Turning OFF AutoPlay

When you put a music CD in your computer, it starts to play. Is it cool? Probably, but not to everybody. Some people (including me) feel that it's annoying. You put you data CD-ROM into the disk, you are sure what you want to do about it, and Windows starts to suggest to show a picture gallery, just because there are few jpegs there. What's worse, it adds time to mount the drive, so if you have a dozen of disks and trying to find a single file on one of them, autoplay may be not the best idea. And last, but not the least, you may consider it a security problem. After all, after Sony BMG Music Entertainment put rootkit on their music CDs (see also here), that used autoplay to install DRM (Digital Rights Management) on user's computer, you may think twice before considering AutoPLay "cool". Where is the guarantee that a CD coming from your computer games magazine is free of such stuff? Or a CD with family photos burned by your aunt, who is notorius at catching up computer viruses? Or the memory stick, which you used in Internnet cafe? Makes think...

So, here is how to turn it off on Windows 2000, XP (except Home Edition) and Windows 2003 Server:

  1. Start local policy editor (Start | Run, enter GPEDIT.MSC, press Enter)
  2. Go to Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | System, double-click on "Turn Off Autoplay"
  3. Select "Enabled" -- I know, it's confusing. You are not enabling autoplay, you are enabling turning autoplay off. In the drop down box select either "All drives" or "CD ROM drives" If you select the second, your memory stick still may be a problem.
  4. Click "Apply", "Ok", exit the editor, you are done.


  • Now that autoplay is off, Windows will get the list of files only when you clik on the drive. So, you will see a little pause, when you first look at the inserted drive in Windows Explorer. It's still much smaller delay than what Autoplay does.
  • Setup disks that are supposed to start automatically, when you insert the disk, will stop to do so. That was the point, right? You will need to go there in Explorer and double-click on the program to run. If in doubt, it's in autorun.inf file, which you can open with notepad. The line looks like:
    and the part after "open=" is the program to start.
  • This does not work on XP Home Edition, Windows ME, 98 and below.