How to Make Windows 11 Look Like Windows XP: A Step-by-Step Guide

Miss the classic look of Windows XP but love the functionality of Windows 11? You can have the best of both worlds by customizing Windows 11 to resemble the iconic Windows XP interface. It’s easier than you might think, and by following a few simple steps, you’ll be taken on a nostalgic trip back to the early 2000s without losing the modern features you’ve come to rely on.

Step by Step Tutorial: Making Windows 11 Look Like Windows XP

Before we begin, it’s essential to understand that we’ll be using third-party tools and tweaking system settings to achieve the Windows XP look on Windows 11. It’s an excellent way to mix the old with the new, giving you a unique computing experience.

Step 1: Install a Classic Start Menu

First things first, let’s tackle the Start menu. Windows XP had a very distinct Start menu, which is quite different from the one in Windows 11. To recreate it, you’ll need to install a third-party application like Classic Shell or StartIsBack. These programs will allow you to customize the Start menu to mimic the classic Windows XP style.

After installing your Start menu replacement, you can customize its look within the application settings. You’ll often find pre-set themes that closely resemble the Windows XP Start menu, complete with the classic green start button and blue taskbar.

Step 2: Change the Taskbar Settings

The taskbar in Windows XP was simpler and more straightforward than the one in Windows 11. To recreate this, right-click on the taskbar in Windows 11, go to Taskbar settings, and adjust its properties. You can make it smaller, change the button alignment, and even tweak the system tray to look more like XP.

Remember, the goal here is to simplify the taskbar. The Windows XP taskbar didn’t have a lot of the features present in Windows 11, so disable anything you feel is unnecessary or detracts from the classic experience.

Step 3: Apply a Windows XP Theme

Now for the fun part—the visual theme. You’ll need to download a Windows XP theme for Windows 11. There are several custom themes available online designed to replicate the appearance of Windows XP. Once you’ve found a theme you like, download it and apply it using the instructions provided with the theme.

Using these themes will transform the look of your windows, icons, and overall color scheme to resemble Windows XP while maintaining the under-the-hood functionality of Windows 11.

Step 4: Customize Icons and Sounds

To complete the XP transformation, you’ll want to change your system icons and sounds to match those from Windows XP. You can find icon packs and sound files online that mimic the ones from XP. Once downloaded, replace the current icons via the ‘Personalization’ settings and the sounds through the ‘Sounds’ settings panel.

Don’t forget the classic Windows XP startup sound! Replacing the default Windows 11 startup chime with the XP sound will truly bring back memories every time you boot up your PC.

Step 5: Install an XP-Style Cursor

Finally, install a cursor set that resembles the ones used in Windows XP. Look for an XP cursor pack online, download it, and apply it through the mouse settings in the Windows 11 control panel.

With the cursor changed, every click will feel like a blast from the past, completing your Windows XP experience on Windows 11.

After completing these steps, your Windows 11 will have a much closer appearance to Windows XP. You’ll have the same feel and look of the older operating system, which many find comforting and easier to navigate, paired with the modern capabilities and features of Windows 11.

Tips for Making Windows 11 Look Like Windows XP

  • Tip 1: Take your time finding the right theme and start menu replacement. There are many choices out there, and you’ll want one that suits your preferences.
  • Tip 2: Create a system restore point before making any significant changes. This way, you can easily revert back if something doesn’t work out.
  • Tip 3: Look for customization forums and communities for additional resources and troubleshooting tips.
  • Tip 4: Don’t forget to customize your desktop background with a classic Windows XP wallpaper for an extra touch of nostalgia.
  • Tip 5: Be cautious when downloading third-party themes and tools. Always use reputable sources to avoid malware.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will customizing Windows 11 to look like Windows XP affect its performance?

Not significantly. While the third-party tools might consume some resources, they shouldn’t impact the overall performance of Windows 11. It’s more about aesthetics than functionality.

Can I revert back to the default Windows 11 look if I change my mind?

Absolutely! That’s the beauty of customization—you can always go back to the original settings or try a different look entirely.

Is it safe to use third-party tools to customize Windows?

As long as you download tools from reputable sources and ensure they are compatible with Windows 11, it is generally safe. However, always exercise caution and keep your security software up to date.

Can I get the exact Windows XP experience on Windows 11?

While you can get pretty close in terms of looks, the underlying systems are entirely different, and some features simply cannot be replicated.

What if I encounter problems while customizing?

If you run into issues, refer to the help sections of the tools you’re using, visit online forums, or restore your PC using the system restore point you created before starting the customization process.


  1. Install a classic start menu replacement.
  2. Change taskbar settings to simplify its look.
  3. Apply a Windows XP theme.
  4. Customize system icons and sounds.
  5. Install an XP-style cursor.


Customizing Windows 11 to look like the beloved Windows XP is not only a fun way to relive the old days, but it’s also a great way to make your computer feel more personal and tailored to your preferences. With just a few simple steps and some third-party tools, you can transform the modern interface of Windows 11 into the classic, comforting look of Windows XP. Remember, the key is to find the right balance between nostalgia and functionality—don’t sacrifice too much of the latter for the former. And always, always make sure to create a restore point before you embark on your customization journey. Who knows, maybe this trip down memory lane will inspire you to explore other customization options, making your Windows 11 look like windows xp experience not just a throwback but a springboard for further personalization and exploration. Happy customizing!

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