Microsoft

How do I... Return the Address bar Windows XP SP3 removed?

One of the features we liked about Microsoft Windows XP was the optional Address bar you could dock to the toolbar section of the desktop. But Service Pack 3 for XP takes away that option ostensibly for legal reasons. Well, Mark Kaelin says nuts to that and shows you how to get it back.
When I am running my PC under Windows XP, I like to take full advantage of the toolbar options (Figure A) available on the desktop. The Address Bar is one of my favorite features, and I always have it attached to a taskbar somewhere. It is a convenient tool for navigating to places on the Internet or on my personal computer with addresses that are faster to type than they are to find with a mouse.

Figure A

Address Bar is available before SP3
But according to forums on Microsoft TechNet, the company is concerned that integrating the Address Bar may be construed to be in violation of certain antitrust rulings, especially in the European Union. The idea of Microsoft being bullied into removing useful features strikes me as disingenuous at best. I suspect there are ulterior motives at work. But that doesn't help us with the fact SP3 removes the Address Bar from the available options (Figure B).

Figure B

Address Bar is not available after SP3

Getting it back

Getting the Address Bar back requires what I would call a small hack. That being said, if your psyche can't handle a little backdoor manipulation, you might want to weigh the risks of this technique with the safety of leaving it be.

By the way, I cannot take credit for this trick; I saw these steps posted on a Microsoft Community Forum. I am merely expanding on it with some more detailed instructions and some imagery. I also want to thank and acknowledge Kenneth P. Grush who e-mailed me about the controversy this morning and posted a comment in my previous blog entry about Windows XP SP3.

The file modified by Windows XP SP3 is browseui.dll. The trick, put simply, is to replace the SP3 version of this file with an SP2 version of the file. The older version of browseui.dll can be found in the following directory of a non-SP3 Windows PC:

C:\Windows\System32\

Copy the browseui.dll to the root directory of the SP3 machine or to some other location that the SP3 PC can access.

Okay, here is where its gets a little tricky. The browseui.dll file is a system file and is therefore protected whenever Windows is running. That means you cannot just copy the SP2 version over to the SP3 version. You will have to start the SP3 PC in Safe Mode. In fact, I would suggest starting the SP3 PC in Safe Mode with a command prompt.

Here is how you do that:

  1. Restart the SP3 computer.
  2. When it starts the reboot process and before Windows starts to load, press the F8 key, which will load the Advanced Boot Options Menu.
  3. Choose to start in Safe Mode with a Command Prompt option.
  4. At the Command Prompt, type this copy command:
    xcopy C:\browseui.dll C:\Windows\System32\
  5. Reboot the SP3 PC normally.

If all went according to plan, you should now have the option to add the Address Bar to your desktop (Figure C).

Figure C

The Address Bar is back

Third party

Several third-party companies have rushed to the rescue and are also offering their particular solutions to the missing Address Bar problem. Niversoft is the one I am most familiar with, but I am sure there are others. If replacing new system files with old system files is not your cup of tea, perhaps a third-party option is more to your liking.

Politics

When the threat of legal ramifications causes features to be removed from software, I begin to question just who the plaintiffs are actually trying to protect. As a consumer, I want those features, and many times I want them integrated right into my operating system. The innocuous Address Bar would seem to be safe from such political fallout, but apparently that is not the case. But as with any bureaucratic nonsense, it is up to the people to find a way.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

50 comments
h_dandekar
h_dandekar

Hello I have one more way to do this without booting the SP3 machine. browseui.dll is in use by windows in C:\Windows\System32\, so that you cannot overwrite it. Logic is to make the file "NOT in USE" So just un register it. using command below: regsvr32 browseui.dll -u NOTE this files backup is into C:\WINDOWS\system32\dllcache directory Reaso as sooon as you rename or delete file from system32 windows will attempt to recover from dllcache. But file in DLLcache is NOT in use, you can safely overwrite this file. then Unregister C:\WINDOWS\system32\browseui.dll using above command, then delete or Rename it. and wait..... windows(Bindok) will copy file fromdllcache to system32 and then you simply register it again using regsvr32 browseui.dll Logoff- re login and you are done. (NO REBOOT IN SAFE MODE)

GR8PIPES
GR8PIPES

Thank you!!!! That was driving me crazy. I downloaded the MuvEnum Addresss bar but it was really lame. I'm so glad to have my normal address toolbar back!

