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Windows 7 Tweaks: A Comprehensive Guide on Customizing, Increasing Performance, and Securing Microsoft Windows 7

ISBN: 978-0-470-63386-1
408 pages
March 2010
Windows 7 Tweaks: A Comprehensive Guide on Customizing, Increasing Performance, and Securing Microsoft Windows 7 (0470633867) cover image
The definitive guide to unlocking the hidden potential of the Windows 7 OS

Written by bestselling author and the creator of tweaks.com Steve Sinchak, this unique guide provides you with the ultimate collection of hidden gems that will enable you to get the most out of Windows 7. Packed with more than 400 pages of insider tips, the book delves beneath the surface to reveal little-known ways to tweak, modify, and customize Windows 7 so you can get every ounce of performance from your operating system.

Regardless of your experience with tweaking your system, you'll find fascinating and fun tips and tricks for getting under the hood of Windows 7 that will allow you to optimize its appearance, speed, usability, and security.

  • Bestselling author and creator of tweaks.com shows you how to tweak, modify, customize, and take complete control of the new Windows 7 operating system
  • Unlocks hidden gems for optimizing the appearance, speed, usability, and security of the Windows 7 OS
  • Shows you how to customize boot and login screens, supercharge your network and online speed, get rid of features that drive you nuts, fine tune your User Account Protection, and more

So roll up your sleeves and take off your gloves so you can take total control over your Windows 7 OS!

