A worthwhile free utlity from Microsoft called TweakUI provides an interface that is easy to use and allows many useful system tweaks. The utility is part of a suite from Microsoft called PowerToys. The figure below shows some of the types of tweaks that are available. The settings that are available on TweakUI are explained in the interface.
Group Policy Editor
Windows XP Professional comes with a management console called the Group Policy Editor (GPE). Like many other management consoles, the GPE is not listed in Start-All Programs. To open it, go to Start-Run and enter "gpedit.msc" (without quotes). The figure below shows the GPE window. "
I have discussed the use of the GPE to make Registry changes with policy settings on the Computer Education site.
Registry (.reg) Files
Here is another way that the average PC user can easily carry out Registry edits without ever having to actually face the fearsome beast. Many useful configuration settings have already been done for you and made into little files with extension REG. Doing a Registry edit only involves right-clicking on the file and choosing "Merge" from the context menu that opens. There are numerous sources of REG files on the Web. I have discussed a number of them on this page. The ultimate site for REG files may be Kelly's Korner.
Files with the extension INF can also be used to edit the Registry. They are much less common than REG files although I personally prefer them. I have discussed the details of using INF files in this article. I have also written some very simple INF files for carrying out useful Registry edits. Some examples are listed below and can be downloaded by clicking the links. The files are zipped. Download and unzip them anywhere convenient. Then right-click and choose "Install" from the right-click context menu. Note that the Registry change occurs silently. You may have to log off and log back on to see the results of the edit. The usual disclaimer holds: they are provided as is with no guarantees, The user is reponsible for the results of applying them.
- Make file extensions visible
- Hide file extensions
- Show "hidden" files
- Hide "hidden" files
- Clear "My Recent Documents" on exit
Scripts written in VBScript with extension VBS are another common source of edits for the Registry. Many examples are available on the Web. Kelly's Korner has many VBScripts as well as REG filesSpeed Up Your PC: Scan & Fix your Registry automatically in 3 Mins.