SEARCH ENGINE ON XP): http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/desktopsearch/choose/windowssearch4.mspx

Also With search bar, e.g. on XP start menu too and so on...

- Visual Desktop Search 1.0 (VDS 1.0) - Freeware, by Michael J. Lowe (thanks, all credits to him): Seems originally inspired by Longhorn/Vista desktop search and WinFS. A desktop search user interface, called Visual Desktop Search (VDS), has been designed and implemented to enhance the capabilities of Microsoft Windows Desktop Search (WDS, now just called "Windows Search"). Visual Desktop provides facilities allowing you to search for information stored on your computer, such as emails in Microsoft Office Outlook or Microsoft Outlook Express, as well as documents, music files and photos. Using file properties and attributes (metadata) as search parameter beside names and word contents in advanced and informative UI and control features, etc and so on...


Download: http://www.kalio.info/Visual_Desktop_Search/

4Shared mirror: http://www.4shared.com/file/196273057/b14f2951/Visual_Desktop_Search_10__Wind.html

- Vista Start Menu Pro - much better than Vistart IMHO (By Dennis Nazarenko, available as free version and pro/payware): Vista Start Menu is the convenient alternative to the plain Start menu you find in Windows XP and Windows Vista. The program uses your cognitive abilities (visual memory, reflexes,etc.); however, while it is easily understandable for beginners, it is also highly efficient for experienced users. Replaces standard Windows Start Menu (works well on XP, Vista, and Windows 7) with better start menu with better features. Also supports Windows Search and Search companion in XP as well as Vista / 7 search, and brings Vista / 7 search bar to XP start menu with full Windows search capabilities to search programs and files etc. Overall, also seems this Vista Start Menu application is even much better than Vistart and the original Vista start menu itself IMHO!


Download: http://www.vistastartmenu.com/

Tips: To get Vista / Windows 7 icons on Vista Start Menu you have to patch Shell32.dll/use any XP shell transformation pack like VTP, Bricopack Vista Inspirate, Vistamizer, etc).

- MSN/Windows Live Toolbar: (Old) MSN Toolbar (Version 2.5+), Also provides toolbar with searchbar for Windows Desktop Search on both Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer in Windows 2000 and XP (with "stupid" MSN logo though lol. However some people still said it's nicer than the newer version). It's not supported anymore by Microsoft though, nor optimized/designed for newer version of Windows Search (4.0). Newer Windows Live and MSN Toolbar (now Bing?) for Internet Explorer also has both live search and Windows (Desktop) Search features, and been optimized.

Download and more info: http://toolbar.msn.com/ , http://download.live.com/toolbar , and http://www.discoverbing.com/toolbar/ (or just google etc...)

Hopefully still can be useful, or at least just as a little info here. Cya! :D


FYI In a fresh install of new Vista SP1 from Vista OS DVD (not SP1 from Windows Update/Automatic Update/SP1 installer/hotfix for Vista RTM), the start menu searchbar (not Windows Search service, nor searchbar in explorer) has been disabled by default. Seems because of Google Antitrust. Thx to adrynalyne for the confirmation.


Another Related Thread :

Get/Install Vista Explorer Preview Pane (Vista File Viewer) and Vista Desktop Search for Windows Xp

List: Most Vista Applications and Features for Xp So Far (included Vista Apps Ported to Xp Etc)

-> Recommended for All Xp / 2003 Users

Edited by AMIRZ
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  • 2 weeks later...
i think there is no transparency..and search is not 100% functional...

