A couple of the new features in Windows 7, Homegroup and Libraries, create icons on the Desktop and Sidebar, whether they are in use or not. They cannot be customized with the usual methods for adding and removing icons from the Desktop. Here at the lab, we’ve been looking for a way to get rid of these extra icons, and searched but couldn't find the answer. Finally, building on some well circulated information on removing similar invasive icons in Vista, we have a solution. The solution involves a bit of mild registry hacking, so follow the usual precautions. Specifically, export any keys that are to be modified, in case this should cause any unexpected behavior, or these features become missed at a later date.
Two keys must be removed, one each for Homegroup and Libraries. They can be found under the tree:
The key for the Libraries Icon is
and for Homegroups it is
Once these keys have been removed, the icons will disappear from the Desktop if it is brought into focus and refreshed using the F5 key. They stick in the sidebar until the explorer shell is restarted. The simplest way to do this is to logout and log back in, however, explorer can also be killed in the task manager, and then restarted using the run dialog within same. This has the advantage of leaving all open applications running.
We use the Libraries feature on the test laptop that gives this blog it’s name, having created a Library called 'Workbench' that contains the Desktop, Downloads folder, and a folder also called Workbench that is use as just that, a place where we do a lot of work, and make a mess, especially in the process of re-encoding media files. The Homegroup feature looks like it may be useful in the future, as it implements a new simplified home networking system which is compatible only with Windows 7. At present we don’t have other machines running in the sort of capacity which would make this useful, but it appears as if it might be quite handy for setting up a set top box or other media systems.
Have fun, back up first, and make sure your cat is safe before doing this. Bear in mind, now that this hack is circulating, we can fully expect that Microsoft will change the relevant keys in an update. When that happens here, expect updated information as soon as the problem is (re)solved.