• Make disk images, restore points, and backups of files and registry keys to repair your system if you fuck things up.
  • Bitmaps: Icon preview of bitmaps  
By default, explorer shows icon previews of Icons (.ICO files), Cursors (.CUR files), and Animated Cursors (.ANI files).

To show icon previews of Bitmaps as well:

1) Open regedit and go to HKCR\PAINT.PICTURE\DefaultIcon
2) Set Default to "%1" (including the quote marks)

If BMP files are no longer associated with MSPaint, you'll have to replace PAINT.PICTURE above with whatever is associated with the BMP extension.

If you've accidentally disabled it, the same process will work for ICO files.

To turn off icon preview of bitmaps:

1) Click Tools > Folder Options > File Types from any folder (or enter the Folder Options screen from the Control Panel)
2) Find the bitmap file type in the list
3) Click Edit > click Change Icon
4) Pick an icon

  • Boot: Remove DELL/Compaq/Sony/etc. startup logo  
Enter Bios setup, enable boot diagnostics.
Logo is replaced by ram count, disk drive description, and bios information.
May make your system speaker beep at startup.

  • Context (right-click) menu: Customise  
Context menu entries for file types can be set from the File Types tab in the Folder Options tab.

1) From any folder, click Tools > Folder Options > File Types (or click Folder Options in the Control Panel)
2) Pick desired file type, click Advanced, and add or remove items

  • Context (right-click) menu: List of programs on 'open with' with menu  
List of programs on the right-click 'open with' menu instead of the web services dialog:

Open regedit and delete HKLM\SOFTWARE\Classes\*\Shell\openas

  • Context (right-click) menu: Rearrange  
To change the order of standard entries in the context menu (cut, copy, delete, etc.):

  • Desktop: Animated gif as wallpaper  
Copy/paste this into a text file and save as [pick a name].html

<html><body background="your_animated.gif">

(replace "your_animated.gif" with your own picture, no need to enter the full path as long as you keep the gif and html files in the same folder)

Go to Control Panel/Display/Desktop, click "Customize Desktop," click the "Web" tab, and add your html file to the list.
This displays your html file with the animated gif in a box on the desktop. Drag the edges or click the square in the top right corner to make it cover your entire screen.


  • Desktop: Disable balloon tips  
1) Open regedit and go to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
2) Make a DWORD called EnableBalloonTips and set to 0

To enable balloon tips: delete EnableBalloonTips or set to 1

  • Desktop: Transparent background on desktop icon labels  
1) Open the "System" control panel
2) Click "Properties" > "Advanced" > "Performance" > "Settings"
3) Select "Use drop shadows for icon labels"


  • Drives: Custom icons for drives and partitions  
It's easy to change the icon of a folder or shortcut from the properties tab, but you can't change a drive icon from the properties tab.

This vbs script lets you change icon of drives:
To set 'em by hand: open regedit and edit HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\DriveIcons

  • Files: Register and unregister DLL files from the right-click menu  
1) Open Notepad and copy/paste:


@="regsvr32 \"%L\""

@="regsvr32 /u \"%L\""

2) Save as dllreg.reg

3) Merge the file into your registry.

To remove the register and unregister menu items, open regedit and delete these keys:



  • Folders: Throbber off  
The throbber is the annoying animated logo in the top right corner of folders and Internet Explorer windows. To remove it:

1) Open regedit and backup:
    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar\ShellBrowser
    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar\Explorer

2) Run the "Throbber Off" script from

If removing the throbber fucks up your folder toolbar layout, set things back to normal from the "view" menu.


  • Folders: Stop explorer from showing thumbnail previews of video files in the task pane  
To get rid of thumbnail previews:

- with regedit: delete HKCR\CLSID\{c5a40261-cd64-4ccf-84cb-c394da41d590}

- with ShellExView: disable Video Thumbnail Extractor

You will lose summary details (artist name, album title, etc.) in the details view columns and the properties tab of audio and video files with these methods:
- Deleting HKCR\SystemFileAssociations\.avi\shellex\PropertyHandler
- Unregistering shmedia.dll

  • Hibernate: Hibernate button on shutdown screen  
Ask M$ for patch # 893056
If you don't want to ask them, download

  • Icons: Find more  
Files in your windows\system32 folder with lots of icons:

and many more

  • Logon screen: ClearType  
1) Open regedit and go to HKU\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop
2) Set FontSmoothingType to 00000002

  • Logon screen saver: Customize  
1) Open regedit and go to HKU\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop
2) Set SCRNSAVE.EXE to the location of your favorite screensaver

  • My Computer: Edit context (right-click) menu  
1) Open regedit and go to HKCR\CLSID\{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}
2) Right-click shell and add a new key with the name of a program or action
3) Make a subkey called command and enter the path to your program or script as the value for the string called default

You can remove the 'manage' and 'find' commands from the right-click menu.

