Tweaking apps for Windows XP

Posted by Shashank Krishna Sunday, January 11, 2009


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Download X-Setup 6.6 (older version, free):

*Note, this program used to be free, then went to $8, and is now $39.90 for a single license and 1 year of updates.

The next version of this guide will remove all references to this program.

Download locations for the old version are disappearing, hear are a few locations:

http://www.aplusfreeware.com/categories/LFWV/X-Setup.html

http://www.321download.com/LastFreeware/page5.html#X-Setup (click the "download" link)

http://news.swzone.it/swznews-11249.php

http://www.muftware.com/detail.php?link_id=199

http://htmole.altervista.org/rareware.htm

if all else fails: http://www.google.com/search?q=%22X-Setup+6.6%22&hl=en&start=0&sa=N

Download TweakUI

Why the use of a tweaking app? I've dealt with the issues of people tweaking XP for over 3 years. The email usually begins something like "I know you said to back up but I didn't and now 'xyz' doesn't work".

Using a tweaking app allows both the novice and expert to quickly and safely do/undo tweaks. If you don't want to use an app for this see the Creating Your Own Registry Files section.

Using X-Setup

X-setup is an especially powerful program which I encourage you to explore. One word of caution. When choosing some options in X-Setup you may get a warning message that basically states that messing with these settings can hose your system. Pay attention to these warnings!

After you launch X-Setup, choose "Classic" under "start options"

Performance

Action: Speed Up Windows Explorer. *All Levels

Purpose: Performance

More Info

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Appearance > Explorer > Settings > Explorer Options > check box that says Enable fast update and apply changes. Be sure to uncheck the other 2 options if you do not want to use them.

Action: Stop Windows from looking for Scheduled Tasks when browsing network *All Levels

Purpose: Free system/network resources.

More Info

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Network > Explorer > Remote Computers Special Folders > uncheck "Show Scheduled Tasks" when viewing network computers. If you don't have a shared network printer then uncheck the other box too. Apply changes.

Action: Disable 8.3 Name Creation Levels 3 & 4 only

Purpose: Performance

More Info

All X-Setup Plug-ins > System > File System > Windows NT/2K/XP Options > Windows File System Options > uncheck Create 8+3 filenames (NTFS partitions only)

This tweak may cause errors with an occasional program including the installation (not the running of) Norton products.

From Microsoft: “When disable8dot3 is set to 0, every time you create a file with a long file name, NTFS creates a second file entry that has an 8.3 character-length file name. When NTFS creates files in a folder, it must look up the 8.3 character-length file names associated with the long file names.”

Action: Disable NTFS Time Stamp Levels 3 & 4 only

Purpose: Performance

More Info

All X-Setup Plug-ins > System > File System > Windows NT/2K/XP Options > Windows File System Options > uncheck Enable update of "Last Access" attribute.

From Microsoft: “Disabling the Last Access Time improves the speed of folder and file access...Note that using the disablelastaccess parameter can affect programs such as backup and Remote Storage that rely on this feature.”

More info for the above 2 tweaks - Optimizing NTFS Performance

Action: Disable Thumbnail Cache Levels 3 & 4 only

Purpose: Free up system resources.

More Info

This stops the creation of that annoying little Thumbs.db file. If you go into folders containing pics often you may not want to use this tweak.

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Appearance > Explorer > Settings > Thumbnails Enabled > uncheck Enable creating thumbnails and apply changes.

note - Using this tweak will slow the viewing of thumbnails a tad. The advantage is that the thumbnails will always reflect the current version of the pics and you won't have thumbs.db files all over your hard drives.

Action: Execute 16bit Applications In Separate Process *All Levels

Purpose: Stability

More Info

In X-Setup 6.6 - All X-Setup Plug-ins > System > Memory > Memory Settings > check Execute 16bit Applications Separated and apply changes.

In X-Setup 7 - All X-Setup Plug-ins > System > Memory > Seperate16bit Applications> check Execute 16bit Applications Separated and apply changes.

This IS NOT a performance tweak, in fact it is just the opposite (it uses more memory). The purpose of this tweak is to keep one crashing 16bit program from crashing all active 16bit programs.

Action: Automatically Restart Explorer After Crash *All Levels

Purpose: Stability, ability to save data.

More Info

All X-Setup Plug-ins > System > Crash Control > Crash Control Options #1 > check Automatically restart Explorer after crash and apply changes.

Action: Make Internet Explorer Behave Levels 3 & 4 only

Purpose: Free system/network resources.

More Info

In X-Setup 6.6 - All X-Setup Plug-ins > Internet > Internet Explorer > System > Advanced Options #1 > uncheck “Check for Updates on microsoft.com” and “Enable Error Reporting” and apply changes. (Don’t forget to run Windows Update!)

In X-Setup 7 - All X-Setup Plug-ins > Internet > Internet Explorer > Updates > IE Update & Install Options > uncheck “Check for Updates on microsoft.com” and apply changes. Then go to All X-Setup Plug-ins > Internet > Internet Explorer > Security > Internet Explorer Error Reporting > uncheck "Enable Error Reporting for Internet Explorer" and apply changes.

Action: Clear The Prefetch Folder Levels 3 & 4 only

Purpose: Performance, system maintenance.

More Info

Clearing the prefetch folder isn't something you should be doing very often. Prefetching is a great feature of XP. I've seen more than one "expert" opine that you should clear the prefetch folder "monthly" or "often".

Really? WHY??? Time is exactly what makes the prefetching feature more efficient.** The only reason to mess with the prefetch folder is after major changes to your machine. (see the Bad Tweaks section)

To clear the prefetch folder:

All X-Setup Plug-ins > System > File System > Windows XP Prefetching > Clear The Prefetch > hit the button Clear Prefetch Folder.

