I imagine that at first the Auto-play feature is the best thing since sliced bread. I think I first encountered it when I used Win98(?) wherein if you pop in a CD with the autoplay file it will start the named executable which is usually the main installer of the disc.

Then come WinXP (or Win2K, I can’t remember) wherein some brilliant developer/designer proposed to take it one step further, by making sure an autoplay dialog pops up to display a list of possible actions whenever the user puts in a media in the CD/DVD drive OR if a USB storage device is plugged-in.

I find that feature as very irritating, especially since I am a keyboard-centric user and I have a multi-partition USB HDD enclosure. I have four partitions in my 120GB WD driver so it means every time I use it in Windows I have to contend with eight windows (4 drive scanning dialog boxes, and the actual autoplay window). Somewhere along the four autoplay window is an option to set this behavior off (Do nothing+Do this every time) but somehow it is very elusive so I end up hitting the escape key vigorously to cancel these autoplay actions. These combative behavior does not always work since sometimes the windows do not have focus.

Even for DVD and CD media, I don’t like this option even if my next action will be to open an explorer and navigate to the inserted media. I don’t like it because the pop-out windows by their nature interrupts my train of thought. I prefer that the media be read in the background and I will press WinKey+E to launch an explorer.

So last night I finally got fed up and searched for a way to turn off that irritating feature. It was very easy actually and got a lot of hits; the keywords I used were “disable autoplay windows”. In a nutshell the steps are:

  1. In the run command, execute “gpedit.msc” which launches the group policy editor.
  2. Navigate to the User Configuration->Administrative Templates->System item. If you want this to be system wide, use the Computer Configuration instead. My wife may want this feature so I opted for the user-limited settings.
  3. Double-click on the “Turn off Autoplay” and set it to true.

Presto! No more autoplay nag boxes for me. I think KDE also have a counterpart for this in the kded(aemon) but I use XFCE so I don’t really have this problem when I am in Linux.