Adding and removing the GUI in Windows Server 2012

For those of you that use Server 2012 Core, I bet sometimes you want to have a management console to complete a bunch of tasks. Or if you have the full edition of server 2012 you want to remove the GUI to secure the server even more, and do things remotely. Another great feature of Windows server 2012 is the ability to add and remove the Graphical User Interface whenever you want.

For this scenario I have a Windows Server 2012 full edition to start with. To remove the GUI, log in and power up Server Manager then go to Manage > Remove Roles and Features.

From the list, select the destination server on which you want to perform this operation. In this case is the local server.

Don’t select anything here, just click Next to continue.

On the Remove features page clear the box next to User Interfaces and Infrastructure, then click the Remove Features button on the window that pops-up.


All you have to do here is press Remove.

This all thing is going to take quite some time, so be patient. At the end click the Close button and reboot the server. You need to manually reboot the server if you didn’t check the box “Restart the destination server automatically if required” in the previous screen.


If you like PowerShell, you can use it to do the exact same thing as above, and not go trough those wizards on every server that you have; is much easier. The following command will remove the GUI from the server:

Remove-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell, Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra -Restart

If you want to install the GUI back on, this time PowerShell is all you have to complete the operation. Type powershell in the server 2012 terminal, then issue the following command:

Add-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell, Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra -Restart


After restart you will have a full Windows server, with desktop and everything.

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