You’ve downloaded or created a cool wallpaper image, but all of your desktop icons detract from your masterpiece. Or maybe you just want a nice, clean, minimalist desktop. Or perhaps you need to restrict end users from modifying their desktops.

There are tools like Microsoft’s Tweak UI that allow you to control the visibility of certain desktop icons. Tweak UI lets you hide or show Microsoft Outlook, My Network Places, and the Printers folder. But if you’re just trying to clean up the desktop, you don’t need an add-on—you just need to set a few local or group policy settings.

Using the MMC and group policies
To set local policies, run the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and add the Group Policy snap-in focused on the local computer. Then expand the User Configuration | Administrative Templates | Desktop branch (see Figure A).

Figure A

The policy Hide All Icons On Desktop hides all icons, including My Computer and the Recycle Bin; however, it also hides the wallpaper and prevents right-click access to the display properties from the desktop.

Three other policies safely remove the icons without affecting the wallpaper: Remove My Documents Icon From Desktop, Hide My Network Places Icon On Desktop, and Hide Internet Explorer Icon On Desktop.

Learn more about group policies and the MMC
For more information on Windows 2000 group policies and the MMC, check out these other TechRepublic articles: