Windows and Buttons Restricted (Greyed) Part 2 – Display Properties

Windows XP Windows and buttons drop down box located in the Display Properties under the Appearance tab is restricted/disabled (greyed out). 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 Load a specific visual style file or force Windows Classic will cause the Windows and buttons drop down box to be restricted/disabled (greyed out) in 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, Windows and buttons drop down box can be restricted/disabled (greyed out) by these Group Policies but usually malware is the culprit. If you are a home user and the Windows and buttons drop down box is restricted/disabled (greyed out) 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 > Desktop Themes

  5. Double-click Load a specific visual style file or force Windows Classic.
  6. Select Not Configured.
NOTE: If the Windows and buttons drop down box is restricted/disabled (greyed out) 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 SetVisualStyle to select Delete.
  6. Navigate to:

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

  7. Right-click SetVisualStyle to select Delete.
  8. 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 DELETE

  1. Open a Command Window.
  2. Type:

    REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System" /v SetVisualStyle /f

  3. Press ENTER on your keyboard.
  4. Type:

    REG DELETE "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System" /v SetVisualStyle /f

  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 WndwBttns.Prt2.Allow.reg to a folder on your hard drive.
  2. Right-click WndwBttns.Prt2.Allow.reg to select Merge.
  3. Now the registration entries are added for you.

NOTES

The WndwBttns.Prt2.Allow.reg file is from my web server (http://lprf.homeserver.com). You also can view the contents of the WndwBttns.Prt2.Allow.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 2.1
Edited: May 9, 2012

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5 Responses to Windows and Buttons Restricted (Greyed) Part 2 – Display Properties

  1. jen says:

    Thank you so much. I have been all over the internet for two days trying to fix my theme buttons. I was so happy when I followed the directions above in manual steps using windows xp registry. YES!!! It worked and I thank you for this article. Jen

  2. Pingback: Appearance and Themes Tab Missing – Display Properties « BillJr's Space

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