Recipe 5.1. Getting Rid of Undeletable Desktop Icons


You want to delete "undeletable" desktop icons such as the Recycle Bin, Outlook, and Internet Explorer, but you can't delete them by highlighting them and pressing the Delete key. Unnecessary desktop icons take up screen real estate, clutter the interface, and use system RAM.


Using the Registry

  1. Open the Registry Editor and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace. Here's where you'll find various special desktop icons, such as the Recycle Bin. They're not listed by name, but instead by class ID (CLSID), a unique identifier, such as {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E} for the Recycle Bin.

  2. Find the CLSID of the desktop icon you want to delete. Use Table 5-1 to find it.

    Table 5-1. CLSIDs for desktop objects

    Desktop object


    My Computer


    Recycle Bin


    Microsoft Outlook


    Internet Explorer


    The Internet


    My Network Places




    Dial-Up Networking


    America Online


  3. Delete the key of the icon that you want gone from the desktop, such as {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E} for the Recycle Bin.

  4. Exit the Registry, go to your desktop, and hit F5 to refresh the screen. The icon should now be gone.

    On some PCs the America Online icon can be removed by deleting it in the normal way clicking on it and hitting the Delete key while on others, it's "undeletable." The computer manufacturer decides whether to make the icon undeletable or not.

  5. On some systems, the icons may not be immediately deleted. Instead, after making the Registry change, you might have to right-click on the icon and choose Delete.

  6. If you want to restore the icon, re-create the key that you deleted.

Using downloadable software

TweakUI, one of a suite of free, unsupported utilities from Microsoft called PowerToys for Windows XP, can also hide these undeletable icons. Get it from After you install it and run it, go to the Desktop section, and you'll see a list of icons that can't otherwise be deleted. Uncheck the box next to any that you don't want to show up on your desktop, as shown in Figure 5-5, and click on OK. The icons will be immediately removed. To make them appear again, check the box next to them.

Figure 5-5. Uncheck the boxes of icons that you want to remove from the desktop; put a check next to them to make them appear again


Some CLSIDs that you'll find in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace can be deleted from the desktop without having to edit the Registry, but when you try to delete them, they may give you a special warning message. For example, depending on your system, when you try to delete Microsoft Outlook from the desktop, you get the warning message "The Outlook Desktop icon provides special functionality and we recommend that you do not remove it." If you'd like, you can edit that message so that it displays whatever you want. In the CLSID's subkey, for example {00020D75-0000-0000-C000-000000000046} for Microsoft Outlook, you'll find the value Removal Message. Edit its value to whatever text you want, save it, and whenever someone tries to delete it, your warning message will appear.

Also, keep in mind that when you remove desktop icons, you're only removing icons, not the underlying feature or program. So, for example, the Recycle Bin still works even if you remove its icon. To open the Recycle Bin, go to C:\RECYCLER and open the folder inside it. To restore an item that's been deleted, right-click on it and choose Properties Restore. You can delete items from the folder as you would any other item.

See Also

You may find yourself with the opposite problem of not being able to delete desktop icons the Recycle Bin can, on occasion, vanish for no obvious reason. To fix the problem, see MS KB 810869, "Recycle Bin Does Not Appear on the Desktop." X-Setup Pro ( will solve the problem as well.

Windows XP Cookbook
Windows XP Cookbook (Cookbooks)
ISBN: 0596007256
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 408

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