Windows XP

By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Nov - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Nov - 2005
Windows XP
When you add an account for certain users in Windows XP, their user names appear on the Welcome Screen. Sometimes a user needs to be added to a computer because they need access via a network to resources on the machine, but he or she will not be physically logging in to the computer.

In such cases, you can remove his or her name from the Welcome Screen, while keeping the user account.

To do this, open the Registry Editor, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsNTCurrentVersionWinlogonSpecialAccountsUserList
Right-click in the empty space in the right pane and create a new DWORD Value. Name this new value 'Username' and enter '0' as the data value.

If you want to enable this user again on the Welcome Screen, either double-click the 'Username' value and change the Value Data to '1', or delete the value.

Remove 'Logoff' From The Start Menu
You might want to remove the 'Logoff' button from the Start Menu if you never use it. This involves a registry tweak. Go to the Start Menu, click 'Run', and type in "regedit". This will take you to the Registry Editor.

(In all the tips that follow, we won't again mention how to start the Registry Editor.)Go to HKEY_CURRENT_ USERSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersion Policies Explorer. Right-click in the right pane and create a new DWORD value. Name this value 'StartMenuLogoff'. Give it a value of '1' and restart your computer. 'Logoff' will no longer be visible in the Start Menu.

Bypass The Recycle Bin When Deleting Files
Right-click on the Recycle Bin and choose 'Properties'. In the 'Global' tab, check the box that says "Do not move files to the Recycle Bin...." That's it. No more taking out the garbage!

Get Rid Of The Recycle Bin
XP offers you a very clean desktop. Clearing it up is fairly simple; however, there's one item that sticks out like a sore thumb on your otherwise clean desktop-the Recycle Bin. You cannot get rid of it by just deleting it or through any menu options. Deleting it from your desktop needs a Registry tweak.

In the Registry Editor, delete the following key: HKEY_ LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersion ExplorerDesktop NameSpace {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}
Restart your computer. The Recycle Bin will no longer be on your desktop.

Alternatively, instead of deleting the aforementioned key, you can change the value for {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E} to '1' HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerHideDesktopIconsNewStartPanel.
So after this, where does all your deleted stuff go? To the Recycle Bin, of course! You've just done away with the icon from your desktop. To delete something from the Recycle Bin, delete it from C:Recycled or C:Recycler (the name depends on the file system).

The 'Copy To...' And 'Move To...' Context Options
To add the 'Copy to...' and 'Move to...' context menu options, create the following Registry keys:
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTAllFilesystemObjectsshellexContextMenuHandlersCopy To
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTAllFilesystemObjectsshellexContextMenuHandlersMove To
For 'Copy To', set the value to "{C2FBB630-2971-11d1-A18C-00C04FD75D13}", and for 'Move To', set the value to "{C2FBB631-2971-11d1-A18C-00C04FD75D13}". Henceforth, when you right-click on a file or folder, above the 'Send To' option, you'll see the two new options-"Copy To Folder" and "Move To Folder".

Using this, you can copy or move files or directories to other folders.

Add The Administrator To The Welcome Screen
Open the Registry Editor and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersion WinlogonSpecialAccountsUserList. Here, create a new DWORD value.

Name the new value 'Administrator'. Double-click this new value and enter '1' as Value Data. The new user will be created on restart.

Get Rid Of Unwanted Items In "Open With..."
Ever wondered what help Internet Explorer could be when you want to watch a video file? But when you right-click any file, you're likely to see an option called 'Open With', which lists several available programs on your computer to open the file with. To clear up this list of unwanted items, or to remove useless associations like the one mentioned above, start the Registry Editor and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerFileExts
Under this, find the extension you wish to edit and click on the ' ' sign to locate the key that says "OpenWithList". In the right pane, you'll see a list with the programs in the list, like 'explorer.exe' or 'notepad.exe'. Simply select the option you want to discard and delete it.

If you inadvertently remove an entry that you would need, you needn't fret; when you right-click a file there will be an option in the "Open With" extension that will let you choose any program on your computer to open the file. Once used, the option will reappear in the list of associated programs.
Turn off Thumbs.db
Thumbs.db are files which are created in a folder with movies or pictures in them so you can view a piece of their content without actually opening them. In a nutshell, it is an option that allows you to have a thumbnail view of your files. This file makes sure you don't have to reload a thumbnail every time you browse a particular folder.

If you edit a lot of stuff on your machine, it could become a tad annoying to see them pop up in all your image and movie folders.

