Author Topic: Windows XP Useability Tweaks  (Read 1001 times)

Offline Chandler

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Windows XP Useability Tweaks
« on: Feb 18, 2006, 01:40 PM »
This tutorial will outline some little known useability tweaks that are possible on Windows XP.

#1 - Saving Icon Positions
If you don't like the "standard" arrangement of having all of your icons arranged along the left of the screen and spend time placing them where you want them only to have Windows move them, you may be interested in the following tweak.

1) Arrange your main icons are you want them.  The OEM wallpaper below has a space ideal for placing the icons.  Remove any icons that are temporary.

2) Download "layout" from Axcel216, following the instructions on that page.
3) Right click on My Computer or the Recycle Bin and choose Save Desktop Icon Layout.

Now, if your icons ever get messed up you can restore them by right-clicking on My Computer and choosing Restore Desktop Icon Layout.  The great thing about this (and the reason that I recommended leaving just your 'standard' icons in place) is that those icons will always be placed there, and any others will be left alone.

#2 - Make most of the taskbar
You may have a folder in which you store your current work.  I have quite an organised filing system which can be counter-productive because it means that my Semester 2 work is accessed through My Documents -> My Work -> University -> Year 3 -> Semester 2.  There is a neat solution.

1) Right click on any part of the Windows taskbar, go to Toolbars and then choose New Toolbar.
2) Browse to the folder that you want to use.
3) Now, you may find that Windows creates a toolbar with lots of icons.  You can make it even more functional.
4) Right click again on the taskbar and deselect Lock the taskbar
5) Drag the new toolbar you just created to the far right until just the title is visible.
6) Lock the taskbar again as in step 4.

You now have a menu through which you can access your documents easily.

#3 - More taskbar goodness
Do you find yourself hovering over the clock to get the date, only to be frustrated that the popup appears beneath the taskbar (long standing Windows XP bug)?

If you are running at a high resolution try this neat trick.
1) Right click on the taskbar, and deselect Lock the Taskbar
2) Drag the top edge of it upwards so that it's double height.
3) You now have a clock which also tells you the date and day of the week.

#4 - Automatic Login
As of Service Pack 1 you are required to have an account password if you want scheduled tasks to run.  If you are using a single-user machine at home logging in may be a minor inconvenience.  There is a way around it though.

1) Click on the Start button, and then go to Run
2) Type control userpasswords2 exactly as written
3) Untick the box labelled Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer
4) Enter you username and password when prompted.

« Last Edit: Feb 18, 2006, 01:50 PM by Chandler »