DO NOT mess with any other prefetch settings.

Security

Action: Keep Messenger From Running (Windows messenger, not MSN messenger) *All Levels

Purpose: Security

More Info

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Internet > Instant Messaging > Windows Messenger > System > Allow Run Options > uncheck both boxes and apply changes.

Appearance

Action: Change Windows Media Player Title *All Levels

Purpose: Fun!

More Info - See "purpose"!

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Internet > Windows Media Player > Window Title, change to whatever you desire.

Action: Show user and computer name on "My Computer" *All Levels

Purpose: Fun!

More Info - See "purpose"!

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Appearance > Desktop > Icons > 'My Computer' Options > Show USERNAME on 'My Computer' > check the box on the right of the screen and apply changes. Right click on desktop and choose Refresh to see changes.

Action: Activate/Deactivate Tool Tips Levels 3 & 4 only

Purpose: Free up system resources.

More Info

More infoAll X-Setup Plug-ins > Appearance > Desktop > Options > Explorer/Desktop ToolTip Options, uncheck the box (to deactivate) on the right of the screen and apply changes.

Action: Name/Rename your computer! Levels 2 , 3 , 4

Purpose: Fun!

More Info - See "purpose"!

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Appearance > OEM Branding > OEM General > name as you like and apply changes!

Action: Create a logon message *All Levels

Purpose: fun!

More Info - See "purpose"!

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Startup/Shutdown > Startup > Windows NT/2K/XP > Before Logon Window > Legal Notice > type what you want to appear, like "Death to all who enter" or whatever! Lots of great options in the Startup section!

Functionality and Other Good Stuff

Action: Make the “Find Files” Interface Cleaner and TURN THAT DAMN DOG OFF! Levels 3 & 4 only

Purpose: Free up system resources, User preference.

More Info

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Appearance > System > Find Files Dialog > Find Files Dialog Appearance, uncheck the box and apply changes. (Thanks to Theo for suggesting this tip)

Action: Print drive and folder contents Context menu *All Levels

Purpose: Administrative, informational.

More Info - Self-explanatory

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Appearance > Files&Folders > Folders Context menu > Print Contents Context Menu > check both boxes on the right and apply changes.

*"Please note: This command will only work if your printer is connected through the printer port (LPT1:), it will not work for USB or network printers."

My way around this is I created a special registry file (see "Creating Your Own Registry Files" section for more info):

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
; Add Print drive and folder contents Context menu.
; When you use "Print Contents" right-click option it will create a file
; called "contents.txt" in the same folder or drive
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Drive\shell\PrintHere]
@="Print Contents"
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Drive\shell\PrintHere\Command]
@="C:\\WINDOWS\\system32\\cmd.exe /c dir /a \"%1\" > contents.txt"
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\PrintHere]
@="Print Contents"
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell\PrintHere\Command]
@="C:\\WINDOWS\\system32\\cmd.exe /c dir /a \"%1\" > contents.txt"

Action: Add NTFS Encrypt/Decrypt Context menu *All Levels

Purpose: Fast access to operation.

More Info

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Appearance > Files&Folders > Folders Context menu > Encrypt/Decrypt Context menu > check box on right and apply changes.

Action: Show hidden devices in device manager *All Levels

Purpose: Information.

More Info

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Hardware > System Settings > Windows Phantom Devices > check the box on the right and apply changes.

Action: Disable Windows Key Level 4 only

Purpose: Some Gamers find the Windows key annoying.

More Info - If you are an avid gamer with fast fingers, you already know why you want it disabled!

All X-Setup Plug-ins > Hardware > Keyboard > Enable Windows Keys > uncheck button Enable Windows Keys.

Using PowerToys TweakUI

Performance

Action: Visual Tweaks that can help performance (and get rid of some annoying things!) *All Levels

Purpose: Free up system resources. User preference.

More Info

Click on General > uncheck everything EXCEPT "Optimize hard disk when idle" and click apply.

Functionality

Action: Change location of Special Folders

Purpose: Performance. Free up disk space. Store files on different drive/partition for data security.

More Info

TweakUI allows you to easily change the location of "Special Folders". These include:

The My Documents folder OR just parts of it. Favorites folder.

My Computer > Special Folders > in the section entitled Special Folders on the right, use the arrow to choose which folder you want to move. Click the Change location button and enter the new location. ***Be sure to move your files from the old folder to the new one. This method does not automatically do it for you.

Appearance

Action: Remove Shortcut arrows *All Levels

Purpose: Because those arrows suck!

More Info

Click on Explorer > Shortcut > check the NONE box on the right and apply.

Logon

Action: Automatic Logon Levels 2 , 3 , 4

Purpose: Faster boot.

More Info

This effectively bypasses having a logon password to start XP. Someone can sit down at your computer, use it, and access all resources (including network) in your name. I do not recommend this in 99% of situations.

Logon > Auto logon > check Logon automatically at system startup and click Apply.

Action: Remove Unread Mail from Welcome screen

Purpose: User preference.

More Info

Logon > Auto logon > uncheck Show unread mail on Welcome screen and click Apply.

Action: Remove users from Welcome screen

Purpose: Security. User preference.

More Info

This allows you to remove users including Administrator (or whatever you renamed the Administrator account to) from the normal Welcome screen. This does not apply to the Safe Mode welcome screen.

Logon (the main section) > uncheck the users you do not want to appear and click Apply.

**For those who want to argue about this. Do a search for windows xp, layout.ini, and prefetch. After studying the information you find I think you'll agree with my reasoning.

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Shashank Krishna
Bangalore, up, India
nothin much to say.........doin B.tech in IIIT allahabad loves bloggingn hacking.... :) and loooves blogging
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