How To Enable Snipping Tool, Windows Media Player and more Desktop Experience Tools on Windows Server 2008-2012 R2

Are you annoyed that you cannot play videos or use some of the cool windows tools like snipping tool with windows server?  Well, you can, they just have to be enabled before you can use them.  Below are instructions for enabling these features in Windows Server 2008 and in Windows Server 2012 (slightly different instructions)


What does the Desktop Experience feature include?

Desktop Experience includes the following Windows components and features:

  • Windows Media Player
  • Desktop themes
  • Video for Windows (AVI support)
  • Windows SideShow
  • Windows Defender
  • Disk Cleanup
  • Sync Center
  • Sound Recorder
  • Character Map
  • Snipping Tool


Installing Desktop Experience does not automatically turn on any of the features it installs. After installation, you must manually enable any features that require configuration changes. For example, to use a desktop theme, use the Services snap-in for Microsoft Management Console to enable and start the Themes service, and then select the theme.

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Download Free System Center 2012 R2 – Free Trial


Installing or uninstalling the Desktop Experience feature Windows Server 2008 & 2008 R2

You can install or uninstall Desktop Experience using the Initial Configuration Tasks Wizard or Server Manager.

To install Desktop Experience using the Initial Configuration Tasks Wizard

  1. In the Customize This Server section, click Add features.

  2. Select the Desktop Experience check box, and then click Next.

  3. Complete the wizard by clicking Install.

To install Desktop Experience using Server Manager

  1. Open Server Manager: click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and click Server Manager.


    You can also open Server Manager by typing the following at a command prompt:


  2. In the Features Summary section, click Add features.

  3. Select the Desktop Experience check box, and then click Next.

  4. Complete the wizard by clicking Install.

You can uninstall Desktop Experience at any time by using either method above to start the Add Features Wizard. When the wizard opens, clear the Desktop Experience check box, click Next, and then click Remove to complete the wizard.

Installing or uninstalling the Desktop Experience feature Windows Server 20012 & 2012 R2

The Desktop Experience feature in Windows Server 2012 is under the User Interfaces and Infrastructure feature. In order to install Desktop Experience feature, do the following steps:
Open Server Manager > Manage > Add Roles and Features.

You can skip the Before you begin page by just clicking Next.
In the installation type page keep the default Role-based or feature-based installation then click Next

In the Server Selection Page, Your current server should already be selected, if not, select the server you want to work with under SERVER POOL then click Next

Skip the Server roles page by clicking Next

In the Features page, scroll down (close to the bottom) expand User Interfaces and Infrastructure feature then turn on the checkbox for Desktop Experience. You will be prompted to install the required components or services "Ink and Handwriting Services" and "Media Foundation". Click Add Features.

In the Confirm installation selections page, [optionally] select Restart the destination server automatically if required. You will likely need to restart your server after installing and before using some of the desktop experience features.


Another way to add feature by using PowerShell: Add-WindowsFeature Desktop-Experience

Comments (9)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Pingback from Build Your Lab! Download Windows Server 2012 | WasOut

  2. Rob Taylor says:

    I installed "Desktop Experience" according to your above instructions for 2012 R2, but still no Windows Defender. I’m using the Foundation edition of 2012 R2, so is it possible that MS, in their infinite wisdom, didn’t include Windows Defender in that
    version???? If so, why would they do that, and Where can I get it?????? If anyone wishes to send me any helpful information, I can be reached by email at

  3. Frustrated!!!!!!!!!!!! says:

    This is a fantastic sales pitch for how to install Desktop Experience – however, there is ABSOLUTELY NO INFO related to the title of the article – "How to ENABLE Snipping Tool…". NOTHING in this pile of rubbish addresses ENABLING THE SNIPPING TOOL one
    Desktop Experience has been installed!

  4. Carollyn Potter says:

    Have been told that snipping tool is great for genealogy, running Vista, and don’t have it. Suggestions please

  5. deceived says:

    Liar after going through the install and rebooting the server there is no snipping tool anywhere to be found!!!

  6. techetc says:

    This isn’t youtube. I am embarrassed these folks decided to comment on your blog. I am thankful for the quick reminder and effort into making a easy to read answer. These people need to relax.

  7. Ayelet says:

    Worked perfect for me. Thanks.

  8. Tech Head says:

    If you need step-by-step instructions then you probably shouldn’t be logging onto the server to begin with…

Comments are closed.

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