- Interface Customizations
First, I would like to describe some useful user interface (UI) customizations. Most of
these can't be set using the GUI tools or administrative utilities.
Registry Values for Configuring Start the Menu in Windows XP and Windows
Most users, especially beginners, will prefer to customize the taskbar and Start menu
using the standard Graphical User Interface (GUI). However, there are lots of capabilities
that allow advanced users to customize the Windows XP or Windows Server 2003
interface by using Group Policy Object Editor or by editing the registry directly. Let's
cover these settings in more detail.
The most convenient way to edit the taskbar and Start menu features is provided by
Group Policy Object Editor. To start editing these policies in a workgroup environment
or on a standalone Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 computer, proceed as follows:
1. Click Start, click Run, type mmc, and then click OK.
2. From the File menu, select the Add/Remove Snap-in command. Go to the
Standalone tab, and click Add.
3. From the Available Standalone Snap-ins list, select the Group Policy option and
click the Add button. When the Select Group Policy Object window opens,
select the Local Computer option to edit the local Group Policy Object (GPO) or
click Browse to find the Group Policy Object that you want.
4. Click Finish, then Close, then OK. The Group Policy snap-in opens the Group
Policy Object for editing. Expand the console tree in the left pane of this window
as follows: User Configuration | Administrative Templates | Start Menu and
Taskbar (Fig. 13.1).
- Figure 13.1: Editing the Start menu and taskbar policies using Group Policy
Note In a domain environment, to accomplish the same goal you must open the Group
Policy tool MMC snap-in, focused on a specific GPO. To do so, start the Active
Directory Users and Computers MMC snap-in, right-click the name of the domain
or organizational unit of interest, and select the Properties command from the
context menu. Then, go to the Group Policy tab and highlight the GPO of interest.
(Note that if you haven't created any other GPOs, only the Default Domain Policy
will be available.) Click the Edit button.
Let's choose the Force classic Start Menu Properties policy to demonstrate how
policies are used to edit features.
1. Go to the right pane of the Group Policy window and double-click the Force
classic Start Menu item in the list of available policies. The Force classic Start
Menu Properties window will open (Fig. 13.2). To view the explanation of the
policy settings, click the Explain tab.
- Figure 13.2: The Setting tab of the Force classic Start Menu Properties window
2. To set the selected policy, chose the Enabled radio button and click Apply.
3. Now, to view the effect of the application of this policy, open the Taskbar and
Start Menu Properties window and go to the Start Menu tab. Notice that the
Start menu radio button, which is present by default, has become unavailable. The
user is now forced to use the classic Windows NT/2000–style Start menu (Fig.
- Figure 13.3: The effect of applying the Force classic Start Menu policy
You can achieve the same result by editing the registry directly. For example, by enabling
the Force classic Start Menu policy, you create the NoSimpleStartMenu registry value
(REG_DWORD data type) under the
rer registry key (Fig. 13.4).
Figure 13.4: The
rer registry key reflects the effect of applying the Force classic Start Menu policy
- Other registry values that you can create to customize the taskbar and Start menu are
listed below. Except where noted, these values are all of the REG_DWORD data type.
They reside under the following registry key:
If the value is set to 1, the restriction is enabled; when the value is at 0, the setting is
NoStartMenuPinnedList — This setting removes the pinned programs list from the
Start menu, along with the Internet and E-mail checkboxes.
NoStartMenuMFUprogramsList — This setting removes the frequently used
programs list from the Start menu.
NoStartMenuMorePrograms — This setting removes the More Programs option
from the Start menu.
NoCommonGroups — This setting removes common program groups (items in
the All Users profile in the More Programs list) from the Start menu.
GreyMSIAds — This setting displays partially installed programs in gray on the
NoWindowsUpdate — This setting disables and removes links to Windows
Update and locks access to the Windowsupdate.Microsoft.com site.
DisableMyPicturesDirChange — This setting prevents the user from changing the
path to the My Pictures folder.
DisableMyMusicDirChange — This setting prevents the user from changing the
path to the My Music folder.
DisableFavoritesDirChange — This setting prohibits the user from changing the
path to the Favorites folder.
NoStartMenuMyMusic, NoSMMyPictures, NoFavoritesMenu, and
NoRecentDocsMenu — These settings remove all user shell folders (except My
Documents) from the Start menu, along with the appropriate checkboxes from the
Start menu customization dialog.
NoSMMyDocs — This setting removes the My Documents folder from the Start
menu, along with the appropriate checkbox from the Start menu customization
DisablePersonalDirChange — This setting prevents the user from changing the
path to the My Documents folder.
MaxRecentDocs — This setting specifies the maximum number of shortcuts to
recently used documents displayed in the Recent Documents submenu.
ClearRecentDocsOnExit — This setting clears the history list when the user logs
- NoRecentDocsMenu — This setting removes the Recent Documents folder from
the Start menu.
NoFavoritesMenu — This setting removes the Favorites menu from the Start
menu, and removes an appropriate checkbox from the Start menu customization
NoNetworkConnections — This setting removes the Network Connections item
from the Start menu. This value also removes the corresponding checkbox that is
normally available in the Start menu customization dialog.
NoStartMenuNetworkPlaces — This setting removes the Network Places item
from the Start menu and the appropriate checkbox from the Start menu
NoRecentDocsNetHood — This setting prohibits the addition of remote shared
folders to the Network Places item whenever the user opens a document in the
NoSMHelp — This setting removes the Help item from the Start menu. (This will
not prevent Help files from running.)