Friday, December 04, 2009

Killing an undead XP Active Desktop

Active Desktop rose from the grave the other day. It’s probably something that our corporate IT group unwittingly unleashed.

The symptom was that when I tried to drag an Outlook attachment to the desktop XP mumbled something about creating an Active Desktop bitmap.


Active Desktop is only supposed to run when you’ve checked some boxes in the Display Properties:Desktop:Customer Desktop menu, but I had a bad case anyway. It was undead.

Of course there’s an obscure registry option to kill it forever. There usually is in the Windows world. I found 3 good articles with different sets of advice:

Surprisingly, even knowing the registry key(s), I couldn’t find any article on That’s usually a great resource. Here are the keys …

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\NoActiveDesktop
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer\ForceActiveDesktopOn

Check out the above articles for the details. Everyone recommends the first key, one reference suggested the second key as well. I did both and, after a restart, my undead Active Desktop is back in the grave.

I assume Microsoft finally staked this vampire in Windows 7? Active Desktop was one of their dumber ideas.

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