Make your own free website on Tripod.com
You are here --> [Complete Index of Tweaks. Entire listing of tweaks.]


Tweaking Windows
Author: Mike Ware
Website: [warebiz] :: "The Programmer's Domain" - http://warebiz.tripod.com/
Email: warebiz@yahoo.com
Copyright © 2002 Michael S. Ware



<-- Other article: What is the Registry? From a beginner's perspective.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
***************************************************************************************
    --> Change the Start Button Text [98, 2000, XP]
    --> Disable the Desktop [98, XP]
    --> Disable the Recycling Bin [98, ME, 2000, XP]
    --> Customize the Right Click Context of Start Menu [98, 2000, XP]
    --> Launch/Disable Programs when Windows Starts [All Versions]
    --> Remove/Change Shortcut Icon Arrow [All Versions]
    --> Show Cascading Control Panel Items [Me, 2000, XP]
    --> Automatically Hide Inactive Tray Icons [XP]
    --> Disable Balloon Tips [XP]
    --> Show/Hide Favorites on Start Menu [2000, XP]

***************************************************************************************
< br>
Change The Start Button Text

The file that needs to be changed is Windows Explorer, which is "Explorer.exe". Before running regedit, make a copy of the Explorer.exe file and keep it in a safe place such as c:\backUp just in case you run into some problems. The file Explorer.exe can be found in the Windows directory, usually c:\windows for 98/XP and c:\winnt for windows 2000. Make another copy of Explorer.exe and rename it Explorer1.exe. Be sure to keep Explorer1.exe in the Windows directory where the original Explorer.exe should still be located. Then open Explorer1.exe in your hex editor that you should have already downloaded and installed.

In your hex editor, you need to search down the entire file until you find a specific string named "Start". There are many strings named "Start" so you have to find the one that is used as the label for the start button. This is done by using the search function in your hex editor to find all of the strings that are equal to "S t a r t" which is "53 00 74 00 61 00 72 00 74" in hex values. There are many different "Start" strings so keep searching until you find the one located just before this text: "There was an internal error and one of the windows you were using has been closed.".

Once you have found the string and are sure it is correct, you may replace the characters with any characters you want. You have to place the characters exactly where the original characters were. Be sure to remember that you have to use exactly five characters. If you choose a word that is only three characters in length, you have to use spaces or some other character to fill in the remaining 2 characters.

After you edit the string, you need to save the modified "Explorer1.exe" and make sure it is placed in the windows directory with the original "Explorer.exe" file. "Explorer1.exe" and "Explorer.exe" should have the same file size but should have different modified dates. The next step is different depending on the OS you are running. Only use the step that is required for your OS version. Some versions involve using MSDOS. I walk you through the necessary commands if you are not familiar with DOS.

WIN 98 users:
Restart windows to DOS (or use a boot disk) and at the command prompt change to the Windows directory and rename "explorer.exe" to "explorer.old". Then copy the newly modified "explorer1.exe" to "explorer.exe". Do a directory listing and confirm that "explorer.exe" has the most recent modified date and time. Restart your computer and Windows should reload with new start button text. The following shows the commands needed (in correct order) in order to accomplish what you need to do in MSDOS.

Commands Line for Line in MSDOS
cd c:
ren explorer.exe explorer.old
copy explorer1.exe explorer.exe
dir
CTRL-ALT-DEL

WIN XP users / WIN 2000 users:
Open the Registry Editor "regedit.exe" in windows and find the key [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]. Open the key and edit the value of "Shell" to equal the filename of the new explorer "explorer1.exe" file. Refresh and exit your registry editor and restart Windows for the change to take effect. To reverse the change, modify the value of "Shell" and set it back to "explorer.exe".

If everything has gone smoothly, then you should have the new start button text displayed instead of the original "Start" text. If you did run into problems, just rename the files back to the original file "explorer.exe" or use the backup file you made.

Do you have a custom designed wallpaper covered up by twenty icons on your desktop? How about cleaning it up by removing every icon on the desktop, including My Computer and the Recycling Bin. Read on for more about disabling the desktop...

