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Windows XP
Install / Remove
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Remove Microsoft Messenger
Slipstreamed XP/SP2 Bootable CD
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Windows Firewall   *SP2
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Create Shortcut Wizard
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Registry Edits for Windows XP
Understand the risks, up to and including the loss of data and having to reinstall the operating system, before editing the registry.

Use the information at your own risk.

Backing Up and Restoring the Windows XP Registry

Items listed are registry edits, implemented by using registry editor. Launch registry editor by typing [regedit.exe] in the [Run] dialog accessible via [Start]. Editing the registry is not a difficult process but it does require care.

Application Registry Edits
Change IE Title Bar Text - This tweak allows you to customize Internet Explorer by adding your own window title.
Customize Windows Media Player Title Bar - Allows you to change the title bar to read Windows Media Player provided by <your text>, so if I had entered text of [The Elder Geek], it would read: Windows Media Player provided by The Elder Geek
Invoke a Program Once then Delete from the Registry - This tweak allows you to set up a program that will be run once and then deleted so that it does not run again unless the entry is re-entered manually. The Runonce key does remain in the registry for reuse.
Launch Programs at Login Without Using the Startup Folder - This tweak allows a program to be launched when the user logs onto the computer. It can be set to run minimized and there is no trace of the executable in the Startup folder on the Start Menu nor in the Documents and Settings folder accessible via Windows Explorer.
Enable/Disable Media Player Automatic Update Message - This tweak disables the prompt to update Media Player that appears on a regular basis.
Minimize Outlook 2002 to the System Tray - If you frequently access Outlook during the day it’s more convenient to have it minimized to the system tray rather than invoking it each time you need to send/receive e-mail. To minimize Outlook 2002 to the system tray:
Prevent Messenger from Running In Outlook Express - This tweak is but one of the many ways to stop Windows Messenger from running.
Run Internet Explorer Full Screen - This tweak forces Internet Explorer to open in full screen mode. That said, I've left this tweak here because a number of people have asked for it so they could remember how to uninstall it. While it does work initially, if you change the view while browsing, the second part of the tweak resets to "No"  so that opening IE subsequently will launch it in normal view. Rather than using this tweak, I suggest using the F11 key which accomplishes the identical results.
Password Is Not Saved in Outlook or Outlook Express - Problem: You are repeatedly prompted to enter your password in Outlook Express or Outlook in spite of how many times you have checked the [Save Password] box.
Specify Default IE Download Directory - This tweak changes the default directory where downloads initiated in Internet Explorer are stored on the system.
Use Internet Explorer Classic Search - Clicking the Search button in Internet Explorer 6.0 launches the default Search Assistant. Many users find the Search Assistant in IE annoying. To do away with the Assistant and return to the Classic Search:
Desktop Registry Edits
Change Start Button Text - If you’re tired of looking at the word “start” on that green button at the lower left of your desktop it can be changed. Not easily, but it can be done.
Eliminate Fade Effect in XP Menus - This tweak removes the fade in effect on XP menus that many users find annoying as well as slowing response time.
Desktop Context Menu - By default, when a user right clicks on the desktop in Windows XP a context menu is displayed. Implementing the Enable/Disable Desktop Context Menu edit will remove the ability to display a context menu by right clicking the desktop, items on the desktop, and items in Windows Explorer. It does not disable context menus in Internet Explorer. This registry edit can be set either on a user or machine basis.
Desktop Patterns from Previous Windows Versions - If you've been around previous Windows versions you more than likely remember some of the hideous desktop patterns that were available. They're still here in XP waiting to be resurrected. Hey, they can't be any worse than the default XP scheme, can they? On second thought, maybe they can.

Disable Save Desktop Configuration on Exit - Default behavior for XP is to save the desktop configuration on exiting the operating system. To prevent saving the desktop configuration, implement this registry edit.

