How to Delete Old Boot Menu Options on Windows 10

How to Delete Old Boot Menu Options on Windows 10

Have you ever dual-booted another operating system alongside your Windows installation? Dual-booting is an excellent way of trying a new operating system without affecting your trusty version of Windows. You can select between operating system versions using the built-in boot manager.

But what about when you decide you don’t want the second operating system any longer? Is there any easy way to remove the additional operating system entry from the boot manager to stop startup confusion? Let’s take a look at four ways you can delete old boot menu options.

What Is the Windows Boot Manager?

The Windows Boot Manager is a tiny piece of software that runs during the system boot process.

Your boot manager code loads from the start of the Active system partition, sometimes given the System Reserved label so that you don’t accidentally overwrite it with cat selfies. The boot manager helps your Windows installation start. The Windows Boot Manager itself is generic and unaware of any operating system requirements within the system loading process.

When there is only one version of Windows present, the system will boot into this without displaying the boot manager selection screen. However, once you install another operating system, this process changes, allowing you to choose the operating system you want to use.

Boot Configuration Data

Modern Windows versions store Boot Configuration Data (BCD) in a registry-like database. Previously, you managed your boot screen options using the tiny boot.ini file (and Windows NT boot loader, ntldr). However, a single insecure text file is vulnerable to attack, hence this was changed to a more secure but universal solution.

Moreover, BCD provides both BIOS and EFI-based systems the same opportunities to edit configuration data using a boot option editing tool like BCDEdit (more on this in a moment).

Here are four ways to remove old boot manager options from your system boot process.

1. Hide the Options

Okay, so the first option isn’t strictly removing the entry, but you can hide the alternative boot options using the Windows Advanced startup menu.

Press Windows key + I to open the Settings panel. Head to Update & Security > Recovery, and under Advanced startup select Restart now. (Alternatively, press Shift while selecting Restart in the Start menu.) Please note that this instantly restarts your system, so make sure to save any important documents before hitting the button.

how to delete old boot menu options in windows

Select Use another operating system > Change defaults. Here you can set the Windows Boot Manager timer screen, as well as Choose a default operating system. Selecting your default operating system doesn’t remove other installations, but it does stop the Boot Manager appearing in each system startup.

Alternative Method: Use MSConfig

You can achieve similar results using the Windows System Configuration window. Type mscon in the Start menu search bar and select the best match. Open the Boot tab. You can set your default operating system, the timeout screen, and other boot options.

Furthermore, you can “delete” old entries from the boot process, but this doesn’t actually remove them from your system (it does stop the boot manager operating system selection screen appearing though).

how to delete old boot menu options in windows

2. Use BCDEdit to Remove Boot Manager Options

BCDEdit is the built-in boot manager editing tool. A word of warning: deleting the wrong boot manager entry has very frustrating results. Double check every edit before hitting Enter.

Type cmd in the Start menu search bar, then right-clicking Command Prompt, select Run as administrator. Once the elevated Command Prompt window opens, type bcdedit /export c:\bcdbackup to create a backup of your BCD settings. Next, type bcdedit /v to list the boot loaders currently on your system. Here’s what happens when I run this command on my desktop:

how to delete old boot menu options in windows

The Windows Boot Manager section describes the location of the boot manager, along with other identifiers. The Windows Boot Loader section describes the Windows 10 bootloader for this system, the unique identifier, where to find winload.exe to continue the boot process, if the partition has recovery enabled, and the root of the system directory.

If you have more than one Windows installation, this is where to find the bootloader information. The type of operating system appears alongside description. Furthermore, a Legacy OS Loader will appear under a separate bracket.

Copy the identifier (the long alphanumeric string) of the bootloader you want to delete. Now, type the command bcdedit /delete {identifier}. Double check you have the correct entry, then press Enter to delete.

3. Using Visual BCD Editor

If using the Command Prompt isn’t for you, there is the option of Visual BCD Editor. Visual BCD Editor implements a huge range of BCDEdit commands in an easy to use visual GUI. You get the same experience and functionality as using BCDEdit within the Command Prompt, but without having to worry about entering the exact command.

how to delete old boot menu options in windows

Deleting an old entry is an easy task. Download and install Visual BCD Editor, then open it. The tool will take a short moment to scan your system. In the left-hand option tree, you’ll spot Bcdstore > Loaders > [your bootloader options]. Select the bootloader you want to remove and hit Delete at the bottom of the right-hand information panel.

4. Removing EFI Boot Manager Options Using BCDEdit

I started writing this article because my EFI boot manager had a range of old Linux bootloader entries left behind. Again, they don’t cause any issues, but over time they accumulate and become irritating.

The EFI boot manager is part of the UEFI firmware management package. You might have found this if you ever boot from a USB or alternative media source and is usually accessible by pressing a function key during the boot process.

To delete old EFI entries, open an elevated Command Prompt, type bcdedit /enum firmware, and press Enter. Unlike the command used for the Windows Boot Manager, the “enum firmware” command lists all objects available in the BCD store, including any Linux installations. The following image shows my laptop firmware list:

how to delete old boot menu options in windows

There are entries for Ubuntu and openSUSE that are no longer in use. Copy the identifier of the firmware entry you want to delete and run the following command bcdedit /delete {identifier}.

how to delete old boot menu options in windows

Your Boot Manager Is Now Clean

Your Windows Boot Manager is now clean of any unwanted entries. Alternatively, you have streamlined the boot process to ignore any alternative installations on your system, leaving you free to boot to your default choice of operating system.

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