Windows XP Registry Tweaks

Published Date
01 - May - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - May - 2006
Windows XP Registry Tweaks
Goofing off in this area can cause serious problems with your PC, so proceed with caution. We suggest turning on System Restore so that you can revert to the system state that existed before you did anything to the Registry.

Creating Program Aliases
Wouldn't you just love being able to start programs by just going to the Start > Run dialog and typing in the name? Here's how to do it:

1. Start the Registry Editor (Start > Run > "regedit")
2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionApp Paths and expand the tree-you'll find a lot of entries for different .exe files.
3. Right-click on App Paths and select New > Key and give it a name-MyProgram.exe, for example
4. Select this value, and in the right-hand pane, double-click on the "Default" value. Under Value Data, enter the path of the program- "c:windowsnotepad.exe", for example

Now, when you go to Start > Run and type "MyProgram", the program you selected will come up.

Disable the expanding "New" menu in IE
Here's how you can change the File > New menu in IE and replace it with File > New Window.
1. Start the Registry Editor (Start > Run > "regedit")
2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionPoliciesExplorer

Set the DWORD value to 1

3. In the right-hand pane, create a new DWORD (Right-click > New > DWORD Value) and call it "NoExpandedNewMenu"
4. Double-click on this DWORD and set the Value Data to 1

IE's new look!

Your Internet Explorer should now show you only New Window under the File menu. You can always revert this setting by setting the value of the DWORD to 0.

Configure the [Alt] [Tab] CoolSwitch
You can use the Registry to tweak the appearance of the CoolSwitch dialog that you see when you use [Alt] [Tab] to switch between applications.

1. Start the Registry Editor (Start > Run > "regedit")
2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl PanelDesktop
3. To enable or disable task switching altogether, modify the CoolSwitch value and set it to 1 or 0 respectively

Configuring the appearance of CoolSwitch

4. To alter the appearance of the CoolSwitch dialog, modify the values of CoolSwitchColumns and CoolSwitchRows

Block Registry Tools
Warning: This tip blocks the Registry editing tools for everyone-Administrator included-so only use this if you're extremely paranoid about someone altering your registry. You will need third-party registry editors to get yourself out of this one.

1. Start the Registry Editor (Start > Run > "regedit")
2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionPolicies System
3. In the right-hand pane, create a new DWORD value (Right-click > New > DWORD) and call it "DisableRegistryTools"
4. Double-click the DWORD and set the Value Data to 1
5. Restart Windows

Disable Registry Tools

Remember, only Microsoft's inbuilt Registry tools (yes, regedit included) are blocked by this tweak. To change this back to the way it was, use a third-party Registry editor to change the value back to 0.
Yahoo! Messenger

Be a Stalker-I
If you're worried that someone is avoiding you by either signing in as invisible or by changing their stealth setting so that they appear offline to you, here are three simple ways to check.

The first way is to use the Doodle IMVironment. Start an offline conversation with the contact and send them a dummy message. If they're actually online, this should open a conversation window on their machine.

Loading doodle This is what you will see for a really long time if the contact is offline

Now, select the Doodle IMVironment from IMVironments > See All IMVironments > Yahoo Tools. If your contact is really offline, you'll see "Waiting for your friend to load Doodle" for a really long time. If, however, your contact is online, the IMVironment should load in less than a minute and let you draw. Ta-da! Now you can satisfy your inner stalker once again.

For the Victims:
If you're being annoyed by someone who's using the above method, you could:
1. Add them to your ignore list, or
2. Disable IMVironments by going to Connection > Preferences and uncheck the "Enable IMVironments" box under Messages.

Be a Stalker-II and III
These methods are quite basic and may not necessarily always work.

Try to start a voice conversation with the contact. If the person is really offline, you will be asked to leave a voicemail after the ringing times out. If the person is invisible, all you'll get is a "No Answer" message.

Another way is to invite the person to a conference. If the contact is offline, you'll soon get an error message saying "Conference could not be started". If the contact is online, your conference room will just sit empty till your contact either explicitly declines your invitation or if they finally relent and accept.