Step 1                      Step 2                        Step  3

Step 4                      Step 5 

Getting rid of this file is easy. Go to Start > Run, and type in "gpedit.msc". Click 'OK', and the Group Policy Editor will open. Go to User Configuration > Administrative Template > Windows Components > Windows Explorer. A rather long list will show up in the menu on the right. Double-click 'Turn off caching of thumbnail pictures'. Enabling this will do your job-no more Thumbs.db in your folders!

The above solution works for XP Pro users. Users with XP Home Edition will need to select Control Panel > Folder Options > View > Do Not Cache Thumbnails.

A point to note is that disabling thumbnail caching will slow down opening folders in thumbnail view.

Select The Theme And Colour Scheme For The Welcome Screen
With this tweak, you'll be able to modify which colour selection of the default theme shows up when your computer's startup screen is displayed.

Start the Registry Editor and navigate to HKEY_USERS .DEFAULTSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionThemeManager, and locate the key 'ColorName'. Change its value from 'NormalColor' to 'Metallic'. Exit the Registry Editor and restart your computer. Your new colour scheme will come into effect! Of course, to go back to the old colour scheme, just change 'Metallic' back to 'NormalColor'. 

Enable ClearType In The Welcome Screen
Microsoft ClearType technology greatly increases clarity of text on laptop LCD screens. By default, this feature does not start until after you log on. But with this tweak, you'll be able to make it start just as Windows loads, so it will be enabled on the Welcome screen.

Start the Registry Editor and go to HKEY_USERS .DEFAULTControl PanelDesktop. Locate the key 'FontSmoothingType' and change its value to '2'.

Get Rid Of The 'Go' Button
When you add the address bar to the taskbar, or even the one in Internet Explorer, you can turn off the 'Address' button by right-clicking on the bar and de-selecting 'Show Title'.

However, to get rid of the 'Go' button, you have to do the following: Start Internet Explorer, click Tools > Internet Options, and select the 'Advanced' tab. Scroll down the list of options until you find the 'Show Go Button in Address Bar' checkbox. De-select it and you're done.

Turn Off System Restore
XP includes the System Restore utility, which can help you roll your computer back to a pre-defined point in time, removing all changes made to the system since that point.

This can be an extremely useful feature for rescuing your PC from viruses or problems with faulty software, but it also eats up a large amount of disk space.

As the default setting, System Restore reserves a huge 12 per cent of each drive for itself. You can reduce this amount by cutting back on the number of restore points the utility sets for itself. You can also turn off the feature if you wish to.

To adjust the System Restore settings, right-click 'My Computer' and select 'Properties'. Choose the 'System Restore' tab.

To disable System Restore, simply check the 'Turn off system restore on all drives' box. Otherwise, highlight a drive and click 'Settings.'

Using the slider, you can set how much space on the drive System Restore will use for its restore points.

Decreasing this number will limit some of your flexibility in restoring your system should it be necessary, but reducing the amount down to about five per cent should still be safe enough for anyone with an 80 GB hard drive.

Click 'OK' when you're done. Remember to choose 5 per cent if you're unsure.

Delete Unwanted Screensavers
Windows XP comes bundled with a number of annoying and/or useless screensavers. There's no menu that helps delete them.

To delete these, go to C:WindowsSystem32dllcache. This is a hidden folder, so you'll need to type the name out in the address bar, or 'run' it from the Start Menu. Once there, delete the screensavers you want to discard. (If you have lots of files in this folder, you can locate screensavers by looking for .scr files.)

Note that deleting these files from the System32 folder does not help-they will reappear!

Bet You Didn't Know
Cleaning Out The Prefetch Folder
XP uses a system called 'prefetching' to organise and preload some of the data necessary for commonly-used applications and files.
A folder called 'Prefetch' is used to store the information XP needs to carry out this operation. After several months, the 'Prefetch' folder may become overloaded with references to files longer in use.
It's a good idea to manually empty the older files out of the 'Prefetch' folder every few months or so. To do this, go to 'C:Windows Prefetch' and delete all the .PF files that are older than a week or two.
Altering The Page File
Page files are one or more areas of your hard disks that XP reserves for virtual memory. Put simply, these reserved areas are used to contain data that may spill over from main memory.

Virtual memory is accessed by Windows just like physical memory, but is many times slower because of the much slower speed of hard drive data transfer as compared to RAM.

