How to Make Windows 10 Look Like Windows 7

Get the classic look you want on your desktop

Old PC box showing Windows 7 compatibility logo

AdrianHancu / Getty Images

Windows 10's modern interface is quickly becoming the standard for PC users, but many still prefer the look and feel of Windows 7. If you've recently purchased a new computer or were forced to upgrade and wish you could go back in time, there are some tweaks available that help makes your Windows installation look more like the classic version. You can choose to implement some or all of the suggested modifications detailed below.

Hide Cortana

Microsoft's virtual assistant is an integral part of Windows 10, designed to make everyday tasks simpler. Cortana was not around in the days of Windows 7, however, so you may want to hide it from the taskbar.

  1. Right-click in a blank space on your Windows taskbar, located at the bottom of the screen.

  2. When the pop-out menu appears, hover your mouse cursor over the Cortana option.

  3. A sub-menu will now be displayed. Choose Hidden.

    Hiding Cortana via the Windows 10 taskbar menu
  4. The Cortana icon and search box will instantly be removed from your taskbar. Repeat these steps, selecting Show search box and Show Cortana icon, to put Cortana back in its original spot at any time.

Hide the Task View Button

Also found in the taskbar, the Task View button displays all open windows in a slimmed-down, tiled format. This button was not part of Windows 7, and can be hidden by taking the following steps.

  1. Right-click in a blank space on your Windows taskbar, located at the bottom of the screen.

  2. When the pop-out menu appears, select the Show Task View button option. 

    Hiding the Task View button in Windows 10
  3. The Task View button will now be hidden. Repeat these steps at any time to return the button to its original state.

Modify the Start Menu With Classic Shell

The free-to-use Classic Shell application allows you to customize the start menu and other components so that they closely resemble the Windows 7 version.

  1. Download and install Classic Shell, available in several popular languages.

    Windows Classic Shell download page
  2. Classic Shell should launch automatically, with the Start Menu Style section displayed. If not, manually open the application and select the Start Menu Style tab.

  3. Choose the Windows 7 style option, if it is not already selected.

    Windows Classic Shell
  4. Download the Windows 7 Start Button icons from the Classic Shell forums.

  5. Once complete, extract the newly-downloaded Start Buttons.zip file into its own folder. 

  6. Place a check mark next to the Replace Start button option by selecting its accompanying check box.

    Replace Start button in Classic Shell application
  7. Next, select the Custom option, and press Pick image...

    Adding Custom Start button in Classic Shell application
  8. The Windows Explorer interface will now appear. Navigate to the Start Buttons folder, and select the WindowsStartButton medium file.

    Windows 10 with Windows 7 Start button
  9. You'll now be returned to the Classic Shell interface, with the Windows 7 Start Button displayed under the Custom option. Choose the Skin tab, located directly under the Search settings box towards the top of the screen.

    Skin Settings interface of Classic Shell application

    

  10. Select the Skin drop-down menu and choose the Windows Aero option.

    Choosing a Skin in the Classic Shell application
  11. Press OK, found in the lower right-hand corner of the Classic Shell window.

    Windows 10 with Aero theme
  12. Classic Shell will close and your new Start Menu and skin settings should be applied immediately.

Download Windows 7 Wallpaper

If you're really aiming for the genuine Windows 7 look then you'll want to replace your wallpaper with the classic logo on a sky blue background.

  1. Download the Windows 7 background image, compressed as a ZIP file named img0.zip.

  2. Locate the downloaded file and extract it into its own folder.

  3. Right-click in any blank space on your Windows 10 desktop.

  4. When the pop-out menu appears, select the Personalize option.

  5. The Windows Settings interface should now be displayed. If it's not already selected choose Background, found in the left menu pane.

    Windows 10 Background settings interface
  6. Press Browse, located in the Choose your picture section.

  7. The Windows Explorer interface will now appear. Navigate to the newly-extracted img0 folder, and select the img0 file.

  8. Press Choose picture.

  9. Your desktop wallpaper should now be replaced by the Windows 7 background.

Modify the Windows Color Scheme

The default color scheme in Windows 10 is significantly darker than what Windows 7 users are accustomed to. Take the steps below to lighten things up and better mimic the classic colors.

  1. Right-click in any blank space on your Windows 10 desktop.

  2. When the pop-out menu appears, select the Personalize option.

  3. The Windows Settings interface should now be displayed. Select Colors, located in the left menu pane.

    Windows 10 Colors settings interface
  4. In the Windows colors section, select the blue that most closely resembles Windows 7's default shade.

  5. Scroll down to the More options section and place a check mark next to each of the following settings by selecting their accompanying check box once: Start, taskbar, and action center; Title bars

  6. Your new color scheme should now be applied.

Revert File Browsing Settings With OldNewExplorer

The Windows Explorer file browsing interface underwent a significant overhaul in Windows 10, with multiple changes from what is now known as the classic version. While these upgrades were meant to improve the overall user experience, many Windows 7 purists do not see them as improvements. If you're one of these folks, follow the instructions below to revert some of the settings back to their old state.

OldNewExplorer application interface

To get started you'll first need to download the OldNewExplorer application, compressed as a RAR file, and extract this file into its own folder. Next, navigate to the newly-extracted OldNewExplorer folder and double-click on the OldNewExplorerCfg file.

The OldNewExplorer configuration interface should now appear, overlaying your Windows desktop. Click on the Install button, found in the Shell extension section. When prompted on whether or not you'd like to allow this application to make changes to your operating system, choose Yes.

In the Behavior section, click on the Use classical drive grouping in This PC setting to activate that feature. In the Appearance section, place a checkmark next to the Use command bar instead of Ribbon option by clicking on its accompanying checkbox. 

Click on the Close button, located in the lower right-hand corner of the OldNewExplorer window. You may need to reboot your PC in order for these new settings to take effect.