  • Places: edit 'places' in the 'save as' dialog  
The easy way: set the locations with Tweakui

The hard way: set the locations with regedit

1) Open regedit and go to:
    If the PlacesBar key is not there, just make it

2) Custom entries should be strings
    Pointers to xp system folders should be DWORDs
    Names are Place0 to Place4
    Values are paths (for strings) or numbers for system folders


  • Quick Launch bar: Icon size  
The size of icons in the quick launch bar is tied to the size of the caption buttons in the top right corner of a window.
Shrink or enlarge the caption buttons and the quick launch buttons should follow.


  • Quick Launch bar: Find shortcut in Quick Launch bar  
1) Run a search (select the place where you usually look for files in the Look In field) and save it.
2) Put the saved search in your Quick Launch bar.

Alternative method: make an empty text file called search.fnd, put it in your Quick Launch bar.


  • Recycle bin: Rename  
1) Open regedit and go to HKCR\CLSID{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}
2) Edit the string called (Default).The default value is Recycle Bin

To put 'rename' in the recycle bin right-click menu run the "rename recycle bin" reg file in

To add the 'rename' option in the recyle bin right-click menu by hand:
1) Open regedit and go to HKCR\CLSID\{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}\ShellFolder
2) Set Attributes to 50,01,00,20
3) Set CallForAttributes to 00000000

To remove 'rename' from recycle bin context menu:
1) Open regedit and go to HKCR\CLSID\{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}\ShellFolder
2) Set Attributes to 40,01,00,20
3) Set CallForAttributes to 00000000

  • Standby: Disable standby option on the shutdown screen  
To grey out the standby option on the shutdown menu:

1) Open regedit and go to HKLMACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\ACPI\Parameters
2) Add a DWORD called Attributes and set to 00000070
3) Reboot

  • Start button: Change color  
1) Make a backup and a working copy of luna.msstyles:
a) Copy luna.msstyles from \WINDOWS\Resources\Themes\Luna to your desktop, rename to lunaBACKUP.msstyles
b) Copy luna.msstyles from \WINDOWS\Resources\Themes\Luna to your desktop again

2) Change the start button color:
a) Open luna.msstyles (the one on the desktop) with Resource Hacker
b) Navigate to Bitmap/BLUE_STARTBUTTON_BMP/1033
    (to change the startbutton for the silver and olive taskbars, edit METALLIC_STARTBUTTON_BMP or HOMESTEAD_STARTBUTTON_BMP)
c) Right-click '1033' and save the bitmap to your desktop
d) Edit the color with Adobe Photoshop or Corel PhotoPaint
    (don't use XPs built-in editor because it will change the resolution)
e) Note: don't change the "magic" pink edge or you'll destroy the start menu border
f) Right-click '1033', click Replace Resource, and replace the green button with your own version
g) Select 'save' or 'save as' from the file menu, other methods result in unusable files
h) Replace the original msstyles file with your edited version or create a new theme (copy the shell folder from luna to your new theme folder)
i) Changes will be visible after reboot, log off/log on, or changing theme/visual style from the display properties control panel

This trick works with any msstyles file.

  • Start button: Change text, logo, hover-text  
1) Make a backup and a working copy of explorer.exe:
a) Copy explorer.exe from your windows folder to your desktop, rename to explorerbackup.exe
b) Copy explorer.exe from your windows folder to your desktop again, rename to explorer2.exe

2) Open explorer2.exe with Resource Hacker

3) To change the text ('start'): edit String Table/37/1033/line 578 (click 'yes' when asked to recompile)
    don't leave this blank, enter a space if you want a text-less startbutton

4) To change the hover text ('Click here to begin'): edit String Table/34/1033/line 533

5) To change the icon (windows logo): edit Bitmap/143/1033, click action/replace bitmap, 'open file with new bitmap'
    (must be a 25x20 pixels bitmap, 16 million colors, .bmp extension) or just remove the bitmap for a small startbutton

