How to Make Windows 11 Look Like Windows XP: A Nostalgic Guide

Making your Windows 11 look like Windows XP isn’t just fun; it’s a nostalgic trip back to the early 2000s when chunky icons and simple interfaces were the norm. To achieve this, you’ll need to adjust several settings, install a few third-party applications, and change themes and icons. Here’s a quick guide to get you started on transforming your sleek Windows 11 into a retro XP experience.

How to Make Windows 11 Look Like Windows XP

This guide will walk you through the steps needed to change your Windows 11 interface to resemble Windows XP. You’ll be changing themes, icons, and settings to capture that early 2000s aesthetic.

Step 1: Download a Windows XP Theme

First, download a Windows XP theme package from a trusted source.

Many websites offer custom themes, but ensure you download from a reputable site to avoid malware. Look for themes that specifically mention compatibility with Windows 11.

Step 2: Install Open-Shell

Install Open-Shell (formerly Classic Shell) to change the Start Menu.

Open-Shell is a free program that helps you customize the Start Menu. Download and install it, then choose the classic Windows XP style from the settings.

Step 3: Change the Wallpaper

Download a classic Windows XP wallpaper and set it as your desktop background.

Search for high-quality images of the iconic Windows XP wallpaper and save it to your computer. Right-click on your desktop, select "Personalize," and then choose the downloaded image as your background.

Step 4: Modify the Icons

Replace the current icons with Windows XP icons.

You can find icon packs designed for Windows XP online. Download these packs and use a tool like IconPackager to replace the icons on your desktop, taskbar, and file explorer.

Step 5: Adjust System Sounds

Change system sounds to the original Windows XP sounds.

Find a collection of Windows XP system sounds online. Go to "Settings," then "System," and click on "Sound." From there, you can customize the event sounds with the downloaded XP sound files.

Step 6: Install a Windows XP Cursor Pack

Download and install a Windows XP cursor pack.

Cursor packs can be found online. Download one and go to "Settings," then "Devices," and click on "Mouse." Click on "Additional mouse options," then "Pointers," and browse to select the downloaded cursor pack.

After completing these steps, your Windows 11 should now have the look and feel of Windows XP. You’ll notice the classic Start Menu, retro icons, familiar system sounds, and that nostalgic wallpaper.

Tips to Make Windows 11 Look Like Windows XP

  • Always back up your system before making major changes.
  • Use reputable sources for all downloads to avoid malware.
  • Customize the taskbar properties to match the XP look.
  • Consider using a virtual machine to test changes first.
  • Revert back to default settings if you encounter performance issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will these changes affect my system performance?

Generally, these changes shouldn’t significantly impact performance, but always monitor your system after making modifications.

Is it safe to download themes and icon packs?

Yes, as long as you download them from reputable sources. Always scan files for malware before installing.

Can I revert back to the original Windows 11 look?

Yes, you can easily revert to the original look by uninstalling the third-party applications and themes.

Do I need any technical skills to do this?

Basic computer skills are sufficient. The steps are straightforward, and most changes can be reversed easily.

How often should I update these customizations?

Keep your customizations updated only if you notice any issues or when major Windows updates are released.

Summary of Steps

  1. Download a Windows XP theme.
  2. Install Open-Shell.
  3. Change the wallpaper.
  4. Modify the icons.
  5. Adjust system sounds.
  6. Install a Windows XP cursor pack.


There you have it! You’ve successfully transformed your Windows 11 into a nostalgic Windows XP interface. This guide has walked you through every step, ensuring that even those with basic computer skills can follow along without a hitch.

The charm of Windows XP lies in its simplicity and nostalgic value. Whether you’re doing this for fun or to relive the early 2000s, you’ll find that these changes bring a delightful sense of nostalgia. If you want to explore more customizations, there are endless themes and packs available online.

Remember, it’s your computer, and personalizing it to your taste is part of the fun. If you run into any issues, don’t hesitate to revert back to the default Windows 11 settings. Happy customizing, and enjoy your trip down memory lane with your new-old Windows XP look!

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