Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Freebie - Make Windows Your B*tch

Windows has a funny (meaning annoying) tendency to do whatever the hell it wants to, whether or not you want it done. It can be really frustrating when you're typing a story for your blog, only to have XP focus on a new window because a new download is starting. Maybe I minimized the window for a reason! Now you can take back some control from Bill Gates:

Tweak UI (user interface) is a tool that was released by Microsoft a few years back, and is designed to let you easily control some of the more specific behaviors of Windows without having to edit the registry. The program is part of larger suite of tools known as the Windows PowerToys, but each tool can be downloaded and installed separately.

With Tweak UI, you can adjust settings for window focus, options on the "New" context menu, set privacy settings, and more. The menus are accessed from the tree on the left - they're broken down into groups, with specific items under each heading. Changes are a simple click away.

One thing worth mentioning - although this software was created by Microsoft, it is not officially supported. So, if you make some changes and completely hose your system, you're on your own. Thankfully (for novice users), the options in Tweak UI won't really let you destroy your system for the most part. They can, however, cause some really annoying behavior depending on what you mess with. The point is, if you're not sure what something does, do a web search before messing around with it.

For those of you that may remember Tweak UI from the Windows 98 days, the program works in much the same way on XP. The one major difference is its location. Under 98, the program resided in the Control Panel. Now, you'll find it on the All Programs menu. It's six of one, half a dozen of the other once you get used to it.

Now, the bad news - Tweak UI is currently only being offered for XP. With a little searching, you should be able to find the 95/98 version if you're still living and working in the last decade. And a set of PowerToys have not yet been released for Vista, but you can expect them at some point in the not-too-distant future.

You can view all the PowerToys here, and the download for Tweak UI itself is here. Don't be afraid - stand up to Windows and show it who's the boss. It worked for Tony Danza, at least for about 8 seasons.

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