Get Vista?EUR(TM)s Productivity Features In XP

By Rossi Fernandes Published Date
01 - Feb - 2008
| Last Updated
01 - Feb - 2008
Get Vista’s Productivity Features In XP

Get the six-year-old XP up to Vista speed with a few nifty additions!

It’s quite probable that you don’t want to move to Vista right now, and that you still have an urge to try some of its features. The whole Vista thing being called the biggest tech failure of 2007 isn’t encouraging, either. However, there is hope in the form of standalone add-on programs for XP that can give you close to the entire Vista experience.

Note: A lot of these programs are in development phase, and some of them might modify system files—so proceed with caution.

Step 1. Using A Sidebar

Sidebars may have existed since the early days when details of Vista were being leaked onto the Web. Sidebars are a great way to have instant access to information such as weather, RSS feeds, and mail all the same time on your Desktop. If you want a sidebar today, you have several good ones to choose from. The most famous has to be Google Desktop (http://desktop. You can download it or free. Once installed, right-click on the icon in the system tray and make sure you set it as a sidebar. Click the sign at the top of the sidebar to add gadgets to it. You can shift them all about the sidebar by dragging and dropping.

Another software that can used to install a sidebar is Desktop Sidebar ( Desktop sidebar, too, is powerful, but not as attractive or Vista-like looking as Google Desktop. You can always download skins for it, though.

Step 2. File Indexing And Searching

Google Desktop is more than just a sidebar—it is also an indexing tool. These can scan your drive for documents and other files, and locating files becomes much faster than if you were to use the default Windows search. To look for files in Google, press [Ctrl] twice, and a search window will appear. The text field in the sidebar can also be used.

Another well-known indexing tool is Copernic Desktop Search 2 ( Like the Google Desktop indexing feature, you can use Copernic Desktop Search to look for files and e-mails. Because the initial indexing is a slow process, it’s a good idea to force the indexing process in Copernic Desktop Search whenever you aren’t going to be using the computer. Go to Tools > Options > Indexing & Performance. Uncheck two boxes: Suspend indexing while I use my computer, and Suspend indexing while computer resources are highly used.

Step 3. Taskbar Visual Tips

Visual tooltips are small visual previews of windows; they appear when you move your mouse pointer over an item in the taskbar. You can get Visual Tooltip from visual-tooltip/. Unzip the file and run VisualToolTip.exe. Now move the mouse pointer over the taskbar and you’ll be able to see previews of programs. You can modify the size of each preview by right-clicking on the system tray icon and then selecting Options. Click the Thumbnail tab. Any other changes to the look of the tooltips can be done by clicking on the Display tab.

Step 4. Getting The Vista Look

XP themes have been around for quite a while, and designers have been working on themes that look a lot like Vista. For custom themes to work on Windows XP, you first need to patch the UXTHEME.DLL file. If you’d like, you can download an automated patcher from UXTheme-MultiPatcher-Download-2369.html. Run the patcher and Cancel any warnings about Windows files being replaced. Reboot, and you’ll be able to use custom themes. Copy the theme files you download into C:\Windows\Resources\Themes. Double-click the .theme file to preview the theme. In the Display properties window, click on Apply to apply the theme. Sites like and have loads of themes—and quite a few that mimic Vista’s default theme.

Step 5. The Vista Start Menu

This is a little different from the one in XP: it has a search bar. Vista Start Menu Emulator (http://vseproject. is a little application that brings Vista’s Start Menu to XP. If you have a good Vista theme installed, this Start Menu replacement will work as a great combination.

A very good alternative to Vista Start Menu Emulator is called ViStart (

Step 6. Flipping Windows!

Top Desk ( is a neat little utility that allows you to get the effect Vista gives you when you multitask between applications. After you install Top Desk, pressing [Windows Key] [Tab] will show you a visual list of all running applications. You can keep pressing the key combo (or use the arrow keys) to switch between applications.

Step 7. Performance Boost

ReadyBoost is one of Vista’s performance boosting features. ReadyBoost works by using a USB Flash drive as additional memory.
For ReadyBoost, you can find a commercial software called eBoostr ( Once you have the program installed, reboot the computer. Start the program, and you can now add a Flash drive that you want it to use. Enter the size of the cache file you want to use.

Step 8. Windows Media Player 11

Every major Windows release is highlighted by the release of a new Windows Media Player. Vista came out with Windows Media Player 11, but Microsoft also has it out for XP. It is available for free download from

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