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Forcing Start Menu to use Small Icons

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench

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Posted: 25 Jun 2004

We posted this Q&A a while ago, and recently received some answers for it.

John D. wrote: I work in an educational environment and students tend to just power off their machines most of the time. That is OK, I have scan disk running all the time. However, the computers come up in safe mode sometimes and then when they are rebooted and come up normally the Start menu goes back to large icons. Is there a registry key that I can push down each time to make the start menu use small icons? This is a big issue because of all the application folders and icons that are needed. Thanks!

Answer: We don't know, but we're guessing there are some school administrators out there who have solved this. Anyone??


Klaus Plantius

(Systeembeheerder Dendron College)

Here is our solution:

We arrange this with a standard user.dat (and Windows 95). If a user.dat is corrupted for some reason, we simply copy a fresh user.dat to the user's home directory. In this user.dat we arrange the standard settings for the user such as small icons in the Start menu.

We also set up Windows 95 for multiple users, so all users have their own settings. If you logon to a Windows workstation for the first time, you will get a question if you want to save your personal settings. If users don't answer this question with yes, they don't get our pre-defined user.dat, and Windows will behave differently, and some programs don't even work.

If you have any questions you may contact Klaus at

Kristian Rickardt

Another schooladmin, yes indeed.

Here's a link to with the appropriate solution, Change the Size of Desktop Icons. Their site is often used when we restrict access to, well, whatever....

Key: [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\ Desktop\WindowMetrics]
Value Name: Shell Icon Size
Data Type: REG_SZ (String Value)
Data: Size in Pixels (Default = 32)

If you have any questions you may contact Kristian at

Roy Erez

My solution is - fix the problem, not the symptom.

When I had the same problem the best solution I found was using DeepFreeze by Hyper Technologies. DeepFreeze prevents any modifications done to the partitions that are "frozen" from being saved. This way I don't have to worry about users changing the registry, adding/removing programs and so on.

The program doesn't restrict the user from doing anything, it just returns to the way I "froze" it when the computer is restarted. Since no changes are saved, there is no need for a "proper" shutdown and "safe mode" is gone for good. DeepFreeze also prevents users from going into prompt mode/safe mode and bypassing Windows security policies. Pricing is reasonable, especially for educational use.

Craig Landes

Craig "Good Grief" Landes
"A+ Exam Cram 2, Second Edition" Que Certification Press

This has been an unbelievable problem to solve, but I think I've found the solution (At least for Windows 98SE). It comes down to creating a DWORD key, NOT a String key!

Many people have pointed me to the following HKey:


However, I don't have an "Explorer" Key on this standalone machine. (I suppose I could create one, but it doesn't seem to matter)

The place to go is:

There likely will NOT be a key for "SmallIcons."

Right-click on the righthand pane and under "New," choose DWORD! It's not a String value, but a DWORD value!!

0x0 turns it off, meaning that Windows won't remember that you've selected "Show small icons on the Start menu." Whenever you restart, they'll be back to the large icons.

0x1 turns it on!

Highlight the new DWORD SmallIcons and press Enter (or right-click for "Modify"), and change the value to 1.

Exit Regedit and restart the machine. It "should" have fixed the problem, and Windows "should" remember to use small icons from now on.

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