How to Remove Libraries & Favorites from Windows Explorer in Server 2008 R2 & Windows 7

by Daniel Petri - July 21, 2010

Ever since Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 were released, there is one thing that personally annoys me in the default view in Windows Explorer (well, there is more than one thing, but let's start with this one first...).

When you open Windows Explorer by double-clicking on the Computer icon, or by pressing the Windows Logo key + "E", you see this default view:

Personally, this default view drives me nuts. So much space is taken away by the Favorites and the Libraries! Why? Who needs these anyway? What we do need, is a proper way to navigate through our local, network, and removable disks. In my opinion, by adopting this view in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, Microsoft is moving towards the "users are dumb, they don't need to see their drives, they need to see what we show them" attitude. I don't like it.

So, first of all, let's remove the Favorites and the Libraries from the default Explorer view. By default, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 do not provide Group Policy settings to disable or turn off Favorites and Libraries feature in Explorer, so you need to modify some registry key to hide them.

Note: This tweak will only remove them from the Explorer view, it will NOT disable them totally.

To do so, follow these steps:

Warning!

This document contains instructions for editing the registry. If you make any error while editing the registry, you can potentially cause Windows to fail or be unable to boot, requiring you to reinstall Windows. Edit the registry at your own risk. Always back up the registry before making any changes. If you do not feel comfortable editing the registry, do not attempt these instructions. Instead, seek the help of a trained computer specialist.

1. Open Registry Editor.

2. In Registry Editor, navigate to the following registry key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{323CA680-C24D-4099-B94D-446DD2D7249E}\ShellFolder

3. Look at "Attributes". Its default value should be "a0900100" (without the quotes).

Changing to "a9400100" (without the quotes) will hide Favorites from the navigation pane in Explorer.

When you attempt to change the value, you'll get this error:

Cannot edit Attributes:  Error writing the value's new contents.

To fix this issue, you need to give your user account permissions on that specific key. Before doing so, make sure you read the warning above, again!

a. On the left pane, make sure the "ShellFolder" key is selected. Then click on "Edit" > "Permissions".

b. In the "Permissions for ShellFolder" window, select the "Administrators" account, and then click on the "Full Control" check-box. Click "Ok".

c. Now you can make the change from step 3.

4. In Registry Editor, navigate to the following registry key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{031E4825-7B94-4dc3-B131-E946B44C8DD5}\ShellFolder


5. Again look at "Attributes". Its default value should be "b080010d" (without the quotes).

Changing to "b090010d" (without the quotes) will hide Libraries from the navigation pane in Explorer.

Again, when you attempt to change the value, you'll get the same error:

Cannot edit Attributes:  Error writing the value's new contents.

Repeat steps 3a, 3b, 3c to give yourself permissions on the key. You will then be able to successfully modify the value.

6. Close Registry Editor. You may need to log off and log on to see the changes.

Open Windows Explorer.

Bingo.

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