What other programs are filtered from the Start menu’s list of frequently-used programs?


We already saw that programs in the pin list are pruned from the most-frequently-used programs list because they would be redundant. Another fine-tuning rule was introduced after the initial explorations with the new Windows XP Start menu: Programs with specific "noise" names are removed from consideration.

Many "noise" programs were showing up as frequently used because they happened to be shortcuts to common helper programs like Notepad or Wordpad to display a "Read Me" document. These shortcuts needed to be filtered out so that they couldn't be nominated as, say, the Notepad representative. The list of English "poison words" is given in Knowledge Base article 282066.

(Incidentally, a program can also register itself as not eligible for inclusion in the front page of the Start menu by creating a NoStartPage value in its application registration.)

We'll see in the epilogue that Windows Vista uses an improved method for avoiding the "unwanted representative" problem.

Comments (22)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t allowing applications to remove themselves explicitly from the MRU list of the start menu allow an application to remove the competitors’ applications from the MRU list?

    Or is this where the "register itself" comes in somehow?

  2. I’m assuming these "points" are stored in the registry some where…

    Is there a way to reset the points database?

    I’ve got a couple of boxes where the MRU list periodically gets wiped.  I’m not sure what’s doing it, but I suspect either somesort of overflow condition, or one of the anti-spyware tools.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Amazing how much effort and thought goes into making a feature really usable. Especially the start button … millions of users clicking there all day long. To offset the effort, the benefit can be substantial.

  4. Anonymous says:

    With all these ‘safeguards’ it still surprises me that in XP, Visual Studio 2005 Command Prompt (which I never use) is the representative entry for cmd (which I would primarily start with Win+R).

  5. Anonymous says:

    With all these ‘safeguards’ it still surprises me that in XP, Visual Studio 2005 Command Prompt

    (which I never use) is the representative entry for cmd (which I would primarily start with

    Win+R).

    According to what I understood about the last articles, that is probably because you never run cmd using it’s shortcut. So it knows you run it often, but not what shortcut it should use… Have you tried to run it a couple of times from the actual shortcut in the start menu? Maybe that’ll make it the "most used shortcut for cmd", and it’ll show it in the list

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mike: See my comment early on Wednesday; you’re not the only one!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow I had know idea you could exclude things from the list. Very informative series!

    What? You DON’T have CMD pinned? I have it on my Quick Launch Bar even.

  8. Anonymous says:

    That was my first thought, too.  I’m not intimately familiar with the registry; are there any permissions or other protections in place to prevent XYZ Inc.’s app from removing ABC Corp.’s app from frequently-used consideration?  Of course if that happened it would not be that big of a deal; just a bit of an inconvenience to the user.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I was just wondering how many programs use the NoStartPage value… probably InstallShield and a handful of other "well behaved" programs…

    Is there a way to "poison" a shortcut without using "poison words"? Like some people here would like to "poison" visual studio 2005 command prompt.

    (Here’s an idea from the KB article:

    goto:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerFileAssociation

    Add to "AddRemoveNames" value:

    "Visual Studio 2005 Command Prompt"

    See if that works)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t allowing applications to remove themselves explicitly from the MRU list of the start menu allow an application to remove the competitors’ applications from the MRU list?

    What would be the impact of finding out that TurboTax deregisters TaxCut upon installation? I expect that the PR backlash would be significant.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, I have a shortcut on QuickLaunch that I use from time to time, but I think it gets confused when I run Visual Studio 2005 itself.

    OT: I know “glass houses are a great place to throw stones”, but damn it is annoying when after every update to Program X or Program Y, icons are replaced for them in Quick Launch.  Maybe someday those teams will read your article about Quick Launch being for the user and to leave it the hell alone.

    [Complaining here about Program X and Program Y accomplishes nothing. Edited names to conform to Ground Rules. In the future, I may choose merely to delete comments that violate the ground rules rather than edit them. -Raymond]
  12. Anonymous says:

    "Wouldn’t allowing applications to remove themselves explicitly from the MRU list of the start menu allow an application to remove the competitors’ applications from the MRU list?"

    Yes, but since setup.exe is (usually) run under Admin user, it can do far worse, like uninstalling or damaging the competition. Think spyware.

    I’m more curious if there’s a way to get *on* the MRU. I would guess it is undocumented, because if there was, everybody would utterly abuse it. IIRC, Raymond pointed out the pitfalls of exposing an API for some Start Menu stuff before.

  13. Anonymous says:

    DriverDude: I’m pretty sure I recall Raymond saying a while back (maybe early in this series, maybe before) that it’s not possible to ‘ask’ to be put on the list, for exactly the reason you said.

  14. Anonymous says:

    As programs in startup are launched in every session (but almost never manually), according to me these should never appear in the list. Are those programs explicitly filtered?

  15. Anonymous says:

    The list of English "poison words" is given in…

    What’s the i18n policy regarding this list? Are they translated?

    Keep up with the great work.

  16. Dean Harding says:

    Are they translated?

    It’s funny, if you choose a different translation of that page, it shows the different words that are considered "poison" in each language.

    However, it makes me wonder: on the French version of the KB article, it lists "Installation" twice (once for "Install" in English and once for "Setup" in English). So I’m thinking that whoever translated that page simply translated the words directly without thought as to what they actually represent…

  17. Anonymous says:

    Mine are:

    Adobe Reader

    Notepad

    Wordpad

    Page Viewer

    VLC Media Player

    Internet Explorer (huh? I never use that).

    Of course, Finale and Mozilla aren’t there, stuff I use every day.  Maybe because I have them on the taskbar?  Does that change things?

    I guess it’s time to manually filter stuff out.

    But why is Notepad there?!

  18. Anonymous says:

    ah! so if I add ".conf" to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerFileAssociation AddRemoveNames list, then I’ll never see dosbox.conf ever again in the start menu list. fabulous!

  19. Anonymous says:

    So I’m thinking that whoever translated that page simply translated the words directly without thought as to what they actually represent…

    It’s not only that page that’s translated directly. I use windows in Spanish, and I checked the word list in the registry, and the word ‘Léame’ is listed twice (one for ‘Readme’ and another for ‘Read me’)

  20. Anonymous says:

    Exactly what you tried to prevent here happens on my box, though. I have a shortcut to "AOL Instant Messenger License" on my frequently used programs, which evaluates to "C:WINDOWSsystem32notepad.exe "C:Program FilesNetscapeCommunicatorProgramAIMlicens32.txt".

    I have never ever looked at that text myself, and I didn’t get rid of it, it’s still first place.

    On top of that, it was a intern who installed that AOL stuff, anyways! :-)

    Perhaps adding an Intern-Mode to the next Windows release? :D

  21. Anonymous says:

    I’m intrigued as to why Microsoft excluded Msoobe.exe – it’s not clear from the article but it would make sense to me for the exclusion to only apply after successfully activating Windows.

Comments are closed.