Google Talk

Run Google Talk with multiple e-mail addresses at the same time

If you've got many Gmail accounts and don't want to keep logging on and off them every time you want to switch, a simple command line parameter in the Google Talk shortcut can solve your problem. First, create one copy of the Google Talk shortcut on your desktop-leave the original intact. Right-click on this shortcut and select Properties. The Target text box will show you the path of the EXE for Google Talk-something like "C:Program FilesGoogleGoogle Talkgoogletalk.exe"

The Google Talk shortcut Properties dialog

Change this to "C:Program FilesGoogleGoogle Talkgoogletalk.exe" /nomutex and click OK. You will now be able to run multiple instances of Google Talk with different identities for each.

Other Command line parameters for Google Talk
Just like you added the /nomutex parameter to the Google Talk shortcut, you can use the following parameters for other purposes:

/register: writes Google Talk's settings to the Windows Registry
/checkupdate: checks for new versions of Google Talk
/factoryreset: reverts to the original settings
/mailto sends an e-mail through Gmail
/diag: starts Google Talk in diagnostic mode

Google Talk Keyboard Shortcuts
Here are some quick shortcuts to use with
Google Talk:
[Ctrl] [E]-Centre-align text in the chat window
[Ctrl] [R]-Right-align text in the chat window
[Ctrl] [L]-Left-align text in the chat window
[Ctrl] [I] or [Tab]-Cycle through windows
[Ctrl] [Tab] or [Shift] [Tab]-Cycle through windows in reverse order
[Ctrl] [1]-Type single-spaced lines
[Ctrl] [2]-Type double-spaced lines
[Ctrl] [5]-Type 1.5-spaced lines
[Ctrl] [1] (Numeric Keypad)-Go to the end of the last line
[Ctrl] [7] (Numeric Keypad)-Go to the beginning of the first line
[Alt] [Esc]-Close all Google Talk windows
[F9]-Send an e-mail to the current contact
[F11]-Start a phone call with the current contact
[F12]-Cancel the phone call
[Esc]-Close the current window
Formatting text in Google Talk
Unnoticed by most, Google Talk lets you do a little basic formatting with your text. To type in bold, enclose the text within asterisks (*hi* = hi), and to type in italics, enclose the text within underscores (_hi_ = hi). You won't see the result while you're typing-only after you hit [Enter] to send the message.

MSN Messenger
Note: This will only work in MSN Messenger version 7.0.

Ever wanted to annoy someone to the brink of insanity? Nudgebomb them! Just set your status to Busy, and nudge away! MSN Messenger 7.0 allows you to send nudges as often as you want in this status. The Nudge button is located just above the Send button.

This has been rectified in version 7.5, so if you want to be a pain in someone's nether regions, don't upgrade.

A "Chat With Me" link on your Web site
With the coming of MSN Messenger 7.5, you can now put up links on your blog or personal Web site that will let people instantly add you to their Contact List or chat with you (as long as they're using Internet Explorer). All you need is a little HTML code.

To let people add you to their contact list, use this:
<a href="msnim:add?">Add me to your MSN Messenger contact list
To let people start a chat with you, use this:
<a href="msnim:chat?">Click here to chat with me
To start a voice chat, use this:
<a href="msnim:voice?">Start a Voice chat with me
To start a video conversation, use this:
<a href="msnim:video?">Start a Video chat with me
Depending on your knowledge of HTML, you can even use icons and images within the <a> tags.

Keyboard Tricks Using [Tab]
All the Unix commands and the contents of the current directory are known to BASH (the Bourne Again SHell), so you don't need to type all the characters of a command or path. Just type in the first few and hit [Tab]-this will auto- complete the command for you. If you hear a beep, it doesn't mean an error: there's just more than one option with the same starting characters. Press [Tab] again to see a list of all the commands that begin with the characters you keyed in. The same applies to auto-completing a filename or path.

Say you want to switch from /root to /usr/local/my stuff/videos. This is how you use [Tab] in this case:
$cd /us [Tab]
auto-completes as: /usr. Now continue without pressing [Enter]:
$cd /usr/loc [Tab]
This auto-completes as: /usr/local.
Now, $cd /usr/local/my [Tab] auto-completes as /usr/local/my stuff/ . Do not press [Enter] yet! We've deliberately included a space in the final folder name so as to demonstrate the importance or the usefulness of the [Tab] key when dealing with folder names containing spaces.
$cd /usr/local/my stuff/ [Tab]
As shown above, the space in a folder or file name is preceded with a backslash; it informs the shell of the space. Otherwise, the shell will consider it as two separate files, "my" and "stuff."
If "my stuff" only contains one folder-as in our case, "videos"-then [Tab] will complete the path even if you don't type in any characters, since it is the obvious choice. The desired path using the auto-complete technique will appear as $cd /usr/local/my stuff/videos

You can now press [Enter] to change to that directory. This technique can be applied to almost everything except with the "man" command.

