Don't Love Windows 11? These Settings Make It More Like Windows 10

If you got cozy with Windows 10 and don't love the feel of Windows 11, these steps will make things more familiar again.

Clifford Colby Managing Editor
Clifford is a managing editor at CNET, where he leads How-To coverage. He spent a handful of years at Peachpit Press, editing books on everything from the first iPhone to Python. He also worked at a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWEEK and MacUser. Unrelated, he roots for the Oakland A's.
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Clifford Colby
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Running Windows 11, but pining for Windows 10?

If you've made the jump to Windows 11, you'll find a lot of new features to check out -- from a more streamlined interface to the ability to download Android apps. Windows 11 began a phased rollout in October, but Microsoft said the company is ahead of its original mid-2022 rollout completion. That said, Windows 11 is a departure from the familiar Windows look, and and you might find yourself wishing some things still worked the way they did in  Windows 10

If you like having the Start menu over on the left or are still making your mind up about having the Widgets button in the taskbar, some simple changes can bring back a bit of the Windows 10 feel.

Here's how to make Windows 11 look more like Windows 10, from a few easy adjustments to a bigger modification that requires some technical know-how. For more on Window 11, here's how to change your default search engine in Edge and other browsers. If you're curious, here's what else has changed since Windows 10, what we wished had been included and how you can get the new OS.

Move the Start menu back to the left

It's worth saying, Microsoft right now doesn't offer a way to get the Windows 11 Start menu to look exactly like it did in Windows 10. But you can get close. If, you liked having the Start menu and taskbar on the left-hand side in Windows 10, you can quickly move it over in Windows 11. Here's how:

1. Go to Settings and over on the left, choose Personalization.

2. Scroll down and choose Taskbar options

3. Down at the bottom, choose Taskbar behaviors.

4. To the right of Taskbar alignment, from the drop-down menu, choose Left.

That should shift the taskbar and Start menu over to the bottom-left corner of your screen.  Note that you can't shift to the far right, just back to the center, if you change your mind. 

Add items back items that were in Windows 10's Action Center

Windows 11 takes items that were part of the Action Center -- that area in Windows 10 where you received notifications and had quick access to actions -- and puts them either into a notifications center and quick settings panel over to the far-right side of the taskbar. Here,  you can find settings and notifications for commonly used apps. If you want to restore items you had in the Action Center in Windows 10, you can add them to the new  panel. Here's how.

1. Tap the network, volume and battery icon on the right side of the taskbar.

2. At the bottom of the pane, tap the pencil icon and then tap Add.

3. Add items to the panel, including Night light and Keyboard layout.

You can control notifications from apps and other senders by heading to Settings, choosing System and then choosing Notifications.

Remove the Widgets button in the taskbar

Undecided about Windows 11 Widgets or the Widgets button, which takes up space in the taskbar? It's easy to get rid of the button. 

In the taskbar, right-click the Widgets button on your Taskbar and select Hide from taskbar.

Note, if you want to get rid of the Chat button to the right of Widgets, you can do the same thing for that button.

Miss that Windows 10 wallpaper?

If you want to see the Windows 10 wallpaper in your Windows 11 desktop, that's doable too.

You can head to Microsoft's repository to find some Windows 10-appropriate wallpaper, or do a quick Google search for "original windows 10 wallpaper" to find a site like Wallpaperaccess that has Windows 10 backgrounds.

Get back full context menus

Windows 11 seems to have streamlined everything, including context menus. If you want to see all your choices when you right-click on something, here's how to do it, thanks to Tom's Hardware. Note that it requires using the Registry Editor, which isn't for everyone. Make sure you have a current backup or have created a system restore point before proceeding.

1. In the Start menu, search for "Registry Editor." Tap to open and then tap Yes allow it to make changes to your device.

2. Over in the left-hand pane, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\CLASSES\CLSID\. (You can also search with Ctrl+F.)

3. Right-click in the pane to the right and select New > Key. It should be under CLSID. Name the new registry key {86ca1aa0-34aa-4e8b-a509-50c905bae2a2} .

4. Right-click in the pane to the right again, select New > Key. It should be under {86ca1aa0-34aa-4e8b-a509-50c905bae2a2}. Name this new registry key InprocServer32.

5. Open the (Default) key in InprocServer32 and make sure its value is set to blank. Click OK.

6. Now, close Registry Editor, and restart.

If it worked, you should have your full context menus back. If you'd rather stick with Windows 11's shorter menu style, back in the Registry Editor, delete the InProc32 key and restart. Or perhaps easier, just go back to the system restore point you set before you made your changes.

Want to customize the taskbar?

You can nudge the taskbar over the left (see above), but want to move it someplace else or make the icons smaller or see labels? Microsoft doesn't let you do that in Windows 11 yet. You also can't drag and drop items into the taskbar, although there is talk Microsoft may add that in an upcoming release. 

You can, however, pin an app to the taskbar to restore apps you had in your Windows 10 taskbar. When the app is running, right-click its button in the taskbar and choose Pin to taskbar.

For more, here are our favorite Windows 11 features, what we know about running Android apps on Windows 11 and how to see if your PC can run Windows 11.