:) Thx for your opinion/input mate, i do respect it. Btw if you dont mind could you please share what's your way to customize Xp start menu (if you use Xp)/any suggestion please? I'd really like to know since it can also be more useful to me/people here, thx. If you used Vistart, yes it is a good software to mimic Vista start menu GUI and some functions of it, but since the thread: "Make Xp Start Menu behave like Vista without..." It's just an alternative way to use and enhance standard/original Xp Start menu that originally created by Microsoft (+Windows Search for Vista/Xp sorry) for the OS instead of any third party add on (or just minimal ones). If you want that you can still get transparency on start menu by using YZ Shadow (and Transbar for the taskbar if you also want it and so on) and in my personal opinion the Windows Searchbar is still functional enough (even good if not perfect) though maybe it's not as well as original Vista one (i.e you can search/launch any file on all directories even programs by it, use Windows Search indexing, while Vistart only searches programs and files in i.e my document, not sure about latest version does. Even the software still lack of right click menu and tooltip value like standard Xp/Vista start menu i.e. properties, copy etc just compare them... :blink: ). The enhanced Xp start menu with Windows searchbar will still be much better than most good looking Vista theme for Xp since they may only have fake searchbar on start menu, ironically most people chosen them. Personally i still prefer the function and simplicity/originality of Xp by tweaking/exploring the available hidden feature first (i.e scroll program above) rather than "eye candy" and/or even "copycat", as we can still make Xp better (for both GUI and functionality, not only one) without copying Vista GUI too much, but it must still have some advantage of some Vista features as updates/enhancements. But once again, that's my personal opinion. If you prefer Vistart or any other third party (or none of them, or even directly the Vista OS itself etc :w00t: ) then it's 100% your right and choice. That's why it's called "personal computer", welcome to Windows Customization. Again, i still thank you for your input here mate hopefully i will update the thread if a new/better thing available for original Xp start menu...but so far that's all...

Whatever your choice keep it up, good luck Buddy :D , sorry for my bad English, and long live Xp! :thumbsup_anim: cheers!

Edited by AMIRZ
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LOL its like the poor mans way to get your start menu to look like vista :D

pri2sh Search is not 100% because you have to add more places to index

EDIT: deleted unneccessary comment here. Thx Ricktendo :D

And yes you have to add any directory to index before searching (that's standard Windows Search behavior for Xp, so what's wrong with it? it's functional if you do that, sooo eeeasy, like you can edit the similar feature in Vista i.e. to not index a drive). :D cheers!

PS: Oh once again/one more, To everybody, if you're not interested, easy just keep your own way that might be much better than mine, that's why it's called "personal computer" (this one is only for the poor man's way as Ricktendo said :D ). All relative here. If you only have Xp but still want it behave 100% exactly/extremely like Vista, then do not spend your precious time by creating, hacking, or installing any stupid cheap child toy on Xp, but better go and buy/get original Vista OS and supported (Vista Ready/Capable) PC (i.e. like me and Ricktendo). I'm very happy with both of them on my desktop and laptop now (Original Xp MCE 2005 and Vista Ultimate). Sorry for my very bad English

My similar thread on another forum


Edited by AMIRZ
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AMIRZ..."The poor man's way" is just a figure of speech

:D Ha..ha.. Hi Rick I already know little what that means in English now (yes sorry as i said coz i live in non English speaking country and environment so my english is bad/poor, but not too bad so dont worry, please use common vocabulary), i already know you never attack any person, so do i, but only his/her stupid opinion/work so far, it's good. It was actually nothing personal/negative here but i was just kidding myself, as you can see all happy emoticons above. after reading your post then personally (only me) I just felt funny to hear "poor man" word (i laughed after reading your post) then i imagined myself very poor and stupid :D with old Xp OS , cant buy vista, then try to make it like expensive Vista with Xp start menu that customized by my way comparing with any other general app/effort that people usually use e.g Vistart, MSStyle/WB theme that ironically with stupid fake searchbar lol and so on. Sad, very sad. Sorry sorry for this misunderstanding just very funny for myself. Only me.

Btw sometimes i think The GUI are sooo minimal and far from Vista one ha...ha... :D (looked sad for most customization people) and i confessed that and flashed back (OMG why i created this f***ing thread? :D ). But all i just wanted is to explain why i created/shared this thread, only to show most people especially Xp users if we can still get some Vista-like features rather than the Vista copycat GUI by using some "hidden" Xp start menu features that most people usually never used it before i.e "scroll bar" + the searchbar from Windows Search that based on same engine with original Vista search (you can read the title: only "behave like Vista" not "look like Vista", OK). And maybe why the GUI still looks like Xp for us, coz it's Xp lol, and it's still not quite old yet now with some black theme i.e Zune (you will say Vista even Windows 7 ugly 15 years forward) Thx alot to my mentor Vishal Gupta- MS-MVP-master of tweakers for his kind support so far.

That's it. Sorry for bad english and maybe too long stupid post. I go home now, im so tired with any computer and customization business, seems Xp almost got everything, and it's time to say welcome to Vista and Windows 7, it's my opinion. Maybe i have to go holiday for several days or even more, or just be an observer since now. I hope you will read this post. Thx and Cya!

Edited by AMIRZ
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