Using [Ctrl] [R]
Commands are sometimes called over and over again, perhaps with minor changes. Retyping them again and again even with the advantage of the auto-complete feature using [Tab] can be frustrating, especially if the command including its parameters is long. It also tests your memory! For example, the "cdrecord" command is very long, considering all the parameters involved. This is where the history of commands stored by BASH comes in handy.

To recall a command without having to remember and retype, press [Ctrl] [R] and type the first few characters of the command. To see the various options you've used earlier with the command, press [Ctrl] [R] over and over again until you find the command combination you're looking for. Pressing [Enter] will result in the execution of the chosen command. If any changes are to be made to the command, then hit [Tab] instead-this will display the command as if you just entered it.

As an example, when you press [Ctrl] [R], the shell prompt changes to (reverse-i-search)`':

Key in the first few characters of your command, say, "tar -". When you do this, BASH displays a few commands you had entered earlier, as in
(reverse-i-search)`tar -': tar -jxvf MPlayer-1.0pre7.tar.bz2

If the displayed command is not the one you're looking for, hit [Ctrl] [R] again. It will display the next choice from the history of commands. Repeat this until it displays the one you are looking for. Say you're looking for "tar -C /usr/...". We shall repeat [Ctrl] [R] until we get:
(reverse-i-search)`tar -': tar -C /usr/more-apps/ -jxvf vlc-0.8.4a.tar.bz2
When the above line gets displayed, use [Tab] to bring it to the shell prompt, if any editing is to be made to the command; otherwise, hit [Enter] to directly execute the command.

If you dual-boot Linux and Windows, you're likely to mount the Windows partition every now and then. Although some of the new distributions provide the option of mounting Windows partitions at startup, you might still want to keep control to yourself.

To have good control over the mounting of a partition, you need to be aware of the device name of a partition, such as /dev/hda5 (a Windows FAT32 partition on our machine, also known as the E: drive) and a mount point for it (say /mnt/win/E). This is explained in the following.

To see the list of all the partitions on your hard disk, use the command "fdisk -l". Note down the device name of the your Windows drives; you need to mount these partitions to a predefined folder, called the "mount point." Create a folder called "win" under /mnt, and then create folders under "win" for the partitions you want to mount. We used the drive letters (C, D, and E) as the names for the mount points. When mounted, the Windows partitions would appear under /mnt/win/C, /mnt/win/D, and /mnt/win/E.

To mount your Windows D drive, say, you will have to issue the command mount /dev/hdaX /mnt/win/D where the "X" in "hdaX" stands for the partition number corresponding to the Windows D drive. You will have to repeat the command for all the partitions and at every boot. You'll soon find this a tedious task!

Simplify it: use just one command. Create shell scripts for mounting and un-mounting the partitions. Assuming you're using konsole or gnome-terminal, create a file using the vi editor as follows:

#vi win-mount [Enter]
This creates a file with the name "win-mount", but it isn't saved yet. Press [Insert] to switch to the text editing mode of vi. Enter the following commands one below the other in the vi editor:
mount /dev/hdb1 /mnt/win/C
mount /dev/hdb5 /mnt/win/D
mount /dev/hdb6 /mnt/win/E
Save the file by first hitting [Esc] to exit from the typing/editing mode, then key in ":" (a colon) followed with "wq", which means save and exit.
Create another file in the same fashion to un-mount the mounted partitions. Only the file name (use "vi win-umount") and the set of commands will undergo a few changes. The command will change to:
umount /mnt/win/C
umount /mnt/win/D
umount /mnt/win/E
Save and exit the file. The last step is to change this text file to a shell script. To achieve this, issue the following command:
#chmod 700 win-mount win-umount [Enter]
Both the text files will now have shell script permissions. Whenever you want to mount the Windows partitions, change to the directory containing the script and issue
#./win-mount [Enter]
To un-mount the partitions before shutdown or whenever you want to, change to the directory containing the script and issue:
#./win-umount [Enter]
It will be easier to use the scripts if they are located in the user's Home directory, since the konsole or the terminal opens in that location by default.
Taking A Screenshot On A Linux Machine
There is no fixed method of taking a screenshot in Linux. That means a method used to take a screenshot in Gnome is not applicable for KDE. Here, we look at the different methods of taking screenshots-the Gnome method, the KDE method and the Gimp method.

