Registry settings to control visibility of Windows Media Center mouse controls

There are 2 new settings available in Windows Media Center for Windows Vista that can be used to control the visibility of mouse-related controls in the Windows Media Center UI.  These settings are primarily designed for touch-screen development scenarios, but can be useful in other situations as well.  We will be documenting these settings in the Windows Media Center SDK for Windows Vista, but that documentation has not yet been written so I wanted to introduce these settings here in the meantime.

Persisting mouse toolbars in the Windows Media Center shell

When you launch Windows Media Center and then move your mouse, you will see toolbars appear in the top right, top left and bottom right of the screen.  By default, these toolbars are only visible when moving the mouse or for a short time afterwards, then they timeout and are hidden from view.  The following registry setting can be used to cause the mouse toolbars to remain visible at all times:

  • Key name: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Capabilities

  • Value name: TBP

  • Value data type: REG_DWORD

  • Value data: 1

Persisting mouse auto-scroll chevrons

The Windows Media Center Start menu and galleries have automatic scrolling regions that can be activated by moving the mouse over small carat symbols (<, >, ^, V), also called chevrons.  The chevrons appear at the top, bottom, left and right of a scrolling region such as a menu or gallery.  By default, mouse auto-scroll chevrons are only visible when moving the mouse over the auto-scroll region of the scroller.  There is an additional registry value that can be changed to change the logic used to show these mouse auto-scroll chevrons:

  • Key name: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\MCE.GlobalSettings

  • Value name: bindNavHintsToToolbars

  • Value data type: REG_DWORD

  • Value data: 1

Using TBP and bindNavHintsToToolbars together

The bindNavHintsToToolbars registry value works in conjunction with the previously described TBP setting.  Here is a behavior matrix for all possible combinations of these two settings:

  • TBP = 0, bindNavHintsToToolbars = 0 - this is the default behavior; both the mouse toolbars and the auto-scroll chevrons will only appear when moving the mouse

  • TBP = 0, bindNavHintsToToolbars = 1 - when moving the mouse, the mouse toolbars and the auto-scroll chevrons will become visible; after a short period of inactivity, the toolbars and the auto-scroll chevrons will all be hidden again

  • TBP= 1, bindNavHintsToToolbars = 0 - the mouse toolbars will always be visible, except when over full-screen video, visualizations and slideshows; the auto-scroll chevrons will retain their default behavior

  • TBP= 1, bindNavHintsToToolbars = 1 - mouse toolbars and auto-scroll chevrons will always be visible, except when over full-screen video, visualizations and slideshows

Note - in the cases above where it states that the mouse toolbars and/or auto-scroll chevrons will "always" be visible, there are a couple of global exceptions that you cannot override.  Mouse controls will never appear over the top of full-screen video, music visualizations or slideshows in Windows Media Center.

As an example, the following screenshot demonstrates what the Windows Media Center Start menu will look like when setting TBP = 1 and bindNavHintsToToolbars = 1:

Windows Media Center Start menu with mouse controls


Comments (9)
  1. says:


    Our understanding is that we will be able to “mirror” two video displays of different resolutions so one could be a touch screen controller to a big screen on the wall. They both would be running the same MCE UI at that point. If we were to set these values, wouldn’t we need to set it one way for the touch screen while leaving the default for the big screen (primary display)? First, is the assumption about mirroring two displays of different resolutions true? Second, can we have control over each display? Thanks.


    Derek R. Flickinger
    Interactive Homes, Inc.

  2. Hi DrFlick – There is not a way to independently configure the mouse control settings for each monitor on a multi-monitor display like you describe.  You can mirror the display like this, but if you do so, it is just that – a mirror.  You cannot view different things on each of the 2 monitors.

  3. Ripplinghurst says:

    Does this work with Windows 7?  I can’t seem to find the above keys…

  4. Hi Ripplinghurst – I’m sorry, but I don’t know the answer to this question.  I left the Media Center team after Windows Vista shipped and didn’t work on Windows 7 Media Center features.  I’d suggest trying it out by adding the registry values listed in this post to your Windows 7 system and see what happens.  You could also ask a question about this on the Media Center development forum at

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