Slayer_
Slayer_

It means no third party incompatibilities and slowdowns to worry about. Generally speaking, MS software preinstalled on the OS is stable and perfectly usable with low resource usage and limited bulk. I say this while setting up a mental block for windows media player, which should be replaced immediately with any number of better players that don't have security vulnerabilities that allow hackers to remotely control your computer. GOM is my current favorite if anyone wants to try it :). Its speedy, good for low resolution videos, supports DivX right out of the box, and lets you quickly change aspect ratios for when your projecting to a screen or out to a TV, even to remove letterbox.

mikieut
mikieut

I have noticed in the past that Microsoft will remove features in older versions of their products when they have been released into newer versions. In Vista the address bar had been incorporated into the start menu. I would say that Microsoft used the antitrust case as a excuse to remove a useful feature from a older product so that you have to upgrade to get it back. They did the same thing with the same feature with Windows 98SE. The feature was included with IE until Window XP came out then they took it back. Since then I always use start then run or WindowsKey+R works to.

john
john

I prefer to replace it using the MuvEnum Address Bar, http://www.muvenum.com/products/freeware/. It allows me to set a system-wide hotkey that puts focus to the address bar, something very important missing from the original address bar.

TimoUhlmann
TimoUhlmann

Because I'm too lazy to search all the posts if this was already mentioned, but here's the location of the original browseui.dll: When SP3 is installed, it backs up all the files that it replaces to the folder C:\WINDOWS\$NtServicePackUninstall$ The folder is hidden and maybe marked as a system folder, so you might have to change the view settings in Windows explorer... Cheers, ami-uhle

burglr
burglr

fredeppy. Thanks for the link...IT worked

jcarlosq
jcarlosq

Thanks for the reference, but here is an easier way to get this fixed. 1. open "windows task manager" 2. run a "CMD" optional: copy the browseui.dll from C:\windows\$NtServicePackUninstall$\ to c:\ This is to avoid typos later on 3. from task manager, end process: explorer.exe 4. from cmd: xcopy \browseui.dll \windows\system32\browseui.dll ; explorer (this will copy the file and restart explorer) 5. it's done, now you can right-click the taskbar, select toolbars, and select Address Hope this is easier. J Carlos Q ps. if you did not copy the file(step2,optional) then at step four the command you need to type is as follows: xcopy \windows\$NtServicePackUninstall$\browseui.dll \windows\system32\browseui.dll

burglr
burglr

I get message sharing violation?

burglr
burglr

This is the message I get when applying cmd... Sharing Violation?

paulor0
paulor0

Why do you even need the Address Bar ? I never such a thing, apart from the very few days I used XP and thought it was a funny feature. After that I disabled it never to use it again, since it occupies too many valuable space in the taskbar. For those of us who constantly runs a lot of programs at the same time, every pixel is needed.

niversoft
niversoft

Direct link to Niversoft's solution mentioned at the bottom of the text is http://www.niversoft.com/downloads/xp-sp3-addressbar.zip . This solution involves no system file replacement with previous versions, that are likely to be overwritten by a further windows update. It does not trigger Windows File Protection and behaves exactly as the pre-sp3 address band was behaving. For those who are interested (warning: technical terms below), this solution is implemented as a container for the standard address band COM object. That COM object is still present on SP3 machines since it's used in IE and at the top of Explorer windows, but has been crippled not to be used on the task bar. By embedding it in a container, the bar does not know it is in the taskbar and can be put there.