Gnome Method
It is very easy to take screenshots in the Gnome environment. Just press the [Print Screen] button; the "Save Screenshot" dialog box displaying a screen capture will pop up. This image can be saved only in the PNG format. By default, the save location is the current user's Desktop. You can choose to save it in the Home folder of the current

Taking a screenshot in a Gnome desktop environment is easier than in Windows.

user, or choose Other to save it to a specific location. Also, pressing [Alt] along with [Print Screen] will result in an image capture of the active window and not the whole screen.

KDE Method
Try using [Print Screen] key in KDE. You'll soon find that nothing happens. Well, KDE doesn't have this feature! You'll need to install a KDE package called kdegraphics3 if it's not already installed. Normally, the package is a part of all KDE desktops in most distributions-so all you need to do is verify that it exists. Open the Run Command dialog box, type in "ksnapshot" and hit [Enter]. If that fails to open the application, you need to download the package, else choose the Gnome or the Gimp method for taking a screenshot.

If Ksnapshot does open, it displays a preview of a screenshot. You can choose to take a New Screenshot, and perhaps choose a Capture Mode from amongst "Full Screen", "Window under Cursor", or "Region". You can even set a delay (in seconds) in order to be ready to select a region or a window before the capture is actually done. Unlike Gnome's screenshot method, Ksnapshot supports multiple image formats, so you can choose to save your screenshot as JPEG, PNG, BMP, etc. Another cool feature of this tool is that it can print a screen capture without having to save the image.

GIMP Method
This is perhaps the most "professional" method of taking a screenshot. For one, it works on any desktop environment, and secondly, a high level of image editing is possible in The GIMP.

To take a screenshot, open The GIMP and go to File > Acquire > Screen Shot. A dialog window pops up, displaying two options-"Grab," or the mode of capture (whether full-screen or single window) and "Grab Delay," or the time in seconds after which the capture will be acquired.
If Single Window is chosen as the Grab mode, two time delays can be set. The first time delay is for choosing which window you want to capture, and the second delay is for the capture itself. It is ideal to keep the former timer to a high value so you have ample time to select a window.

Take a screenshot in the GIMP and then edit it even before you save it

The capture thus taken appears under The GIMP for editing. You can take advantage of this advanced tool for editing or resizing the captured image.

Altering Mouse Settings In Fedora Core 4
You may want to speed up your mouse pointer acceleration or change a right-handed mouse to left-handed, or change the cursor theme. All the above can be done from Fedora's Control Center.

Assuming you're using KDE, click on the Hat button to open the K Menu. Locate Control Center and click on it. The Control Center dialog box opens, displaying most of your PC's device and OS settings. Choose Mouse by collapsing the Peripherals list. On choosing a device or an option from the tree on the left, the configuration of the selected device or option appears on the right. For the mouse, the configuration is split into four tabs: General, Cursor Themes, Advanced, and Mouse Navigation.

Left-handers can change the mouse settings in Fedora Core 4 to suit their style

To change the mouse to left-handed, choose Left-handed from Button order under the General tab. Under the Advanced tab, the first option allows you to increase the mouse pointer speed. Change the Pointer Acceleration from 2.2x to, say, 3.5x or more according to your preference. Other useful settings such as double-click speed (Double Click Interval) and the number of lines scrolled by the mouse wheel (Mouse wheel scrolls by: default 3 lines) can be altered from this tab.

The Mouse Navigation tab allows you to set the mouse pointer to respond to controls through the keys on the numeric keypad. Finer settings such as response time and acceleration can be adjusted on enabling this control.

Finally, if you don't like the pointer scheme, you can choose a different one from the Cursor Theme tab.

Moreover, you can install a new theme from your hard disk, or just paste the URL from where a theme can be applied. Click on the "Install New Theme..." button to do so.

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