Disable the Desktop

When you disable the desktop, all icons will be removed from it including My Computer and the Recycling Bin. It will also block right click capability so therefore you will not be able to view the desktop's properties. The tweak is very easy to perform. Open the registry editor "regedit.exe" and find the following key:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies]

Under this key, there will definitely be a key named explorer. Click on the explorer key. Next, create a new DWORD value (by right clicking in the right pane and selecting DWORD value) and name it "NoDesktop", without the quotes. In order to enable the restriction and disable the desktop, you have to modify the value of "NoDesktop" to 1. To remove the restriction, modify the value to 0.

Restart Windows for the change to take effect.

My next tweak is one you should think about before using. Disabling the recycling bin means that if you delete something from your hard drive, it will automatically erase the data and you cannot retrieve it; it doesn't store it in the recycling bin. Read on for more about disabling the recycling bin...

Disable the Recycling Bin

The following tweak will disable the desktop. If you are the type of person who likes to peek in your recycling bin to restore files every other week, you shouldn't enable this tweak. If enabled, upon delete of a file, the file is completely removed from your computer; it dosen't get sent to the recycling bin. The files are nuked upon delete. Open the registry editor "regedit.exe" and open the following key:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\BitBucket]

Click on the BitBucket key, right click in the right pane, create a new DWORD value, and name it "NukeOnDelete" without the quotes. To enable the tweak, modify the value of "NukeOnDelete" to 1. Set the value of "NukeOnDelete" back to 0 if you wish to restrict the tweak.

Restart Windows for the change to take effect.

My next tweak shows you how to add progam shortcuts to the right click capability of the start button. Read on for more about tweaking the right click capability of the start button...

Customize the Right Click Context of Start Menu

Normally when you right click on the start button, you will see only these options (depending on the version of your OS): open, explore, open all users, explore all users. You can very easily add programs and shortcuts to the menu for easy access. I use this tweak because I would much rather right click on the start button and then select my destination (program) than to click on start, go to programs, then find your program, and so forth; plus, it's different. Open the registry editor "regedit.exe" and open the following key:

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Shell]

Right click on Shell and create a new Sub Key. Do this by right clicking on the shell key and selecting New > Key. Type in the name of the application (program) that you want to appear when you right click on the start button. For example, if you want to add a shortcut for Notepad, then call it Notepad. Next, right click on the key that you just created and create another key named Command. You must call it Command! Edit the value of Command in the right pane to the full path (shortcut) of the program you are adding. For example, to add Notepad, you would edit the value of Command to

c:\windows\notepad.exe

Press F5 to refresh and when you right click on the start button, you will find your newly added program. Click on the program to launch it. You can add however many programs you want. You may need to restart for your tweak to take effect.

My next tweak shows you how to keep programs from starting each time that windows starts. Read on for more about disabling/adding startup programs...

Launch/Disable Programs when Windows Starts

I'm sure you have noticed one time or another all those programs that automatically start when you start Windows. You probably don't even use 75% of them. All they do is sit in the system tray and take up valuable working memory. Well, now you can remove the programs you hardly ever use. You can also add programs that you would like to automatically start when Windows boots.

All Versions - Removing Programs
Open the Registry Editor "regedit.exe" and look for all of the following keys. You have to look for the shortcut of the program you want to remove and simply delete it. If you find the program you want to delete in one key, don't stop looking in other keys. Sometimes the shortcuts of programs are placed in many different keys.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run]
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce]
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServices]
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServicesOnce]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Run]

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run]
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce]
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServices]
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServicesOnce]
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Windows]


All Versions - Adding Programs
Open the Registry Editor "regedit.exe" and open the follwoing key:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run]

For each program you want to start automatically when Windows boots, create a new string value using a descriptive name, and set the value of the string to the full path (shortcut) of the program.

For example, to add Notepad, add a new entry called "Notepad" and enter the full path (shortcut):

"c:\windows\notepad.exe"

Restart Windows for the changes to take effect.

Read on for info on how to remove/add the shortcut arrow on icons...

