What’s that? You don’t like the way Windows 10 looks and acts? I can’t imagine why — the operating system goes through extensive testing and is widely regarded as the most stable and enjoyable platform on the market.
Okay, I’m joking.
For some people, the vanilla version of Windows isn’t good enough. Are you craving for an XP-esque experience? Do you want to customize your Start Menu’s icons? Are you fed up with boring desktop wallpapers?
Help is at hand. Here are the seven best tools for tweaking and customizing Windows 10.
CustomizerGod is the self-styled ultimate customization tool for Windows.
It mainly focuses on changing the iconography. Drive icons, shell icons, battery icons, navigation icons — it’s all covered. You can also alter various screens, such as the one you’ll see when powering up or shutting down your machine.
And don’t worry — CustomizerGod includes a backup tool, so you’re not going to cause lasting damage to your PC if something goes awry.
As the name suggests, TweakNow is designed to help you alter the way your system works rather than the way it looks. It aims to let you fine-tune every detail of Windows 10, and the app comes with several tools to help you achieve that objective.
Here’s a taste of what you get in the download:
- A registry cleaner for removing old and corrupt entries (though you should use registry cleaners with caution).
- A menu that reveals more than 100 hidden Windows settings.
- A startup manager.
- Support for up to four virtual desktops, each of which can be customized according to your project and/or mood.
- In-depth analysis of your computer’s vital components such as the processor, memory, and video adapter.
- A track cleaner that removes tracking data left by old, uninstalled apps.
The Winaero website has a reputation for offering a large number of small, useful, standalone apps. The newly-released Winaero Tweaker pulls all of them together into a single, easy-to-navigate place.
The full list of features is way beyond the scope of this article; doing a complete walkthrough would require a piece of its own. Nonetheless, here’s a small sample of the types of changes you can make:
- Automatically prevent ” — Shortcut” being added to the end of new shortcuts.
- Add eight custom colors to the Settings > Personalization > Color menu.
- Change the size of the scroll bars.
- Disable the Pin to Start context menu command (how many times have you accidentally clicked on it while emptying your Recycle Bin?).
- Add file encryption to the context menu.
- Edit the size of window borders, title bars, and menus.
The app is currently free, but the developer has hinted he might start charging in the future. Grab it while you can.
Given its tiny size (the file is only 495 KB), the amount you can accomplish with this app is highly impressive. Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4 offers more than 200 individual tweaks, covering everything from your machine’s performance to its security.
For example, you can restrict access to some Control Panel options, disable system telemetry, add Windows Store apps to the context menu, change user accounts settings, and edit how File Explorer behaves.
These changes can sometimes go wrong, so it’s always wise to make sure you create a system restore point before proceeding.
I covered TileCreator when I took a look at some of the best tools for customizing your Start Menu, but it deserves another mention.
One of the criticisms most frequently leveled at Windows 10 is its inability to change the visual appearance of tiles on the Start Menu. The workaround on Windows 8 was to use the fantastic OblyTile app, but sadly it doesn’t support the latest version of the operating system.
Thankfully, TileCreator does. It works with any app’s tile and lets you customize the image, the text, and the background color.
You’ll need both the Windows Store app and the separately downloaded proxy to make it work.
The taskbar is one of the most important parts of your day-to-day interaction with Windows 10. If it’s properly set up, it can act as an easy-to-use hub for almost everything you do on your machine.
However, the options provided by Microsoft feel a little limited. If you really want to be a taskbar power user, you need to download Taskbar Tweaker.
The tweaks it offers — such as how windows are minimized and restored, or how apps are grouped together — cannot be achieved by fiddling with the registry. You need this app.
It’s recently been updated to support Windows 10.
Folder Marker is as much about productivity as customization. Quite simply, it lets you color-code folders with a single click of the mouse.
But the options don’t stop there — you can also set folders being as High-Priority, Low-Priority, Completed, Important, and Private, etc. If you’re working on large projects with lots of shared files and folders, it’s a great way to stay on top of your tasks.
The paid version adds features such as applying selected icons to all subfolders and adding custom icons.
Which Tweaking and Customizing Tools Do You Use?
Like its predecessors, Windows 10 is highly customizable.
If you couldn’t find what you were looking for in this article, don’t worry. We’ve written about lots of tools for specific parts of Windows elsewhere on the site; if you want to bring back desktop gadgets, add a dash of your own personality to your system, or create your own interactive wallpapers, you should read some more of our articles.
Have we missed your favorite app? Have you developed something better yourself? Or do you like Windows just the way it is? You can let us know your thoughts in the comments below.