XP actually uses the page files continuously, regardless of the amount of free memory on your system, so optimising these files can have a positive effect on your computer's performance
To optimise the page file(s), the following are a few options you can consider:

The NTFS File System
The NTFS file system, introduced with first version of Windows NT, is a completely different file system from FAT. It provides for greatly increased security, file–by–file compression, quotas, and even encryption. It is the default file system for new installations of Windows XP, and if you're doing an upgrade from a previous version of Windows, you'll be asked if you want to convert your existing file systems to NTFS.

Page File Placement
Since page files require disk access to write and retrieve information, putting them on the same drive as the operating system can compromise the performance of both.

Since most systems contain only a single hard drive, this is not usually something that can be changed. But if your system has more than one hard disk, consider placing the page file on the non-OS disk and removing the one on the disk that has the OS.

To do this, right-click 'My Computer' and select 'Properties', then the 'Advanced' tab. In the 'Performance' section, click 'Settings', then select the 'Advanced' tab. In the 'Virtual Memory' section, click 'Change.' From here, you can choose individual drives and customise the size of the page files you wish to create.

Set Priorities For Individual Programs
If you regularly multitask while working with some applications requiring more memory than others to work effectively (for example, using Photoshop along with Word or other less demanding programs), you may consider setting custom priorities for applications that use more memory.

Priority is how the OS determines how to share processor time among applications. Most applications default to normal priority, so by setting your high-demand applications to a higher priority, you can increase its performance when multitasking.

To do this, load the program you wish to change the priority for, and press [Ctrl] [Alt] [Del] to bring up the Task Manager. Select the 'Applications' tab and highlight your program. Right-click the program and select 'Go to process.'

Now right-click on the highlighted process, and choose 'Set priority'. The higher you set the priority above normal, the more CPU time the program will steal from other applications when you're multitasking.

The Page File Size
By default, page files are created with a starting size and a maximum size. These values allow Windows to resize the paging file as the system's need grows. It is more efficient to set an identical starting and max value so resources are not wasted by resizing a file.

To do this, choose 'Custom Size' for each page file, and set the initial and maximum sizes as identical.

As for what size to set them at, the best bet is to leave them at or slightly below the default 'Maximum' setting the system assigned, with a ceiling of 1 GB. This will be the amount of space reserved for the file, regardless of its current size. If you're creating multiple page files, split the amount between them.

Clean Up Unwanted Startup Programs
Several programs run automatically when you turn on your system, and the number of such programs grows as you keep using your computer.

This leads to a gradual reduction in startup speed. Also, having programs that you only use selectively-or not at all-load automatically is a waste of resources.

To top it all, spyware, viruses and Trojans install themselves into the automatic start locations to ensure they run at startup.

To prevent the slowing down of your machine, you must take a look at the software that loads every time you start your PC, and disable what you don't need or can't identify.

The process is simple. Go to Start Menu > Programs > Startup. This is the directory XP uses to launch application shortcuts on bootup. If you remove the shortcuts from this directory, the apps will not load on startup.

This directory can also be a repository for spyware and viruses, so if there are files here that are not shortcuts and you don't recognise them, you should consider removing them, as Windows will not place critical files in this directory.

The other way to remove unnecessary startup files is via the handy 'msconfig' utility. To use it, go to Start > Run and type in "msconfig". The 'Startup' tab in msconfig provides access to several other applications that start up at bootup and run in the background. By examining their filenames and directories, you should be able to get a feel of what is necessary and what is not.

Another method for removing programs from startup is through the programs themselves; many applications, such as MSN Messenger, offer the option of not starting at bootup.

Disable The Disk Performance Counter
XP contains an inbuilt performance monitor that examines various areas of your system. This information can be called up using the performance monitor application, found in Control Panel > Administrative Tools. Most of us have little interest in this sort of performance statistics monitoring, that being more the territory of system administrators.

XP, however, is still monitoring away, and some of its observation tools use a considerable amount of resources. Disk monitoring is an example of this, and it's a good idea to turn the disk monitors off if you are not planning on using the performance monitor app.

To disable the performance counter, go to Start > Run, type in "cmd", and type in "diskperf -N". This does away with the unnecessary monitoring that eats up valuable resources. To turn it back on, all you need to do is go back to the command prompt and type in "diskperf -Y".

Check And Set DMA Mode
XP occasionally sets IDE hard drives and CD drives to the PIO transfer mode by default, which is slower than the standard DMA (Direct Memory Access) mode used by modern drives. To make sure your machine has not been slowed down, it makes sense to check your drive settings.

To check your drives, right-click 'My Computer' and select 'Properties', then 'Hardware' and then 'Device Manager'. Expand 'IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers'. Highlight 'Primary IDE channel' and click 'Properties'.

