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How to Remove WMP Context Menu Entries in Windows 7/8/10

Windows has no inbuilt mechanism to control options that get listed in the context (right-click) menu. If that’s not enough, they decided software publishers could add options to the menu, with the result that most users end up with a cluttered context menu.

Some publishers however do give users an option, either during installation or in their settings, to control their entries. Surprisingly, Microsoft products rarely include such an option. Such is the case with Windows Media Player (WMP).

WMP has a come a long way since its XP days, and to be fair, it’s a decent program if what you need is simply to play music. However, there are a myriad of better alternatives out there such as VLC, the nifty foobar or my personal favorite Jaangle that people prefer to it.

For that reason, the WMP related context menu entries usually go unused.

Windows Media Player Entries

Windows Media Player installs the above 3 entries in Windows’ explorer right-click menu. They include:

  • Add to Windows Media Player list
  • Play with Windows Media Player
  • Shop for music online
A screenshot showing windows media player entries in the right-click menu of Windows 10.
Windows media player entries in Windows 10.context menu

These entries usually only appear when you right-click folders containing media files like music, video and images.

For most third party programs, ShellMenuView from Nirsoft (Nir Sorfer) usually removes this kind of entries with little hassle.

However, it seems that it can’t disable WMP entries as per my tests. To do that I had to scour the web for some solutions, and luckily I got the following three fixes. If you don’t want to tinker around with the registry, use either of the first two methods below.

1. Using Control Panel’s Default Programs

This method simply removes Windows Media Player as the default media player and as a result removes the associated entries. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Open the old Control Panel. You can find it easily by searching for it in the start menu.
  2. Switch the view to Large Icons or Small Icons if it’s in the Category view.
    A screenshot of control panel's category view options.
  3. Scroll down and open Default Programs.
  4. In the default programs window, open the option Set Program access and computer defaults.
    A scteenshot of the default programs options in the control panel.
  5. That will open a small window with one of three radio buttons selected: Microsoft Windows, Non-Microsoft and Custom. If you’re using a different media player, chances are the Custom option is already selected. If not so, select it and then enlarge the settings using the drop arrow on the far right.
  6. Scroll down and go to Choose default media player. If you’re already using a different media player, then Use my current media player is selected by default. If not, do so. However, below it you’ll notice beside Windows Media Player there’s the option Enable access to this program. Remove that check mark.
    Screenshot of the default media player options.

7. Click Ok and you’re done

This will only “disable access” to WMP from Windows Explorer (File Manager) but you will still be able to use the program by launching it from elsewhere e.g the Start Menu.

2. By Turning off Windows Media Player

This method renders WMP inaccessible through “uninstallation” but not in the traditional sense. You won’t be able to use the program but you can “turn it on” later if you need to use it. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Open the old Control Panel. You can find it easily by searching for it in the start menu.
  2. Switch the view to Large Icons or Small Icons if it’s in the Category view.
  3. Scroll down and open Programs and Features.
  4. In the Programs and Features window, go to the left panel and open the option Turn Windows features on or off.
    A screenshot of the turn off/on windows features option.
  5. That will open a small window titled Windows Features. Navigate through the categories listed and find Media Features. Expand that category by clicking on the little plus sign and remove the checkmark from Windows Media Player.
    A screenshot of windows media player options in Windows features.
  6. You’ll get a warning prompt. Click Yes to accept.
  7. Windows may take some time to apply those settings, after which you’ll have to Restart your computer for the changes to be applied.

After restarting the computer WMP entries should be gone and the program should be inaccessible. If you had defaults set to WMP, like to open mp3s and other media files, they’ll will automatically default to another media player that’s installed; if not you’ll have to do that manually.

Option 3: Remove Manually using the Registry

This is the last method, and it’s the least user-friendly of the three. If you don’t know what the Registry is, it’s probably a good idea to stick with the first two methods.

Also, before editing anything in the registry, you may want to consider backing it up or simply create a system restore point. There’s no undo button here, so if you make an unwanted change there’s no way to revert unless if you remember exactly what you edited.

If you’ve some trouble going through the steps, please refer to the video below. It’s what I made for Windows 7 but the procedure is exactly the same for Windows 8 and 10.

  1. First, make sure you’re logged in as an Administrator.
  2. Open the Run window. You can do this by going to the Start Menu and on the bottom click on the button Run… or using the Windows Button + R keyboard shortcut.
  3. Enter regedit in the run box and click Ok. The registry editor should launch.
  4. On its left there’s what is referred to as Classes which houses the different kinds of settings and on the right is the preview window where the settings are previewed and edited. The keys we need to edit are under the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT class.
  5. Navigate carefully to the following folders:
    • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\Directory.Audio
    • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\Directory.Image
    • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\Directory.Video
  6. Directory.Audio holds the settings for folders with audio files, Directory.Image for images and Directory.Video files. Expand each of those folders and their respective sub-folders and on the right pane you’ll notice the data.
  7. Now chances are that there are keys from other programs and those should be left alone with. Window Media Player keys that we’re interested in are as follows:
    • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\Directory.Audio\shell\Enqueue
    • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\Directory.Audio\shell\Play
    • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\Directory.Audio\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\WMPShopMusic
      A screenshot showing windows media player subkeys inside the windows registry editor.
  8. These are the only keys that you need to delete. You can confirm their data in the right pane which contains the following options:
    • Enqueue: &Add to Windows Media Player list
      A windows media player registry key.
    • Play: &Play with Windows Media Player
      Another windows media player registry key.
  9. To delete, just right-click on each of the folders above and select delete. Before deleting you can back up the keys by right-clicking each of the folders and choosing Export. The exported file is a *.reg file that can be edited on a text editor like notepad and is restored by simply double-clicking it.
  10. Reboot your computer once you’re done.

1 Comment

  1. A simpler way would be to download and install the popular CCleaner.
    When you have installed it, open it and go to Tools -> Startup -> Context menu
    Click on the entry you no longer want and click on Disable.
    That helped me get rid of the WMP entries.

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Kelvin Kathia

Kelvin Kathia is a writer that's passionate about sharing solutions to everyday tech problems. He's the founder and editor of Journey Bytes, a tech blog and web design agency. Feel free to leave him comments or questions regarding this post, or by leaving him a message on the contact page. If you found his content helpful, a donation is much appreciated.