Desktop Tab Missing – Display Properties

Windows XP Desktop tab is missing from the Display Properties. The most likely cause of this is malware utilizing Group Policy Objects which enforces policies for system settings and/or user account(s) settings. The Group Policy for Hide Desktop tab will cause the Desktop tab to be removed from Display Properties when enabled.

Group Policies are typically applied at businesses to control access to programs, system properties, and user account settings. For Home users, Desktop tab can be removed these Group Policies but usually malware is the culprit. If you are a home user and the Desktop tab is missing from the Display Properties and looks like the pictures below then there is a good chance you are infected with malware.

NOTE

Ensure your computer is malware free before applying the following solutions.

CAUTION

Before making any changes to the Windows XP Registry, please backup your Windows XP Registry using the direction from "Using ERUNT to back up the Windows XP Registry".

Manual Steps Using Group Policy Editor

NOTE

The Group Policy Editor requires Administrative privileges and is only available for Windows XP Professional Edition. Windows XP Home users can use the Windows XP Registry method to remove the Group Policy restriction.

  1. Click Start and then Run.
  2. Type gpedit.msc in the Run dialog box.
  3. Press ENTER on your keyboard.
  4. In the Group Policy Editor navigate to:

    User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Display

  5. Double-click Hide Desktop tab.
  6. Select Not Configured.

NOTE

If the Desktop tab is missing on a per User account basis then the above method will not work, you will need to use the Registry Editor to remove the Group Policy.

Manual Steps Using Windows XP Registry

  1. Click Start and then Run.
  2. Type regedit.exe in the Run dialog box.
  3. Press ENTER on your keyboard.
  4. Navigate to:

    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

  5. Right-click NoDispBackgroundPage to select Modify.
  6. Change the value to 0.
  7. Navigate to:

    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

  8. Right-click NoDispBackgroundPage to select Modify.
  9. Change the value to 0.
  10. Quit the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe).

NOTE

You may need to log off then log on to your user account or restart your computer for the changes to take affect.

Manual Steps Using REG ADD

  1. Open a Command Window.
  2. Type

    REG ADD "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System" /v NoDispBackgroundPage
    /t REG_DWORD /d 0
  3. Press ENTER on your keyboard.
  4. Type

    REG ADD "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System" /v NoDispBackgroundPage
    /t REG_DWORD /d 0
  5. Press ENTER on your keyboard.
  6. Type EXIT and press ENTER on your keyboard.

NOTE

You may need to log off then log on to your user account or restart your computer for the changes to take affect.

Automated Fix Using an Registration File

  1. Download DsktpTb.Show.reg to a folder on your hard drive.
  2. Right-click DsktpTb.Show.reg to select Merge.
  3. Now the registration entries are added for you.

NOTES

The DsktpTb.Show.reg file is from my web server (http://lprf.homeserver.com).  You also can view the contents of the DsktpTb.Show.reg file by right-clicking the file and selecting Edit. You may need to log off then log on to your user account or restart your computer for the changes to take affect.

Platforms Tested

  • Microsoft Windows XP Editions
Related Articles

Version 3.1
Edited: May 2, 2012

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20 Responses to Desktop Tab Missing – Display Properties

  1. binnie says:

    Thanks Bill! It was helpful for me. I got Antivirus 2008 and Antivirus 2008 Pro. I have no idea who has done it but system was missing desktop and screen server tabs. I have added Desktop and Screen Server. I have seen  Both are working perfectly fine. Thanks a lot for help.

  2. Eugene says:

    Same here. Thanks Bill!
     

  3. MICHAEL B says:

    I read some mail in my spam folder, it looked like CNN news stuff. In any case I never fall for this garbage and it happened today, I picked up a virus / malware. First one in over 15 years. It started a fake Windows XP Antivirus scan process. I immediately kicked in my McAfee but some damage was already done. Apparently it disables screen saver and desktop tabs in the display properties page and inserts a wallpaper indicating your computer is infected. Anyway, i did a quick google search and found your help on the subject of repairing the display properties and wanted to thank you. You are the man Bill. (  Mike  )
     

  4. Drew says:

    Bill:
     
    Thank you for the post on lost desktop and screensaver tabs in XP.  You\’ve saved me much pain with these.  Immensely useful!!!

  5. Unknown says:

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

  6. Unknown says:

    Well I don\’t know what to say more than Thank You. Thanks form Australia. Great help. Keep it up !!

  7. Jonathon says:

    Just had this happen to me. This was the cuplrit. Some adware file that installed a screensaver and a background and removed the Display tab. I found 3 files w/ this name, an .scr file, and 2 others, i forget. There was also a process by that name running in Task manager. Hope this helps someone.
     
    phcpckj0en07

  8. Unknown says:

    THANKU VERY MUCH.GUESS U HAVE GOOD GRIP ON REGISTRY

  9. gln says:

    Thank you very much, Sir. Really helpful!

  10. Unknown says:

    I can only imagine the number of folks who find your fix and do not thank you; Kudos to you 🙂  Great work…
     
    Thanks, Chuck in Atlanta

  11. No says:

    Thank you for the help. The web is a wonderful place where you can always be surprised to meet new friends and get great advice.

  12. Evgeniy says:

    Not work for me.

  13. Arnold says:

    I had only the themes window or tab. I used an upgrade windows xp sp2 cd with no previous windows on the HD although I did have the earlier win 98 cd. Anyway I have Win XP Professional SP3 installed. After I did the automated fixes trying to get the rest of the tabs to show in the Display Properties dialog window, logged off-on, restart and still only see the Themes of the Display Properties dialog window > no tab labled Themes. Check the regedit to see in the fixes were there and they are. Any solutions or suggestions?

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