Remove Favorites from Windows Explorer in Windows 7

Greg Shultz shows you how to remove Favorites from the navigation pane in Windows 7's Windows Explorer by editing the registry.

I recently showed you how to remove Libraries and HomeGroup from Windows 7's Windows Explorer in the articles: "Remove Libraries from Windows Explorer in Windows 7" and "Remove HomeGroup from Windows Explorer in Windows 7." Soon after those articles were published, I was asked if there was a way to remove Favorites from Windows Explorer. Now personally, I can't think of one good reason for removing such a timesaving feature from Windows Explorer, but some of you are adamant that you want to remove this feature. Therefore, I will acquiesce.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to remove Favorites from the navigation pane in Windows 7's Windows Explorer by editing the registry. However, before I do so, I will take a moment to describe the benefits of the Favorites feature in order to try to convince you to keep it in Windows Explorer.

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

Making a case for Favorites

I've talked to quite a few people about Favorites in Windows 7 and discovered that not many people are taking advantage of this timesaving feature because they really don't understand the scope of its usefulness. Now, if you've ever created shortcuts on your desktop to the folders that you access most often, whether they are on your local hard disk or on a network server, then you already have a grasp of the basic feature of Favorites. However, there is more to it, so let's take a closer look.

Creating Favorites

It's easy to add folders to the Favorites section. For example, I regularly access the TechRepublic folder on another computer on my network. To make accessing that folder a simple task, I'll add it to the Favorites. To do so, I navigate to and open that folder. I then right-click on the Favorites item in the navigation pane and select the Add Current Location to Favorites command, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

In Windows 7, it's a very simple operation to add folders to the Favorites.
Now, no matter what folder I currently have open in Windows Explorer, I can easily access the TechRepublic folder, as shown in Figure B, without having to navigate through the network. I can just click it in Favorites.

Figure B

Adding the TechRepublic folder to Favorites in Windows Explorer makes it easy to access.

Copying and moving files

In addition to being able to access the TechRepublic folder via Favorites, I can also easily copy or move files across the network to the TechRepublic folder using drag and drop. I just drag the files that I want to copy and drop them on the TechRepublic shortcut in the Favorites tree, as shown in Figure C. To move files, I just hold down [Shift] as I drag and drop.

Figure C

Once you have folders set up in Favorites, you can easily copy and move files to those folders using drag and drop.

Open and Save As

The other timesaving feature of adding commonly accessed folders to Favorites is that they will show up in your application's Open and Save As dialog boxes, as shown in Figure D. As you can imagine, this makes quick work of accessing and creating files across the network.

Figure D

Favorites, and subsequently any folder that you add, also show up in your application's Open and Save As dialog boxes.

Recent Places

Another handy feature of Favorites is Recent Places, which is set up by default. Just open it and you'll find a very comprehensive list of all the folders and places, such as Control Panel tools, that you recently accessed, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Recent Places can be a big time-saver.


OK, if after reading about all the benefits of using Favorites you still want to remove this feature from Windows 7, well then read on. However, in case you change your mind, I'll also show you how to create a REG file before altering the Registry so that you can quickly and easily undo the change should you later decide that you want to make use of Favorites in Windows Explorer.

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Editing the Registry

Before you begin, you should take a few moments to back up your system by creating a system image in the Backup and Restore tool. That way if anything goes awry, you can restore your system and get right back to work.

To launch the Registry Editor, click the Start button, type regedit in the Start Search box, and press [Enter]. When the UAC dialog box appears, respond appropriately.

Removing Favorites

When the Registry Editor appears, navigate to the following folder:


When you get there, right-click on ShellFolder and select the Export command, as shown in Figure F. (Take note of the Permissions command as you will use it in the next step.)

Figure F

You'll use the Export command to make a REG file that you can later use to restore the Favorites feature to Windows 7.
When you see the Export Registry File dialog box, choose the folder in which you want to save your REG file and then name the file Show Favorites, as shown in Figure G. You can use this file later to restore the Favorites feature to Windows 7.

Figure G

Save the file with the name Show Favorites so that you can find it easily when and if you need it.
Now, right-click ShellFolder again, and this time, select the Permissions command. When you see the Permissions for ShellFolder dialog box, select Administrators in the Group or User Names panel and then select the Full Control check box in the Permissions for Administrators panel, as shown in Figure H. Click OK to continue.

Figure H

You must set the Permissions for Administrators to Full Control so that you can change the contents of ShellFolder.

Now, right-click on the Attributes value and select the Modify command. When you see the Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value dialog box, you'll see that the default Value Data setting is


Now, press backspace to remove the value and type the new value


as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

You'll set the set the Value Data to a9400100.
Now click OK, close the Registry Editor, and then log off. When you log back on, you'll see the Favorites no longer show up in Windows Explorer, as shown in Figure J.

Figure J

Favorites no longer show up in Windows Explorer.

What's your take?

Did my explanation of the benefits of Favorites convince you to use this feature rather than remove it? Or, will you use this technique to remove Favorites from Windows Explorer? 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.