TALKIN
TALKIN

Xp Home editon fresh install with sp3 Rebooted in safe mode command prompt typed in the following details xcopy C:browseui.dll C:\Windows\System32 in command promt the message is "cannot find (0) files"

hyh2005
hyh2005

i would guess it's another MS ploy trying to play the victim to gain public sympathy. the anti-trust suit is directed at much more fundamental predatory practices that MS failed to correct. the EU has threatened to impose a hefty fine to wake up MS.

dennisc
dennisc

Do all instances of browseui.dll have to be removed. I turned off system restore but still (searched browseui.dll) and found 32 files in various locations. I over-wrote the sp3 file with the sp2 version and chose Yes to overwrite. Did this twice in safe mode. It won't take, No address tool bar thanks, Dennis

tempest_4_y
tempest_4_y

Did you intend: C:\Windows\System32 when you wrote: C:\WindowsSystem32 Thanks.

MikeSQLDBA
MikeSQLDBA

The .dll is misspelled in the article. It is browseui.dll, not browseRui.dll

cooldude10810
cooldude10810

I'm not sure that these instructions work. First of all, you need to close down the explorer.exe process (even in safe mode) before you will be able to overwrite the browseui.dll file in the system32 directory. Additionally, once you reboot into Windows, the System File Protection will automatically replace the browseui.dll file with the SP3 version again. To do it right takes a little more work. I went ahead and made a script that will do everything for you. You can download it here: http://personal.ryantadams.com/2008/05/08/restore-the-address-bar-in-windows-xp-sp3/

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Were you a big fan of the Address Bar? Are you slightly miffed that it was removed with SP3? What other features have been removed in Windows XP SP3? Have you come across something -- share it with us and perhaps we can find a solution together.

gcpowers
gcpowers

solution posted by cooldude back in may much easier!!

showerton
showerton

This did not work for me because when I did Step 4, I got a sharing violation message, and I still do not have an address bar. I tried it both ways, with and without Step 2 and got the same results both times. Any suggestions?

Tearat
Tearat

The Quick Launch to the side and Auto-Hide it You can set it to show the full names instead of just showing icons That will give more space on the taskbar Which you can Auto-Hide if you need more space on the desktop Something else is You can have many different bars on the side Just slide them up and down to show what you use the most Clicking on the arrows makes the rest appear I prefer the left side of the screen That way the bars don?t get in the way of the windows control icons when it is set to full screen

rick@Hogans-Systems.com
rick@Hogans-Systems.com

One nice thing about Windows is that allows pretty much everyone to customize things to be exactly the way they want them to be. A feature that seems useless to me may be just the thing you need for the way you like to work. With Windows, I can have my computer configured the way I like it, and you can have your computer configured the way you like it. Of course, the problem with all this flexibility is that a handful of us will find things we like which may not be very popular with most users. Then something happens and that feature changes or gets taken away. While most people may not notice it, those who did like that feature will be disappointed to see it changed or taken away. Rick

dawn.connelly
dawn.connelly

I always expand my taskbar to be two bars high. This allows the address bar and quick launch bar on one row and all my open programs on another. I really like this setup , it gives everything more room and has never been in the way (esp. with high resolution screens). This also allows the clock to display time, day of week, and date clearly.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Our blog software doesn't like the "\" character. It should be: xcopy c:\browserui.dll c:\Windows\System32\

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Yes, you are correct - WordPress likes to delete the \ for our blog posts.

gcpowers
gcpowers

your solution works great!! cant thank you enough..

gsnyder
gsnyder

I found on 2 computers that I tried this on that by right clicking the task bar click toolbars then make new toolbar drag the one you just made off of the taskbar to the desktop then right click the new toolbar and you'll see the address bar. Select it then drag the toolbar you created back to the taskbar and you'll see the address bar on your taskbar you can right click and remove the toolbar you created and the address bar will stay. I have tested this no farther. It's just a quick way to get it back.

Devilbabytales
Devilbabytales

OK, to be sure I don't know if this went missing after the automatic updates or installing XP SP3 or mistakenly adding the upgrade for Media Player 11 or Internet Explorer 8beta2 but my CD player has gone away. I've rolled back drivers, done two restore points and went back to Media 10 & IE7. Have even uninstalled the player and reinstalled twice. No luck as of yet. I'm pretty fluent in computer but this has me baffled. Help or a clue here?