Exclude a Program from the Start Menu - A feature of the new XP Start Menu is a list of the most frequently used programs on the left side of the menu. Personally, I find this section rather useless, since a program I'd want to be instantly available I'd place either in Quick Launch or pin it to the list of programs above this frequently used programs section. However, if you find the feature useful but would like to exclude a specific program from appearing here permanently, use this tweak.
Faster Start Menu - I see no reason for there to be any delay when I click on the Start Menu. Effects are pretty, but I wouldn’t click on it if I didn’t have business inside, so lets get it open and get moving. The default speed can be adjusted with a quick registry entry.
Force Use of Classic Start Menu - This tweak loads the Classic Start Menu and makes it impossible to change back to the Windows XP version.
Hide/Show Internet Explorer Desktop Icon - By default, Windows XP does not show the Internet Explorer icon on the Windows desktop. Using the registry edit below allows you to control whether or not the Internet Explorer icon is displayed.
Hide/Show My Documents Folder on Desktop - By default, Windows XP does not show the My Documents folder on the Windows desktop. Using the registry edit below allows you to control whether or not My Documents is displayed.
Increase Menu Display Speed - I see no reason for there to be any delay when I click on the Start Menu. Effects are pretty, but I wouldn’t click on it if I didn’t have business inside, so lets get it open and get moving. The default speed can be adjusted with a quick registry entry.
Enable/Disable Notification Area Balloon Tips - This tweak disables the annoying balloon tips that appear adjacent to the Notification area. The [Notification Area] is on the right side of the Taskbar, adjacent to the Clock display.
Enable/Disable the Passport Balloon - This tweak disables the balloon reminder that appears frequently prompting users to obtain a Microsoft Passport.
Remove Common Groups from Start Menu - This tweak will remove all the entries located in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu and its sub-folders from the Start Menu when All Programs is accessed. The entries in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu are referred to as the Common Groups.
Rename My Computer on Desktop - This tweak allows you to have a personalized name instead of the generic My Computer. Useless, but neat.

Rename Desktop System Icons - Windows XP gives you the ability to run a desktop devoid of system icons if that's your choice. If you prefer to have the icons present but get tired of the generic names XP assigns, use the following method to easily change to something more personal or interesting.

Sort Favorites Menu Alphabetically

Sort Start Menu Alphabetically - For those that are annoyed by new entries in the Start Menu being appended to the bottom of the list instead of being automatically integrated alphabetically, this tweak will force XP to perform the sort function automatically.
Sort Start Menu Alphabetically - A different method to accomplish the same result.
Enable/Disable Snap To Default Button - This forces the cursor to always jump to the default button of any dialog or alert that opens.
Specify Default Search Options - This tweak will modify the standard search parameters so they do not have to be reset for each individual search.
Enable/Disable Tool Tip Displays - This tweak removes tool tips from appearing when the mouse moves across items that support the display of tool tips.
Enable/Disable Window Animations
Enable/Disable Desktop Cleanup Wizard
Modify Desktop Cleanup Wizard Run Frequency - If you use the Desktop Cleanup Wizard but find the 60 day default cleanup frequency unacceptable, this tweak allows the frequency to be increased or decreased.
File System Registry Edits
Connected Web Files and Folders - Connecting web files and folders allows a primary .htm or .html file to be moved in conjunction with files associated with the primary document. Once the primary document has been defined, create a sub-folder using the same name as the primary document but assign it a .files extension. Whenever the primary file is moved, the sub-folder will also move and remain as a sub-folder of the primary.
Delete Shared Documents Folder - An addition to XP is the Shared Documents folder. Folders or files you wish to share with others on the network can be placed here using drag and drop. Moving or copying a file or folder to Shared Documents makes it available to everyone who uses your computer.
Disable 8.3 Name Creation in NTFS - Files that use the 8.3 naming convention can degrade NTFS drive performance. Unless you have a good reason for keeping the 8.3 naming convention intact such as using 16 bit programs, a performance gain can be achieved by disabling the function.
Enable/Disable Recycle Bin - For those confidant enough that you will never need a deleted file or folder, this tweak will disable the Recycle Bin and permanently delete items with no chance of recovery.
Faster Browsing in Windows Explorer on Network Computers - By default, a Windows XP machine connecting to a Windows 95/98/Me computer will search for scheduled tasks or enabled printers on the remote computer. Two sub-keys control this behavior. Deleting them will speed up browsing on the remote computer.
Enable/Disable Low Disk Space Message - By default, on a Windows XP system the following messages are displayed. This tweak will prevent the messages being displayed.
Set Default Search Options - This tweak will modify the standard search parameters so they do not have to be reset for each individual search.
Suppress NTFS Volume Last Access Timestamp - By default, the LastAccess timestamp is updated whenever a directory is accessed on a NTFS volume. This tweak eliminates the updating of the timestamps.
Enable/Disable the Thumbnail Cache - Windows normally stores images that appear in Thumbnails view in cache memory so that it can redisplay the images quickly each time you reopen a folder in Thumbnails view. Disabling the cache can free up memory, but it might cause delays when you open folders.
Delete "Files Stored On This Computer" Category - When My Computer is opened from the desktop the default view opened is known as Category View. Not many XP users find this view to be of much use, but especially useless is the Files Stored On This Computer part of Category view. This tweak eliminates it from the default Category view.
Hardware Registry Edits
CD AutoRun - Depending on the type of CD's one uses, AutoRun may be more of an annoyance than a help. This allows it to be universally disabled rather than on an individual file type basis.
Enable/Disable CD Burning - If you choose to use a different CD burning program than the one supplied with Windows XP this edit will disable the default burner.
Enable/Disable DVD Player - This tweak allows you to disable an installed DVD player in Windows XP.
Restore Missing CD or DVD Drive - Reports have filtered in that CD or DVD drives will suddenly cease to exist in XP systems. Most often this has been reported in conjunction with program installations and Windows upgrades, but it has also happened for no apparent reason. This tweak will restore the missing drives after a reboot.
Internet Registry Edits
Connected Web Files and Folders - Connecting web files and folders allows a primary .htm or .html file to be moved in conjunction with files associated with the primary document. Once the primary document has been defined, create a sub-folder using the same name as the primary document but assign it a .files extension. Whenever the primary file is moved, the sub-folder will also move and remain as a sub-folder of the primary.
Increase Internet Download Connections - Increase Simultaneous Internet Download Connections. Increases the number of allowed simultaneous connections to ten (10).
Enable/Disable My Pictures Toolbar in IE -This tweak disables the floating toolbar that appears in Internet Explorer allowing an image to be Saved, E-mailed, or Printed.
Manage Internet Explorer Error Reporting - This tweak removes the IE Error Reporting tool from appearing with the option to send browser debugging reports to Microsoft.
Remove Links Folder in Favorites - The Links folder is part of Favorites whether it's being accessed through Internet Explorer or the Favorites menu in the Start Menu. This tweak will remove it from those locations.

