Microsoft Windows 7 has proven to be a very good computing environment. It's not perfect, but it's as close as Microsoft has ever come. But if you are like me, you hate some of the annoying "features" of Windows 7. One of those features is the Solve PC Issues white flag that pops up to inform you that Windows can show you just how to solve a specific problem.
These problems can range from the innocuous and easy "Updates Available" to more complex firewall and security issues. Having this notification is all fine and good when you are an old hat at using a PC, but when you are a new user (or an end user who thinks they are an old hat), the ability to "solve" problems only causes more problems in the end. So, to get around this issue, I always like to disable this little "feature" in Windows 7 so that end users don't use a "solution" for a "problem" and as a result cause more problems.
This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.
To make this feature go away, there are a few options. I will outline three different ways to change this behavior:
- Change visibility of actions
- Disable some action notifications
- Disable the feature all together
The above list goes from easiest to most difficult. The first option removes all notifications from the notification area. The second option allows you to specify which warnings are shown. The final option disables the service all together. Which method is best suited for you? Let's look at the easiest method first.
Change visibility of actions
Instead of completely disabling this service, you can simply change the visibility of the notifications. This will mean the service is still available, only it's not made visible to users. To make this change, follow these steps:
- Click on the Flag icon from your notification area in the right corner (Figure A).
- Click the Open Action Center.
- From within the Action Center, click Change User Account Control Settings.
- From the User Account Control Settings, pull the toggle all the way down to Never Notify.
- Click OK.
Now the user will receive no notifications of warnings or issues.
If you click on the Flag icon, you will see all the current issues that are occurring on your machine. This behavior can clue users into taking steps to "fix" the problem.
Disable some action notifications
But what if you want your users to be notified of certain issues? Say, for example, you want to make sure you user gets warnings related to virus protection (such as out-of-date signatures). In order to do this, you need to follow these steps:
- Click on the Flag icon from your notification area.
- Click the Open Action Center.
- From within the Action Center, click Change Action Center Settings.
- Leave checked only the options you want your users to be informed of (Figure B).
- Click OK.
That's it. Now your users will be made aware only of those issues you want them to know about. This can come in very handy when you don't want to have to babysit an end-user PC for EVERY issue. Good candidates are virus protection (as mentioned) and the User Account Control.
Use caution when disabling the User Account Control. Although an annoying feature, it does do a good job of warning new users when they might be doing something they shouldn't.
Disable the feature all together
The final choice is the most difficult as it involves editing the registry. This option will completely disable the feature all together. I will warn you, as any other time you are dealing with the registry, make sure you back up your registry (in case something goes very wrong). Here are the steps to disable this feature in the registry:
- Click the Start button.
- In the Run dialog box, enter regedit.
- If the UAC window opens (warning you that the program is going to start), allow the application to run.
- Navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Windows Error Reporting entry.
- Double-click on the disable parameter.
- Change the disable parameter from 0 to 1.
- If the disable key is not present, right-click in the window and select New Dword.
- Name the new Dword disable and set it to 1.
- Close the Registry Editor.
Depending on your needs, one of the above methods will be able to serve you. Whether you need to not let your users see all warnings, only see specific warnings, or disable the feature all together, there is a way. Just remember, when they don't see those warnings, it might fall to you to make sure their PCs are running well and all warnings are taken care of. It's a good idea to remove certain notifications from your users (do they really need to know there are updates available for their system?). Not only can this avoid certain headaches, it can keep your users from growing frustrated because they think something might be "wrong" with their machine.
Stay on top of the latest Microsoft Windows tips and tricks with TechRepublic's Windows Desktop newsletter, delivered every Monday and Thursday. Automatically sign up today!
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.