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I'd like to stop Explorer.exe from starting automatically on logon. I want to have our custom application launch in its place. This machine will be used as a permanent projection machine, and we have no need for Windows Explorer to launch. Is this possible?

Ideally we'd just manually launch Windows Explorer from the task manager if we need to.

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Edit this registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

change the Explorer.exe to the path and filename of your application.

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This question would certainly be valid over on StackOverflow, but rather than suggesting that...

We have accomplished something similar here at my work. In our case, no user logs onto the system. Our application runs as a Windows Service which has the flag set to allow it to interact with the desktop, and the flag set to start Automatically on Windows startup. Works like a charm, even if it feels a little weird. Plus, this still gives us the ability to log into the machine for maintenance, upgrades, etc.

Hope that helps.

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Go to Start -> Run -> Type in regedit and press enter

Navigate through the following tree structure:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> Software -> Microsoft -> Windows NT -> CurrentVersion -> Winlogon

Click on Winlogon. On the right side you will see a bunch of different values. You should see one that says Shell with explorer.exe next to it. Replace it with the path of the program you want to launch on startup.

I assume I don't have to warn you about locking yourself out of your system.

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