6 Ways to Totally Avoid Metro and Use Only Desktop Mode in Windows 8

Create a Custom Toolbar for Your Programs Folder

If you don’t like using third-party utilities to create a Start Menu, Windows 8 has a built-in solution that doesn’t give you the familiar Start orb, but does pop-up a menu with all your shortcuts when you click on the taskbar. Simply by creating a custom toolbar and assigning it to the right folder, you can attach this new menu to the right side of your taskbar. 

  1. Right click on the taskbar and select New Toolbar from the Toolbar menu. A dialog box appears and asks you to choose a folder
    Right Click and Select New Toolbar
  2. Navigate to C:\Users\MYUSERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs  where MYUSERNAME is your actual username (ex: Avram) and C:\ is your system drive letter. Then click select folder. The Programs menu will appear on the right side of the taskbar, next to the tray.
    Select your programs folder.
  3. Drag the border line to the left to make the toolbar bigger if you want to make it larger.
    Resize your toolbar by dragging its edge
  4. Select “lock the taskbar” after right clicking on the taskbar to prevent the toolbar from being inadvertantly dragged around.
    Lock your taskbar

Unfortunately, the toolbar will only show programs that get installed into the current user’s Start Menu/Programs folder. A few applications install into the default user’s Programs folder at C:\Users\Default\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs, but you’ll need to create a second toolbar if you want easy access to those shortcuts.
Toolbar Lets You Access Your Programs Folder

6 Ways to Totally Avoid Metro, Use Only Desktop Mode in Windows 8

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. ZipZapRap Says:

    This is a script for dorks living in the past.

    See ya later luddites. The rest of us will MOVE FORWARD and enjoy computing in the 21st century. If you can’t get your supposedly intelligent heads around Metro, I’ve got an old copy of Windows 3.1 to sell you.

  2. Jordan Says:

    Hey laptopmag. I downloaded the beta version but I heard you can’t uninstall it! do you know how?

  3. Trevor Says:

    For an even better programs menu, use the real Programs path at C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs. You can also re-create the quick launch toolbar by using the path for that in C:\Users\YOU\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch.

    Also, someone noticed you can right-click the start corner and get a lot of useful items to run.

  4. brock Says:

    The best way to avoid metro is just stick with Windows 7 no one is forcing anyone to upgrade.

  5. TOMxEU Says:

    Can you please tell me, what is wrong with the script, it bypass the childish metro, but it also opens Libraries folder.

  6. Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director Says:

    It does open Explorer on the desktop at boot. I couldn’t find a way around that when writing this article, but I’m sure there probably is one.

  7. TOMxEU Says:

    OK thanks for reply. Well as far as I can tell, MS finally did it, persuaded me to seriously consider moving to Linux, Fedora most likely, since it is the normal OS, which gives customers, what they want and do not move backwards like 8.

  8. VHMP01 Says:

    In W8 Developers Preview there was this hack:

    For the last day one of the hot topics circulating online is the news that a hack has been found to reinstate the Start Menu in Windows 8. Doing so is just a simple registry hack too.

    Open RegEdit from Windows 8 search by just typing it with the Start screen showing

    Go to:


    Change the value of RPEnabled from “1? to “0?

    The thing is that this hack also disables the new Start screen completely so you’ll never see it. In returning to Start menu to Windows 8 you make the default interface the traditional Windows desktop.

    And there was also a Widget called: “Windows8ShowStartMenu” that could alternate between UIs.

  9. Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director Says:

    Yes, but this no longer works in Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

  10. LL Says:

    Staying in W7. Let’s hope for W9… At that time i hope this MS totalitarian disease is stopped.

  11. David Says:

    I think it is interesting to watch these things in cycles. People had the same problems adapting to Windows 95 when it came out. They wanted to know how to run the old program manager (which actually came with Win 95).

    Folks will get used to Metro eventually, then be upset when it leaves, too. as far as “MS totalitarian disease “, this is no different than it has been since the DOS days. if you don’t like what they do, it is customizable. If you don’t want to adapt… don’t.

  12. Scott H. Says:

    Thank you for publishing this. Unlike Zippy, my life doesn’t revolve around having a cell phone constantly in my hand and I actually use a computer for WORK instead of playing Angry Birds or being on Facebook all day! Now I can actually see if Windows 8 will work correctly for my applications.

    Hey Zippy, good luck with your McJob and NO, I don’t want fries with that!

    -Scott H.

  13. MotorMouth Says:

    I have Win8 CP installed on my laptop and it always boots through to the desktop anyway. I assume this is because it doesn’t detect any touch-enabled hardware. I’d also suggest that the Metro Start Screen is a massive improvement over the steaming pile of camel dung that is the Vista/Win7 Start Menu. Because I had already set my PC up to avoid it, I almost never see any Metro stuff unless I want to. (I upgraded my machine from Win7, rather than do a clean install.)

