Tweaking Vista - a bit more challenging than before
By Jay Dougherty Aug 17, 2007, 7:10 GMT
Washington - It's difficult to call a new operating system your own until you've customised it to your liking.
Making small changes in how an operating system looks and works is commonly referred to as 'tweaking,' and tweaking Windows Vista can be a bit more challenging than with previous versions of Windows.
In part, that's because the way you customise Vista has changed a lot - and some of the tools that you might have used to tweak Vista's predecessors aren't supported under the new operating system.
But never fear. With the right know-how, you can still make Vista look and work the way you need it to.
--- Tweak UI for Vista
Microsoft's popular Tweak UI - which allowed users to customise the XP interface in ways that otherwise were not possible without delving deeply into the intimidating registry editor - is not designed to run under Windows Vista. What's worse is that Microsoft has not released an updated version that works under Vista - and so far has not announced plans to do so.
The good news is that another company, TotalIdea, has come to the rescue with the Vista-ready Tweak VI (http://www.totalidea.com/content/tweakvi/tweakvi-index.html), an advanced customisation tool that does everything Tweak UI did and more. While there are paid versions of Tweak VI, the slimmed-down free version does everything that most people want - including getting rid of the annoying balloon pop-up reminders in the taskbar, relocating the default document folder, controlling animation effects of the interface, bringing back the underlines in menus, and much more. Spend some time with Tweak VI, and you'll have a head start on making Vista work the way you want it to.
--- WinKey under Vista
XP users who wanted to increase their productivity by making keyboard shortcuts using the Windows Logo key probably grew to rely upon the free WinKey utility (http://www.softpedia.com/progDownload/WinKey-Download-887.html). WinKey is no longer being developed, unfortunately, which means that a Vista-enabled version is not in the future.
You can still use WinKey under Vista, but you'll have to run the installation program in 'compatibility mode.' To do so, right-click the WinKey installation file from within Vista and select Properties from the pop-up menu. In the resulting Properties dialog box, click the Compatibility tab, and select the check box labelled 'Run this program in compatibility mode for,' and make sure Windows XP (Service Pack 2) is selected in the Compatibility mode drop-down list box. Click Apply, and then OK.
Now double-click the WinKey installation file, and proceed to install the program as under Windows XP. Once installed, the program will largely work as it did under XP, with some exceptions. Notably, you will not be able to use Windows Key plus a number for a keyboard shortcut because Vista's QuickLaunch feature automatically maps the shortcuts you place on it to Windows Key + N, where 'n' is a number key from 1 to 0. If you disable the QuickLaunch area by right- clicking a blank spot on the taskbar and removing the check mark in the 'Show Quick Launch' box, you can use WinKey to assign shortcut keys to those numbers as before.
--- Change your desktop
Your Vista desktop isn't really yours until you change the background, the colour of window elements, transparency, and the screen saver. Vista gives you more ways to customise your desktop than any other Windows operating system before it - and generally customisations are easier than ever before.
Start by right-clicking the Vista desktop and selecting Personalise from the resulting pop-up menu. Work your way down the personalisation menu, altering colour and appearance, background, screen saver, and theme to taste.
--- Get more gadgets
Gadgets are a prominent new feature of Windows Vista. These small, task-oriented applets that line the right side of the Vista screen are designed to keep frequently updated news and information within easy reach at all times. Consequently, you'll find gadgets such as news tickers, Internet-linked weather updates, a clock, and a notepad on your Vista screen by default.
But personalising Vista is all about choosing the gadgets that best suit your needs and your style of working. That might mean looking beyond the limited number of gadgets supplied with the version of Vista you received. Microsoft maintains a constantly growing repository of gadgets for Vista at the Vista Sidebar site (http://vista.gallery.microsoft.com/vista/SideBar.aspx). There you'll find gadgets that are both fun and useful, including an eBay ticker, several media players and weather bugs, search tools, and games.
There are dozens of ways you can customise Vista, with new choices at every turn. Use the tips here to tackle the task of customising the operating system, and you'll be well on your way to having a Vista that you can enjoy.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur