Windows 10 Guide: Start Menu and Taskbar


Active Member
The following is a guide on how to remove the default links, shortcuts, pins, tiles, etcetera from the start menu and taskbar in Windows 10 (working for Home 21H2).

I am posting this guide because when I first got started working on my NTLite custom ISO I tried all the different solutions everywhere and none of them were working as expected, and I still see people asking about it in various forums quite often, even here at NTLite too... Eventually this is what I came up with, which completely clears all the crap, but also explains the entire process so that people from all skill levels can follow it easily. Hopefully this will help out other people who are Googling for an answer now and in the future.

The solution is to add both a DefaultLayouts.xml and LayoutModification.xml along with a few registry keys into an NTLite ISO.

One of the problems I noticed is the DefaultLayouts.xml sometimes gets incorrectly named by people as "DefaultLayout.xml" without the "s" on the end of "Layouts". It must be there or this won't work right.

The other problem is that we also need to add a new "LayoutModification.xml" with some specific coding in order to get rid of those last few stubborn tiles that the first XML file doesn't address and this step is overlooked in many of the forums I visited.

Since you have to be a member here in order to view attachments I've added the plain text below, in addition to downloadable files if you are a member:

FILE #1:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <FullDefaultLayoutTemplate xmlns="" xmlns:start="" Version="1"> <StartLayoutCollection> <StartLayout PreInstalledAppsEnabled="false" TargetedConsentTilesEnabled="false" GroupCellWidth="6" /> </StartLayoutCollection> </FullDefaultLayoutTemplate>

FILE #2:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <LayoutModificationTemplate xmlns="" xmlns:defaultlayout="" xmlns:start="" xmlns:taskbar="" Version="1"> <CustomTaskbarLayoutCollection PinListPlacement="Replace"> <defaultlayout:TaskbarLayout> <taskbar:TaskbarPinList> <taskbar:DesktopApp DesktopApplicationLinkPath="#leaveempty" /> </taskbar:TaskbarPinList> </defaultlayout:TaskbarLayout> </CustomTaskbarLayoutCollection> </LayoutModificationTemplate>

In order to make this work it has to be integrated into your ISO before the OS is installed. Below are the steps to follow.
1) Load Windows 10 ISO into NTLite
2) Right-click on source OS and then explore mount directory
3) Left-click twice in address bar and add \Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\
4) Copy tweaked DefaultLayouts.xml and LayoutModification.xml into the mounted Shell directory
5) Exit the mounted directory window, then make your other changes and finalize the ISO in NTLite
6) Install Windows and after reaching the desktop the start menu and taskbar will be clean
7) The few remaining items left behind, such as "Task View" and "Cortana" can all be removed with simple registry keys

FILE #3:

I plan on releasing my full registry files in another guide later on, but I'll put a few relevant ones in this post. Just save this into a file with a .reg extension and integrate it into your image using NTLite and then these will become the default settings for all users.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 ; Taskbar > News and interests > Disabled [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Feeds] "EnableFeeds"=dword:00000000 ; Taskbar > News and interests > Turn off [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Feeds] "ShellFeedsTaskbarViewMode"=dword:00000002 ; Taskbar > News and interests > Reduce taskbar updates > On [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Feeds] "ShellFeedsTaskbarContentUpdateMode"=dword:00000001 ; Taskbar > News and interests > Open on hover > Off [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Feeds] "ShellFeedsTaskbarOpenOnHover"=dword:00000000 ; Taskbar > Show Task View button > Off [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced] "ShowTaskViewButton"=dword:00000000 ; Taskbar > Show Cortana button > Off [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced] "ShowCortanaButton"=dword:00000000 ; Taskbar > Search > Hidden [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search] "SearchboxTaskbarMode"=dword:00000000 ; Start > Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Combine taskbar buttons > Never [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced] "TaskbarGlomLevel"=dword:00000002 ; Start > Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Select which icons appear on the taskbar > All [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer] "EnableAutoTray"=dword:00000000

FILE #4:

