How do I disable the Windows + U hotkey in Windows XP? Alternatively, how do I stop the utility manager from being active? The two are related. The utilty manager is currently providing a potential security hole and I need to remove it[1]. The system I'm developing uses a custom Gina to log in and start a custom shell. This removes most Windows Key hotkeys but the Win + U still pops up the manager app.


Things I've tried and don't work:

  1. NoWinKeys registry setting - this only affects explorer hotkeys;
  2. Renaming utilman.exe - program reappears next login;
  3. Third party software - not really an option, these machines are audited by the clients and additional, third party software would be unlikely to be accepted.

Also, the proedure needs to be reasonably straightforward - this has to be done by field service engineers to existing machines (machines currently in Russia, Holland, France, Spain, Ireland and USA).

[1] The hole is via the internet options in the help viewer the utility app links to.


14 Answers 14


Utility Manager is located in the WINDOWS\system32 directory. The file is utilman.exe. Just renaming the file to something else will stop it from being launched when Windows + U is pressed.

  • 1
    This is indeed the answer, but the procedure to rename the file is tricky as it can reappear if it is running when the renaming happens. It's not ideal but is the only method that works.
    – Skizz
    Aug 24, 2009 at 15:43
  • What about removing it from the dllcache as well? Or whatever that folder is with backup copies of programs Nov 28, 2011 at 17:36
  • @Skizz I can't test it, but I believe you should have more luck if you boot other OS (e.g. some kind of rescue CD/flashdirve or live CD/flashdirve) and rename the file from there. And if it proves to work well, you can also create a custom Live CD/flashdrive to simplify (or even automate) the task. Jan 21, 2012 at 22:32
  • This doesn't work for me - the utilman is just recreated the next time I press Windows-U
    – dsummersl
    May 15, 2012 at 17:05
  • 2
    another option: leave file in place, but deny its execution via filesystem permissions (Deny "Traverse folder / execute file" for everyone). This way, windows file protection won't find anything suspicious. Dec 1, 2013 at 6:50

I've experience similar problems in the past - the best solution I have found is to alter the permissions of the utilman.exe so that no user has the rights to run it:

Right click - properties - security - Deny all.


In Utility Manager properties I went to security tab and disabled access to all users (for administrators as well) and after doing that it does not run.


You can try and disable the C:\windows\system32\utilman.exe in group policy under:

Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Software Restriction Policies

Add a path rule to C:\Windows\System32\Utilman.exe and set it to Disallowed.


Prevent the Utility Manager from running

There doesn't seem to be any documented way to disable the Win+U keyboard shortcut short of completely turning the Win key off through the Scancode Map registry value. As a workaround you can override the Utility Manager executable:

  1. Log on with an administrator account, and open a command prompt.

  2. Type or paste the following command, and press Enter:

    reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\utilman.exe" /v "Debugger" /t REG_SZ /d "systray.exe" /f

Changes are applied immediately.

How it works

The Image File Execution Options registry key was designed, among other things, to automatically launch a debugger when an application starts. While the debugger would start the application and attach, you can specify just any executable which will be run instead, thus overriding the original one.

What about systray.exe? It's a little stub program which was first introduced with Windows 95, and used to handle the system notification icons. It's not really used any more in the newer Windows versions, and it was mostly kept for backward compatibility reasons. It has no user interface, and wouldn't do anything noticeable besides refreshing the notification area when started.


  • Works regardless of the Windows edition installed.
  • No system file or security permissions tweaking.
  • No third party software involved.



Under C:\Windows\System32 you can rename utilman.exe to disable it.

This should cause the hotkey to become unresponsive as well. In case you want to take extra precautions for the hotkey you can remap it using AutoHotkey like so:

# & u::return

Win + u should no longer do anything.

  • AutoHotkey to the rescue again :)
    – Toby Allen
    Aug 6, 2009 at 23:31
  • Adding more software is not an option due to the nature of the system (and introducing more dependancies). This is for a cash counting machine so, as you'd expect, customers are wary of unknown third party software.
    – Skizz
    Aug 7, 2009 at 8:50
  • The renaming option may be the only solution. I hoped there'd be something a bit neater.
    – Skizz
    Aug 7, 2009 at 8:52
  • Renaming doesn't work, the app magically reappears at next boot up.
    – Skizz
    Aug 7, 2009 at 9:10

Renaming C:\WINDOWS\System32\utilman.exe, even with UtilMan processes stopped from within an XP Home SP3 session, appears not to get rid of this shortcut annoyance.

