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Disable or Hide Optional Updates on Windows Vista

One of the things that drives me crazy on Windows Vista is all of the optional updates that show up in the Windows Update list. I want to look at Windows Update and see that there are no updates, not see that there’s a list of 14 language packs that I don’t really need

Just open up Windows Update, and you might see something like this:

But when you click on View available updates, you see this:

I have this sneaky suspicion that I will never ever need the Finnish Language Pack, being in the US and all.

All you have to do to hide these updates, is to right-click on an item in the list, and choose “Hide update” from the menu.

Now when I look at Windows Update, I see what I’m expecting to see in the first place:

If you ever decide to move to Finland, and that you want to install the updates, there’s a “Restore hidden updates” link on the left-hand side of the screen that will let you put them back in the list.

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 03/6/07

Comments (36)

  1. Edward

    The “Windows Update” process doesn’t seem to work on my recently purchased Inspiron E1505 Dell laptop computer (with Vista Home Premium).

    There is a strange looking icon (a little blue square with a gold ring around it) at the bottom right tray. When I click on it the message states that there are updates ready for updating. When I initiate the process the machine spends about 20 minutes doing something and then I get the following message… “Windows could not search for new updates.” With error code “80073712”. When attempting to trouble-shoot this issue I cannot find anything pertaining to this error code.

    When I check “Windows Update” on the Control Panel it says “Never” under “Most recent check for updates”.

    How can I fix this situation?

  2. hd

    Edward:
    same problem.
    Been going on for months with Vista premium.
    same error message, over and over.
    tells me there are updates,but then fails to install them.

    I was in LENGTHY communication with microsoft over this.
    They finally threw up their hands, waived all service charges, and told me to do an “inplace upgrade” which means, run my original Vista CD’s and do a repair.
    they assure me that if i do this, no settings, programs or files will be in any way affected [infected?]
    Of course, there is no way i am going to do this.
    I have been using vista long enough to know: i’ve tried some of their fixes before. been down that road.

    Suffice to say that i have been using Vista long enough [about 9 months] to have learned this:
    any error messages, suggestions for repair, or unnerving screens that appear from MS Vista: IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE.
    As long as you can still do your work, just don’t look at that error message or screen-
    DO BACKUPS RELIGIOUSLY, DAILY – and keep working.
    WHATEVER YOU DO – DO NOT TRY TO FIX ANYTHING via a windows fix.
    I have tried. You wind up with disaster: repairing all sorts of “fixed” settings and screens and new problems.

    Vista Rule #1: get back to XP [ if, like me, it is too late to buy a mac.]
    Vista Rule #2: if it is too late to go back to XP, then,[ like me], you are screwed.
    That’s it.
    Forget the updates, forget trouble free computing, forget not having constant annoyances [“you don’t have permission to do this”].

    Just consider yourself lucky that Gates doesn’t run phone companys, too; and do the best you can. But WHATEVER YOU DO, Don’t let Windows try to fix ANYthing!!

  3. David Young

    Just wanted to say thanks for the informative info on hiding the language packs. Worked like a charm. Previous update screens for other Windows products were far more intuitive. In fact, even your idea of right clicking doesn’t say to just close the screen there’s nothing to click after your done.

  4. alex

    I ran vista on a homemade machine that most could never afford to buy from a store. I ran home basic upgraded from xp nonstop ( sixty two days straight NO NETWORK ), no restarts, burning countless dvd and running copmplex imaging software…UNTIL I sold out to try a free trial software from the net. That was when the update took control, since then, its crashed three times and twice with the kind of MBR damage that I would expect from a NSA strike force.

    I hate myself…I feel so violated… My beautiful creation, now comprimised.

    Alex in VA

  5. Terry

    Yeah, pretty obvious trick there Chris. But, I have about 50 language pack “optional updates”. Now, show me how to hide ALL of them at once and I’ll be impressed. I got through about ten and said wtf?? The way it is, I have to right click on 50 lang packs and select hide??? Whoa dude, my time is way too useles… er ah, valuable to be mucking around with that. But IT IS very annoying to see all those friggin lang packs all the time.

  6. James Skemp

    @Terry:

    1) Right-click, H.

    2) Allow admin privileges.

    3) Right-click, H.

    4) Repeat step 3 for each language pack.

    It takes less than a minute.

  7. Minhal

    Thanks. And yes Terry it takes it took me around 20-30 second to hide my 37 language pacts so it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

  8. Dave

    I’m having a problem where UPDATE is forcing the language packs to install even after I’ve hid them, and uninstalled them, they keep re-installing themselves.

    MAKE IT STOP!!!!!

    ADVICE?

  9. lostinlodos

    Now, if only someone will tell us how to go the OTHER way and show all the optional updates that used to show up in Microsoft Update under XP
    Windows Update and Microsoft Update under Vista only gives you (overtly) the option to see High Priority and Recommended updates. There is no longer an Optional option. I, personally, want some of those updates. Where has the Optional option gone to? Having to download updates (for .Net, drivers, betas, et al) manually is a pain.

