Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Running more than one email program in Windows XP may result in an incorrect unread message count, but fixing this issue requires some skill.

How do I turn off the unread message count on the Windows XP login screen?

It's a feature. Really. When you see the Windows XP login screen, underneath each account listed there's frequently a message that says "XX unread messages".

How does it get set? And how do you get rid of it?

Well, once again, it's the Microsoft Knowledgebase to the rescue with an article: Overview of the Mail Notification Display on the Windows XP Welcome Screen.

In short: email programs that know how to do it can update a registry key with the desired information. My assumption is that most post-XP Microsoft email programs will update that key.

Things get confusing, I'm certain, when you run more than one such program, say both Outlook and Hotmail. Or even more so when you run one that updates the information like Hotmail only occasionally, and some other email program that doesn't as your primary email. In this scenario, the number on the login screen then actually has almost nothing to do with the email you actually care about.

The bad news is that there is no user interface to this feature.

The good news, if you're so inclined, is that you can disable the feature by changing the permissions on a certain registry key. If you're comfortable making a registry change, the Knowledgebase article has instructions.

If you're like me, I just ignore what's on the screen and get on with other issues.

Article C2210 - October 22, 2004 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

October 28, 2004 3:57 AM

Hi Leo,
Here's an idea. TELL Microsoft to change it. Don't ask them, tell them. I don't want the number of my unread mail messages showing up on the office computer. This feature should be optional.

December 5, 2004 3:02 PM

get a copy of TweakUI - go to login and turn it off...or go to repair to fix the misread


Walter Lane
July 12, 2005 5:50 PM

go to start-run-regedit. go through hkey_current_user-software-microsoft-windows-current_version-unread_folders. delete unread folders. exit out of regedit. restart

Judy McCloud
July 31, 2005 5:10 AM

how do I get the "Earthlink Start Page" logo off the screen?

John Doe
August 25, 2005 10:06 AM

Bill Gates sucks more than Monica Lewinsky! It's things like this that Microsoft forces you to deal with that make me so angry with them. They have this attitude that "We know better than you how you want to use your computer".

September 10, 2005 3:33 AM

I have followed the instructions of 'Walter Lane' in how to remove the unread messge count present on my start up screen. However, after a while it happened again and so i tried the same method I used previously. But this was the problem; I could no longer delete the folder as it doesn't exist anymore. What can I do? Please help!! The message count is almost in the two digits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 12, 2005 6:03 PM

Dominic: if you're comfortable using RegEdit, go to your HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\UnreadMail folder and add a new DWORD value (right click in folder and select New -> DWORD Value) called MessageExpiryDays and leave it set to 0. This should disable the annoying message for you.

If you have multiple login accounts on your PC, then you'll have to repeat this for each user.

Deleting all the subfolders doesn't stop the problem from happening again, as the email clients will just readd themselves.


December 15, 2005 12:01 PM

Hello, just want to know why do i still get
that i have a 1 unread message in email from the window of xp. I deleted all my messages, from
sent,outbox,inbox,and junk etc. I don't have any email in my inbox. I sent an email to myself and i got it and it did not show i have 2 unread email it showed i have only 1 unread message, so i went to my inbox and i saw the test i sent to myself and i deleted. and i went to logoff and it shows i have still 1 unread message. I don't understand why this is going on.

December 22, 2005 9:34 AM

I have a simmilar problem. My sister signed into MSN messenger on my computer one time and it is showing me she has like 22 new emails.
How can I fix it

December 22, 2005 1:29 PM

This is an example of something that microsoft could make alot easier. I'm glad someone gave me Leo's site. It seems often with microsoft, alot of time is spent just finding an answer for a simple question. It can be like navigating a maze. Then you may or may not find a straightforward clear answer. What they could do, for example, with this issue (and I'm sure others) is just provide a simple menu choice "turn this feature off". Bill Gates should be smart enough to figure out how to do something like that. Thanks.

December 26, 2005 10:02 AM

Outlook 2003 and XP Home:
I have a problem just like Patricia. In my efforts to troubleshoot this problem, I moved all of my mail to a new outlook data file and then closed the folder. The count remained at one even though there was no mail. Then I checked my never used Outlook Express and found one unread email. I marked it unread, but the count remained at one. I then read the knowledge base article and adjusted the registry to zero and the problem seemed to be resolved. After a few incoming emails to Outlook, the count has returned to one, despite having read all the email. My wife's User Account on this same machine works correctly. This installation is only 2 weeks old, since I had my old HD quit. All available updates have been installed. I would like to fix this rather than to tun it off. Thanks.

pei fang
June 22, 2006 11:56 PM

please help me turn off my unread message

July 6, 2006 7:49 PM

My problem is that today I get email messages delivered to both the "favorite" inbox AND unread box. I never had them delivered to both at once before. I find it annoying. How do I tell it not to deliver to my unread box? I see the number but the message is there too.

