How to really kill Windows Messenger

In: Operating Systems

21 Nov 2003

One of the biggest annoyances in Windows is Windows Messenger, which springs to life of its own accord whenever you boot up. Or when you open Outlook Express. Or for no apparent reason at all. And you can’t close it because “some other application is using it” or some rubbish like that. It’s there like a virus you can quarantine, a worm you can’t eradicate, a friend you really are not interested in entertaining because you’re so damn sick of him/her. It allows spammers to alert you to ways to improve your sex life (penis enlargement, Viagra, yada yada), sell you University diplomas, and even “meta-spam” that tries to sell you ways to prevent spam.

… can’t find no Windows Messenger?… sneaky Microsoft has hidden it!

I’ve tried switching off the Windows Messenger service and unchecking all the boxes I can find that says “Start Windows Messenger when this program runs”. Some people says it works. I know it doesn’t, because my firewall (Sygate Personal Pro) alerts me that Windows Messenger is trying to send an outbound packet. Sneaky bastard.

I lived with this parasite in my system for a few months. Now, I’ve finally found a fool-proof way to kill it – uninstall Windows Messenger.

Yes, you heard that right – uninstall. How? Use the Add/Remove Windows Components dialog of the Add or Remove Programs item in the Control Panel. But what you say? You can’t find no Windows Messenger? That’s right, you can’t. Because sneaky Microsoft has hidden it! Here’s how to “unhide” it:

  1. Open %WINDIR%\INF\sysoc.inf with a text editor.
  2. Look for the line that goes like this:
  3. Delete the hide keyword so that it now looks like this:
  4. Save the file and exit.
  5. Click on Start -> Control Panel -> Add or Remove Programs -> Add/Remove Windows Components
  6. Scroll to the bottom of the list and you should now see 2 items for Windows Messenger. Uncheck both of them, giving a triumphant whoop of vindication as you do so.
  7. Click on Next, and Windows Messenger will be fully uninstalled.

Enjoy an existence without Windows Messenger. We all deserve this much at least, if we have to live with Windows.

localhost has another way to disable Windows Messenger – check out his comment.

45 Responses to How to really kill Windows Messenger


Ronny Fenrich

November 24th, 2003 at 8pm


the tool at does this job any many other features without changing the registry.

ciao Ronny


Cheah Chu Yeow

November 24th, 2003 at 11pm

Thanks for that, Ronny. It looks neat and similar to something I had awhile back, only it’s in English. Is there an English version for that?



February 14th, 2004 at 7pm

These instructions don’t work on windows 2k… :(


Wayne Feese

February 17th, 2004 at 11am

Did not work ii XP Home either.



March 12th, 2004 at 5pm

I love a other approach.
Start, Run, gpedit.msc, ok
Browse to Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Windows Messenger.
Doubleclick on “Do not allow Windows Messenger to run” and enable this.

You’re done. You will never see Windows Messenger again.


Mess with MSN Messenger

March 17th, 2004 at 9am

Thanks to you i finally got rid of windows messenger :-). If you want a good MSN Messenger resource check some day.


Jonathan Dobres

March 19th, 2004 at 3am

You can also disable Messenger by selecting the usual “Please, please, PLEASE do not run Messenger at startup” options in the actual program, and to prevent other programs (like Outlook) from activating it, change the directory name in “Program Files” from “Messenger” to ANYTHING else, like “MessengerOFF”.



March 24th, 2004 at 12pm

Umm.. I have a problem. I have Windows XP, and I did exactly what Cheah Chu Yeow said and it didn’t work. You know the second Windows Messenger item with the gray diamond icon in the panel? Well the stupid thing won’t stay unclicked. It’s always clicked! Why won’t the thing work?!?!?!



March 31st, 2004 at 3am

If you are using XP PRO at least, you can do it even quicker!


Now scroll to the bottom and uncheck Windows Messenger.



April 8th, 2004 at 3am

In XP, go into msconfig.exe, click on the services tab and uncheck messenger.
When you reboot there’ll be a nag screen asking if you want to revert to normal configuration. Ignore it and tell it not to appear again.


Phil Salisbury

April 8th, 2004 at 4am

Just wanted to say that I tried using above fix as noted and it didn’t work. Thankfully, the remedy(sp) local host provided worked fine.