I've had success in getting the change to stick by accessing the XP hdd via a linux session and renaming the annoying exe that way - - no chance that any Win process can monitor your changes if it's not in charge at the time :-) Whether it's going to be hacked back with any new XP updates remains to be seen, however.
Most current linux distros are super flexible with writing to ntfs.

Don't know whether this will fix a Pro install. Good luck.


Go to RUN, and enter regedit.

When registry opens click on edit in top left and choose find....

Enter utilities manager and press Enter on the keyboard. Wait while it searches and then delete all 3 utility entries.

I did this and Win+U does nothing now.

There is no point in deleting utilman in "find" as it is a system protected file and just reappears. Something in Windows system uses it so leave it be.


A better way would be to remove all utilities instead. I don't remember the exact place in the registry though...

(Also, if I remember correctly, the Help menu is inactive when used from the login screen - or am I wrong?)

  • I too tried to find the option to disable the application but couldn't find anything in the registry either.
    – Skizz
    Aug 7, 2009 at 8:51

If renaming the utility doesn't work, try deleting the util & replacing it with a null file, [cmd window]

Del utilman.exe
COPY nul utilman.exe
Attr utilman.exe +R

If that doesn't work, write a short do-nothing program to replace utilman.exe


Install AutoHotkey and new a file named AutoHotkey.ahk whthin My Documents and edit it:

  1. Use ';' to uncomment the sample codes;
  2. Add the codes

where # means the Windows key and #u means Win+u, and the :: following nothing except just a return means to do nothing.

  • As I commented to John T's answer, adding more software/applications is not an option.
    – Skizz
    Jan 5, 2010 at 9:20

It can be fixed only with two methods....

  • Method 1 :With the help of a software.
  1. Go to Microsoft support, download a software called disable windows keys and install it. Then restart your computer and it will automatically disable the windows keys.
  2. There is the possibility that you can fix it by yourself without the use of a software.
  • Method 2 : To disable the Windows key, follow these steps:

    1. Click Start, click Run, type regedt32, and then click OK.
    2. On the Windows menu, click HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE on Local Machine.
    3. Double-click the System\CurrentControlSet\Control folder, and then click the Keyboard Layout folder.
    4. On the Edit menu, click Add Value, type in Scancode Map, click REG_BINARY as the Data Type, and then click OK.
    5. Type 00000000000000000300000000005BE000005CE000000000 in the Data field, and then click OK.
    6. Close Registry Editor and restart the computer and it will automatically disable the window key..

To re-enable it all that you will have to do it to delete Scancode Map..

Source: Thank you all!!! #WAGAWASTY THE CODEDGURU


A) Use NTFS permissons Or B) Use GPEdit Machine Policies to disallow to run utilman.exe



This article describes how to use Group Policy to disable the Windows logo key+E key combination.

Some keyboards include a Windows logo key that can be used to open the Start menu, or can be used in combination with other keys to start certain Windows functions. For example, pressing Windows logo key+E starts Windows Explorer. You can disable this function by enabling the following group policy: Disable programs on Settings menu This policy is located under the following branch: User Configuration\AdministrativeTemplates\Start Menu and Taskbar

More Info

If you enable the policy that is listed in the "Summary" section of this article, the Windows logo key+E key combination is disabled. In addition, the following items are removed from the Settings menu: Control Panel Network and Dialup Connections Printers Pressing Windows logo key+E displays the following message: This operation has been cancelled due to restrictions in effect on this computer. Please contact your system administrator. All other Windows logo key combinations will continue to work. By default, the Windows logo key combinations include: Windows logo key (alone): Opens the Start menu Windows logo key+E: Starts Windows Explorer Windows logo key+R: Opens the Run dialog box Windows logo key+F: Opens the Search menu Windows logo key+U: Starts Utility Manager Windows logo key+F1: Starts Windows Help Windows logo key+F3: Opens the Search menu.

Article ID: 301422 - Last Review: October 31, 2006 - Revision: 4.1 APPLIES TO

Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition

Keywords: kbenv kbhowto KB301422


WinXP Utilman will not start when Terminal Server is disabled

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server] "TSEnabled"=dword:0

UPD: How this works

This setting changed a flag VER_SUITE_TERMINAL in structure OSVERSIONINFOEX used by function GetVersionEx. Winlogon checks this flag, and if set - just creates process utilman.exe /debug else Winlogon will try to launch service UtilMan. This service is only present in win2k and (?) WinXP before SP2.

(Not actually for Win7.)


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.