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Remove or Hide Unwanted Items From the Control Panel in Windows 7

Have you ever opened the Control Panel in Windows 7 and thought there is no reason to have some of the icons listed? Today we take a look at how to remove unwanted or unneeded items from Control Panel in Windows 7.

Delete CPL Files

In this example we want to remove the Realtek HD Audio Manager because we have a new sound card and don’t use the integrated sound that came with it.

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We can delete the CPL file associated with the icon. You will need to have administrator privileges so make sure you’re logged in as Admin. Then navigate to the following directory.

C:\Windows\System32

Once there instead of scrolling through everything to find what you need, simply type *.cpl into the Search field in Explorer. This is a “wildcard” search that will bring up all the CPL items in the directory.

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This should easily allow you to scroll through and find the one you want to remove. For this instance it’s RTSnMg64.cpl for Realtek Sound Manager. You might want to backup the file or create a System Restore Point before deleting it.

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After deleting the file you need to close out of Control Panel and when you open it back up, the item will be gone.

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Hide Items in Control Panel Using the Registry

For some items you won’t be able to easily delete the CPL file if it’s a Windows system file or in use. You could use a program like Unlocker, but we can tweak the Registry to hide items in Control Panel.

Remember before making any changes to your computer’s Registry back it up first. Tweaking the Registry can lead to an unstable or unusable system.

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Open the Registry Editor by typing regedit into the Search bar in the Start Menu and hit Enter.

regedit_Start

Then navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer and create a new DWORD Value.

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Name it Disallow.Cpl and give it a value of 1.

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Next create a new key and also name it DisallowCpl.

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Now within the DisallowCpl key, create a new String value for each of the items you don’t want showing in Control Panel.

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For example, here we’ll remove the icons for Sync Center, Sound, and Speech Recognition.

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So for each String Value name and Value data field, enter the item you want removed and close out of Registry Editor. Actually you can give it any Value name you want, but keeping it the same makes things easier to find later.

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You should be able to see the results by closing and reopening Control Panel, but if not, log off and back on again. Here you can see we no longer have the items listed in Control Panel. Go through the above steps for whatever you want removed from Control Panel.

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Hide Control Panel Items Through Group Policy

Sometimes you might want to hide an item in the Control Panel permanently or for a short period of time. Here we take a look at hiding them through Local Group Policy Editor.

Note: Keep in mind Group Policy is not available in Home versions of Windows. For this demonstration we’re going to hide QuickTime & Sync Center since we never use them.

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To open Group Policy type gpedit.msc into the Search bar in the Start Menu and hit Enter. Alternately, if you find yourself in Group Policy a lot, check our article on how to create a shortcut to Group Policy Editor in Windows 7.

gpedit_start

Local Group Policy Editor opens and you want to navigate to User Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ Control Panel. In the right pane double-click on Hide specified Control Panel items.

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Select Enabled and under Options you will see List of disallowed Control Panel items…click on the Show button.

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This will bring up a window where you can enter in the items you don’t want displayed in the Control Panel. In each Value field we’ll type in QuickTime and Sync Center then click OK.

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Note: You might want to use proper Canonical names so for example Microsoft.SyncCenter. In our tests we had success without using the Canonical names. If you experience problems not using Canonical names leave a comment and let us know.

Click OK again and close out of Group Policy Editor. If you already had Control Panel open close and reopen it again to refresh the view. As you can see, QuickTime and Sync Center is no longer listed.

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The neat thing about using Group Policy Editor is that you can unhide an item if you need to by going back and deleting a certain value. For instance we want to show QuickTime again, so we’ll delete the Value.

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All you need to do is highlight the value and clear the field…and we’re done. The QuickTime icon is back.

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Allow Only Certain Items or Hide them All

The method above works well for removing certain items from the Control Panel. But if you only want to show a few items, you don’t want to type them all in. So instead select Show only specified Control Panel items.

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Then type in only the items you want to be shown. For example we only want Programs and Features, System, and Sound to be displayed.

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Now when you open Control Panel, only the items you want will be displayed.

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If you don’t want anything displayed at all for some reason you can do that as well. If you try to keep the value field empty, you’ll get the following error.

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So in the value field type in null then OK and close out of Group Policy Editor.

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Then when you open Control Panel…There’s nothing to see here…move along.

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Removing items from Control Panel can be useful if you you no longer need an icon for an uninstalled item, want to clean out the clutter, or just don’t want users to see them. There are many ways to go about it, and this guide should get you started managing what’s shown in Control Panel. One of the easiest ways to do it is through Group Policy Editor, but unfortunately it isn’t available in Home versions of Windows, so you’ll need to hack the Registry.

Again, always remember to create a Restore Point or backup the registry before making any changes to it!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/16/10

Comments (2)

  1. Anthony

    I tried adding control panel items to the exclusion list in group policy with no luck. I added them with Canonical and Non-Canonical names. I select apply and then close Group Policy. I reopen my control panel and all the items are still there. My user account is an admin account on Windows 7 Pro.

  2. Fred

    In the instructions, the line. . .

    Name it Disallow.Cpl and give it a value of 1.

    Doesn’t match the example, where DisallowCpl is used instead

    Following the example works. Following the instructions do not.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred.

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