How to Fix: Windows Server 2008 Right Click Menu Missing

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Infopackets Reader David F. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Our company is running Windows Server 2008 Standard edition. One of the things that has been broken for a very long time is the right click context menu. For example, if we login as the Administrator on the server and try and right click an icon on the desktop, nothing happens. The right click context menu is also missing on all of our machines connected to the domain. Can you help? "

My response:

Admittedly I was not sure why this was happening but had a suspicion it was related to a group policy object setting. Group Policy Objects (or GPOs) are used to control very specific settings of Windows and Windows Servers (and even an entire network of computers connected to a Windows Server). At any rate, I asked David if I could connect to his server by remote and have a look, and he agreed.

After a bit of research I confirmed that the right click context menu (or dialogue menu) is actually a group policy object called "Remove Windows Explorer's Default Context Menu". I also discovered that the same setting can also be changed with the registry editor, however, group policy objects such as the "Remove Windows Explorer's Default Context Menu" feature will automatically be refreshed by the Windows Server after a specific amount of time (usually 30 minutes), which always trumps a registry hack.

In other words, if you try to fix this with a registry hack on a Windows Server or machines connected to a domain on a Windows Server, it might work immediately, but it will lose its setting the next time the group policy objects are refreshed. Therefore, the only way to fix this is using the group policy editor.

How to Fix: Windows Server 2008 Right Click Context Menu Missing

Reinstating the right click context menu in Windows Server 2008 is done using the group policy editor.

To do so:

  1. Login as the Administrator user on your Windows Server 2008.
  2. Click Start, type in "command prompt"; wait for "Command Prompt" to appear in the list, then click it. Inside the command prompt, type in: "gpedit.msc" (no quotes) and press Enter. This will open the Local Group Policy editor.
  3. On the left of the screen, locate the "User Configuration" menu option and expand the list.
  4. Under the User Configuration menu, navigate to: Administrative Templates -> Windows Components, then left click on Windows Explorer.
  5. On the right side of the window, scroll down until you see: "Remove Windows Explorer's Default Context Menu". Note: as I discovered, some websites I came across said that the feature to modify is "Remove file menu from Windows Explorer" - this is NOT the correct. The correct feature we are modifying is "Remove Windows Explorer's Default Context Menu". Once you find it, double click it to bring up its properties window, then click the Disabled option. Next, click Apply and OK.
  6. At this point your right click context menu should work for the Administrator.

I hope that helps.

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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