This file turns off automatic downloading in the Microsoft Store, and also stops sponsored apps from being downloaded or installed, and prevents links from being placed into the tiles in the start menu. It's best to integrate these into the image using NTLite for optimal results, as it helps to prevent Windows from overriding things since these become the new default settings for the OS.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 ; Start > Microsoft Store > Settings > App updates > Off [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\WindowsStore\WindowsUpdate] "AutoDownload"=dword:00000002 ; Hidden > Start > Automatically and silently install ads and sponsored apps > Off [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ContentDeliveryManager] "FeatureManagementEnabled"=dword:00000000 "OemPreInstalledAppsEnabled"=dword:00000000 "PreInstalledAppsEnabled"=dword:00000000 "PreInstalledAppsEverEnabled"=dword:00000000 "SilentInstalledAppsEnabled"=dword:00000000 "SoftLandingEnabled"=dword:00000000 "SystemPaneSuggestionsEnabled"=dword:00000000

Windows 10 Guide: Default Resource Usage

Windows 10 Guide: Pause Windows Updates Forever


  • DefaultLayouts.xml
    436 bytes
  • LayoutModification.xml
    718 bytes
  • Taskbar.reg
    1.5 KB
  • Apps.reg
    1.4 KB
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Active Member
Minor update:

- Added a policy to disable the news and interests because the ShellFeedsTaskbarViewMode gets overridden by the OS at user creation

- Added PreInstalledAppsEnabled="false" and TargetedConsentTilesEnabled="false" into the DefaultLayouts.xml to further ensure nothing is downloaded before, during, or after the OS is installed

- Fixed the wording on a few registry comments to be more accurate
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Windows 11 tweaks

Start button alignment – 0 = Left


Remove Task View from the Taskbar

Remove Chat from the Taskbar

Remove Widgets from the Taskbar


Remove Search from the Taskbar


Active Member

- Added a 4th registry file. This turns off the Microsoft Store auto downloads as well as sponsored apps/tiles. I purposely do not use the ContentDeliveryAllowed key for two reasons. One, it's needed for other features, such as Spotlight for example, but it also gets overridden at user creation. You can still fully and completely disable all sponsored stuff without this key anyway using this guide.
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New Member
When I do use your config, my startupmenu ends up with 3 app tiles : Parameter, Store and Edge.
And I don't know if it's normal.

It's not a problem for me since I want theses apps, I just wanted to let you know.

I do apply .reg in the post machine install menu and copy paste xml files in \shell directory of my mounted folder of a WIN10 Pro version.


Active Member
Hrm, the LayoutModification xml is the one that eliminates those last 3 tiles. It works for me on every image I make, using W10 21H2 Home (I include the reg files in the image though, rather than doing it post-install). Are you also including some Windows Updates into your images, and/or are you running Windows Update after Windows is installed?

The other thing that might be the issue is that you may be connected to the internet when you install Windows. If you unplug your ethernet cord before installing Windows and select the "I don't have internet" option, then it won't automatically connect to Windows Update and download things that will override the xml files.

The last thing I can think of that might be the issue, is try to include the Apps.reg into the image, rather than post-install. Really all the reg files should be included in the image rather than post-install for best results, since then it applies to all users, plus when various keys exist before Windows is installed it helps prevent quirks and overrides of this nature.
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New Member
Are you also including some Windows Updates into your images, and/or are you running Windows Update after Windows is installed?
Oopsie, I am :oops:, and the computer is also plug to the internet during the install.
I'll give it a try.
I'll also try to config the registry directly on the image.
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Active Member
Yeah, these newer Windows have a lot of self healing capabilities, and quite a few tweaks will be overwritten again by various Windows Updates. Some of us don't do WU at all, and others do.

There's lots of ways to go about it, and the ordering matters too. So like if you include your updates in the image directly, if you use NTLite to process all of those *first* then take that image and integrate the registry files then process that stuff separate from the updates you'll be able to overcome those overrides. Then you wouldn't need to do anything post-install.


Well-Known Member
i use wumt + to scan in Offline mode, export list.txt then download and install msu's until wu/wumt fully satisfied even if it takes multiple runs/scans.