Microsoft

Remove HomeGroup from Windows Explorer in Windows 7

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, Greg Shultz shows you how to remove HomeGroup from the navigation pane in Windows Explorer.

After last week's blog post, "Remove Libraries from Windows Explorer in Windows 7," several readers asked if there was a way to remove HomeGroup from Windows Explorer in Windows 7. As you know, I am a big advocate of the new HomeGroup feature in Windows 7, and I really think it is a valuable asset to the operating system from both a security and efficiency standpoint. In fact, back in December 2009 I wrote a series of articles covering the HomeGroup feature.

In the article "How Do I Create and Configure a Network with Windows 7 HomeGroup?" I explained that Windows 7's HomeGroup is an enhanced version of a peer-to-peer workgroup designed to make sharing files and folder easier on a home or small business network. I then showed you how to create and join a HomeGroup with Windows 7.

In the follow-up article "Extend Default Folder Sharing Capabilities in Windows 7 HomeGroup," I explained how Libraries are used to share folders and files and also described other built-in features that you can use to extend folder-sharing capabilities in a Windows 7 HomeGroup.

Then, in "How Do I Make Windows 7 HomeGroup Content Accessible to Vista and XP?" I showed you how to make it possible for Windows XP and Windows Vista systems to access the folder and printers shared in a HomeGroup. I then showed you how to share and access resources on Windows XP and Windows Vista systems from a HomeGroup.

However, if after reading my articles extolling the HomeGroup feature, you still want to remove it, then in this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to remove HomeGroup from the navigation pane in Windows Explorer, as shown in Figure A, by disabling the HomeGroup services.

Figure A

HomeGroup is a prominent part of Windows Explorer, even if you don't use the new networking tool.

Notes

Keep in mind that while you can remove the HomeGroup networking tool from Windows Explorer's navigation pane by editing the registry, the HomeGroup services will still run in the background. By using the method I'll show you here, you can clean out Windows Explorer as well as conserve resources.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Leaving the HomeGroup

Even if you aren't using the HomeGroup networking tool, you may have initially set it up when you first began using Windows 7. If so, you will have to begin by leaving the HomeGroup. If you never set up or joined a HomeGroup, you can skip to the next section.

To leave the HomeGroup, click the Start button and type HomeGroup in the Start Search box. When HomeGroup appears at the top of the results panel, press [Enter]. When you see the Change Homegroup Settings dialog box, as shown in Figure B, click the Leave the Homegroup link.

Figure B

If you set up a HomeGroup, you should officially leave it before you disable the networking tool.
When you see the confirmation dialog box, shown in Figure C, click the Leave the Homegroup link again.

Figure C

When prompted to confirm the operation, click the Leave the Homegroup link.
When you see the success message, as shown in Figure D, click Finish.

Figure D

To complete the operation, click the Finish button.

Disabling the HomeGroup Services

To disable the HomeGroup services, you'll need to launch the Services tool. To do so, click the Start button and type Services in the Start Search box. When the Services window appears, locate and select the HomeGroup Provider service, as shown in Figure E. Then, click Stop the Service link.

Figure E

Once you locate the HomeGroup Provider service, click Stop the Service link.
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Once the service is stopped, you'll need to disable it to prevent it from loading on start-up. To do so, double-click the HomeGroup Provider service, and in the Properties dialog box, select Disabled from the Startup Type drop-down list, as shown in Figure F. Then, click OK.

Figure F

Select Disabled from the Startup Type drop-down list to prevent the HomeGroup Provider service from loading on start-up.

Now, double-click on the HomeGroup Listener service, which is automatically disabled when you stop the HomeGroup Provider service. When you see the HomeGroup Listener Properties dialog box, select Disabled from the Startup Type drop-down list and then click OK.

When you launch Windows Explorer now, you'll see that HomeGroup no longer appears in Windows Explorer, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

HomeGroup no longer shows up in Windows Explorer.

What's your take?

Have you decided not to use the HomeGroup networking tool in Windows Explorer? Will you use this technique to remove it? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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