July 12, 2006 10:34 AM

Don't know if you guys are still have problems with the annoying "1 Unread Email Message" on your welcome screens but here is something I picked up on another forum

The best and safest way to clear the unread-email counter is to download the XP PowerToy found at ( TweakUI and perform the following steps:

1. Start Tweak UI.
2. Select the Repair branch in the left-hand pane of the dialog box.
3. Select "Repair unread mail count" in the right-hand pane, then click "Repair Now".
4. Close Tweak UI.

Worked a treat for me
Worked a treat

July 12, 2006 10:58 AM

There is a registry tweak at Kellys Korner that will remove the email notification for you.
Go here and browse down to tweak # 100.
Remember that this is a registry tweak, so backup your registry before you run it if you are concerned. It is harmless however and should not cause problems for anyone, and there is an undo on the site that you can also download to reverse what you have done.
Good luck.

August 22, 2006 6:14 PM

I have multiple logins for different users, but only one accurately reports unread email. One (mine of course) never reports any email. I use OE for my email client. OE is configured separately for each user. Using the article as a guide, and comparing the unread email section of the working account with the non-working one, I tried to add in the missing info in the account that was not getting updated, but no luck. Any suggestions?

October 2, 2006 1:44 PM

Leo, I just wanted to thank you. Your article did the trick. I'll be returning to this site whenever I have any issues. Thanks again!!!

October 6, 2006 7:14 PM

I do not know how to turn off new unread messages

October 13, 2006 9:09 PM

October 19, 2006 11:58 AM

How do I turn off the unread message count on the Windows XP login screen?":

January 31, 2007 10:13 AM

Hi there. I have an opposite problem. How do I turn on the unread message counter on the Welcome Screen? I already tried the following:

(1) Install Tweak UI and enable the unread email counter on welcome screen.
(2) Repair Unread email message option in Tweak UI.
(3) Checked Registry that the email counter key has a value.

Please help. Thank you so much.


February 28, 2007 11:46 PM

try putting no value in, not zero but blank

March 14, 2007 2:47 PM

Have you checked the registry key permissions?

April 27, 2007 3:01 PM

Not a real solution, i know, but you can just not use the regular windows welcome screen (user accounts -> change the way users log on or off -> clear the field "use the welcome screen")
Then the mail count does not annoy you every time windows is started up.
(Furthermore the classic logon is more secure, in case someone is a bit paranoid ;-) )

PS: Really good site, I have to say. Helped me a lot, thanks!

September 29, 2007 8:50 AM

There is real problem with the permissions tweak - if proper logging is enabled, each access to the key with modified permission will result in unnecessary spamming the security log...

There is better way to achieve that:

Open notepad and create file disable_unread_msg_display.reg with the following content:



Now import it by double-clicking it in Windows Explorer or by running it from Command Line. This file will create zero REG_DWORD value "MessageExpiryDays" under the UnreadMail key and will effectively cause all messages to be naturally "expired", thus not displayed...

Good Luck

January 17, 2008 1:12 AM

This may all be well and good, but is there a way to by pass the login screen altogether? I mean with only one user on my computer I hate having to now click an icon to launch Windows XP. This didn't happen till after a windows update...before update, I could powerup and Windows Xp loaded to desktop, now I have to jump thru and extra hoop...anyone have a clue as to how to shut this feature off please post...

September 3, 2008 8:17 AM


An easy way to have the login screen count your messages is to buy a microsoft webcam. When you install the camera it will do all sorts of fun things like show the email count for you business email on your home computer and make all microsoft programs your defaults (itunes became windows media, open office became word, etc.)

October 20, 2008 2:45 AM

First of all, Andy: I have no idea what you are talking about?!?!?!?!?!

Second - you can turn off the welcome (logon) screen by accessing control panel-> user accounts and then it's there somewhere check it out (it's in the form of a check box) but also it can be done trough the registry and it's pretty easy to find if you google it, I have done it a couple times myself.

August 27, 2010 7:23 PM

It worked right away for me. How cool!
I did this:
Open notepad and create file disable_unread_msg_display.reg with the following content:
Now import it by double-clicking it in Windows Explorer or by running it from Command Line. This file will create zero REG_DWORD value "MessageExpiryDays" under the UnreadMail key and will effectively cause all messages to be naturally "expired", thus not displayed...
I didn't know much about importing it or using the Run line, so I went to My Docs where it was automatically saved when I clicked Save and pasted in the name you said to use. So at Start > My Docs, when I double clicked it, it offered to import it into the registry, which I accepted. Then I restarted my pc and viola, the message count was gone!

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.