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Don’t Highlight That!

Friday, January 25th, 2008 by | Filed Under: System Tune-Up Help

Have you ever noticed that Windows XP always highlights the new programs you install on your computer in the Start menu? I mean, it’s helpful if you’re new to computers and you’re not sure where to go after installing a new program, but sometimes Windows will also highlight multiple aspects of the installed programs that aren’t really necessary, such as the “Read Me” files and so on. Plus, those items remain highlighted until you actually run them. That can get quite annoying, especially once you become more experienced with your computer and know where the items go once they’re installed. Talk about frustrating!

If you let it continue, your Start menu will start to look like an orange striped zebra! That is, unless you go through and run every program you install at least once (and many times more often than that, because for some unknown reason, some programs will be rehighlighted after restarting your computer). Who has time for all that?! So, if you would prefer not to have to go through all of that, there is a way you can get back to normal. Here’s how you can turn the highlighting feature off in Windows XP. Let’s go!

Begin by right clicking on the taskbar. Select Properties from the menu.

That will bring up the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window. Select the Start Menu tab at the top.


Once the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window is open, about half-way down, you will see a Customize button on the first screen next to the version of the Start menu you have selected. (It will be either the Start Menu, which is the original Windows XP style or the Classic Start Menu, which gives it the appearance of earlier versions of Windows). For this tip, we will be dealing with the Customize options under the first default setting of the regular Windows XP Start menu. So, click on the Customize button to bring up the next screen:

Next, you will see the Customize Start Menu window. At the top of that, there are two tabs: General and Advanced. Click on the Advanced tab to proceed.


Under the Advanced tab, the second option is Highlight Newly Installed Programs with a checkbox next to it to either enable or disable this feature. To turn it off, just make sure the checkbox is unchecked. Alternatively, if you are following these instructions to turn this feature back on, make sure the box is checked.

Now, all that’s left for us to do is save the settings and close out the windows. To do that, simply find the OK button at the bottom of the Customize Start Menu pane:

Then just repeat this step in the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window (you can either hit the OK button by itself or hit the Apply button, followed by the OK button. In this case, both of them will do the same thing).

Except for the Customize Start Menu window (see below), everything looks and works the same in Vista and Windows 7.


There you have it! Now, you don’t have to see every newly installed program highlighted until you run it. It makes for a cleaner looking desktop and it can always be switched back at a moment’s notice. Give it a try today!

~ Brandon Freund

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