The Tech-Recipes Quick Guide to Customizing Windows 7

Microsoft’s latest operating system is a bit different than Windows versions of the past, and with these differences come more things to customize and tweak. Here’s a compilation of tutorials put together by the Tech-Recipes authors for customizing the interface and for tweaking the system to make it quicker.

Speeding things up:

Improve Startup Performance by Using Boot-Only Fetching
If you run a lot of programs at startup, it can take a while for your system to boot up. To speed up the process, you can enable Boot-Only fetching so that the prefetcher focuses on the booting process instead of both booting and application launching.

How to Reset the Thumbnail Cache
If the thumbnail pictures are not displaying correctly, resetting the thumbnail cache will fix this (most of the time). Resetting the cache will clear it and force the automatic creation of the thumbnails as needed.

Speed Up Taskbar Thumbnails
The Windows 7 taskbar displays previews of running programs via some very cool thumbnails. To speed up these thumbnails so that they appear instantly, follow these simple steps.

Adjust the User Account Control (UAC) Settings
The UAC was a pain in Windows Vista, and changing the settings for UAC was an even bigger pain. Windows 7 allows you to change the User Account Control settings from the Control Panel so you can easily adjust the settings to your liking.


How Increase the Speed of Internet Explorer 8

By simply re-registering a dll file, you can make Microsoft’s latest web browser even faster. It might sound complicated, but it is a very simple process.

Customizing the Orb and Task Bar:

Change the Start Menu Power Button Settings
If the current setting for the Start Menu power button do not meet your needs, you can easily change it (to sleep, hibernate, or shutdown) by following these instructions.

How to Enable the Quick Launch Bar
By default, Windows 7 does not have the Quick Launch toolbar that most Windows users are familiar with. If you wish to keep using this form of navigation, or if you’ve upgraded your computer to Windows 7 and want to use your old Quick Launch Bar, you can enable it by following these steps.

Customize How the Date is Displayed in the System Tray
By default the Windows 7 taskbar uses large icons, which makes for a bigger taskbar. This easily allows not only the time to show in the system tray, but the date as well. You can customize how the date is displayed and what information it will show.

Put a Flip 3D Shortcut on the Taskbar
By default, Windows 7 has no taskbar shortcut for Flip 3D, Aero’s sexy method for switching between open windows. Here’s a quick and easy way to create a shortcut and place it on your Taskbar.

Place Windows Live Messenger in the System Tray
By default, Windows 7 keeps the Windows Live Messenger icon on the Taskbar instead of moving to the system tray. If you want it off of your Taskbar so that it behaves like it did before, you can easily place it on the system tray, giving you more room on your Taskbar for other applications and files.

How to Set the Taskbar Buttons to Show Text Instead of Icons-Only
Unlike the Windows of old, Windows 7 uses an icon-only Taskbar. If you find this difficult to use, you can return the buttons back to the way they used to be so that the button displays a label for the open file or application.

Other useful How To’s:

How to Attach VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) Files
I use Virtual PC quite a bit for checking out various operating systems. sometimes I have files on a virtual OS that I need to use on my real system. This usually means that I have to fire up Virtual PC and run the desired operating system. Windows 7 allows you to attach VHD files so that you can access the disks from your virtual OS without having to run Virtual PC.

How to Run an Application as Another User
In previous versions of Windows (XP and Vista), you could ran an application as administrator by using the context menu. You had no such option if you were wanting to run the application as a different user. Windows 7 adds this ability, allowing you to use the context menu to run a program as the administrator or as another user.

How to Open a Folder in a New Process
Windows Explorer normally opens all folders within a single process. While you could change this via the Folder Options, it would cause all folders to open in new processes. Windows 7 allows you to easily select a single folder and run it in a different process.

How to Disable Aero Peek (Preview Desktop)
By placing your cursor over the Show Desktop button (the small rectangle) at the end of the Taskbar, Aero Peek will show the Desktop. It does this by hiding any open windows and showing the outline of where they were. While this is pretty cool, it can be annoying.

Change the Settings for Virtual Windows XP (or other Virtual Machines)
You may want to change the settings for your Virtual XP or other Virtual Machine (such as memory, adding a hard disk, disabling Auto Publish, etc.) that you have on your Windows 7 system. While the method of doing this isn’t easy to find, it is easy to do.

Easily Open Another Instance of an Application
Sometimes it is necessary to open another instance of an application (as long as it supports multiple instances) that you are using. Instead of going to the Start menu, Windows 7 provides two simple ways to make it happen.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts to Manage Open Windows
Windows 7 includes some quite useful features for managing your open windows by simply dragging windows to different places on the screen. You can also use keyboard shortcuts to do the same thing.

Using Desktop Slideshow to Change Your Wallpaper
Desktop Slideshow is a Windows 7 feature that changes the user’s wallpaper at a preconfigured interval. This is great for people that find themselves easily becoming bored with staring at the same wallpaper everyday (or hour!).


How to Create a New Library

By default, Windows 7 comes with six Libraries (Communications, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures and Videos). You can create other Libraries if these don’t meet all of your needs for media like e-books, comics, tutorials, etc.

Hide or Show Libraries in the Navigation Pane
Libraries act as pointers to various folders containing similar content such as music, video, photos, etc. You can easily add or remove libraries from your Navigation pane to suit your needs.

How to Join an Existing HomeGroup
If you wish to join an existing HomeGroup to easily share files over your network, you can easily do so by following these steps.

How to Change the Number of Recent Items in a Jump List
When you right-click on an application’s pinned icon on the Task Bar, a Jump List will appear that will display items such as recent, important, frequent, or tasks. If the number of Recent Items displayed isn’t to your liking, you can increase or decrease the number of items displayed.

Optimize Windows 7 for use with Touchscreen enabled devices
Windows 7 is setup to handle touchscreen input pretty good out of the box, however trying to use the scrollbars and start menu can prove to be a challenge on netbooks with a touchscreen or smaller devices. This recipe will show you how to use an existing Vista utility, Microsoft Origami Experience 2.0 (free) to optimize the GUI to allow easier navigation using touchscreen inputs. This barely known but very useful add-on also will give us the Origami add-on and also picture password as an added bonus.

You can find many more Tech-Recipes tutorials for Windows 7 by going to its category page.

 

About Rob Rogers

Once a prolific author here on Tech-Recipes, Rob has moved on to greener pastures.
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The Conversation

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  • Dd Gates

    I am waiting for the cracking or the tweaking version of  Windows 7 starter. I still love the XP,  still good then Win7 starter. Too many limitation

  • Tired of BS

    How the heck do we change colors (customize) the desktop and all functions in Win 7 Starter? We are tired of Windows Classic and want something more uplifting.

    WHY would MS remove such a basic function? WHY are they so evil and greedy?