MDT 2012: New Features – Hide Shell

Here is a common scenario. You are deploying an operating system using MDT Lite Touch, during the deployment you install some user specific applications. However the users think that the deployment is completed an they close the application installs or perhaps start messing with the machine while it is still logged in as the local administrator. Now you could simply inform the user that they should not touch the computer until the deployment is completed. However in my experience this “don’t touch” approach has not always been 100% successful.

Well now we have a better way, you can hide explorer shell while MDT is “doing it’s thing”!

So how do we do this? It is simple, just add the following line to the customsettings.ini file:


I have included before and after shots below:

Look explorer…


No explorer…. that’s better!


P.S. The exclamation marks are for you Rod Smile

This post was contributed by Ben Hunter, a Senior Program Manager for MDT with Microsoft

Disclaimer: The information on this site is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, confers no rights, and is not supported by the authors or Microsoft Corporation. Use of included script samples are subject to the terms specified in the Terms of Use

Comments (22)

  1. Ayo Dada says:

    Hi Ben,
    I am using MDT 2013 and changed customsetting.ini command "HIDESHELL=YES" my background image is Blue… is there any way to customize the background image e.g. a corporate wallpaper during HIDESHELL=YES today

  2. Ben Hunter says:

    Hi LookingForSolutions,

    We are currently looking at this feature. Keep tuned :).


  3. Ben Hunter says:

    Hi Amy,

    The errors you are describing are all errors that should be easily fixed but I don't want to trivalize your issues. So feel free to email me directly at ben dot hunter at microsoft dot com and I would be happy to help you out. I am vacation without email for the next week with no access to email but will reply after that.

    Lets make this horror show go away :).



  4. Ben Hunter says:

    It will be released at the same time as ConfigfigMgr 2012.

  5. Ben Hunter says:

    Hi Niles,

    HIDESHELL is a feature that was introduced in MDT 2012, it can be placed in any section.



  6. Ben Hunter says:

    Hi Ben,

    Unfortunately there isn't currently a way to change the background.



  7. Anonymous says:

    Is it possible to (automatically) sort applications in the deployment UI alphabetically in MDT 2012? It's one of my pet peeves …

  8. Anonymous says:

      MDT 2012: New Features – Hide Shell – The Deployment Guys – Site Home – TechNet Blogs Here is

  9. @LookingForSolutions

    Keith Garner, has created a small application to sort your applications from a deployment share (also for task sequences itself)

    For a small guide look at his post on:…/mdt-2010-application-ordering-new-tool

    While the links aren't working anymore, you can get the files from his Skydrive:…/

    I've tested these tools on the 2012 beta, and they still worked.

    Kind regards,

    Stephan Schwarz.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It would be very useful if there were were a UI for all these customsettings.ini settings …

  11. Ben Hunter says:

    MDT 2102 does support XP.



  12. gnatkopf says:

    Hi Ben,

    i know this is a old blog post, however i started using MDT2012 U1 these days.

    While using HIDESHELL=YES my background image is just black… is there any way to customize the background image e.g. a corporate wallpaper during HIDESHELL=YES active?



  13. Great feature, used to lock the workstation with the rundll trick but this is definitely better!

  14. Amy says:

    These are STILL my errors! The improvments are on UI, the backend still prone to these errors.. Yes, lots of "suggestion" on TechNet but most dont work!

    Sorry – I have had nothing but horrors with MDT (2010, 2012 Beta 1, 2012 Beta 2)


    A connection to the deployment share could not be made.…/1c2a306d-e38d-4347-8761-3810513a139e…/4c2a9586-2879-4e94-ba23-30d908347cd2

    MDT Deploy Windows 7 – Domain Join Failed…/152aba62-5442-45d6-a626-7454838d5dd5

    There is not enough space on the disk error…/389c64d9-6189-4e5d-8aac-fc8a445d6155

    Invalid Credentials error: Even if you enter correct id, password, with or without domain prefix…/303d2dbe-c6ff-4ec8-8e9b-edb140223bcd…/d2ddf7bd-6e75-48a1-8b7f-f96e6d93ddeb

    Access denied when running LiteTouch.VBS to Sysprep and Capture W7…/4df4405b-98f6-40d5-847c-17555f751bab

  15. Pj Leflar says:

    Oh thank you!!!

  16. mike says:

    Is the final release available for download?

  17. thomas says:

    I may upgrade to 2012 solely for this feature!  Unless you're willing to share how to make this do-able in 2010.

  18. M Waseem says:

    MDT 2012 support XP  sucessfully ?

  19. Brett D. says:

    Is there any way to hide the command prompt that is behind the Task Sequence UI while HideShell is active?

  20. Thorkell says:


    Very good article!

    When reading this article,  Í asked my self why are this options not default to YES, in the script ?  Would it not make more sence that the end user should have less options until the deployment is finished completly, instead of having the possibility to mess al the work. ?

    best regards,


  21. Niles says:

    HideShell not working in MDT 2012. Where does this command need to be placed in the CustomSetting.ini?

  22. Pat Hamilton says:

    This works well however, the keyboard is  still accessible. What mechanism is there to prevent the user starting Task Manager to start the shell or log the computer off by pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL?

Skip to main content