Remove/Change Shortcut Icon Arrow

If you take a look at a shortcut icon, you will see a little white arrow at the bottom left corner, which indicates that it is a shortcut. The following is a simple tweak which will remove the short cut arrow. Open the registry editor "regedit.exe" and delete the string value IsShortCut from the following keys:

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Inkfile]
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\piffile]
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\InternetShortcut]

Restart Windows for the change to take effect.

My next tweak will show you how to show cascading control panel items in the start menu. Read on for more...

Show Cascading Control Panel Items

Normally when you click on start --> settings and then scroll to control panel, you only have the option of clicking on control panel and then exploring the items it contains in a different window. If you set this tweak, when you click on start --> settings --> control panel, the items in control panel will be cascaded so you can select the item you want without having to open a new window.

Me / 2000 / XP
Open the Registry Editor "regedit.exe" and open the key:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]

In the right pane, look for a string value name CascadeControlPanel. If it is there, change the value of it to "Yes" to set the tweak on, and "No" to set the tweak off. If CascadeControlPanel is not there, create a new string value name CascadeControlPanel, and the set the value of it to "Yes" to turn the tweak on, or "No" to turn the tweak off.

Restart Windows and the changes should take effect.

Read on for info on how to automatically hide inactice tray icons...

Automatically Hide Inactive Tray Icons

By default, the system tray rests at the bottom right of your Windows GUI beside the clock. It could lie to the right of the start button depending on your OS version. The icons you see there are actually programs that have been already started and loaded into Windows, so when you click on the program, it will load a lot quicker than if it wasn't pre-loaded during startup. Most of the programs in the tray you probably won't use very often, so you can hide the icons in the tray by setting this tweak. It won't take the programs out of the tray, it will only hide the icon, normally by creating an arrow beside the icons that once clicked on will expand and show all of the icons in the tray.

XP
Open the Registry Editor "regedit.exe" and open the following key:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer]

In the right pane, look for a DWORD value name EnableAutoTray. If you see it there, change the value of it to 1 to hide the inactive tray icons, and 0 to display the inactive icons. 1 turns the tweak on; 0 turns the tweak off. If you don't see EnableAutoTray in the right pane, then create a new DWORD value named EnableAutoTray and set it's value to 1 to turn the tweak on or 0 to turn the tweak off.

Restart Windows and the changes should take effect.

Read on for info on how to disable those annoying balloon tips...

Disable Balloon Tips

I'm sure you have noticed the annoying balloon tips inside the Windows GUI. For example, let your mouse rest idle over the start button for a few seconds and you should see "Click here to begin". For those of you who want to eliminate these pesky balloon tips, use this tweak. It my not eliminate all of the tips, but you will never see the majority of them ever again.

XP
Open the Registry Editor "regedit.exe" and open the following key:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer]

In the right pane, look for the DWORD value EnableBalloonTips. If it is there, change the value of it to 1 the turn the tweak on or 0 to turn the tweak off. If you don't see EnableBalloonTips, create a new DWORD value named EnableBalloonTips, and set the value of it to 1 to turn the tweak on or 0 to turn the tweak off.

Restart Windows and the changes should take effect.

Read on for info on how to show/hide the favorites folder on the start menu...

Show/Hide Favorites on Start Menu

The following tweak can accomplish two different tasks: show the favorites folder on the start menu or hide the favorites folder on the start menu.

2000 / XP
Open the Regsitry Editor "regedit.exe" and open the following key:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]

In the right pane, look for a DWORD value named StartMenuFavorites. If it is there, change the value of it to 1 to show favorites on the start menu or change the value of it to 0 to hide favorites on the start menu. If you don't see StartMenuFavorites in the right pane, then create a new DWORD called StartMenuFavorites and change the value of it to 1 to show favorites on the start menu or change it to 0 to hide favorites on the start menu.

Restart Windows and the changes should take effect.

You have reached the end of my tutorial on tweaking windows. If you have any questions about any parts in the tutorial, please contact me, and I'll be sure to get back with you. I haven't decided on whether I will be posting more tweaks and tricks concerning the Windows OS. I guess it will depend on visitor feedback. If you have a question about a tweak not listed in my tutorial, contact me and I'll see what I can do to help. For more tweaks, visit WinGuides.com. Thanks for visiting and be sure to check back for updates.

Back to Top