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How to Disable Active Desktop in Windows XP (Including Registry Method)

Every now and then it seems Active Desktop gets turned on randomly by Windows XP when I am switching Wallpapers. The normal method given to turn off Active Desktop is:

1. Right Click on your Desktop, click properties
2. Go to the Desktop Tab and click Customize Desktop
3. Go to the Web Tab and uncheck all boxes or delete all pages listed.
4. Click OK and OK to close everything

However, in my case when this happens everything is already unchecked and Active Desktop should already be off. There seems to be no regular way to make it really turn off. The main reason I need Active Desktop off is so I can use WinTidy 2.0 ‘s small icons and organization features for icons on the desktop. WinTidy is a great, FREE tool for Windows XP–I suggest you try it out. You can download it for free from PC Magazine’s website here

The solution I found is simple, but requires editing the Registry:
1. Go to the Start Menu and Click Run
2. Type “regedit” (without the quotes) and hit enter
3. Find the 2 Keys below or create them if they don’t exist (to create them, right click then click New > Key )
4. Create a new DWORD value (right click > New > DWORD Value ) with the name: NoActiveDesktop
5. edit the value of this to 1
(1 means that NoActiveDesktop is True. 0 would mean it was false and that would allow Active Desktop to be on)
6. close the registry editor and restart your computer.

Key #1:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

Key #2:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

This method should work for the following:
Windows XP Home
Windows XP Pro
Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE)
Service Pack 1, Service Pack 2, Service Pack 3

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2 Comments

  1. None of this works on my VM with Parallels Desktop 9

  2. Works great. Use this for those users who are stuck on XP and accidentally enable Active Desktop when trying to create shortcuts to webpages.

    Since they cant access the Desktop Settings tab, the Admin registry fix is perfect.

    Hopefully XP will be removed completely from our environment soon

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