Go to the 'Advanced Settings' tab, and ensure the transfer mode is set to 'DMA if available'. Repeat these steps for the secondary IDE channel.

Mount A Hard Disk As A Folder In The C: Drive
This tip works for any partition of any NTFS formatted drive except the partition with the Windows system files on it.

Windows XP, like Windows 2000 before it, allows you to 'mount' drives as folders in a pre-existing logical drive. So if your computer has a 20 GB disk formatted as a single partition and volume (drive C:), you could purchase a second drive, partition and format it through the Disk Manager, and then instead of giving it its own drive letter, add it to your C: drive as a directory.

Any files added to that directory would, of course, be stored on the new disk.

This can come in handy-certain applications such as databases are extremely large, but may not support storing data on a logically separate drive.

As far as Windows is concerned, a drive mounted as a directory is just a directory. This can also cut down on storage confusion and it's easy to do, though it can only be done with NTFS-formatted partitions.

Also, obviously, the boot partition cannot be used this way, although other partitions can be added to the boot partition.

If you have installed software on a partition you plan to mount as a directory, it is best to uninstall and reinstall it, since the move may stop the software from working correctly. Windows will warn you about this.
To mount a partition as a directory, go to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Storage >
Disk Management. Then right-click on the partition you wish to mount as a directory in the lower pane of the graphical partition window.

Select 'Change drive
letter and paths…' Remove the current option (if any), then click 'Add'. Choose 'Mount in the following empty NTFS folder', browse to the desired volume, and add a directory for your drive. Click 'OK'.

If you wish to return things to the way they were, simply repeat the procedure, removing the directory location and choosing a drive letter instead. The data on the drive will be unharmed.
Running Older Software On XP
XP can be set to mimic various OS environments for a program. If you have a program that simply refuses to work on XP, give this a try: after installing the application, right-click on the exe file or on the shortcut to it, and select 'Properties.' Choose the 'Compatibility' tab. The first section in this window, 'Compatibility mode', covers mimicking various OS environments to try and make your application more comfortable.

You can also set the program to run in 256 colours and/or 640 x 480 resolution, which many older software titles require.

'No To All' When Copying Files
Have you noticed that XP gives you the 'Yes to all' option in its file copy dialog box, which is useful if you would like to overwrite files in a directory with newer files of the same name from another location, but fails to offer a 'No to all' option for doing the opposite? Annoying, if you think about it.

What if you have a lengthy file copy operation partially finished, and wish to restart it? If you use the default options, you essentially have to recopy every file, since saying 'No' to every duplicate file will take just as long.

Fortunately, there's a way to tell XP not to copy all duplicated files, with a single command.

To do this, when the file copy dialog box appears asking you whether you wish to overwrite the first file, hold down [Shift] and click 'No'. This
will automatically answer 'No' for all the files that follow!

Note, however, that XP will ask you again for the first new folder it encounters. Follow the same procedure to answer 'No' automatically for all the folders.

Create A Link To Shut Down Your PC
To create a useful link desktop link to shut down or restart your PC, right-click on an empty area of your desktop, and select New > Shortcut to open the 'New Shortcut' wizard.

When prompted for the location of the shortcut, enter "shutdown -s -t 01" to shut down the system, or "shutdown -r -t 01" to restart the system. Name the shortcut and give it an appropriate icon from the '%SystemRoot%system32SHELL32.dll' location.

Add Items To 'Send To'
First enable the viewing of hidden files and folders. XP, like previous versions of Windows, has a handy 'Send to' option in the menu that appears when you right-click an icon in Windows Explorer.

By default, this contains only a few options, none of which are particularly useful except for creating shortcuts.

However, you can easily add your own destinations to the 'Send to' menu. Very useful if you have a folder you use for backing up files, for example, and you want to periodically move different files or folders to
a location.

To add items to the 'Send to' command, navigate to 'C:Documents and SettingsUsernameSend to'.

Any shortcuts to folders or applications placed in this folder will appear in the 'Send to' option when you right-click an icon.

Block Incoming Attacks Without A Firewall
Limit your exposure to attacks from the cyber world by blocking incoming connections. Go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Network Connections. Right click on 'Local Area Network' and go to 'Properties'.
In the scroll box, click on 'Internet Protocol (IP/TCP)' and then click 'Properties'; in the new window, click 'Advanced'.

Then in the other new window go to the 'Options' tab, click on 'TCP/IP Filtering' and hit 'Properties'. Uncheck 'Enable TCP/IP filtering (all adapters)'.

