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For those brave enough to face the Windows registry, the possibilities to alter your Windows operating system is endless. When your PC is made at the factory, Microsoft sets everything at what they think is the best. But nine times out of ten, the default settings that Microsoft chooses on your behalf are downright irritating. Do we really need to be asked “are you sure you want to delete this file?” (no, I hit the delete button for kicks). Do we really need to wait an eternity for the start menu to start moving?

The answer is no. If you feel confident enough to change the Windows registry, then read on.

But the usual warnings apply. If you mess up your Windows registry, you could end up permanently crippling your operating system. As a precaution, back up your registry so you can change things back later if need be! To back up the registry, just open the registry by going to the start menu, choose run, type regedit then press return. The registry box will then pop up. Choose “My Computer” in the top of the left pane window, then go to “file” and “export”. Choose a name and save it somewhere, preferably a re-writable CD disk or a USB flash drive. Bear in mind though that the resulting file will be HUGE so make sure you have enough space to store it all.

OK, with the registry backed up, here’s some tweaks that can make your Windows operating system less irritating :

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1. Make the start menu open faster :

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When you mouse over the start menu, there is normally a delay of a few seconds before the sub-menu you have chosen slides open. In computer terms, those few seconds can seem like an eternity. Here’s how to make it faster.

Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop. Double-click the MenuShowDelay icon on the right, and change the “Value data” box from its default of 400 to something faster, like 0. Or if you think the menu opens too fast, you can increase that 400 to something bigger to slow the menu opening down. When you have finished, press Enter. You’ll now notice that the start menu opens much faster.

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2. Show the administrator account on the account log-in screen :

The administrator account is the Windows account that controls all the settings on the computer. The person that holds the administrator privileges can make new user accounts, revoke existing accounts and much more. But if your PC has more than one Windows user account, the administrator account is cloaked. Here’s how to make it appear again on the XP welcome screen:

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\SpecialAccounts\UserList in the Registry Editor, and double-click the Administrator icon in the right pane. (If it is not there, right-click in the pane, choose New/DWORD Value, name it Administrator, and press Enter). Type 1 in the “˜Value data’ box, and press Enter. From then on, you will see the administrator account on the XP welcome screen and you can access it to give it a password or change its settings.

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3. Change the title bar of Internet Explorer :

I don’t use Internet Explorer but my girlfriend does and she always mocks Firefox. So one day I got my revenge by changing the title bar of her beloved Internet Explorer. By default, Internet Explorer’s title bar shows the name of the Web site you’re viewing, followed by “Microsoft Internet Explorer”””or in some cases, your company’s name or the name of the ISP that supplied the browser.

To change the text (or to get rid of it altogether), navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main and double-click the Window Title icon in the right pane. (If you don’t see this icon, right-click in the pane, choose New/String Value, type Window Title, and press Enter.) When the box pops up, type what you want to see on IE’s title bar, or type nothing to show only the site name. Afterwards, my girlfriend opened Internet Explorer to see the title bar saying “Internet Explorer – the browser that sucks big-time!”. She was ranting for hours!

More Windows Registry tweaks in the next post! Stay tuned!

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