The 6 Most Annoying Windows Features and How to Fix Them
When you think about it, Windows is pretty great overall. There are lots of surprising reasons you’ll like Windows 10 if you haven’t upgraded yet. The operating system (OS) also includes lots of little extras that don’t get any credit.
While we enjoy poking fun at the sticky parts of Windows, let’s work on fixing these annoyances instead. Here are several frustrating parts of Windows that everyone has to deal with, and how you can make them less irritating.
Turn Off Annoying Shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts are incredibly useful and can save you lots of time when navigating your computer. However, there are lots of shortcuts you can activate by mistake that can mess up what you’re doing.
One of the most annoying is Sticky Keys, an accessibility feature that lets you type key combinations like Ctrl + Alt + Del by pressing one key at a time. It’s great that these features exist for users who need them , but the shortcut to enable it is pressing Shift five times. You might do this accidentally and have no idea what’s going on with your typing.
To turn this off, press Shift five times to bring up the Sticky Keys dialogue. Click Go to the Ease of Access Center… to jump to Sticky Keys settings, and uncheck Turn on Sticky Keys when Shift is pressed five times. This will prevent the dialogue from popping up.
Another annoying shortcut is Aero Shake. When you grab a window and move it back and forth a few times, Windows will minimize every window except the one you’re dragging. This is easy to accidentally activate, and most people probably don’t even use it .
To disable this, open the Registry Editor by typing regedit into the Start Menu. Remember that Registry tweaks can be dangerous , so be careful while you’re in here. Browse down to this key:
Here, right-click the right side of the screen and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name this DisallowShaking and set its value to 1. Log off and back on, and Aero Shake won’t bother you anymore.
Another irritating keyboard shortcut is Ctrl + Alt + Arrow Key, which rotates the screen orientation. These shortcuts have been standard on Intel Graphics for years, but you can shut them off easily. Type Intel into the Start Menu and choose Intel Graphics and Media. If you’re prompted for a mode, choose Basic Mode or Advanced Mode.
Click Options and Support, then Hot Key Manager. Uncheck the box next to Hot Key Functionality and these shortcuts won’t disrupt the screen anymore.
Shut Windows Up
Windows has had a habit of making annoying sounds for a while . Whether it’s the annoying clicking sounds in internet Explorer and the File Explorer or beeping at you for every little action, sometimes you just want Windows to shut up .
You can turn off all Windows sounds easily by typing Sound into the Start Menu to open the Sound control panel. Click the Sounds tab to view and preview all the different sounds Windows can make . To turn off all Windows noises, change the Sound Scheme drop-down to No Sounds.
If you’d like to fine-tune individual sounds instead, scroll through the list below. Any sound that’s currently enabled has a speaker icon next to it. Choose [None] from the Sounds drop-down box below to mute it. Make sure to also uncheck Play Windows Startup sound so you don’t start blasting a tune when you sneak in late to a meeting.
Windows Updates Getting Stuck and Forcing Reboots
Windows Update is an essential feature , because it delivers security updates to your system. Thankfully, it’s gotten a lot smoother in Windows 8 and Windows 10. Instead of incessantly asking you to reboot like it did in Windows 7, you can now choose a convenient time to restart. Depending your version of Windows, there are different issues you can run into.
On a fresh installation of Windows 7, use the Convenience Rollup to install years worth of patches in one go. You can also use a Registry hack to stop Windows from restarting for updates.
No matter your version of Windows, you can fix Windows Update when it breaks or crashes. If you’re having trouble getting a single update to install, review the steps for resolving any Windows Update failure . Finally, check out our guide on everything you need to know about Windows Update in Windows 10 , including scheduling a reboot time and deferring upgrades.
The Windows 8 Start Screen Sucks
People hated Windows 8 for many reasons . The biggest offender was certainly the revamped Start Screen , replacing the classic Start Menu everyone loved. If you’re still using Windows 8.1 (as Windows 8 is no longer supported ), you can rid yourself of the Start Screen easily.
The easiest way to get the Start Menu back is to install a free program that adds it in . These tools are actually more customizable than Windows’ own Start Menu. You can set them to look like Windows 7 or even the Windows 9x Start Menus, and you can easily add or remove entries from them.
On Windows 8.1, you can jump to the desktop at startup and skip the Start Screen. To do so, right-click on your Taskbar and choose Properties. On the Navigation tab, check the box next to When I sign in… go to the desktop instead of Start. Finally, make sure your default programs don’t include any Modern apps like Photos, and you’ll never have to look at Modern apps again. Feel free to uninstall any Modern apps you don’t want as well.
Make UAC Less Annoying
User Account Control (UAC) was first introduced in Windows Vista and has been present in the OS since. It allows you to grant administrative rights on a selective basis , so you don’t have to stay logged into an unsafe admin account all the time. UAC was infamous for pestering you every five seconds in Vista, but you can tone it down in newer Windows versions, too.
First, pay a visit to the UAC menu (when logged in as an admin). Type uac into the Start Menu and choose Change User Account Control Settings. You’re able to choose from four levels of alert here.
The most secure, like the Vista default, will always notify you when you try to make changes to Windows settings (such as changing the time or editing Windows Firewall options ). The default level, one below the top, doesn’t notify on Windows settings changes, but will ask for permission to install software.
The third level of security is the same as the second, but doesn’t dim your desktop for the UAC prompt. This makes it easier to click Yes without thinking, so be careful with it. Finally, the bottom level turns UAC completely off. This is a terrible idea, as it allows any program to run with admin rights without confirmation.
We recommend choosing between the middle two levels for UAC security, and creating this whitelist. This gets UAC out of your way where you don’t need it, while still allowing it to protect you as it’s designed to.
Disable the Program Compatibility Assistant
Windows has incredible backwards compatibility with older software. One of the tools used for this is the Program Compatibility Assistant. You’ve likely seen this window pop up when you install some software, letting you know that it didn’t install correctly .
If you’re trying to install incompatible software on new versions of Windows , this feature is great. The Assistant can find issues that are keeping the software from installing correctly, fix them, and re-install it properly. Should you try to install ancient software that might even cause Windows to crash , the Assistant will prevent any damage.
Novice users should keep this feature enabled, but it’s also known for producing lots of false positives. If you want to disable the Assistant , you can do so in just a few steps. Type services into the Start Menu to open that utility, and look for Program Compatibility Assistant.
If you want to disable the Assistant temporarily to install some software, right-click its entry and choose Stop. This keeps it from running until you reboot your computer or manually start it again. To permanently disable the feature, right-click it and choose Properties. Change Startup type to Disabled, and it won’t run until you enable it again.
What Annoys You About Windows?
These aren’t the only Windows annoyances we can think of, as Windows 10 still has plenty of issues . However, the future looks good. Most of the problems of past Windows versions now have fixes, and since Windows 10 is constantly evolving , Microsoft can patch problems in updates.
Now, we want to hear your fixable Windows annoyances from any version. What caused you a big problem until you figured out a way around? Share them down in the comments!
Image Credits: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock