Turn off Desktop Cleanup Wizard via Group Policy

Are your users missing icons on their desktops that used to be there? The problem may be the Desktop Cleanup Wizard. Find out how to easily disable the DCW via your Group Policy.

My company has many users that share computers. Recently, several users called the Help Desk complaining that icons

that were formerly on their desktops were now missing. After a bit of research, we discovered that users were being prompted to use Windows XP Desktop Cleanup Wizard to clean up desktops while they were sharing computers.

We decided that it was time to turn off the Desktop Cleanup Wizard on all of our Windows XP computers. Individually, this would be a daunting task. However, because all of our computers are members of the Active Directory domain, we were able to make the change in a matter of minutes. By the end of the day, all Windows XP computers had the Desktop Cleanup Wizard turned off with no way of turning it back on.

Here's how we accomplished this:

    - Open the Group Policy Management Console (if you don't have it, download the GPMC here.)

    - Edit the policy that you want to change (in our case we edited the Default Domain Policy so that all users will be affected).

    - In the policy, expand User Configuration->Administrative Templates and select Desktop.

    - In the right panel, double-click 'Remove the Desktop Cleanup Wizard' and set it to Enabled.

Once you have configured this setting, exit out of the policy and the GPMC and wait for Group Policy to be updated on your workstations (or you can force it to update on a computer by going to a command line and typing 'GPUPDATE /FORCE').

To verify that the policy has taken effect, go into Display properties, click on the Desktop tab, and click the Customize Desktop button. Once the policy has been updated, you will notice that the Desktop Cleanup Wizard information (checkbox and frequency info) no longer appear on the Desktop property page.

Please let us know how useful you find this tip by rating it below! If you have a useful Windows tip, timesaver or workaround to share, submit it to our tip contest and you could win a prize!

This was first published in August 2006

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