Do your users complain that Windows XP is often too chatty? I find the number of pop-up messages and text balloons that intrude upon precious desktop space overwhelming at times. Not all the messages are necessarily relevant, and others are self-explanatory to a fault. A case in point: the Where Have All My Programs Gone pop-up that appears in the Start menu. A quick way to rid your users of a few especially annoying pop-up messages (including the one mentioned above) is to use the Group Policy editor. This article will show you how simple it is to rid the desktop of unnecessary pop-ups.

It starts with Start
You have to begin somewhere, so why not take the easiest path and click on Start | Run and type MMC. For first timers a blank MMC console will appear. If the Group Policy snap-in is not displayed, then a few steps are required to add it. They are:

  1. Choose the menu items File| Add/Remove Snap-In.
  2. Click on the Add button to bring up the Standalone Snap-in dialog box.
  3. Scroll down until you see Group Policy, highlight it, and click the Add button.
  4. A Select Group Policy Object dialog box will appear with Local Computer selected as the default. Select this option by clicking the Finish button.
  5. Click the Close button on the Standalone dialog box and the OK button on the Add/Remove Snap-in dialog box. Your MMC console should now look similar to the one shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Making changes
To make the pop-ups go away, simply expand the Local Computer policy node. Below the main node you’ll see a Computer Configuration node and a User Configuration node. Expanding the User Configuration node will display three subnodes; Software Settings, Windows Settings, and Administrative Templates. For this project, expand the Administrative Templates subnode and select the Start Menu and Taskbar item, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Now it is just a simple procedure to disable the pop-ups. Scroll down the right pane of the console until you see the Remove Balloon Tips On Start Menu Items setting. Double-click it and in the resulting dialog box select the Enabled radio button, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Click the Apply button and you are finished.

It’s a start
Windows XP is heavily reliant on pop-up messages to notify users of certain functions that are taking place, describe applications, and so on. Therefore, you will never get rid of all of the pop-ups. While not every pop-up button will be eliminated by this tip, you can at least be assured a few of the more inane ones will no longer appear.