How to remove unused programs from the Windows Context Menu

The Recycling Bin isn’t the only place on your Desktop that gets dirty.

As you install programs, run applications and do you daily thing, the right-click menu tends to get clogged with extraneous applications.  But instead of uninstalling the unwanted additions or fiddling with esoteric options I’m going to show you a quick and painless way to make your context menus tidy again.

In the graphic below, you can see I don’t have many context additions.

I only have dBpoweramp Batch Convert and Add to VLC media player’s Playlist but I’ve seen some people with a prodigious sum of useless applications.  In fact, sometimes the list is so long that the context menu has a height greater than the desktop height so the user has to click tiny up and down arrows to scroll through the list.

If that’s you then you definitely want to keep reading.

Windows 8.1 context menu filled with useless applications

The fastest way to cleanup context menus is to simply download and install two small applications from NirSoft:

You could technical muck around in the registry to fix your menus but since it’s too easy to make a mistake in the registry (and this program does everything you could do manually) I’m only going to show the NirSoft way today.

The first is a shell extension manager.  This is just a fancy way for saying that it lets you disable context menu options installed as extensions of your operating system.   The shell is just another name for the Windows graphical user interface – the desktop, the icons and all that jazz.

The other program, ShellMenuView accomplishes a similar task to ShellExView. So you might wonder why we need both programs.

The answer is that some Windows applications simply aren’t installed as shell extensions; therefore, to remove these we need another means of removal.  ShellMenuView has your back here.

Go ahead and download both apps, both files are extremely small (less than a MB total). We’re  going to kick things off with ShellMenuView.

Shell Menu View items to disable

You can sort by Menu Name by clicking the column header; however, this might be confusing if there are multiple rows with the same menu name for different things.

For example, if I click Menu Name and scroll down to VLCPlayer I see dozens of VLC entries.  Admittedly, it’s not clear which one you should disable.  Do we just disable all of them?

Not quite.

Since the VLC Player context menu appears when you right click a folder we want to disable the VLC menu names that have Directory in the Extension column.  Here, I’ve sorted by File Type but you can sort by Extensions and scroll down until you see Directory.

You can click once and then Ctrl + click any related entries and press F7 to disable those context applications.  F8 enables it again.

Disable Shell Menu Items

Behind the scenes, ShellMenuView adds a registry value named LegacyDisable under the key that matches the menu options you disabled.

 Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell

For VLC Player, it adds LegacyDisable in Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\PlayWithVLC and Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\PlayWithVLC

Windows 8.1 Registry Editor LegacyDisable

You can actually:

  • Open the Registry Editor
  • Navigate to the \PlayWithVLC key
  • Press F7 in ShellMenuView
  • Refresh the Registry Editor and watch LegacyDisable magically pop into the right pane.

The context menu cleanup trick works for almost all shell menus.  If you can’t find your program in here, open up the other program, ShellExView, and do the same dance:

Find the application to disable from the context menu and press F7.  Here you can see me disabling the DropBox extension.  Remember DropBox still works; only the menu extension goes into hiding.

Disable DropboxExt Extension Name

The best part is that the results are literally immediate. (This is probably the only occasion where Windows will respond instantly to something you’ve asked it to do lol).  For example, after pressing F7 to disable DBPowerAmp and VLC Player from the context menu, I right clicked a folder on the desktop and both context menu options were poofed into oblivion.

Ahh, I’ll let you marvel at my immaculate context menu for a few moments…

Useless Context Menu Programs Removed

If at anytime you want to get the disabled menu items back, just select the menu names you disabled in ShellMenuView or ShellExView and press F8; they’ll be there faithfully cluttering up your context menu again.

About

Connect with Vonnie on Twitter

Posted in Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Tagged with: ,