Windows Start Menu ViStart Manual

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Introduction to ViStart 7.0

ViStart – The ultimate windows start menu replacement.

ViStart 7 is the first and only custom start menu for Windows that not only adds additional functionality from newer versions of Windows but is completely customizable and is compatible with every major version of Windows since Windows XP to Windows 8. Now everyone can decorate their start menu and experience the functionality from the Windows 7 start menu without buying an expensive Windows license. It started out as a Vista start menu for Windows XP giving Windows XP users a Vista like start menu. Since then I have developed ViStart further into a completely customizable start menu for all versions of Windows. The default theme that comes with ViStart is one that was made to resemble Windows 7 but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to only that theme.

Click here to visit out skin gallery to check out other themes for ViStart. With these themes you can make your start menu look like Windows Metro or even Ubuntu.

Hot Tip: Windows 8 doesn’t have a windows start menu but you can use ViStart 7 with Windows 8 to get a replica Windows 7 start menu.

ViStart Features

  • Get the Windows 7 start menu for all operating systems! Start programs
  • Quickly and easily search for files, folders and programs Log off from Windows or switch to a different user
  • Customize your start menu with thousands of new themes Easy access to your recently opened documents
  • Make your own custom items that appear on the side of the start menu Navigate your start menu more efficiently
  • Get a more sexy looking start menu for free Support for large icons
  • Get help with the Windows operating system
  • The fastest start menu ever for finding programs and documents
  • Replaces the ugly green start button with a smooth and sexy 7 Orb Shutdown your computer straight from the system tray
  • Adjust your computer settings

This tutorial assumes that you are using the default Windows 7 theme for ViStart. Let’s talk about the new Features, improvements and new changes


Installation for ViStart 7 can be done in 2 easy steps. First download the file windows-start-menu-vistart.exe. After downloading the file, run it and read the license agreement. After the installation is complete ViStart will automatically be launched.

If you encounter problems downloading or installing ViStart you may have to temporarily disable your antivirus whilst downloading and installing it and then re-enable after the installation procedure. ViStart doesn’t make any permanent changes to your computer. 

Getting Started with ViStart

To open the ViStart Start menu, click the Start button windows-start-button-icon in the lower-left corner of your screen. Or, press the Windows logo key windows-button-icon on your keyboard. The ViStart Start menu appears

  • The Start menu is divided into three basic parts:
  • The large pane shows a short list of frequently opened programs. ‘All Programs’ displays a complete list of programs installed on your computer (more on this later).
  • In the lower left corner is the search box, which enables you to search for programs and documents on your computer by typing search terms.
  • The right panels provides easy access to commonly used folders, files, settings, and features. It’s also where you go to log off from Windows, exit ViStart or turn off your computer.

The first time you open ViStart you will find it looks very empty because you haven’t opened any programs with ViStart yet. As you continue to open files and programs in ViStart, this empty area will fill up with programs you frequently open.

Opening Programs from start menu

Perhaps the most common use of the Start Menu is opening programs you have installed on your computer. To open any programs shown on left panel simply click it and the program will open and the start menu will close.

If you are unable to see the program you want to open then click All Programs at the bottom of the start menu and instantly the left panel will show all your installed programs in alphabetical order followed by a list of folders.

Image showing the Windows Start Menu, ViStart starting a program
Figure 1, ViStart after clicking “All Programs”

Clicking one of the programs launches that program and the start menu will automatically close. Clicking a folder will show its contents. Usually a folder contains items related to its name. For example clicking Accessories will show al the accessories installed on your computer.

Searching for programs and files with ViStart

The search box is one of the most convenient ways to access files and programs on your computer. To find a program in ViStart with ViStart open start typing the name of the program and ViStart will immediately start filtering your programs and files based on the name you have typed. Then simply click on the item to open it.

The search box before anything is typed
The search box before anything is typed

A program or file will appear as a search result if any word in its title matches or begins with your search term. A picture below illustrates this-

ViStart showing the search results for the term ‘Windows’
ViStart showing the search results for the term ‘Windows’

Hot Tip: Instead of using the mouse to launch the program you can use the down and up arrow keys on your keyboard to select the desired program or file and then press the “Return” key to open it.

