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Hide Your Control Panel

Posted By On August 12, 2010 @ 10:20 AM In Desktop Enhancement | Comments Disabled

Burt from Naples asks:
Is there any way to hide my control panel? I don’t like other people messing with my settings!

A:
If you share your computer with others, you know everyone loves to personalize their workspace.

They change audio and video settings, add or remove programs and generally reconfigure the computer to better suit their taste.

This isn’t a problem on a personal computer, but people have a tendency to change settings even on shared or public computers.
Therefore, if you are sharing your computer with other users, you need to be able to restrict the user’s ability to change crucial settings without limiting their access rights.

The best way to make it clear you don’t want people poking around your computer is to block their access to the Control Panel.

The Control Panel is the portal to the operating system’s options and settings. By hiding it from the other users you can be assured that your computer will remain exactly how you configured it.

You can accomplish this easily in Windows XP, Vista and 7 with a simple Registry modification.

Warning! Before we go any further, I’d like to point out that messing around with the Windows Registry is not meant for beginners. Editing the Registry directly can have serious, unexpected consequences that can prevent the system from starting and require that you reinstall Windows. If you feel you do not understand or are unable to perform the steps below, please seek expert advice.

In addition, I recommend backing up the Registry before attempting any modification.

To back up the entire Registry in any Windows version, open the Registry Editor (see instructions below), click on the My Computer (or Computer for Vista and 7) key at the top and select File in the top left corner of the window. In the File menu select Export…, give it a name like registry backup and choose a safe location to save your file.

If something does go wrong while editing, you can restore the Registry by navigating to where you saved the .reg file and simply double-click on it.

Now that you have backed up the Registry, we can proceed with the rest of the article.

To change a Registry setting we must first open the Registry Editor.

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Go to the Start Menu and click on the Run command, situated above the Turn off Computer button. Then type the command regedit in the Open box and click the OK button.

To access the Registry in Windows Vista and Windows 7 you must log in with an administrator account.

Alternatively, type regedit in the search bar of the start menu, right-click on regedit.exe and select Run as administrator.

The Registry Editor will now open.

The setting we need to change is located in the Registry structure, at the following address:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

Click the plus sign next to HKEY_CURRENT_USER and scroll down the list until you locate Software.

Then click the plus sign next to Software and look for Microsoft.

Then click the plus sign next to Microsoft and look for Windows.

Then click the plus sign next to Windows and look for CurrentVersion.

Then click the plus sign next to CurrentVersion and look for Explorer.

Finally, click the plus sign next to Explorer and left-click on Advanced.

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With the Advanced key selected, right-click on an empty spot on the right side of the Registry Editor window.

Click New, and from the menu, select and click on DWORD Value.

If you have Windows Vista or 7, click on DWORD Value (32-bit).

Then, type Start_ShowControlPanel and press Enter from the keyboard.

Next, right-click on the Start_ShowControlPanel value and from the menu select Modify.

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Under the Value Data field, type 0 (zero) and click OK.

Now, close the Registry Editor by clicking File, then Exit from the menu, and restart your computer.

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After the restart, if you look under the Start menu, you will not see the Control Panel entry anymore.

Of course, you can always bring back the Control Panel if you want to make a change or remove a program.

Just follow the steps above until you reach the Start_ShowControlPanel value, double-click it and change the Value Data field to a 1 (or just delete the value).

Note: The Control Panel is not removed or uninstalled from your computer, it is only hidden. Therefore, any user that has administrator rights and knows where the Registry entry is located can make the Control Panel visible again.

~Cosmin Ursachi

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