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Windows XP recently used programs menu

Posted on 2008-06-13
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-06-17

I am building images for use in an academic lab environment at my site.  Because faculty have designed their curriculum around the systems we have on campus, consistency is key.  One of the most annoying problems we run into is the recently used programs menu in Windows XP under the XP theme.  

XP builds this list by placing the most frequently used applications on the top of the list as opposed to just a static history of apps.  So, if we accidentally remove one of the apps from the list or run one of the apps out of order, we have to manually launch the applications until they're set properly.  

I've been looking into the registry for a way to manually sort this list but have been unable to so far.  I'm looking for something I can run via batch file (either a reg key that I can modify or a 3rd party utility w/ command line switches) during our image cleanup but if you've got any possible solutions, let me hear it!  =)
Question by:deltacollegeoit
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LVL 70

Accepted Solution

KCTS earned 500 total points
ID: 21777719
LVL 15

Assisted Solution

by:Lee Osborne
Lee Osborne earned 500 total points
ID: 21777763
You could use the following article to create the registry entry as described, and then put registry key file in the logon script to remove the programs from the MRU list each time the user logs on:

Assisted Solution

deltacollegeoit earned 500 total points
ID: 21777890
Thanks for the replies.  

We are currently using DeepFreeze in our lab environments, but thank you for bringing up SteadyState.  I'll be looking into that one a little further as a possible runner up to DeepFreeze...but that's another question =).

I have seen that article as well but that isn't the solution we were looking for.  Though that does bring a possible workaround to mind.

Sorry about that but let me go a little further into detail.  We use a utility called Universal Imaging Utility (UIU) and have created a base image which all of our labs use (again for consistency), which we then layer on any number of Ghost packages depending on configuration needed for the lab.  

Then, we go through the system and finalize details such as sorting the programs menu, copying our template user profile over to the Default User profile, etc. all via batch files.  

Once the system has been prepared exactly as required for the lab (including the order of the recently used programs list) we DeepFreeze the system, locking the system down.  

The problem we have is that the order of that recently used programs list must be in a specific order every time a user first logs in.  To do this, we have to manually launch each of the applications until they're all in the specified order and remove any other entries.

It seems to me that this information MUST be stored somewhere, but, we haven't been able to locate this yet.

However, I think I have an idea.  Not quite the solution I was looking for but it should work.  I can use that key listed in the article and remove all entries.  Then by using AutoIT ( - an automated scripting language we use at our site), I can launch each of the applications in the required order.

I'll be testing this in the next few weeks!

Again, thank you both for your input!
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LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 21777935
If you are using DeepFreeze (or steady state) can't you just discard any changes on logoff ?
LVL 70

Assisted Solution

garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 21780722
I'd simply create the list you want as follows:

(1)  Eliminate the automatic list generated by XP:  Right-click on the Taskbar; select Properties; click the Start Menu tab; click Customize; then change the number of programs shown on the Start Menu to zero.

(2)  Now add the programs you want (in the order you want them to appear ... although you don't have to do that, as they're easy to re-order) by simply right-clicking on each program's shortcut and selecting "Pin to Start Menu".

Note that you don't have to zero the "floating list" if you don't want to ==> you can simply "pin" the programs you want to always be there (they'll be above a separator line unless the floating list has been set to zero.

You can re-order the list of "pinned" items by simply highlighting the program you want to move; right-clicking; and dragging it up or down in the list.
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 21780725
... I didn't explicity say it; but just to be clear, XP never changes the "pinned" part of the list.
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 21784136
Since you always want the Start Menu in a specified order, why not just "pin" all of the entries in the order you want them (as I suggested above)  ... this does not require launching anything to retain the order.

This would eliminate the "problem" you indicated requiring you to  "... manually launch each of the applications until they're all in the specified order and remove any other entries."    All of the programs would remain as set; and if you simply set the # of floating entries to zero there would never be any others (or you could leave that at whatever number you'd like if desired --> the floating entries would not impact the order of the fixed entries you had pinned to the menu).


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