Vista: Use BCDEDIT to change boot up options (dual boot w/XP Prof)

This is a quickie recipe on how to change the boot options in Vista. If your running XP and Vista (dual booting), you can use bcdedit from the command line to change the default booting OS, name, etc. Lets take a look!

If you are dual booting XP Prof and Vista, you most likely have the annoying “Earlier Version of Windows” in the boot list and have Vista booting as the default. Lets change that!

In Vista, you do not have the Boot.ini like in XP where these type of settings were changed. We will need to use command line and the bcdedit command.

1. Open up the command line as an administrator or user w/admin rights (right click on the Shorcut > Run As and lets you run as an admin if your on a non-admin account)

2. type this command to see the current state of affairs.

you prob will see something like this (my original boot option)

D:\Users\seamonkey> bcdedit

Windows Boot Manager
identifier {bootmgr}
device partition=C:
description Windows Boot Manager
locale en-US
inherit {globalsettings}
default {current}
displayorder {ntldr}
toolsdisplayorder {memdiag}
timeout 30

Windows Legacy OS Loader
identifier {ntldr}
device partition=C:
path \ntldr
description Earlier Version of Windows

Windows Boot Loader
identifier {current}
device partition=D:
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Microsoft Windows Vista
locale en-US
inherit {bootloadersettings}
osdevice partition=D:
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {1ecfd635-a8ea-11db-bb9b-ddf07c6aaff1}
nx OptIn

3. to change a value, you need to use this type of command:
bcdedit /set {identifiers name} nameofparamater “value to replace with”
for example, to change my XP os name from “Earlier Version….” to “XP Pro”, i would use this command:
bcdedit /set {ntldr} description “XP Pro”

to change the default boot os to xp, i would use this command:
bcdedit /set {bootmgr} default “{ntldr}”

then type:

and you should see the changes you made.

The main thing is to remember to run the command line with an admin account or as the administrator.

Also, you can type: bcdedit /help to get a list of all of the parameters/flags you can use.


About Jimmy Selix

Jimmy Selix is an early adopter that loves to be one of the first on the block to have the latest and greatest in technology and gadgets. Another love of his is being able to share his knowledge to others seeking it. Feel free to drop any comments or questions that you may have.
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  • Hari

    thanx …. i works fine …….

  • a

    Thnx very useful!

  • Very very thanks !


    thx it really help

  • Ke

    Can somebody tell me how is the standart for win vista??

  • Joel

    When you type…. bcdedit /set {bootmgr} default “{ntldr}” you need to remove the quotes

  • Nunya Buziness

    Its great that you shared this SIMPLE way to do this without trying to get us to buy some program to do it. Thanks for the Great Info.

  • Anon

    Thanks for sharing this info…

  • aquaphx

    thanks for the tips.
    but since i don’t truly understand each parameter. could u give some easy line to change back vista to default (just in case). thanks.

  • Eric

    That works great. Now how do I rename Vista?

  • Rick

    I don’t know if it would work in this instance but I have vista and server 2008 installed on my one hard drive and I had the server as the default choice in the boot menu.
    I typed “msconfig” into the search box in the start menu.
    The Syetem Configuration Dialog box appears.
    Go to the Boot tab
    select whichever OS I wanted as the default
    Then hit the “Set as Default” button.

    It was dead easy with no command line needed and now I can power up my computer and walk away and it will be at the login screen for vista when I return

  • Anonymous

    The Boot Manger display has two descriptions, Top: Microsoft Windows Vista
    Bottom: Microsoft Windows XP Setup
    My problem is that when I display the store contents the bottom message is not there. Initially I deleted the ntldr. I specified {current} should be the first and the default. I want the bottom one to go away. Where do I find it?

    • Anonymous

      the box appears and in a flash the bcdedit again goes off……..plz help me

      • Anonymous

        Thank you,
        My problem is that I have removed XP from my computer. When I boot there two options: Windows Vista and Microsoft Windows XP Setup. I Want to remove the XP message but it is not in the bcdedit command string. Any ideas?
        —– Original Message —–
        From: Disqus
        Sent: Sunday, March 21, 2010 11:51 AM
        Subject: [tech-recipes] Re: Vista: Use BCDEDIT to change boot up options (dual boot w/XP Prof) | Microsoft Vista | Tech-Recipes

        bharat1 wrote, in response to BlaineA:

        the box appears and in a flash the bcdedit again goes off……..plz help me

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        Options: Respond in the body to post a reply comment.

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  • Name

    very helpful. this works for Windows 7 also. in my instance to remove the “earlier version of windows” entry before boot. in a command prompt (administratively priveleged) do bcdedit /? /delete to show the syntax of what you want to clean up. in my case it was a ntldr… and it shows directly in the help file.

  • Halofan

    Can anyone tell me how can change the anem of vista like in the system properties i get Windows vista ultimate so i wnt to change it to Windows Vista Halo like the vista black edition

  • Riyaadjondah

    brilliant! thanks for posting this on the net. works a treat. now ive got “windows xp” rather than “earlier version of windows” listed as a boot option.

  • Ruedi

    WIN7 din’t boot on a dual boot (XP/7) system because, how nows the device was set to unknow. With BCDEDIT I was able to change these settings.
    BCDEDIT /set {…..hexID…..} device partion=D:

  • G G98

    what if there is no exiting “Windows Legacy OS Loader”? but there was an xp partition what was C. before installing Vista now D:?

  • Mohan

    Thank u 🙂 it helped me a lot. I was unaware of bcdedit on Vista.

  • Ejsalom

    In the XP boot.ini I had the option to define in which drive is each OS, but I’m unable to find how to do it with BCDEDIT… it seems that can define only patitions.

  • Buildern

    i installed server 2008 and now formated the drive but i still get the “earlier version of windows” how can i remove that

  • Pip


    We have read your comments and found site very useful but unsure how to remove Windows 7 as below:

    We have a laptop that has vista on it and we downloaded Windows 7, we put it on D drive as I was told I did not have much memory on C and to try putting stuff on to D. Well it is now saying D is full and the anti virus wont work properly.

    We still have Vista on it, we are now trying to remove Windows 7 to reinstall on C drive

    Please can you help (we really are not technical so idiot proof answers would be brilliant)

    Many thanks

    • David Kirk

      > Oh, boy. There doesn’t sound like there are any easy answers here. When you start up, does your computer boot to Vista or Windows 7?

      • Pip

        Gives us a choice. Windows 7 as default though

    • do you need to preserve your Vista installation or are you ok with starting fresh from scratch? also what version of windows 7 did you get? is the install media an upgrade or full installation copy? let me know and we’ll see if we can get you going on a single win7 install!

  • jet

    how to creat a new boot store?

  • jean

    Help me please