Windows

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.

19 comments
PRSandford
PRSandford

My problem is that I have an incorreect setting on the homegroup.  In particular, the 'Home Networking Connection' is set to Wireless Network Connection 2, ie the 'Microsoft Virtual WiFi Miniport Adapter'.  The result of this is the dreaded 'You do not have permission . . .' message when one tries to look at any computer on the network, including this one.  I, therefore, want to remove all homegroup settings in order to start again.  Disabling may work, but leaving the homegroup does not; the settings are stored and reapplied when I rejoin. (Windows 7 64bit)

mrstarr
mrstarr

Homegroups need to eat hot death and die. Twenty years of tech experience supporting PCs, and I have yet to figure them out and they are infuriating as ****. XP networking, for all its blemishes, is far superior. At least when you understood how to set it up and got it set up, it worked. XP networking did need some work done on it, but under the hood... and not this total dyslexic disaster (like Windows 8). Worse, there's some kind of blatantly obvious bug in Windows 7 networking that made it right out the door, that brings file copies across the network to a horrendous snails pace. Its well documented all over the internet. These posters, like I, want to be able to completely remove it from Windows 7. I don't mean just not use it, or ignore it, or turn it off. I mean rip it out so its no longer there. So we don't have to look at it, so we aren't confused by it, and so that there is nothing left but basic Windows XP style workgroups.

jbuff61173
jbuff61173

Everything was fine and fully functioning. But what is this new Icon "HomeGroup". Strange, I thought; "Where did this come from?" Well I'll move it to a desktop folder I created named "Win8_Stuff". Hmmm, icon doesn't responded to mouse drags/cuts/clicks except opening HomeGroup. Searched the web and here is the fix for Win7 which worked perfectly for Win8 Pro x64. No mystery icon anymore, and related services stopped and disabled. Lost connection to my HP 7410 printer. No printing from my desktop now; It is connected to my desktop via usb cable (my WInXp Pro 32bit laptop connects to it via wireless as well as my daughters laptop). Unplugged power and usb cable to printer. My Win8 desktop "re-found?" it. All is well now, and that pesky icon and services are still no-more. Thank you for the article. Works spot on for a Win8 Pro x64 machine. jimb

stormalfla
stormalfla

Simply stop the service after leaving the homegroup. Just be sure that startup has been setup as "Manual".

Everq
Everq

Except its stupid - people want it away from the pane because its in the way - not disable the function.

vijer
vijer

I guess you might need it if you share files with your family. I would rather install a small server for sharing but I don't need to share files with my family. I almost never need to share files so why have the resources used all the time. Better to pull out the USB memory stick and do a sneaker net transfer.

Regulus
Regulus

Greg, Your series here on modifications to Windows Explorer has apparently been a godsend to the IT community, judging from the large response that you have had. I'd like to suggest that instead of getting rid of a lot of stuff that cramps IT Tech's style, if there were a manner that we could 'Sort' the 'Folders' window on the Left, one could then 'Sort' what (s)he defines as 'Distracting' to the bottom and keep what one defines as 'Important' on the top. Further, we should all remember that IT Techs are probably less than 10% of the MS Customer Base. The newer appearance of Windows Explorer probably is designed to address the remaining 90 %. The Challenge to IT Tech's is then, to learn to understand how the rest of the world 'Thinks' so that we may continue to assist them in their use of these technical 'Wonders'.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

I would assume if you have one Windows 7 computer and you don't plan on getting another one, you can follow this procedure to remove the Homegroup feature [and thereby removing one service that loads].

theolog
theolog

About time. I have 8 computers on the home network, most of them XP, with no intent to move to 7 on any more computers for several years. All our computers have blanket sharing of all directories, desktops, etc for collaboration. All 8 share the common wifi printer. Our one 7 computer tries to dominate the network, and this will be great to have peers again who can talk to each other without restrictions.

Blue-J
Blue-J

I removed HomeGroup when I teamed my 2 LAN ports for a 2 Gb LAN connection. It disables one of the Peer services, and with that disabled, HomeGroup will not work.

ashofmann
ashofmann

I do not share files or printers on my Windows 7 system, so I used this tip. Very easy to do and worked as advertised.

mulder
mulder

So, anyone know how to remove these services via registry? We would like to do that for our Corporate image using MDT 2010.

john.myerson
john.myerson

Is the same limit for peer to peer (10 computers) applied to Windows 7 as with XP?

Ken Cameron
Ken Cameron

I was having all kinds of problems with my home network because of HomeGroup. I have 2 XP PC's plus this 7 Laptop in a Workgroup. Everytime I mistakenly hit HomeGroup on my 7 LT, it disabled my connections to the WorkGroup. I just followed your instructions for disabling HomeGroup. Everything seems to be working just great. THANKS!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Have you decided not to use the HomeGroup networking tool in Windows Explorer? Will you use this technique to remove it?

cnet
cnet

Even in the house I have my network set to "public" (which, contrary to common sense, means "most private"). I hate the default settings of Windows Media which crawls my network looking for stuff to share. There never has been a HomeGroup folder on my systems because of the network selection. Seems to me this could solve the corporate issues for some people who don't need sharing. The list Explorer presents should allow checkbox selection. I only want Computer, Network, and Recycle Bin. I would eliminate Favorites, Libraries, Control Panel, and the duplicated listing of the user's folder and Desktop (they're also under Computer). The more this represents the tree structure of my resources the better it is. If instead I wanted logical views I would use the Libraries feature; but I do not want that.

blarman
blarman

Can you sum up in a few bullet points the benefits of using HomeGroup? Your articles are more about the functionality: I'm interested in the pro's and con's. Maybe do another set of posts: one for corporate use and one for home use.

rcm0502
rcm0502

I can see this technique for removing/disabling HomeGroup as being useful when deploying Windows 7 in a corporate environment so as to conform to corporate security policies and to conserve system resources. This technique should definitely be explored when building the system images that are to be deployed to workstations

phil.gillett
phil.gillett

remove this functionality then? If so, I need to verify if this is removed via an AD policy.

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