SKDTech
SKDTech

I would have just assumed it was removed due to it not being commonly used. I have never used it myself and always regarded it as clutter on my own taskbar much the same as I do the language bar. Just one more thing to get in the way and reduce my usable taskbar space. As far as it possibly being in violation of antitrust laws? I don't see how anyone in their right mind could consider it being some kind of monopoly and would have to say I agree that Microsoft and other companies shouldn't knuckle under for ridiculous claims like that.

showerton
showerton

After I downloaded the copy of browseui from Post 25 and copied it to the system32 folder, it worked!

CisfRjsii
CisfRjsii

This works for XP But, I forgot how I got my Quick Launch, Links and Address bars situated at the top of my Vista screen. Vista won`t let you pull them out from the taskbar at the bottom. I do have them at the top but, pulled them out of Windows Explorer somehow ?? Ziggy.42o

niversoft
niversoft

Yes, this solution works, but unfortunately it's temporary. The address bar disappears as soon as you reboot.

hemanthcsit
hemanthcsit

When you open my computer you cannot find the cd/dvd drive this could be happen after updates or any recent software changes.Check in device manager whether the drive is present.If yes please do the following steps: 1.Open regedit. 2.Search for Upper filter and Lower filter keys and delete the keys if they are present. 3.Close the Registry editor. 4.Restart your computer 5.Check whether the drive came up in my computer,If not.. 6.Please go to device manager and uninstall the cd/dvd drive drivers and restart the computer.If it is an XP computer it will automatically load the drivers.If it is vista you need to install the drivers from the cd provided by your manufacture. Please get back to me if you need any further information on this. Thank you, Regards Hemanth

showerton
showerton

I have the same problem and have not yet found a solution.

cwilliams
cwilliams

I have the same issue and have not been able to get a solution.

rick@Hogans-Systems.com
rick@Hogans-Systems.com

"As far as it possibly being in violation of antitrust laws? I don't see how anyone in their right mind could consider it being some kind of monopoly and would have to say I agree that Microsoft and other companies shouldn't knuckle under for ridiculous claims like that." I don't know the answer, but if the address bar only works with Internet Explorer and not other 3rd party web browsers, then that might be a reason why the EU doesn't like it. They would say it gives IE an advantage over other web browsers. The bottom line is that this is what we get when we ask the government to "protect us" from big, evil corporations. Once the government sticks its nose into something, it no longer matters what you or I want. We will get what the government says we get - whether we like it or not. Rick

seanferd
seanferd

I don't have any Vista handy to check this.

Devilbabytales
Devilbabytales

Ahh..go back and READ some of the replies before you post. The problem was the device itself and not the program. You ought to work for AOL.

fredeppy
fredeppy

Check ZDNet's CD/DVD Drivers section about 1/3 of the way down the page there is a sponsered links section with 3 free programs that are supposed to fix CD/DVD problems. I stumbled on them last night, but know nothing about them. http://downloads.zdnet.com/Software/Drivers/CD+and+DVD+Drivers/?&scname=CD+and+DVD+Drivers&x=0

doug.pfaff
doug.pfaff

had the same issue and microsft has a scripted file that edits the necessary changes and restores normal operation. search for it on there technical site not the normal user site

Devilbabytales
Devilbabytales

Yup, I fixed it. I bought a new CD/DVR and installed it. Have no idea what the original problem was and found no solution or answers from anywhere. I learned a lot and now avoid much "expert" advice. Most of it was speculation, conjecture and pure BS from know-nothings on forums quite like this.

stoney812
stoney812

I don't understand how it could be considered a monopoly being it is NOT exclusive to Internet Explorer. I have been using it forever to open up sites in FireFox. It uses whatever browser that XP has set as the default browser.

erikpena
erikpena

You can use the address bar to launch executibles. This is the main reason I use it. Yes, it can launch web URLs also. I didn't need the EU to tell me I can't use it. Lame.

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