6) Save the modified explorer2.exe

7) Replace the default startbutton with your own version:
a) Switch off or circumvent windows file protection (see below)
b) Close all open folders (or else explorer.exe keeps running)
c) Open the task manager (ctrl-alt-del) and explorer.exe in the processes tab
d) Click new task in the applications tab, run 'cmd'
e) Run cd c:\windows
    (if your windows folder is somewhere else, replace c:\windows with the right path)
f) Run: copy explorer2.exe explorer.exe
    (replace explorer2.exe with whatever you called your file)
    Do NOT hit return yet
g) Go back to the command window
h) Click "Yes" when asked to overwrite, ignore all file protection warnings, keep the command window open
i) Go back to the task manager, click 'new task' in the applications tab, launch explorer.exe
j) If everything is OK: close the command window

To restore the original explorer.exe:

1) Open the taskmanager
2) Launch 'cmd'
3) Quit explorer
4) Copy explorerbackup.exe to replace explorer.exe

I f it doesn't work, take explorer.exe out of the dll cache or switch off windows file protection.
If you have Service Pack 2, you can use the explorer.exe backup in

There are many different ways to fool windows file protection:
- temporarily park explorer.exe in the (hidden) folder \Windows\System32\dllcache somewhere else
- boot into safe mode (hit F8 on startup), now you can replace any system file you want
- use XPlite or FreshUI to toggle windows file protection on/off

If you have Service Pack 2, you can use my custom start button in (it says 'go' and it doesn't have a windows logo).

  • Start menu documents: Remove 'documents' from start menu  
1) Open regedit and go to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
2) If it doesn't exist already, make new DWORD value called NoRecentDocsMenu and set to 1

To restore the documents menu, delete NoRecentDocsMenu or set to 0

  • Start menu programs: Programs in classic start menu multi-column, not scrolling  
1) Right-click the taskbar, click "Properties", click the Start Menu tab
2) Select "Classic Start Menu"
3) Click "Customize"
4) Uncheck the "Scroll Programs" menu option


  • Start menu search: Remove people/web/real/etc. search from start menu search  
1) Open regedit and go to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current\Explorer\Find Extensions\Static
2) Delete the WabFind key (+ subkeys) to remove People search.

You can also remove entries set by RealPlayer, AVG AntiVirus, etc.


  • Taskbar: Cascading menu of any drive or folder  
1) Create a Desktop Toolbar on your Taskbar.
2) Drag the toolbar all the way to the right so only the word "Desktop" appears.

This works for any drive or folder.

  • Taskbar: Clear past items list in the customize notifications window  
1) Open regedit and go to HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\TrayNotify
2) Delete the IconStreams and PastIconsStream values
3) End and restart explorer.exe with the Task Manager

  • Taskbar: Tool tips hidden behind taskbar  
Use TransBar to make the taskbar semi-transparent.

  • Vista: Make XP look like Vista  
Vista Transformation Pack makes XP look like Vista.
Free, and uses less memory and CPU cycles than Vistas own interface.

You can also install bits and pieces of the Vista user interface:

Vista Start Menu Emulator turns your XP start menu into a Vista start menu.
Free, but you'll need to install .net.

Vista Start Menu turns your XP start menu into a Vista start menu.
Does not require .net. Comes in free and paid versions..

AlphaXP makes your windows transparent.
Free lite version, full version has a few extra features.

Visual Task Tips adds Vistas thumbnail previews when you mouse over the taskbar.

Vista cursors for XP.


  • Volume control: Smaller window  
Open the Volume Control panel and hit Ctrl-S to make the panel smaller.
Next time you open volume control Windows remembers the new size.
Hit Ctrl-S again to go back to the normal size.

  • Welcome screen: Customise  
1) Open a copy of logonui.exe in Resource Hacker
2) To change the background: replace bitmap 100
3) To change text on the logon screen: edit string tables
4) Save your customised logonui.exe to a convenient location (somewhere in your windows folder)
5) Open regedit and go to HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
6) Edit UIHost to point to your new logonui.exe. The default value for UIHost is logonui.exe

  • Welcome screen: Hide/unhide users  
1) Open regedit and go to:
  HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\SpecialAccounts\UserList
2) Add a DWORD with the name of the user account you want to hide (if it's not there yet)
3) To hide: set to 0
    To unhide: set to 1

Don't unhide the administrator account in XP Home, because you can only use it in Safe Mode.

You can also hide/unhide users on the welcome screen with X-Setup

  • Welcome screen: Shut Down button on welcome screen on/off  
1) Open regedit and go to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\system
2) Edit the DWORD called shutdownwithoutlogon
3) To enable the Shut Down button: set to 1
    To remove the Shut Down buton: set to 0

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