Force New Internet Explorer Window for Launching Shortcuts - By default, when you click a web link in an internet aware program, and there is already an Internet Explorer window open, the web page appears in the open browser window instead of opening a new window. This tweak prevents the new link from being displayed in the existing IE window by forcing an additional IE browser instance to open.

Logon Registry Edits
Create Legal Notice Logon Dialog Box - In situations where you need users to review a legal notice before logging on, this tweak will create the caption for the notice and the notice itself which you type directly into the string values.
Customize Logon and Security Dialog Title
Customize Logon Box Message - This is the message displayed on the Classic Logon box, not the XP ‘Welcome’ logon screen.
Enable/Disable Logon Screen Saver - Note: This applies only to the default Login [login.scr] screensaver and is not the same as screensaver selections made in the [Display Properties] property sheet accessed by right clicking on the desktop and selecting [Properties] from the context menu.
Add Administrator Account to Log In Screen - When Windows XP is first installed it requires you to enter at least one name of a user who will access the computer. Once you create this name the default Administrator account vanishes. To access it, press Ctrl-Alt-Delete twice at the Welcome screen to retrieve the standard Windows 2000 logon dialog. Log on as Administrator from this point. To log the Administrator off, click [Start] [Log Off] and [Log Off] when the [Log Off Windows] selection box appears. The Log On screen with the available users will be displayed.
Welcome Screen Logon versus Classic Logon - This tweak specifies whether the Welcome screen or the Classic logon will be used to access Windows XP.
Network Registry Edits
QoS Bandwidth Reserve Setting - By default, Windows XP reserves 20% of the connection bandwidth for QoS traffic. This tweak allows the setting to be altered to a different percentage of connection bandwidth. If the system uses more than a single adapter for network connections, each adapter may be set individually by navigating to:
Enable/Disable Save Password in DUN - This tweak saves user passwords for Dial Up Networking so they do not have to be re-entered each session.
Registration Information Registry Edits
Change the Registered Organization/Owner of Windows XP - This tweak allows modification of the registered owner and organization of the Windows XP software. Note: This tweak has nothing to do with Windows Product Activation (WPA) and will not allow you to register illegal XP software.
Start Menu and Taskbar Registry Edits
Remove Links Folder in Favorites - The Links folder is part of Favorites whether it's being accessed through Internet Explorer or the Favorites menu in the Start Menu. This tweak will remove it from those locations.
System Registry Edits
Activate Clear Type - Microsoft states, “With Windows XP, ClearType delivers improved font display resolution over traditional anti-aliasing. It improves readability on color LCD monitors with a digital interface, such as those in laptops and high-quality flat desktop displays. Readability on CRT screens can also be somewhat improved.”

Enable/Disable Active Window Tracking to Mouse Movements - When the mouse is moved over an open window it automatically sets the focus to that particular window. It does not bring the window to the foreground of the open windows.

