How To: Turn off the dockable window shadows when working in an RDS or Citrix environment


At ArcGIS 10, dockable windows based on Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) technology have replaced several windows throughout the system, such as the attribute table window in ArcMap. The shadows and dock hints for these dockable windows are rendered using WPF bitmap remoting within Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Citrix XenApp environments, which increases server-side CPU utilization and network bandwidth usage. This can reduce performance, particularly over bandwidth-limited links.

Instructions provided describe how to turn off the dockable window shadows and dock hints when using ArcGIS Desktop 10 SP1 in an RDS or Citrix XenApp environment.


A registry key was added to ArcGIS 10 (Desktop, Engine, Server) Service Pack 1 (SP1) to turn off the dockable window behavior to improve rendering performance of WPF-based windows for RDS and Citrix XenApp environments.

  1. Log in to the Citrix XenApp server. From the Command Prompt, type regedit.exe and press Enter to open the Registry Editor.
    The instructions below include making changes to essential parts of your operating system. It is recommended that you backup your operating system and files, including the registry, before proceeding. Consult with a qualified computer systems professional, if necessary.
    Esri cannot guarantee results from incorrect modifications while following these instructions; therefore, use caution and proceed at your own risk.
  2. Determine if the registry key should apply to the local user settings or the machine.

    • For the local user behavior, navigate to the following hive:

    • For the machine behavior, navigate to the following hive:
    It is very important to determine whether the server is 32-bit or 64-bit to set the key in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hive. The registry key location is different for these operating systems.

    • When using a 64-bit server, the key is:

    • When using a 32-bit server, the key is:
  3. With the hive expanded, right-click in the right pane of the Registry Editor and click New > DWORD Value. Change the name from New Value #1 to DisableAlphaDockingContext. Right-click the new key, click Modify, and change the value to 1.
  4. Close the Registry Editor.
  5. Open ArcMap and undock the table of contents. Move it around and notice there is only a grid outline instead of a shadow. In addition, dock hints or arrows indicating the window is dockable are not shown.
  6. When using other ArcGIS applications, such as ArcCatalog, ArcGlobe, or ArcScene, also add this same key to those settings hives to see the change. For example, to add the key to ArcCatalog, open the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ESRI\Desktop10.0\ArcCatalog\Settings hive and repeat the steps above.