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 is generic and unaware of operating system requirements within the system loading process.
When only one version of Windows is 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 on Windows 10.
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.
- Select Use another operating system > Change defaults. Here you can set the Windows Boot Manager timer screen and Choose a default operating system. Selecting your default operating system doesn’t remove other installations, but it does stop the Boot Manager from appearing in each system startup.
Alternative Method: Use MSConfig
You can achieve similar results using the Windows System Configuration window.
- Type msconfig 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. This doesn’t actually remove them from your system (it does stop the boot manager operating system selection screen from appearing, though).
Follow the steps above to open the System Configuration menu, then head to the Boot tab. Next, highlight the operating system you want to remove and press Delete. Just make sure you don’t delete the entry marked Default OS. You’ll run into boot issues if you do.
2. Use BCDEdit to Remove Boot Manager Options
BCDEdit is Windows built-in boot manager editing tool.
Deleting the wrong boot manager entry has very frustrating results, like not being able to boot your system without some serious effort. Double-check every edit before hitting Enter.
- Type cmd in the Start menu search bar, right-click Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.
- Once the elevated Command Prompt window opens, type bcdedit /export c:\bcdbackup and press Enter to create a backup of your BCD settings.
- Next, type bcdedit /v to list the boot loaders currently on your system. For example, here’s what happens when I run this command on my desktop:
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, input the command bcdedit /delete identifier, swapping out identifier for your own alphanumeric string.
Double-check that you have the correct entry, then press Enter to delete the additional bootloader entry. The integrated BCD Editor is one of the quickest ways to remove a boot option from your BIOS, but it isn’t for everyone.
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. As a result, you get the same experience and functionality as using BCDEdit within the Command Prompt, but without worrying about entering the exact command.
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.
As with the integrated BCD Editor, Visual BCD Editor makes it easy to remove old boot menu entries. However, as Visual BCD Editor comes with a handy GUI, this is likely the easiest boot menu removal option for most users.
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 from dual-booting Linux and Windows. Again, they don’t cause any issues, but they accumulate and become irritating over time.
The EFI boot manager is part of the UEFI firmware management package. You might have found this if you ever boot from a USB flash drive 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.
Copy the identifier of the firmware entry you want to delete and run the following command bcdedit /delete identifier, again replacing identifier with the alphanumeric string matching your entry.
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 operating system.