Understanding the right panel menu

The right panel of the Start menu contains links to useful parts of Windows that are commonly used. They appear in this order from top to bottom.

  • Personal folder. Opens your personal folder, which is named for whoever is currently logged on to Windows. For example, if the current user is Molly Clark, the folder will be named Molly Clark. This folder, in turn, contains user-specific files, including the Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders.
  • Documents. Opens the Documents folder, where you can store and open text files, spreadsheets, presentations, and other kinds of documents.
  • Pictures. Opens the Pictures folder, where you can store and view digital pictures and graphics files.
  • Music. Opens the Music folder, where you can store and play music and other audio files.
  • Recent Items. Opens a list of files you’ve opened recently. Click one of the files in the list to open it.
  • Computer. Opens a window where you can access disk drives, cameras, printers, scanners, and other hardware connected to your computer.
  • Network. Opens a window where you can access the computers and devices on your network.
  • Connect To. Opens a window where you can connect to a new network.
  • Control Panel. Opens Control Panel, where you can customize the appearance and functionality of your computer, add or remove programs, set up network connections, and manage user accounts.
  • Help and Support. Opens Windows Help and Support, where you can browse and search Help topics about using Windows and your computer. See Getting help.

These descriptions are from the Microsoft website

Power and Program Options

ViStart showing the power menu
ViStart showing the power menu

Compared with the previous version of ViStart (the Windows Vista Start Menu) ViStart 7 has a redesigned shut down menu. To shutdown the computer you simply need to click the “Shut down” button. For more options you can click on the small arrow right next to the shut down button and select the action you wish.

Hot Tip: You can also access this menu from the system tray menu on your taskbar.

ViStart Start Menu showing the options window
ViStart Start Menu showing the options window

How to find the ViStart settings window

Also in the same list of options you can see 2 options relevant to the start menu, “Options” and “Exit”. If you click the “Options” dialogue you will be presented with the options window.

Default Programs

This section allows you to change the default web browser and e-mail client used by the operating system.

Customizing ViStart

ViStart with Windows 8 start menu theme
ViStart with Windows 8 start menu theme

Unlike the official start menu from Microsoft you can’t really change the way it looks too much. With the official windows start menu you’re limited to the same boring and dull design. With ViStart you can choose from hundreds of different themes in our skin gallery that allows you to truly change the way ViStart looks and feels.

Installing new themes is easy

  1. Pick a theme you like from our skin gallery.
  1. Click the “Download” button on the website.
  1. Then after the download has finished, open the downloaded file.
  1. You will be presented with the skinning wizard. Simply click “Next” to install the theme. Then simply open ViStart by clicking on the start orb.

Right Menu Customization

The right panel displays a menu with commonly used links in Windows such as Music or Control Panel. It is possible to add or replace these links. First make sure ViStart isn’t running by exiting ViStart by clicking on the small arrow and selecting “Exit”.

Since the start menu has to be an exact height we can’t fit another item in the right menu but we can replace an existing one. So let’s say we want to replace the “Videos” folder with a different folder or even a web address.

Press the Windows logo key  on your keyboard and the ‘R’ key on your keyboard at the same time to open the run dialogue. Then copy and paste the following into the textbox and press the OK button;

notepad “%programfiles%\vistart\settings.xml”

If you get an error try this

notepad “%programfiles(x86)%\vistart\settings.xml”

Find the line that says

<option name="Videos".

Let’s change the writing that says Videos to Google. This will change the Videos writing on the start menu to Google. Now on the line below you will find

<arguement value="%VIDEOS%"/>

Change %VIDEOS% to “”. If you did it correctly it will look something like this:

<option name="Google" program="explorer" rollover="rollover\videos.png"> <arguement value=""/></option>

Then go to “File” and then “Save” to save the changes and re-open ViStart by opening the ViStart installer located on the ViStart product homepage. You can change the web address to a location on your computer if you prefer.

You can also change the rollover image by changing the rollover parameter. However you first need to find a suitable image and save it as a PNG file to the ViStart rollover directory.