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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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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 as the list is in alpha order) 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

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About Dan Stolts ITProGuru

Dan Stolts (The "ITProGuru") is a technology expert who is a master of systems management and security. He is proficient in many Microsoft products especially in the server area (Windows Server, System Center, Exchange, SharePoint, Virtualization, Etc) and holds many certifications including MCT, MCITP, MCSE, TS, etc. Dan is currently specializing in System Management and Security and is also very passionate about virtualization technologies. Dan is and has been a very active member of the community. He is president of Boston User Groups, Founder of Virtualization Group Boston, Founder of North East Leaders and serves on many IT Community group boards. He is in the process of writing his first book on building technology communities. He is a believer in social networking and can be reached on twitter @ITProGuru. He has participated in many non-technology community groups such as: Rotary Club, Lions Club, local Chambers of Commerce and is a mentor for the local high schools. Dan is an enthusiastic advocate of technology and is passionate about helping others. Dan's lifelong passion has been and continues to be to help and teach others!

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