As befits a new operating system, over the past few weeks we’ve featured many articles about how to use and tweak Windows 8. With the focus largely on tweaking. After all, when so many developers have gone to the lengths of making tools to make the new operating system more customizable, it would be a shame to overlook this, especially when so many potential Windows 8 users seem to want to make changes.
From Start screen animations to restoring the much-missed Start menu to the desktop, Windows 8 users have plenty of options to fall back on, making this potentially the most versatile version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system to date. Given that Microsoft seems to be initiating a policy of “lockdown” with Windows 8, this is somewhat ironic!
One of the recent articles, The Top 5 Cool Hidden Features In Windows 8, touches on the fact that the Start screen animation seen when the user first logs in can be tweaked to run each time the Start button is pressed. This is all done via a single registry setting, but is the tip of the iceberg of what can be done with manual registry hacks and the rather useful Start Screen Animations Tweaker utility.
Manual Registry Tweaks
To make manual adjustments to the Start screen beyond the animation effect described above, you will need to access the Windows Registry.
Do this by pressing WIN+R and entering regedit. The Registry Editor will then launch; after agreeing to the User Account Control notification, the first thing you should do is head to File > Export and make a backup of the registry, just in case anything goes wrong.
Once this is done, expand the following path:
New registry entries can be created by right-click in the right pane and selecting New > DWORD. However, you will need the correct name in order to effect the item being changed. For instance, as discussed elsewhere on MakeUseOf, a new DWORD called Launcher_SessionLoginAnimation_OnShow with a value of 1 will enable Start screen tile animations whenever the Start button is pressed.
The following entries can also be created:
- Launcher_SessionLogin_Icon_Offset – sets the offset for the profile image in the top right-corner of the Start screen. You can set its value as high as 1000 – this will see your profile image zoom in from the left!
- Launcher_SessionLogin_IconText_Offset – affecting the text for the profile image (displaying the user’s name), you can set this value up to 2000.
- Launcher_SessionLogin_IndividualTower_Offset – this sends the tiles in from the left-side of the screen in vertical groups rather than all at once. You can set this value anything up to 1000.
- Launcher_SessionLogin_Tower_Offset – this final registry tweak adjusts the position into which the tiles slide. You can set its value up to 100.
Four useful tweaks that give great results – but they do of course have their disadvantage, namely that they can only be accessed in the Windows Registry.
Surely a more user friendly tool can be found?
Start Screen Animations Tweaker
If you like the look of the effects above but don’t want to play around in the registry, Start Screen Animations Tweaker from WinAero will provide a simply slider-based user interface to achieve the same effects.
After downloading, open the Zip file and run StartScreenAnimationsTweaker.exe. You will then be presented with an easy way to adjust the behaviour of the tiles on the Windows 8 Start screen. Once you have made your adjustments, click Apply and then press your Windows Start button to see the effect on the Start screen.
Unfortunately the effects cannot be effectively captured to display here, but they’re impressive enough to warrant some serious playing around with!
Whatever you might think of the Windows 8 Start screen, you cannot deny that these two methods add some much needed life to it.
If you’re comfortable with the manual registry hacks, then these can allow you to make subtle or striking changes to the Start screen when it opens; otherwise, take advantage of the excellent Start Screen Animations Tweaker to do the dirty work for you.
Remember, of course, that if you’re not a fan of the Start screen there are various tools to restore the Start menu to the Windows 8 Desktop view.
Do you know of any other useful tweaking tools for Windows 8? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll try them out!