Alter When Pending Password Expiration Warning Appears - Passwords can be set so they expire and force users to create a new password in the interest of security. This setting dictates how many days before the password expires a warning will be given to the user.
Auto Disconnect for Internet Explorer - Use this edit to automatically disconnect from Internet Explorer after a specified length of time has elapsed.
Auto Reboot On System Crash - By default, when the Windows XP operating system crashes an automatic reboot of the system occurs. While this behavior can be convenient, the downside is the error message accompanying the crash is not visible. Often times this information can be a great help in troubleshooting the source of the crash. This behavior can be modified in two ways; via the registry or using the System Properties property sheet.
Enable/Disable Automatic Boot Disk Optimization [Defrag] - Locates and consolidates fragmented boot files, data files, and folders on local volumes. For a complete description of Defrag, type Defrag in Help and Support Center
Automatic Expanding Trees in Windows Explorer - If Friendly Trees (Expanding Trees) are enabled, clicking on a drive in the left pane of Explorer will automatically expand the tree. When a different drive is clicked, the tree on the previous drive will close and the tree of the newly selected drive will expand.
Change the Location of Special Folders - Tweak allows changing the location of special folders on the system. Any of the folders listed in the registry key may be moved.

Clear Pagefile on System Shutdown - As an added security precaution it is possible to clear all data that has been written to the page file so it cannot be retrieved. The downside to this tweak is that it may substantially increase shutdown time depending on the amount of data in the page file.

Close Applications Not Responding at Shutdown - When an application fails to respond during shutdown a dialog box is displayed prompting the user to either end it now or to wait. Enabling the value AutoEndTasks will take care of the non-responding application without user intervention. This is often referred to as “Force Exit”.
Enable/Disable Local Group Policy Objects - In a non-networked environment (or in a networked environment that does not have a domain controller), the local Group Policy object's settings are more important, because they are not overwritten by other Group Policy objects. You can open the Group Policy snap-in to edit the local Group Policy object that is stored on your local computer. Click Group Policy to open the local Group Policy object. This tweak allows you to disable Local Group Policy Objects.
Enable/Disable Task Manager - This tweak disables user access to Task manager. It must be applied on a user by user basis.
Modify Shutdown Time For Services To Close - Often times when XP is shutting down a dialog appears saying the system is waiting for a service to close. This tweak will reduce (or increase) the amount of time that expires before this warning appears. In some cases it may be desirable to allow the service more time, but most often a shorter delay is desirable. The lower the number entered the quicker the task will end.
Modify Control Panel Categories - By now I'm sure you're familiar with the new Control Panel in XP. Even if you like the new style you might at times wish you could shift some items around into a different category. It's possible. Follow the directions below.
Power Down the Computer After Shutdown - This tweak sets the XP machine to power off completely rather than stop at the prompt advising users it's now safe to power off the machine.
Power Schemes - This tweak sets the power scheme that will be used for either individual users or system wide for all users.
Altering Prefetch Parameters - Prefetch is one of the commonly overlooked components that can have a significant impact on system boot time. This tweak allows selection of which components will make use of the prefetch parameters. To see which files are gathered using each of the settings, clear the prefetch cache located at C:\Windows\Prefetch and then enable one of the settings. Clear the cache and repeat for each setting.
Prevent Programs from Loading at Startup - Provides an alternative method to MSCONFIG for disabling programs from loading at startup. Two methods are provided; one for disabling entries for the current user and another for all users of the local machine.
Remove Shared Documents Folder - This tweak removes the Shared Documents Folder from all user accounts on the local machine.
Enable/Disable Run Commands Specific to the Registry - This tweak controls the use of the Run command on the local machine.
Set System Restore Space Allotment - Much criticism has been dealt to System Restore and the amount of space it uses by default on the system drives, but there are circumstances where you might want to allocate more than the default 12MB it can consume on each drive. This registry edit allows you to choose the amount of space allocated.
Show/Conceal Hidden Devices in Device Manager - When accessing Device Manager there may be hidden devices that are not displayed. This tweak forces all devices to be displayed.
Show Hidden Operating System Files - Controls whether Operating System Files are shown in Windows Explorer Note: This is not the same as showing Hidden Files and Folders. Hidden Files and Folders are not the same as Hidden Operating System Files. Hidden Files and Folders uses the Value Name of "Hidden" where Hidden Operating System Files uses the Value Name of "ShowSuperHidden" in the registry.
Specify Additional Time Servers - The time is shown by default in the Notification area of the Taskbar. The accuracy of the time displayed is determined by time servers that Windows connects to automatically, if your computer is online when the scheduled synchronization time arrives. The two default time servers XP uses are time.windows.com and time.nist.gov. To add additional time servers to the list of choices:
Specify Source Path to XP Installation Files - Eliminates the need to insert Windows CD for system modifications.
Suppress Error Messages During Boot Process - This tweak suppresses any balloon error messages that pop up alerting you that a piece of hardware isn't working.
Enable/Disable System Properties Access from My Computer - This tweak removes access to System Properties via My Computer as well as via Control Panel.
Turn Off System Beeps - This tweak prevents the system beeps from being audible without altering any other audio settings.
Enable/Disable Error Reporting in Windows XP - In an effort to make Windows XP a better and more stable operating system, Microsoft has included Error Reporting in the latest release. Whenever an application has to close because of an error, it asks that a report be sent to Microsoft for study and evaluation. Sending the report is optional, but users can benefit from the error log that is generated if they wish to study it or print a hard copy. If you find error reporting objectionable and want it disabled:
Adjust System Restore Default Timing Parameters - By default, System Restore creates a restore point of the system every 24 hours and saves restore points for 90 days. The GUI doesn't allow modifying the default settings but it can be done via this registry tweak.
User Registry Edits
Automatic Logon to Windows XP - Convenience is one of the major reasons this tweak has become so popular. However, with convenience there is a price, and in this case that price is a lack of security. Due to the way it is implemented, anyone with local or remote access to the computer can easily navigate to the registry key and find out your password since it's stored as a plain text string. You've been warned.
Create A Hidden User Account - This tweak allows an account that is normally displayed on the Welcome screen to be hidden from view. To log on using the account it's necessary to use the Log On To Windows dialog box similar to the one in Windows 2000.
Welcome Screen Logon versus Classic Logon - This tweak specifies whether the Welcome screen or the Classic logon will be used to access Windows XP.