Thank you for fix that allowed me to get rid of this annoying P.O.S. from my system.



April 8th, 2004 at 4am

Localhost’s solution won’t work for xp home though, which doesn’t have gpedit.msc.
On XP home, to keep Messenger from being called by programs with a Messenger API (Outlook Express, etc.), you can use msconfig as suggested above, but you then have to go into the registry and do the following:

1. Locate and click the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Messenger\Client

2. On the Edit menu, point to New, click DWORD Value, and then type PreventRun for the name of the new DWORD value.

3. Right-click the PreventRun value that you created, click Modify, type 1 in the Value data box, and then click OK.

4. Quit Registry Editor.

You can also create the necessary registry branch from scratch without going through msconfig.exe.

See the last part of the instructions in Microsoft’s knowledge base article 302089.


Robert Donald

April 21st, 2004 at 9pm

I followed the instructions to remove Messenger via editing sysoc.inf. It showed the 2 Messenger lines as promised. One checked the other unchecked. The checked one refused to uncheck (OS is XP Home). So it did not get rid of the thing. Anybody know why?



April 24th, 2004 at 9am

im not sure why, but apparently in XP u can’t (well at least i couldn’t) uncheck those messenger lines in add-remove components, and uninstall messenger.

i was able to get the one that refused to uncheck to uncheck (clicked its checkbox once, then checked the messenger one above it, and then unchecked. this left both unchecked); however after clicking next, yada-yada, it was still there. wont uninstall. i guess it’s an XP thing. so you’ll have to use one of the other methods above.



May 6th, 2004 at 11pm

I’m having problems with MSN Messenger popping up all the time. I have tried all kinds of things that I was told would get rid of it but nothing works. Does anyone have a real solution to this problem?
Thanks, Margie



May 11th, 2004 at 9pm

will the fix posted by cliocane just delete windows messenger as i want to keep msn?


Cheah Chu Yeow

May 12th, 2004 at 12am

Margie: Hmm… I believe if you are talking about Windows Messenger, one of the methods above is very likely to work. If you’re talking about MSN Messenger, however, all you got to do is to uninstall it the normal way using Add and Remove Programs in the Control Panel.

Jess: Yup I believe cliocane’s solution will prevent Windows Messenger from running, but leave MSN Messenger intact.



May 19th, 2004 at 9am

If you don’t want MSN Messenger to start up in Windows then go to Start then Run and then type “msconfig” then click the “Startup” button and look for the program MsnMsgr and push the check box box then it wont start up when you start up Windows.



May 19th, 2004 at 9am

If you don’t want MSN Messenger to start up in Windows then go to Start then Run and then type “msconfig” then click the “Startup” button and look for the program MsnMsgr and push the check box box then it wont start up when you start up Windows.



June 7th, 2004 at 5pm

An easy way to remove windows messenger is, start, run (windows key + r) the type in

RunDll32 advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection %windir%\inf\msmsgs.inf,BLC.Remove

resart and its gone



June 19th, 2004 at 9am

What is finally the solution to kill Messenger in Windows 2k?



June 23rd, 2004 at 7pm

The msconfig mentioned above isnt there in win 2k and xp ….u cud download the file ” msconfig.exe” from the net (beware of malicious files) .
Put it in the WINNT/system32 folder. After rebooting, it starts working from the start/ run button



July 12th, 2004 at 9pm

What is (%WINDIR%\INF\sysoc.inf with a text editor)

Please help with a little more info.


Cheah Chu Yeow

July 12th, 2004 at 10pm

Hi Bryon,

You can try this. Click on the Start button and choose “Run…”. type in
%WINDIR%\INF\sysoc.inf and press enter. It should open up the file in
Notepad and you can edit it as described above.

Let me know if you still have problems figuring out.


Jude Cooks

July 13th, 2004 at 1am

I would recommend Steve Gibson’s program to disable Windows Messenger on any NT/2000/XP box. It is located here



July 18th, 2004 at 2pm

i want to exit msn messenger 4.1 so that i can download msn messenger 6.2 but i can’t exit msn messenger 4.1!!! each time there would be a pop-up that says: “There are other applications currently using features provided by Windows Messenger. You must close these other applications before you can exit Windows Messenger. These applications include Outlook, Outlook Express, MSN Explorer and Internet Explorer.” i have closed everything and it still can’t exit!


some guy

August 8th, 2004 at 11am

if you’re lazy (like me) you can download “Shoot The Messenger” from – works like a charm, the app is under 5K or something.



