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By Chris De Herrera 
Copyright 1998-2007
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ActiveSync - Add/Remove Programs Pops Up Every Time
By Raj Pillai, Copyright 2004-2005
 Version 1.00  Created  10/03/2005

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ActiveSync uses the Application Manager (CeAppMgr.exe) to add and remove program on your mobile device.  If your device is not connected while installing a particular application, you get a message stating that the software will be installed on the next device that is connected with the desktop.  When you connect, the Application Manager pops up and prompts you to install the software with the desired location on the device.  But often you might end up receiving this pop up for no reason whenever you attempt to synchronize.

For information on applications that ActiveSync uses to synchronize information, refer to Configuring ZoneAlarm with ActiveSync.

What Causes this Behavior?

More often then not this usually occurs in the following scenarios:

  1. You have cancelled an installation that is in progress.
  2. The installation was unable to make the necessary changes in the registry due to some kind of conflict.
  3. You have reinstalled the software.

How to Solve this Problem?

To solve the problem you need to know - How ActiveSync works when a software is installed.  ActiveSync generates a key in the registry which executes the Application Manager to show up.  The Application Manager then reads values of the software applications that are installed on your desktop and if any of them has their status as not installed, you are prompted with the dialog to install.

If the Application Manager pops up every time, re-installing the last installed application helps solve the problem.  Sometimes you might need to reinstall ActiveSync as well.  But the most probable cause for the dialog to appear is due to an entry in the registry. 

  1. To open the registry, go to the Start -> Run, and type


    And press "OK" or hit Enter.
  2. Then browse to the following key in the registry -

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows CE Services\AutoStartOnConnect

  3. If you find an entry for CeAppMgr, then you will need to delete it.  This would appear as seen below:

Screen Shot of Registry

This entry is usually deleted the moment the software is installed on the mobile device.  In some cases as explained earlier it might leave it as a residue. 

Want to start an Application upon device connection?

The AutoStartOnConnect registry key contains listing of applications that are executed when your device is connected to the desktop.  If you are keen to open some custom applications, then simply add it here and the application will be executed. For example:

If you want to open Notepad when the device is cradled, then:

  1. Right-click and add a New -> String Value.
  2. Add a name to this value - "Notepad"
  3. Open this value and enter the path of the notepad.exe in its value data.

The next time you connect your device, Notepad will be open.  If the path is incorrect, ActiveSync will display an error message.

Read other articles by Raj Pillai

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