The oldest advice is still the best advice:
Back up the registry and have a valid restore point before editing the registry.

 

Operating System
Select System of Interest
Windows Vista Main
Windows Vista Main Graphic
Windows 7 Main
Windows 7 Main Page Graphic
Windows 8 Main
Windows 8 Main Page Graphic
Slipstream XP Versions
How to create including
burning instructions for
Nero and Roxio
Slipstreamed XP/SP2 CD
Slipstreamed XP/SP3 CD
Guide to Simple File Sharing
Share Folders, Files, and Printers in XP Home and Professional
 
Virtual Memory Paging File
Size - Optimize
Defragment - Monitor
 
Common Solutions
 

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Basic How To Articles
for XP Newbies
- Managing Starting / Stopping XP
 - Managing Desktop Components
 - Managing Basic Hardware Settings
 - Managing Folders and Files
 - Managing Applications
 
System Services Guide
 
Troubleshoot Shutdown Issues
 

XP File Management
Tips to organize Quick Launch, Search, and Windows Explorer for easier, efficient use.

 
Protecting System and Data Via NTBackup
Backup w/ Wizard
Backup w/ Adv. Mode
 

Windows Update Catalog
Windows Update Catalog offers centralized XP and .NET Critical Updates, Service Pack, and Hardware Driver Downloads

 
Automatic Update
 
XP Power Toys
Power Toys Download
 

Clean or Upgrade
XP Installation?

Which is better?

 

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Create A Personalized Boot Logo Screen

Using XP Disk Cleanup Utility

Using Disk Defragmenter Utility

Common Solutions

Tips and Solutions Arranged by XP Control Panel Groupings
 

- Reminder -

For many months now I've been posting a reminder about 'Patch Tuesday' or 'Second Tuesday' as it has come to be known when Microsoft releases the latest round of updates for Windows XP and other products.

As always, I strongly suggest you read about any update prior to installation, especially updates carrying a less than 'Critical' rating, and have a current system and data backup available in case it's necessary to restore the system to a pre-patch condition.

More info at Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification

Important Information

The Elder Geek sites contain many articles and suggestions for modifying the Windows operating system. I've tried these tweaks and tips on many systems. Sometimes they work, sometimes not. The point is, ensure you have a current, tested backup of all system and data files and understand how to restore the system in case something goes very wrong. You can still yell at me, but I assume no responsibility for your actions and use of the information and disclaim any legal responsibility for any consequences of such actions.

Copyright © 2002/2003/2004/2005/2006/2007/2008/2009/2010/2011/2012/2013, Jim Foley/The Elder Geek, All Rights Reserved Worldwide
 Reproduction, in any form, of information on this site is prohibited without express written permission.
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