August 14th, 2004 at 10am

Ok, I’ve got a problem. I think I used XP-Antispy to remove Windows Messenger. That worked, but then MSN Messenger quit working. Whenever I click on it, it states that the application has failed to start because the application configuration is incorrect. It also says to try reinstalling, as that may fix the problem. Tried that, nothing. I tried installing Windows Messenger again and it won’t install. Anyone have any ideas? The only thing I can think of is reinstalling Windows XP, but I’d rather not do that for something like this. Backing up all of the data is a PAIN!



November 21st, 2003 at 4pm

kill windows messenger
cool tip : unhide hidden programs in the – “Add Remove Programs – Control panel” – to be able to uninstall these… so if you can’t get rid of msn messenger follow Cheah Chu Yeow’s instructions :)


A Random Act of Blogging

November 22nd, 2003 at 12am

Sneaky Sneaky Microsoft
Thanks to Cheah Chu Yeow we now know how to get rid of that little virus known as Windows Messenger. Read on for the skinny… redemption in a blog: How to really kill Windows Messenger…



November 25th, 2003 at 7am

I’m Just Trying To Do You A Favor
If you haven’t already disabled Windows Messenger, now would be a good time to do it. Not to be confused with that nifty little chat client MSN Messenger. I’ve used my friend’s computer with WinXP a couple times and I…



March 7th, 2004 at 4pm

Yippee and Yehaa and other various forms of happy. Cheah Chu Yeow over at Redemption in a Blog has revealed unto me a way to divest WinXp of it’s bastard step child Windows Messenger….


We Can't Tell Reality From Fantasy

May 3rd, 2004 at 2am

Sixteen By Sixteen
When I first started this site nearly two months ago (nine days and counting!), the original intent was to have a place to store my long-winded replies to the posts in the NWN Macintosh Version — General Discussion section of…



September 28th, 2004 at 6pm



February 24th, 2005 at 6pm

when i update the messenger 4.7 up to 5.0 then i become a popup it says “This application has failed to start because the application configuration is incorrect. Reinstalling the application may fix this problem.” but when i reinstall the messenger, the popup comes again.

how can i remove the messenger. i have try many ways to removed the messenger but the probleme comes again. Please help.



March 17th, 2005 at 6pm

I usually just rename the “messenger” folder in Program Files. Works good enough for me.


Jeff Curtis

April 12th, 2005 at 10am

Steve Gibson’s program is an exalent way to quickly get rid of the evil windows messenger. Just a cuple of clicks and its gone FOREVER!!



April 18th, 2005 at 12pm

YAY! I Tried every method above, just to be Sure :D, and it gone forever!! yipee! I did it while msn was running, so that still Works fine, Thanx Alot!!



February 20th, 2006 at 6am

Just clicking the “don’t run messenger” does not stop it from running. I clicked the second messenger several times, but clicked on continue even though it wouldn’t stay unclicked.

IT WORKED. As for the gpedit.msc, that doesn’t work with Windows XP. It returns an error message.

So, this is, so far, the only way I could find to get rid of the little bastard.



February 28th, 2006 at 12pm

Thanks a million man!



March 6th, 2006 at 2am

Obrigado, funcionou !!!



May 4th, 2006 at 11pm

This method works great. I use it on ALL of my systems at work. Just be sure to check BOTH windows messenger boxes in “Add Remove Windows Componants” and then you can uncheck them. Works like a charm and is dead simple.


when boy is chips it will percieve girl

June 5th, 2006 at 11pm

Cool site! I’ll be back. white, international, collective nothing comparative to good



July 16th, 2006 at 3pm

do u know how to fully get rid of it coz my computer says that if u re-install it may fix the problem with it which i have know idea what it is about. so i want to uninstall it so it cant come back because i used to use msn messenger 7.5 but now that i changed i cant get it coz it says about the newer version. i have to delete it so it is not on my computer any more. can u help me?
and by the way…
i am only 10 years old.



December 9th, 2006 at 5pm

do delete windows messager online