How-To Geek

Disable AutoPlay in Windows Vista

Windows Vista’s AutoPlay options are a great improvement over Windows XP in terms of flexibility, but unfortunately there are so many options that it can be confusing, especially since there’s no specific mention of USB Flash drives in the options.

Open your Control Panel, and then click on “Play CDs or other media automatically” to open the AutoPlay dialog.


Disable AutoPlay Globally

The quickest way to disable AutoPlay entirely is to just uncheck the box for “Use AutoPlay for all media and devices”, which should usually work.


Disable for a Single Type

You can choose a setting in the drop-down menu for a single type of drive, for instance Audio CD in this example. For this to work you’ll have to make sure to keep the global autoplay option on, and then choose the specific setting in the drop-down.


Disable for just Removable (flash) Drives

The problem here is that while there are settings for Audio CDs and DVDs, there’s nothing specifically for USB flash drives. Windows will determine the drive type based on the content it finds on the flash drive itself, so that’s what we’ll need to change.

In order to disable AutoPlay for the removable drives, you should change all of the following to Take no action: Software and games, Pictures, Video files, Audio files, and Mixed content.


Disable Through Group Policy

A number of readers have written in complaining that the option to disable autoplay isn’t working for them, so if you’d like to disable it entirely you can use the Group Policy editor on the Business and Ultimate versions of Vista.

Open up gpedit.msc through the start menu search box, browse to Windows Components \ AutoPlay Policies, and change the value of “Turn off Autoplay” to enabled.


You can choose whether to disable for just removable devices, or entirely. I’m not sure if that makes any sense, however.

Disable with Registry Hack

The Group Policy editor is not available on Windows Vista Home editions, so I’ve also included the registry tweak to disable AutoPlay entirely.

Download and unzip this registry hack and then double-click on the appropriate file.

  • DisableAutoPlay.reg will disable autoplay entirely.
  • DisableAutoPlayRemovable.reg will disable autoplay on removable devices.

Hopefully all your AutoPlay questions are now answered!

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 08/18/07

Comments (21)

  1. Takis Mousoullou

    I have Vista Ultimate. My Group Policy Object Editor does not have a folder headed “Windows Components”. I have one called “Windows Settings” but it is nothing like whats displayed in your above picture.

  2. internetspider

    Thanks for these informations!

    I want to know how to disable auto play in windows xp.

  3. Davie

    how about the opposite..I wouldlike to enable the entire my current settings I already enabledor checked the box ‘use Autoplay for all media devices’ however my autoplay is not working the way I’m using vista home premium..any suggestions?

  4. Edwin

    same problem here Davie… any suggestions ??

  5. Michel Bernier

    You also disable the Service via Computer Management

    Service – Shell Hardware Detection

    Disable/Enable – Enable

    Description of Service – Provides AutoPlay notifications.

    Notes: – Disabling this service will keep CD-ROMS/DVD-ROMS and other such devices from automatically working.

  6. Davie

    thnks but as I had checked my Service – Shell Hardware Detection, it is enabled however how come
    my autoplay still not working?..kindly help me up guys..I still prefer my autoplay is working than it is not…any input will be appreciated

  7. Chris

    Registry hack; DisableAutoPlayRemovable.reg no longer work in vista sp1

  8. Carl

    How do I add software programs in Autoplay? I wanted to add more options to Autoplay but only see windows applications. Isn’t there a way to increase the programs that autoplay shows in each group?

  9. Christy

    Hi, I’ve got Vista Home Basic and I’ve downloaded and executed your registry hack and ran both of the files but my USB devices still autoplay when plugged in. Can you tell me what could be the problem? cheers, Christy

  10. Kaptan


    To enable AutoRun/AutoPlay

    Modifying HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer to 91 (hex) worked for me.

  11. Spacegold

    In Vista Home Premium I have, there is no “Hardware and Sound” icon or any other icon that produces the screenshots you show.

  12. DocuMike

    Disabling AutoPlay in Vista Home Premium fixed a long – running problem with explorer.exe that caused any active window to pulse (or flicker)every second or so. It was very annoying.

  13. jd2066

    @Spacegold: It sounds like you have the classic control panel view turned on. For the classic view just double click the Autoplay icon to get to the options this article shows.

  14. MrSato

    I have a slightly different issue/request. I have disabled all autorun on my computer, using the autorun control panel. My philosophy is similar to firewall best practices. Block everything, and then enable what you actually need only. Well, I need for either a particular USB flashdrive to autorun, or all usb flashdrives to autorun. I have a usb logon key that apparently requires it. It worked fine before I disabled autorun. Trouble is, I see no way to only enable for USB flashdrives. In the control panel you can enable or disable based on content, rather than source. This does make sense, but it shouldn’t leave out the possibility to specify that on a per device level. You can enable for “Software and Games”… this would work but is the most dangerous of all!

  15. David Pastern

    Didn’t fix my problem – vista 64 ultimate. I suspect that after installing Core Paintshop Pro X2, it’s screwed my autoplay (problems happened at about the same time). Autoplay is turned on in the control panel, Vista recognises the CD/DVD etc. The service is started (I restarted it to force things) and registry keys look fine to me. So does group policy.

    Kaptan – “Modifying HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer to 91 (hex) worked for me.”

    I have several sub options in this folder, am I assigning the code change to one of them, or to the parent folder?


  16. Emily

    I want to do the same thing as Davie. I’m using Vista Home Premium.
    I want to enable my autoplay, but the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer” is not there!
    I can get to “Policies” in Registry Editor, but it only has “Attachments” “NonEnum” and “System”. And my “Software” is in all Caps.
    Is that bad? I don’t know what to do!
    Autoplay is enabled in control panel.
    Autoplay will appear for my Samsung mp3 player (YP-U3) but not my USB (4gb) or my External Hard drive USB.
    Any suggestions????
    many thanks, Em.

  17. Speedcop


    excellent advice, after three days of struggling through different forums and downloading numerous useless registry fix programs, your advice did it for me. I owe you a beer.

  18. Ty Ung

    Hi everyone!
    First of all, I just want to joint with you.
    And next time I’ll have something to share.


    Ty Ung.

  19. Monorom

    Thank you so much for your showing me “how to disable auto play in vista”.
    It is importance to protect virus from auto run group…

  20. Kalman Groner

    Thanks Michel Bernier

    That was a big help.

    Enabled Service -> Shell Hardware Detection

    and auto-play is working again.. yay..

  21. shayan

    can anyone please tell me how to enable the autoplay option for windows 7?
    i have windows 7 home premium and even after enabling autoplay option in hardware and sound, i still don’t see the dialog box asking me what action to take wheneven i connect my external hard disk, usb or insert a disk in my superdrive.
    it will be a load of help

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