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How To Modify The Start Button

Author: Spot
Posted on: 10/18/2000
Discuss: In the forums

If you have ever wanted to customize the text on your "Start" button on any of your Win9x machines, you've come to the right place. This page will demonstrate how to change it manually using a Hex Editor. Some people already know how to do this using third party software, but in my opinion, software like that doesn't really teach you anything about what you are really changing. The best way to do it is the good old fashion way... by hand. We should also state right from the beginning that if this gets screwed up, or you do something wrong, you will get errors informing you Windows needs to be reloaded. You have now been warned and LittleWhiteDog.Com will NOT accept any responsibility for any data loss. In other words, use at your own risk!!

We have successfully modified the "Start" button using this method on Win95, Win98 SE, and even WinME. I have not tried doing this on NT4.0 or 2000, so I can not guarantee it will work correctly. If you do try it on either NT or 2000, let me know if it works and if you had to modify any of the steps below to achieve the results.

Onward and Upward
Let's get started. The only thing you will really need is a hex editor and a 9x machine. It doesn't have to be a fancy schmancy editor, all you need is something really simple. I will be using HexWorks.exe for this article and you can download your own Hex Editors here if you are in need of one.
Step 1: Make a backup copy of the file "Explorer.exe". Hell...make 2 while you're at it. Copy it into some other location other than "C:\Windows" that will be easily accessible from DOS. I don't care where you copy it, just make sure you have a copy.

Step 2: Using your Hex editor, open the file "Explorer.exe" from your Windows directory.

Step 3: Search for the series of values "5300 7400 6100 7200 74". What you are looking for here is basically the word "Start". You are going to find more than one of these series, so I have capped a pic so you know you have the correct one.

Note: You can also use the following picture as a reference to make sure you have the correct "Start" selected to change. The one you are looking for is right before "There was an internal error and one of the windows you were using has been closed. It is recommended that you save your work and close all programs, and then restart your computer". Now isn't that appropriate being right by the Start button? LOL

Step 4: Once you find the correct area, you may replace the letters in the word "Start" with five other characters (space keys are allowed). You must use the SAME NUMBER OF CHARACTERS that the word "START" uses. For example, you may replace the 5 letters with "XYZZY" or "L W D" (without the quotes of course), but you can not replace them with "LittleWhiteDog". If you add too many characters or spaces, or even not enough, Windows will not boot correctly and you will have to use your backup copy, start all over, blah blah blah. Please note that when you are in the Hex Editor, there is a period between each letter. Just use your arrow key or some other method to move beyond these periods. Only replace the letters in the word "Start".

Step 5: Once you have changed the letters to your desire, save the file into your Windows directory with some other name like "Explore1.exe". You can't overwrite the original since it is being used by the OS. At this point, you should have "Explorer.exe" and Explore1.exe" located in the same directory. If you are using Win95, both files should be 204,288 bytes in length. If you are using Win98 SE, the two files should be 180,224 bytes in length, and in WinME they are 225,280 bytes.

Step 6: Reboot into DOS mode and from the command prompt, rename "Explorer.exe" to "Explorer.old". Note: When testing this on WinME, we rebooted the machine and used a Win98 boot disk to get to the command prompt.

Step 7: Now rename "Explore1.exe" to "Explorer.exe".

Step 8: Once this has been completed, you should be able to reboot your PC and when Windows comes up, you will have a fancy new "XYZZY" button or "L W D" button!

Step 8: The last step is optional but it's really fun. Next time you go to work, change your Start button and then call the help desk and ask them a stupid question. When they tell you to click the "Start" button, you can tell them you don't have one. They won't believe you, and then when a technician comes over to visit your desktop, it will drive him up the wall trying to fix it. All you have do do is play dumb and keep your mouth shut.

So now we have a nice new "Start" button. So What? Does it make your machine run faster? Hell no. Does it give you any gaming benefits at all? Nope. The only satisfaction you will receive from doing this is...it will surely drive your friends, family, and your co-workers absolutely crazy trying to figure out how you did it. In the end, that makes it all worth it to me.

Copyright © by LWD All Rights Reserved.

Published on: 2004-02-22 (35075 reads)

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