Iíve read a number of articles on the internet about changing the text on the Start button in XP. On more than one occasion Iíve seen references to a five (5) letter limitation when the button is renamed. I always wondered if this was true or just an assumption someone made because the default Ďstartí just happened to fit the button size. So, I decided to run a test and see if there really was a five character limit.
As you can see from the screen capture above it would seem that the five character limit isnít etched in stone. The button expanded to accept the text I entered with no problem. Iíve been using the system for a few weeks now with no adverse effects. Thatís not to say I wonít discover something down the road a bit, but for now I feel comfortable with the changes. If youíd like to try the procedure I used, the instructions follow.
Step 1 Ė Modify Explorer.exe File
In order to make the changes, the file explorer.exe located at C:\Windows needs to be edited. Since explorer.exe is a binary file it requires a special editor. For purposes of this article I have used Resource Hacker. Resource HackerTM is a freeware utility to view, modify, rename, add, delete and extract resources in 32bit Windows executables and resource files (*.res). It incorporates an internal resource script compiler and decompiler and works on Win95, Win98, WinME, WinNT, Win2000 and WinXP operating systems. Navigate here to download Resource Hacker:
The first step is to make a backup copy of the file explorer.exe located at C:\Windows\explorer. Place it in a folder somewhere on your hard drive where it will be safe. Start Resource Hacker and open explorer.exe located at C:\Windows\explorer.exe as shown in Fig. 01.
The category we are going to be using is String Table. Expand it by clicking the plus sign then navigate down to and expand string 37 followed by highlighting 1033. If you are using the Classic Layout rather than the XP Layout, use number 38. The right hand pane will display the stringtable as shown in Fig. 02. Weíre going to modify item 578, currently showing the word ďstartĒ just as it displays on the current Start button.
There is no magic here. Just double click on the word ďstartĒ so that itís highlighted, making sure the quotation marks are not part of the highlight. They need to remain in place, surrounding the new text that youíll type. Go ahead and type your new entry. In my case I used ElderGeek as shown in Fig. 03.
Compare the screen captures in Fig. 02 and Fig. 03 and youíll notice that after the new text string has been entered the Compile Script button that was grayed out in Fig. 02 is now active in Fig. 03. I wonít get into whatís involved in compiling a script, but suffice it to say itís going to make this exercise worthwhile. Click Compile Script and then save the altered file using the Save As command on the File Menu. Do not use the Save command Ė Make sure to use the Save As command and choose a name for the file. See Fig. 04. Save the newly named file to C:\Windows.
Step 2 Ė Modify the Registry
Now that the modified explorer.exe has been created itís necessary to modify the registry so the file will be recognized when the user logs on to the system. If you donít know how to access the registry Iím not sure this article is for you, but just in case itís a temporary memory lapse, go to Start (soon to be something else) Run and type regedit in the Open: field. Navigate to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\ Windows NT\ CurrentVersion\ Winlogon
In the right pane (Fig. 05), double click the Shell entry to open the Edit String dialog box as shown in Fig. 06. In Value data: line, enter the name that was used to save the modified explorer.exe file. Click OK.
Close Registry Editor and either log off the system and log back in, or reboot the entire system if thatís your preference. If all went as planned you should see your new Start button with the revised text.