Ten Useful Registry Edits

Windows has many possible configuration settings and most of these can be changed by editing the Registry. This article describes ten popular Registry edits. They use the Registry Editor, regedit.exe. These edits have all been tested and should cause no trouble but the user assumes all responsibility for any results. Remember to always back up before editing the Registry. Apply only one edit at a time. First see if the results of a given edit are satisfactory before applying another edit. Generally, a system reboot is necessary before system-wide changes take place. Changes for a particular user require a logoff.

Configure timing of System Restore

Normally, Windows XP System Restore creates a restore point every 24 hours and saves the restore points for 90 days. These default settings can be changed with a Registry tweak. Open regedit.exe and go to the key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\SystemRestore The value named "RPGlobalInterval" determines how often System Restore runs. Note that the data value is in seconds and is normally 86400 (in decimal). The value named "RPLifeInterval" determines how long restore points are retained. The data value is normally 7776000 (seconds). Modify the settings to your choice. (Windows XP only)

Close down hung applications more quickly

Sometimes an application will hang or freeze up. Although the Windows Task Manager can be used to close a hung application, the default setting is to wait at least 20 seconds, which can be irritating. The time delay can be configured by going to the Registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\DesktopFind the string value HungAppTimeout and modify the data to something like 3000 instead of the default 20000. (These values are time in milliseconds.) Applies to a specific user. (Windows XP)

Shut down applications and services more quickly

Related to the previous tip are modifications that can be made to two other Registry settings to speed up the closing of applications and services. Go to the same Registry key as previouslyHKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop Find the string value WaitToKillAppTimeout and modify the setting from 20000 to something like 5000. This setting is per user. A second setting in a different Registry key involves Windows services and is for the whole system. Go to the Registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\ControlFind the string value WaitToKillServiceTimeout and change it to something like 5000. (Windows XP)

Launch programs automatically at startup

Do you have one or more programs that you want to run every time you turn on your computer? There are several ways to do this but one way is with a Registry entry. Open regedit.exe and go to the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunCreate a new string value (that will be type REG_SZ) named after the desired program with a value containing the full path to your program. For example, to have Notepad always run at startup the data value would be "C:\WINDOWS\notepad.exe". Applies to a specific user. (Windows XP, Vista)

Specify the default download directory for Internet Explorer

Do you want Internet Explorer to always download to a folder of your choice? You can specify the download location by going to the Registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet ExplorerFind the string value named Download Directory and change the value to the full path of the folder where you want to keep downloads. If the value does not already exist. create a new string value and name it Download Directory. Applies to a specific user. (Windows XP, Vista)

Alphabetize Internet Explorer Favorites

An annoying aspect of Internet Explorer favorites is that new additions are tacked on leading to an unsorted list. A Registry edit will keep the list of favorites alphabetized. Using regedit.exe, navigate to the Registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MenuOrder\FavoritesRight-click the key and choose "Delete". Applies to a specific user. (Windows XP, Vista)

Disable Desktop Cleanup Wizard

Microsoft likes a clean desktop and every 60 days a so-called wizard will pop up offering to clean unused icons off the desktop. Many people find this annoying and the wizard can be disabled by going to the Registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\CleanupWiz Modify or create a DWORD value named "NoRun" (without quotes). Assign a value of "1" (no quotes) to disable the cleanup wizard. A value of 0 (zero) will enable the wizard. Applies to a specific user. (Windows XP)

Disable Tool Tips

Tool Tips (also called InfoTips) are the little popup windows that appear when the mouse cursor hovers over certain icons or objects. Some people find them annoying and they can be turned off by going to the Registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AdvancedModify the value named "ShowInfoTip". Set the value to 0 to disable. A value of 1 will enable. Applies to a specific user. (Windows XP, Vista)

Speed up Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer can resolve sites faster if you increase the number of connections to a given site. Go to the Registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet SettingsYou will need to create two new DWORD values. Name one "MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server" and name the other "MaxConnectionsPerServer". Give each a decimal value of 10. Applies to a specific user. (Windows XP, Vista)

Disable User Account Control (UAC) in Vista

A lot of Windows Vista users find the security measure called UAC to be very annoying and like to disable it. Personally, I think it is worth putting up with the constant security alerts but here is the procedure to disable UAC. Go to the Registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\SystemFind the DWORD named EnableLUA and set the value to 0. This is a system-wide change and requires a reboot. (Vista only)


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