  10. Ted

    Thanks for the help. It worked perfectly for my Vista Ultimate edition.

  11. Paul

    That’s easy, I wish it were as easy to remove them, but the right-click+H thing is better than the alternative.

    Just go into Windows Update and choose Restore Hidden Updates, works on any version of XP, Vista or 7.

    If you are referring to the BETA software updates, you have to turn on beta in the settings.

    If you want to see something really funny, go to Windows Help and Support from Windows Update, type beta and hit enter. The first entry is “Activate Windows on this computer” :)

  12. Kevin

    Dave, I am having exactly the same problem and have found no resolution. Once a week my machine starts downloading and installing all of the language packs on it’s own. I have disabled Windows Update but am at a loss for other things to try.

  13. Paul

    You disabled Windows Update, or Automatic Updates?

    Windows Update doesn’t do anything on its own, it is a totally manual process; Automatic Updates does. If you have gone into the Control Panel for Automatic Updates and turned it completely off, there should be nothing updating whatsoever (you should then do manual updates with Windows Update).

    Without any more information provided, there’s not much else I can recommend other than checking that Automatic Updates is disabled, or at least set to only notify you of available updates.

  14. GU// Critical

    HOW TO STOP THIS UPDATES???!!!! THEY’RE ALWAYS DECREASING MY MEMORY ALMOST 6GB?

  15. Ann

    I am having issues with Windows Vista updates as well. I have had my new HP notebook since Feb and after the first month whenever I install the updates it will be fine for a day or two and then on the next start up I get the lovely blue screen telling me Windows has shut down to prevent damage…oh goodie…back to the safe mode and system restore. I am in contact with HP and have disabled automatic updates but am now afraid to do manual updates (my ESET virus protection wants me to). From what I am reading here Vista just plain sucks? Is this the consensus? Is there nothing to be done? I am only slightly above beginner when it comes to tech savvy so…auuuggghhhh!!!!!

  16. Tim!

    On Windows 7 you can select the first language pack then shift-click the last language pack to select them all. When you right-click, the Hide Updates context menu option applies to all the selected items.

    Don’t know if Vista allows you to select multiple updates in this way, but it probably does — it’s a pretty standard UI feature when Windows displays a list.

  17. Ian

    Tim!, thanks for the tip. Worked great.

  18. Me

    Thanks so much for this tip! So sick of the endless updates.

  19. Cephus

    Purrrrrfect

  20. bostonblakie

    When I try to hide an update the “hide update” option does not appear with the other two when I right click it. All I see is “view details” and “copy details.” Very frustrating.

  21. joe

    Thank You! been frustrated with that for like a year and a half now haha, should’ve google sooner

  22. Olivia

    Very useful! My anoying Vista problem is solved and it was so easy. Thanks!

  23. Ram

    Thanks. very useful… :)

  24. Dido

    @Terry

    If you would like to hide all the updates at once, just do the following:
    Highlight/select all of them, then right-click on the group & hide them.
    To select separately use Ctr. key or Shift key for all the updates you
    wish to remove. Hope this helps!

  25. Klendo

    Great tip!!! Works as a charm.

  26. HOJO

    All you have to do to hide these updates, is to right-click on an item in the list, and choose “Hide update” from the menu.

    However, when I do the drop-down, the chocie “hide update” doesn’t show up, only “view details” & “copy details”. Any other suggestions

    thanks

  27. Steve C

    It worked for me, so thank you very much!

  28. James

    Excellent! Thank you!

  29. GBlaz

    You are a LEGEND and GENIUS – Thanks

  30. Jo

    Brilliant! Worked like a charm. Thank you so very much!! :)

  31. Sal

    Thanks! Couldn’t find the answer anywhere in Help or on Microsoft website (shocking). Those optional updates were bugging me, too, especially after I flailed around and figured out myself how to uninstall language packs in Windows 7 (Microsoft was no help there, either), then of course they reappeared as optional updates. Great tip!

  32. Gene

    Thank you so much, works like a charm. I was wondering is it possible to restore files /URL accidently deleted, so that when I play my CD’s the song titles will appear instead of track 1 etc. I’m an old f#@t and don’t remember most of what I burned on these CD’s. If it’s possible to get this information back it would be a big help . If you can help me do you think you might have time to E mail a suggestion, I know you are very busy, but I don’t know what else to do. Again, thank you.

  33. snza

    Thank you, it worked just like that :)

  34. sturog

    I used your suggestion on how to get rid of stupid updates for Windows Vista and it worked excellently for Win7 as well. I now no longer have those annoying messages of “Updates Waiting to be Installed” staring at me all the time driving me nuts. Thanks for the peace of mind.

    sturog

  35. Dharmesh

    Thank you so much for giving this valuable input. I will not be frustrated with Microsoft Update next time :-)

    Cheers,
    DM

  36. pavan

    Hey, Thanks for this share….

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