  14. Vinci Says:

    Very good article; thanks to sharing.

    I tried Windows 8 consumer preview, and I switched back to 7.

    I have to admit a gain in term of performance, but in my case, I lost twice the time I win in performance at searching and opening programs, or do easy tasks.
    Maybe I’m too old, but I really NEED to be able to open my favorite programs in two clicks, and not to have to browse between a forest of apps I even don’t use to do it; and to fill my desktop or taskbar with all my Office programs in shortcuts is not an option too.
    I’m not a fan of installing these “start menu”-emulators. As you stated, they don’t offer all options a real start menu, and we all know installing such programs negatively influences the overall performances; as well as create autostart tasks.

  15. bpphantom Says:

    Just use Win+t to switch to the desktop, or even Win+m

    Sometimes the old shortcuts are still the best.

  16. Not an Idiot Says:

    Its more for people looking to do ACTUAL WORK. Metro is ok for consuming content, but its lack of flexibility becomes apparent when multitasking. Why should I have my screen cluttered with huge (touch based) tiles when I’m working with a mouse? WHY SHOULD I GET LOCKED INTO MICROSOFT’S METRO APP STORE. This is a step back for people who are productive…

  17. Deks Says:

    This is a script for dorks living in the past.

    See ya later luddites. The rest of us will MOVE FORWARD and enjoy computing in the 21st century. If you can’t get your supposedly intelligent heads around Metro, I’ve got an old copy of Windows 3.1 to sell you.

    Lol… luddites?
    The Metro UI was designed for touch based devices (namely, smart-phones and pads), and to top it all off, it looks ghastly from a design perspective – using it on a desktop or laptop (where you use a keyboard and a mouse) is incredibly stupid.
    Furthermore… the ‘consumption’ aspect is idiotic to say the least. I detest the ‘consumerism’ mentality in the first place and I don’t want huge blocks that say ‘entertainment’, ‘pics’ and the likes sticking out like a sore thumb because I don’t use Windows in such a manner in the first place (plus I put my files and everything else on a separate partition or on a completely different HDD in the first place – I only keep the OS, programs and maybe some games installed on the C partition – everything else is elsewhere in case I want to do a complete wipe of the OS without losing any of my data, or if the OS was compromised by malware/virus/whatever).

    Metro UI seems to work great on touch based devices, but start moving beyond ‘always online’ mentality into doing some other type of work or customization, the new UI falls flat on its face.

    I’m all for moving forward, and it would have been nice to see an evolution of the known UI into something better, but Metro is NOT the answer we are looking for.

  18. Efi Says:

    “Metro” is well suited for touch, and hence for tablets and media consuming users.
    But What about the people that produces the media, or program the apps you use?
    this people uses desktop or BIG very big screens (usually two).

    This people want to use win8 but don’t need or want touch. (I want to see you seat on a chear with the hands extended on the screen a few hours….)

  19. tanzanos Says:

    Just stay with windows 7 and leave all the fashion victims to go to the FISHER PRICE designed Win 8 METRO! All these fanbois who claim that win8 is progress should demand to be paid by MS for their propaganda services!

    Win7 + Classic Shell is all you will need!

    Win 8 is not recommended for enterprises, professionals, and PC users in general.

  20. Megan Says:

    ads on every picture makes you a douche-bag.

  21. rucbar321 Says:

    The only reason im having this problem at all is cause my poor laptop finally shit the bed. but for all you jackasses out there that say “well noone is forcing you to upgrade” um, yes they are, you CAN NOT get a new computer WITHOUT a windows 8 interface. wtf? you want me to go and buy windows 7? i too use my computer for work. not all those shit apps, not shopping, and i dont like to waste my time navigating around a system that caters to a device i have no desire to own. and one more thing. you DO NOT need the newest thing. you DO NOT need to take some handheld device with you everywhere you go. and i certainly DO NOT have to be inconvenienced because of you people who are addicted to that kind of shit.

  22. jimbea74 Says:

    Problem is if you buy a new proprietary machine now (HP etc) it comes with Win 8 and if it’s the consumer version there is no downgrade option. Removing Win 8 and loading 7 may affect the warranty.

  23. Jon Says:

    This is pathetic “windows key X” yo. furthermore, just type the program you want in metro and it searches for it. Is it really so bad for you? i think learning how to use a new device efficiently is fun, and if you know any keyboard commands you can fly

  24. Chris Quirke Says:

    You can create a Toolbar as say C:\Users\Pumblic\O, populate that with a few shortcuts, then use MklInk to create hard links to existing per-user and All Users Start menu. The “O” looks like an “orb” when suitably sized etc. and you’ll have a “Start Menu” without 3rd party software.

  25. AS Says:

    Thank you may have saved me from wanting to throw this new, labtop out the window.

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