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Introduction xxiii

Part I Getting Started with Windows 7 1

Chapter 1 Selecting the Right Version 3

Version Comparison 3

Windows Anytime Upgrade 7

Summary 8

Chapter 2 Installing Windows 7 9

Install Media 9

32-Bit or 64-Bit? 9

Alternative Install Media 10

Full Install 13

Dual-Boot Windows XP 15

Configuring HDD and Installing XP 17

Installing Windows 7 18

Summary 19

Chapter 3 Safe Tweaking 21

Using System Restore 21

Creating Restore Points 22

Reverting to a Previous State 23

System Recovery Console 23

Accessing the System Recovery Console 24

Using the System Recovery Console Tools 25

Creating a Backup Image 25

Creating the Image 26

Restoring a System Image 27

Summary 28

Part II Customizing Windows 7 29

Chapter 4 Customizing the Startup 31

Customizing the Logon Screen 31

Changing User Pictures 32

Hiding Users on the Logon Screen 33

Clearing the Last User Logon 35

Changing the Logon Screen Screensaver 36

Displaying a Security Message 37

Enabling Num Lock by Default 38

Changing the Logon Screen Background 39

Summary 41

Chapter 5 Customizing User Navigation 43

Customizing the Start Menu 43

Customizing Navigation Shortcuts 44

Customizing the Frequently Run Programs List 46

Customizing the Program List and Search 51

Customizing the Taskbar 53

Pinning Applications 54

Modifying Icon Locations 55

Tweaking Jump Lists 55

Enable Classic Taskbar Look and Behavior 57

Customize Taskbar Icon Sizes 57

Tweaking Taskbar Preview Delay 58

Restore Classic Quick Launch Bar 59

Modifying the Taskbar Location 60

Customizing the Notification Area 60

Using Group Policy Editor to Customize the

Start Menu and Taskbar 62

Setting Policies with the Group Policy Editor 63

Start Menu and Taskbar Policies 64

Summary 69

Chapter 6 Personalizing the Desktop 71

Customizing the Desktop Icons 71

Removing All Icons from the Desktop 72

Customizing the Icon Drop Shadow Effect 72

Displaying Windows System and User Icons on the Desktop 73

Adjusting the Size of Desktop Icons 74

Renaming the Recycle Bin 75

Removing the Shortcut Arrow from Icons on the Desktop 76

Customizing the Icons 76

Customizing the Desktop 79

Automatically Rotate Your Wallpaper 79

Using Desktop Gadgets 80

Summary 86

Chapter 7 Customizing the Appearance of the Windows Interface 87

Working with Themes 87

Changing the Current Theme 88

Downloading More Themes 89

Making Your Own Theme 89

Automatic RSS Background Themes 95

Customizing Aero Glass 96

Tweaking the Color of Aero Glass 97

Changing the Aero Glass Borders 98

Disabling Animations 100

Disabling Aero Glass 101

Skinning Windows 7 101

Using Hacked Visual Styles 102

Changing the Look of Windows 7 Via WindowBlinds 103

Adding More Skins for WindowBlinds 104

Summary 105

Chapter 8 Fine-Tuning Windows Explorer 107

Customizing Windows Layout 107

Customizing Panes 108

Tweaking Search 110

Modifying File Associations 114

Changing the Default Launch App 114

Customizing the Context Menu 115

Removing Items from the Context Menu 116

Modifying the Send To Menu 117

Working with Libraries 118

Creating Your Own Libraries 118

Customizing Your Folders 119

Changing a Folder Icon and Picture 119

Changing the Template of a Folder 120

Customizing the Folder View 121

Applying Your Settings to All Folders 124

Working with Hidden Files 125

Showing Hidden Files 125

Revealing the Super Hidden Files 126

Summary 127

Chapter 9 Personalizing Internet Explorer 8 129

Customizing Search 129

Adding Popular Search Engines 130

Managing Your Configured Search Engines 131

Adding Custom Search Entries 131

Creating Registry Files to Import Sites to Search 132

Tweaking the Tabs 133

Tab Keyboard Shortcuts 133

Multitab Home Pages 134

Customizing Tabs 135

Fun with RSS 137

Subscribing to Feeds 137

Viewing Your IE-Subscribed RSS Feeds on Your Desktop 138

Customizing Feed Settings 139

Using Add-ons in Internet Explorer 140

Using ieSpell 140

Using RoboForm 141

Advanced Internet Explorer 8 Features 141

Using Accelerators 141

Using Web Slices 143

Summary 144

Chapter 10 Customizing Windows Media 145

Adjusting Your Audio Experience 145

Bass Boost 147

Virtual Surround 147

Room Correction 147

Loudness Equalization 149

Headphone Virtualization 149

Customizing Windows Media Player 12 149

Tweaking the UI 149

Sharing Your Library 151

Sharing Your Library over the Internet 153

Using Audio Effects 154

Customizing Media Center 157

Turning Your PC into a DVR 157

Summary 164

Part III Increasing Your System’s Performance 165

Chapter 11 Analyzing Your System 167

Monitoring Your System Hardware 167

Using the Resource Monitor 168

Using Performance Monitor to Get More System Stats 173

Using the Reliability Monitor 179

Using Event Viewer 180

Using Task Manager 183

Other Performance Monitoring Utilities 186

Benchmarking Your System 186

Windows Experience Index 187

Benchmarking with PCMark Vantage 189

Summary 191

Chapter 12 Speeding Up the System Boot 193

Working with the BIOS 193

Changing the Boot Order of Your Drives 194

Using Quick Boot Feature of the BIOS 196

Modifying the Operating System Boot 197

Windows Boot Manager 198

Disabling the System Boot Screen 200

Disabling Unneeded Hardware Devices 202

Removing Extra Fonts for Speed 204

Disabling Unneeded Services 207

Optimizing the Location of the Boot Files 222

Summary 226

Chapter 13 Making Your Computer Log On Faster 227

Speeding Up the Logon 228

Enabling Automatic Logon 228

Adjust the Startup Programs 229

Customizing Auto-Start Programs for Other Users 238

Other Time-Saving Tips 239

Assigning Alternative IP Addresses 239

Turning Off the Logon Sound 241

Summary 242

Chapter 14 Speeding Up Windows Explorer 243

Speeding Up File Browsing and Access 243

Disabling Legacy Filename Creation 244

Disabling the File Access Timestamp 247

Adjusting NTFS Memory Allocation 248

Speeding Up the User Interface 250

Fine-Tuning Performance Options 251

Adjusting Animations 251

Disabling Aero Glass for Faster Performance 255

Windows Classic Look for Maximum Performance 257

Adjusting Explorer’s Search 258

Adjusting Search Scope 258

Adjusting Windows Indexing Service 259

Using Windows Search without an Index 261

Summary 261

Chapter 15 Optimizing Core Windows Components 263

Windows Loves RAM 264

Adding RAM to Your Computer 264

Using a USB Storage Device to Add Memory 266

Tweaking the Paging File 268

Disabling the Paging File 269

Adjusting the Size of the Paging File 271

Changing the Location of the Paging File 273

Defragmenting Your Hard Drive 274

Using the Windows Defrag Utility 275

Using Third-Party Defrag Utilities 275

Adjusting Your Application Priorities 277

Using Task Manager to Adjust Priorities 278

Starting Applications with a User Set Priority 279

Summary 280

Chapter 16 Optimizing Your Network 281

Optimizing Your Web Browser 281

Speeding Up Internet Explorer 282

Speeding Up Firefox 283

Accelerating Your Downloads 285

Speeding Up Your Network Connection 288

Tweaking Auto Tuning 289

Disabling Unneeded Protocols 289

Summary 292

Part IV Securing Windows 293

Chapter 17 Windows Security 295

Actively Protecting Your Computer 296

Staying Up-to-Date 296

Updating Windows 7 297

Active Security Tips 299

Controlling Your Computer Accounts 301

Managing User Accounts 301

Tweaking User Account Control 307

Controlling User Account Control 307

Using File Encryption 312

Encrypting Your Files 312

Using BitLocker Drive Encryption 315

Summary 318

Chapter 18 Internet Security 319

Analyzing Your Security 319

Testing Internet Security 320

Watch the Action Center 321

Using a Firewall 323

Using the Windows 7 Firewall 323

Web Browser Security 327

Internet Explorer 8 327

Defending against Spyware and Malware 330

Using Windows Defender 331

Using Antivirus Software 333

Using avast! Antivirus Software 333

Summary 335

Chapter 19 Protecting Your Privacy 337

Internet Explorer Privacy 337

Removing Address Bar Suggestions 338

Clearing Temporary Internet Files, History, and Cookies 339

Adjusting Your Cookie Security Policy 341

Protecting Sensitive Online Data 343

Disabling AutoComplete 344

Clearing Temporary Internet Files Automatically 344

Running Internet Explorer 8 in Super Privacy Mode 345

Windows Interface Privacy 346

Clearing Frequently Run and Opened Files Lists

Including Jump Lists 347

Removing Specific Entries from Taskbar Jump Lists 348

Removing Temporary Files from Your Hard Drive 349

Removing Saved Passwords with Credential Manager 350

Setting File and Folder Permissions 352

Summary 354

Index 355

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Steve Sinchak has repeatedly been honored with Microsoft's MVP (Most Valuable Professional) award. He manages several Web sites geared toward computer enthusiasts, most notably tweaks.com and wingeek.com. Steve is the author of Hacking Windows Vista and Hacking Windows XP, both from Wiley.
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