Remove Applications from the Context Menu in Windows Manually

If your context menu is cluttered with unused applications, here’s how to clean it up …

Windows accumulates context menu items any time you install several applications. Not all applications end up on the context menu but enough do so over time that the menu can become cluttered. You might find yourself wondering, “How did that get there?” You may not want it on the context menu, but it is there and you are stuck with it. Or are you? No, you are not. If it is something that you use, perhaps you should leave it on the context menu. If you do not use the application very often and prefer to access it from a different location, there is no reason to leave it there.

After awhile, the context menu can become a complete mess. Using the registry hack methods in this tutorial will allow you to clean up the context menu so it does not have to look as extensive as this example:

windows explorer context menu

The items on the context menu are all in the registry and a simple registry hack can easily remove them. Note that this is for the more experienced user and there are registry management utilities available for those who are inexperienced with accessing the Windows registry directly. Also, before digging into the registry and making any changes; create a restore point so that if you cause any undue problems you will be able to reverse the changes.
To clean up the context menu by hacking the registry, open regedit.exe from the Start menu. The unfortunate part of this is that context menu items are not stored in one location in the registry. You can find most of the menu items for various files and folders by searching one of the following registry keys:

  • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell
  • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers
  • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AllFileSystemObjects\ShellEx

If the menu items are associated with specific folders, they can be found in one of the following two registry keys:

  • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell
  • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Shellex\ContextMenuHandlers

Items in the context menu will need to be changed differently depending on the location in the registry. Shell items are the easiest to find. For example, browse to the shell key under Directory.

To hide an item, use Shift+Right-Click and add a new string value in the right pane. Name the new string “Extended”.

This will hide the item from the context menu. You can also enter “LegacyDisable” for the new string value and this will disable the key. If you choose to delete the key entirely, export and save a copy first.

When dealing with “shellex” items, you will go to one of the keys listed above:

  • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers

Determine the correct item by the key name in the left pane. Disable it by inserting a few dashes before the value item. This will not delete the item. In this example, SUPERAntiSpyware is disabled from the context menu in this manner.

context menu

Each key location indicated above will need to be searched to find the items you wish to remove (disable) from the context menu. For specific file types, use the Extended or LegacyDisable string values to disable. You will only need to edit the string with dashes for shellex items. This may seem tedious to some users while others may prefer these methods.

You can actually learn a lot by perusing the registry but it should always be done with great care. If you are inexperienced with this, create a full backup of the registry before playing around and, as mentioned, create a restore point


© Melanie Gross for gHacks Technology News | Latest Tech News, Software And Tutorials, 2011. | Permalink |
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