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Tweak the History in the Run Dialog Box in Windows

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Do you use the Run dialog box often in Windows? If so, we offer some helpful tips for tweaking the dialog’s history, or the most recently used (MRU) list.

This article shows you how to delete single items, delete the entire history, disable the history, and even disable the Run dialog box, if you don’t want it to be available.

NOTE: Disabling the Run command does not prevent users from running programs. There are other ways to find and run executable files.

The Run dialog box can be easily accessed by pressing Win + R. However, if you use the Start menu often, there is an easy way to enable the Run command on the Windows 7 or Vista Start menu, as it is not available there by default.

Delete a Single Item from the Run Dialog Box MRU List

Removing single, selected items from the MRU list on the Run dialog box, required modifying the registry.

NOTE: Before making any changes to the registry, be sure you back it up. We also recommend creating a restore point you can use to restore your system if something goes wrong.

To open the registry editor, open the Run dialog box and enter “regedit.exe” in the Open edit box. Press Enter or click OK. You can also search for “regedit.exe” using the Start menu Search box.

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If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click Yes to continue.

NOTE: You may not see this dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings.

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Navigate to the following key in the tree on the left side of the Registry Editor window.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Explorer/RunMRU

Select the RunMRU key. Values display on the right side of the dialog box. Each item has a letter name. Note the letter that corresponds to the item you want to delete from the list and remember it. To delete an item, right-click on the name for that item and select Delete.

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A warning dialog box displays to be sure you want to delete the value. It is alright to delete these values. However, be careful when deleting values and keys in the registry. Click Yes to continue.

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Now, you must remove the letter for the item you deleted from the MRU list. Double-click the MRUList value.

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Delete the letter that corresponded with the item you deleted from the string of letters in the Value data edit box. Click OK.

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Select Exit from the File menu to close the Registry Editor.

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The item has been removed from the MRU list on the Run dialog box.

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Disable the Run Dialog Box History Without Losing Current Entries

There are a couple of methods for disabling the Run dialog box history list. If you want to preserve the list, in case you want to enable the history again later, use the registry method described in this section. Later in this article, we show you an easier method for disabling the history list. However, the list of commands in the history will be lost.

To disable the Run dialog box history using the registry, open the Registry Editor as described earlier in this article. Navigate, again, to the following key.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Explorer/RunMRU

Right-click on the RunMRU key and select Permissions from the popup menu.

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On the Permissions dialog box, click Add under the Group or user names box.

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Enter “Everyone” in the Enter the object names to select edit box and click OK.

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You are returned to the Permissions dialog box. Make sure “Everyone” is selected in the list of Group or user names and select the check box in the Deny column for the Read row in the Permissions for Everyone box. Click OK.

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A warning dialog box displays about Deny entries. Click Yes to accept your change and continue.

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Notice that all the values including the MRUList value are gone from the list on the right side of the Registry Editor window. They are not actually gone, but hidden.

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Close the Registry Editor and open the Run dialog box. Notice that the Open drop-down list that usually contains the history of commands entered is now empty. When you enter commands, they will not be kept in the history list. The list will remain empty.

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If you want to restore the history list on the Run dialog box, open the Registry Editor again and navigate to the same key mentioned earlier. Right-click on the RunMRU key, select Permissions, and remove “Everyone” from the Group or user names list on the Permissions dialog box. Close the dialog box.

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Notice that the previous history list is restored on the Run dialog box.

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Delete and Disable the Entire Run Dialog Box History

Now, we will show you the easier way of deleting and disabling the Run dialog box history. Note that using this method permanently removes your existing list of previously entered commands. You can re-enable the list, but it will be empty until you enter new commands.

To delete the entire history on the Run dialog box, right-click on the Start orb and select Properties from the popup menu.

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On the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box, select the Store and display recently opened programs in the Start menu check box so there is NO check mark in the box. Click OK.

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Disable the Run Dialog Box Completely

You can easily remove the Run command from the Start menu by just unchecking the check box that enables the Run command. However, if you want to disable the Run dialog box completely, you can do so by making a change to the registry.

NOTE: Again, we recommend that before you make changes to the registry, be sure to back it up. We also recommend creating a restore point you can use to restore your system if something goes wrong.

This procedure not only removes the Run command from the Start menu, but also removes the New Task option from the Task Manager. This prevents you from restarting the explorer.exe process without restarting your computer. So, think about it seriously before deciding to disable the Run dialog box completely.

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Open the Registry Editor by entering “regedit.exe” in the Search box on the Start menu. Click Yes on the User Account Control dialog box, if it displays.

Navigate to the following key and select the Explorer key.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

Right-click in an empty area in the right pane of the Registry Editor window and select New | DWORD (32-bit) Value from the popup menu.

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The text on the new value is selected.

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Type “NoRun” as the name for the new value and press Enter to accept it. Double-click on the new value.

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Enter “1” in the Value data edit box and click OK.

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The new value displays in the Data column.

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Close the Registry Editor and restart your computer.

NOTE: Because disabling the Run dialog box also disables the New Task option in the Task Manager, you cannot just end the explorer.exe task and restart it. You must restart your computer.

When you log back into your account, and press Win + R to try to access the Run dialog box, the following dialog box displays.

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You can re-enable the Run dialog box by going back into the Registry Editor and deleting the NoRun key you created. However, we found that once we disabled the Run dialog box, we could not search for “regedit.exe” in the Start menu Search box to find and run the Registry Editor. It was not found.

However, there is another way to easily find “regedit.exe.” Open Windows Explorer, select the C:\Windows directory, and enter “regedit.exe” in the Search box. Double-click on the “regedit.exe” file found in the C:\Windows directory to start the Registry Editor.

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Navigate to the following key again, selecting the Explorer key.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

Right-click on the NoRun value and select Delete.

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Again, a warning dialog box displays to be sure you want to delete the value. Click Yes to continue.

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You can also disable the Run dialog box using the Local Group Policy Editor.

NOTE: The Local Group Policy Editor is not available in the Home and Starter editions of Windows 7.

To start the Local Group Policy Editor, open the Start menu, enter “gpedit.msc” into the Search box, and press Enter or click on the link.

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Navigate to the following item on the left side of the Local Group Policy Editor window. Scroll down in the list of settings on the right side to the Remove Run menu from Start Menu setting and double-click on it.

User Configuration\AdministrativeTemplates\Start Menu & Taskbar

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On the dialog box that displays, select Enabled to turn on the option.

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Click OK to accept your change and close the dialog box.

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The State column reads Enabled once you turn on the option.

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Select Exit from the File menu to close the Local Group Policy Editor.

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To disable the setting again and enable the Run dialog box, go back into the Local Group Policy Editor and select Disabled or Not Configured.

We found that disabling the Run dialog box not only prevented us from opening the Registry Editor from the Start menu Search box, but we also couldn’t open the Local Group Policy Editor that way. To open the Local Group Policy Editor after you have disabled the Run dialog box, open Windows Explorer, select the C:\Windows\System32 directory, and enter “gpedit.msc” in the Search box. Double-click on the “gpedit.msc” file found in the C:\Windows\System32 directory to start the Local Group Policy Editor.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 11/2/11

Comments (1)

  1. Missa

    Good Information!

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