Next, in the above 'TCP Ports', check the radio button that reads 'Permit Only', and then add in the ports you want people to be able to access.

This way, you close the ports you don't need.  An alternative to this tweak could be running a firewall or enabling Windows' inbuilt firewall. 

A point to note is that in order for other computers to connect to you, like using Windows Messenger to send a file, you'll have to make sure the required port is not blocked on your system.

Completely Remove Index.dat
Index.dat files store all the information regarding your surfing habits and are impossible to delete using normal deletion methods. Even deleting your cookies and the history file retains these index.dat files.

To delete them, you'll need to first reboot your computer. Go to the advanced booting options by pressing [F8] or [F5]. You'd now need to choose 'Safe mode with command prompt'; log in as Administrator and then delete these files.

You delete them by going to the root and typing in "del index.dat /s". This will delete all the 'index.dat' files on your computer.

Convert FAT32 Partitions To NTFS
To change from a FAT 32 to NTFS file system for more stability, security and less fragmentation, open the command prompt and type in "convert C: /FS:NTFS", with C being the drive you wish to convert. Make sure there's a space between the "C:" and the foward slash. Once you press [Enter], it will ask you for a confirmation; press [Y]. Then press [Y] and [Enter] once more to reboot.  This works for all versions of Windows XP.

Decrease System Loading Time By Changing Your Network Settings
When you start up your computer while you are connected to a LAN, and your computer is set to DHCP, it has to search for the DHCP server and then request an IP address and all other configurations.

This process takes some time and slows down the time it takes to boot the computer up. Following the directions below will help your set a static IP address.

Even if your ISP asks you to use DHCP this tweak may still work for you. Go to Start > Run, type in "cmd" and click OK.

At the DOS prompt, type in "ipconfig". This will show you the current IP addresses that your NIC and PPPoE adapters have. Take note of your Ethernet Card Adapter, not the PPP adapter.

Next, right-click on My Network Places and select 'Propertie's from the drop- down menu. This will open up the Network Connections window. Here, locate your Local Area Network connection and right click it, select 'Properties' from the drop down menu. In the next window, select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and click on 'Properties' at the bottom. In the next window, and click on 'Use the following IP Address'. 

This is where that DOS window comes in handy. Copy the same exact IP address from your Ethernet card (in the DOS window) and place it where it says 'IP Address'.

The same goes for the Subnet Mask and Default Gateway. If your Default Gateway is blank, then just leave it blank. In the DOS window, type in "exit",then hit [Enter] and reboot your system.
Doing Away With Remote Registry Editing
Windows XP lets remote registry editing by running a service for it. Below we give you a step-by-step method to disable this security hole:

Step 1

 Go to your Control Panel and click on 'Performance and Maintainence'.

Step 2

Select Administrative Tools > Services

Step 3

 On the right panel, find the service called "Remote Registry".

Step 4

 Right-click on it and select Properties.

Step 5

 In the 'Startup Type' option box, select 'Disable'.

Speed Up Menu Display
When using the Start Menu, you'll notice a delay between different tiers of the menu hierarchy. 

You can make the different tiers appear instantly: start the registry editor. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER Control PanelDesktop, and select 'MenuShowDelay' from the list on the right. Right-click on it and select 'Modify'.

Change the value to something lower. Note that a setting of '0' is virtually instantaneous, and you might find it difficult to use the Start Menu! So experiment with other settings and sette on a value you're comfortable with. Once you're done, reboot your computer.

Contiguous File Allocation Size
This setting optimises the contiguous file allocation size for the file system, and can be especially useful for disk-intensive applications such as image manipulation, video editing and 3D graphics rendering.
Open up the Registry Editor and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE SystemCurrentControlSetControlFileSystem. Create a DWORD value called 'ConfigFileAllocSize' and set the value to 200 in hexadecimal.

Faster Startup
And at last, a tweak that'll help your PC start up faster. Go to Start > Run, and type in "msconfig". In the Startup tab, click 'Disable All', and in the 'Services' tab, check the 'Hide All Microsoft Service' box and then click 'Disable All'. Restart, and XP will restart with only the system services and applications running.

This tweak will disable all non-system startup services and applications so if you have anything you want to run in the background, such as anti-virus software, do not disable that item.

Bet You Didn't Know
Fun Toys For XP
PowerToys are additional programs that developers work on after the product has been released to manufacturing, but before the next project has begun. These toys add fun and functionality to the Windows XP experience.

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