With its clean lines, soft rounded edges, and no-nonsense business aesthetic, Windows 11 is one of Microsoft’s better-looking operating systems. Despite this, and the fact that there is probably a whole team of engineers dedicated to making it look the best it can, it can still feel a little drab.
Enter Start11, a powerful tool used to customize the Windows Start Menu and Taskbar. With it, let’s borrow a few notes from the Google Chrome OS and totally change our Windows Start and Taskbar experience.
How to Download and Install Start11
To get started, head to the Start11 download page and click on the link to download the 30-day free trial. Once downloaded, run the installer and follow the prompts to finalize the installation. You will need to enter your email address and verify it to activate the 30-day free trial.
Once Start11 is installed and up and running, it will prompt you to select from either Left aligned or Center aligned.
You can select either to simply dismiss the popup, as we will be changing this later. Now you will be on the Start11 Home Screen, where we will configure most of the settings.
Before we go ahead and begin customizing the Start Menu with Start11, there is one setting we need to change within Windows Settings to go along with this, and really bring it all together. We are going to change the Windows theme to dark. If you’re not a fan of the built-in Windows 11 dark theme, you can also check out the best Windows 11 dark themes to customize your desktop.
To do this, navigate to Settings > Personalization > Themes and set the Current theme to dark. It should be second on the list of available themes.
Once that’s done, we are ready to begin customizing our ChromeOS look. For starters, on the Start11 Home Screen, under the Start Menu tab, make the following configuration options:
- Windows 11 Style (selected).
- Use the Start11 Start Menu (on).
Next, click the Configure menu banner, which will navigate you to Start Menu > Configuration. Scroll down to the Advanced section and make the following configuration settings:
- Show recently added apps (off).
- Show recent documents (off).
- Shortcut icons should be sized (Large).
- Use fullscreen menu (on).
- Start menu should open showing all programs list (off).
- Hide folders from the recent documents list (off).
The remainder of the settings on this page can be left as default or set to off. Next, scroll up a bit and click Customize menu visual appearance. Make the following configuration settings:
- Use automatic color for the start menu (off).
- Then click Pick color and input the following RGB values: 6, 41, 183.
- Make menu font bigger or smaller (150% of the original size).
- Adjust menu transparency (80% solid).
Finally, scroll to the bottom and make the following configuration settings:
- Use a custom menu background (on) with img104 selected.
- Transparency (60% solid).
- Click Settings > Pick texture color and input the same RBG values as before: 6, 41, 183.
When you’re done it should look like this:
How to Make the Start Button Look Like ChromeOS With Start11
Next up, we will tackle the Windows Start button. Luckily, this is very easy and all the configuration we will need is in one tab in Start11. To begin, click the Start Button tab and make the following configuration settings:
- Use a custom start button image (on).
- Select Arsenic Orb from the dropdown list, as this closely resembles the ChromeOS app launcher.
- Under the section How would you like your taskbar configured, Select Left start button and center aligned taskbar buttons from the dropdown.
When you’re done it should look like this:
How to Make the Taskbar Look Like ChromeOS With Start11
Finally, let’s go ahead and customize the taskbar. Click the Taskbar tab and make the following configuration settings:
- Let Start11 enhance the taskbar (on).
- Taskbar buttons should be combined (Always).
Under the Taskbar blur, transparency, and color banner make the following configuration settings:
- Blur the wallpaper under the taskbar (on).
- Use automatic color for the taskbar (off).
- Then click Color and input the following RGB values: 6, 41, 183.
- Adjust taskbar transparency (40% solid).
Under Taskbar right click menus make the following configuration setting:
- Show Win+X menu when right-clicking on the start button rather than the Start11 one (on).
Next, scroll up a bit and select More Start11 taskbar settings and ensure that the following configuration options are set:
- Allow the taskbar to be resized (on).
- Vertically center the taskbar buttons (off).
- Always hide the text on buttons regardless of group state (on).
Windows 11 Now Looks Like ChromeOS
With all the configuration done, you should have a beautiful, clean-looking desktop that takes more than a few cues from Google ChromeOS. What’s more, is that your Start button will be back to its rightful place on the extreme left of the Taskbar.
When you click Start you will be greeted with an awesome, full-screen Start menu, that has been stripped down to remove all unnecessary features, like recent documents and recently added apps. This Start menu also doesn’t compromise and still gives you access to all of your apps in a single click. You also get shortcuts that enable quick access to your personal folders, Windows settings, and Control Panel.
Start11 Offers So Much More
In just a couple of minutes, we were able to completely transform the Windows Start menu and Taskbar into something resembling ChromeOS. If you dig a little deeper with Start11 there are a wealth of options at your disposal to do everything from bringing back the Windows 7, and Windows 10 style Start menus, to changing how the default search behavior in Windows works. If you’re someone that enjoys customizing Windows, then we couldn’t recommend Start11 enough.