Top 5 Vista Hacks

As much as I utterly hate Vista I cannot ignore the fact that it is an OS and that people DO use it. Because of this I thought I’d post up the Top 10 Vista Hacks.

Be warned that with some of these tips you’ll be dealing with the Windows Registry which could wreak some serious havoc on your system. Be sure to create a System Restoration point before messing around. To create a restore point, go to Control Panel -> System and Maintenance -> Restore files from backup -> Create a restore point or change settings.

1. Hack User Account Control (UAC)

Vista’s UAC is quite possibly the most annoying feature of Vista yet, but there  is hope; we have the technology, we can disable it!

There are a few ways to disable the UAC

  1. Go to Control Panel -> User Accounts and Family Safety -> User Accounts and then click “Turn User Account Control on or off
  2. Open up the run box (Shortcut: Windows Key [the one with the Windows Flag] + r) and type msconfig. When msconfig opens up, click on the “Tools” tab and scroll down until you see “Disable UAC.” Highlight it and click the “Launch” button, then reboot. To re-enable it (but why would you?) simply follow the same directions but this time choose “Enable UAC
  3. For all you Registry fanboys you can disable UAC by firing up regedit and heading over to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System\EnableLUA” and give it a value of 0

Here’s a hint for you Vista users that get raged when you try to run some commands from the command prompt and Vista laughs at you and tells you that you don’t have administrative rights. I mean I guess you could find cmd.exe in C:\Windows\system32\, right-click it, and then run it as an administrator but who has the time to do that every single time you wanna play with cmd? Why not make a shortcut to the desktop, or better yet, pin the elevated command prompt to your start menu?

Desktop Shortcut

  1. Right-click the desktop, and select New -> Shortcut
  2. A text box will pop up, type cmd into the box and then click Next
  3. Now you have to make a name for the shortcut — I’d go for something like Elevated Command Prompt — then click Finish.
  4. Right-click the shortcut you just created and select Properties.
  5. Select the Shortcut tab and click the Advanced button.
  6. Check the box titled Run as administrator. Click OK and then OK again.

Now you just have to double-click that shortcut to run the elevated command prompt.

If you’d like to pin this shortcut to your Start menu simply drag it from the Desktop to the Start button and place it where you would like it to be.

2. Unlock the Administrator account

Windows XP users may remember having to either boot into windows with safemode in order to login as Administrator in order to reset their password or pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del twice at the login screen to accomplish the same thing. Apparently though Microsoft thinks that Vista users are complete morons and can’t handle the Administrator account so they made it a bit more tricky to access the Administrator account. Never fear, HackTalk is here to help you unlock that account.

  1. Open an elevated command prompt (and you thought the first trick was useless).
  2. Enter this command into the command prompt and press Enter :  Net user administrator /active:yes.

See that wasn’t too hard now was it? If you want to disable the administrator account simply repeat the process but instead of /active:yes make it /active:no.

3.  Tweak Aero’s glass borders

All the borders around system windows, like dialog boxes and the Control Panel are transparent in Vista’s Aero interface. Why conform to what Microsoft thinks looks good though? Let’s hack those badboys and make them larger, smaller, change their color, and even change the transparency levels.

To make the borders larger or smaller:

  1. Right-click the desktop and select Personalize.
  2. Click Window Color and Appearance.
  3. Click Open classic appearance properties for more color options.
  4. A dialog box will appear, make sure that Windows Aero is selected as the color scheme. Click the Advanced button on the right side of the dialog box. The Advanced Appearance dialog box appears.
  5. Select Borders Padding in the Item drop-down menu. To change the size of the border, type a new size for the border (The default size is 4). Click Ok, then Ok again. The sizes of the borders will now change.

You can do more with the borders, like, changing the colors, transparency, and other things. To do this:

  1. Right-click the desktop and select Personalize -> Window Color and Appearance.
  2. Now choose your color or click  Show color mixer and move the sliders around to make your own color.
  3. To change the transparency of the borders, move the Color intensity slider to the left to make them more transparent, and to the right to make them more opaque.
  4. To turn off transparency, uncheck he box next to Enable Transparency.

4. Removing Vista metadata

Metadata contains information about files that the user doesn’t normally see but are useful when you run a search for them.

For example, music files usually contain the name of the composer, genre, album, etc. Photographs usually contains information on when the photo was taken, who took it, model of the camera that took it, and other photography related information. Documents and spreadsheets contain information on who made the document, including who created it, how much time was spent editing it, who else has reviewed the document, and so on.

While this is not inherently bad sometimes you just don’t want your files’ metadata to be viewed by others. Analyst firm Gartner Inc. points out that businesses might embed metadata into files about a customer (for example, “good customer” or “bad customer” labels) and a business would certainly not want others to see that. There may also be personal metadata in your documents that you don’t want others to see.

Luckily it is easy to remove any metadata from any file:

  1. Open Windows Explorer and right-click the file
  2. Choose Properties.
  3. Select the Details tab. A screen that displays the document’s metadata appears.
  4. Click the Remove Properties and Personal Information link at the bottom of the screen. The Remove Peroperties dialog box appears.
  5. Select Remove the following properties from this file and check the boxes next to all of the metadata you want removed. Click OK. the selected metadata will be removed.
  6. Alternatively, you can create a copy of the document with all the metadata removed. Select Create a copy with all possible properties removed and click OK.

You can also use the same method to remove metadata from multiple files.

5. Beefing up the right-click menu

The right-click menu (aka context menu) in Windows Explorer is quite useful. Right-click a file, a menu appears, letting you take a variety of actions such as opening the file, printing it, deleting it, copying it, creating a shortcut of it, scanning it, etc.

Here is a little “hidden” gem of the context menu. Hold down the shift key as you right click a file and you’ll now see several new menu options.

Here are the new options and what each one does:

Open as Read-Only: As the name says, it opens a file as a read-only file

Pin to Start Menu: This pins a shortcut to the file you’ve right-clicked in the top section of the Start menu. To remove the shortcut from the Start menu, right-click the shortcut and select Remove from this list.

Add to Quick Launch: This adds a shortcut to your file in the Quick Launch toolbar, on the left side of the taskbar. To remove the shortcut, right-click it and choose Delete.

Copy as Path: This copies the file name and location to the Windows clipboard — for example, C:\Budget\2007 memo.xls. You can then paste that path wherever you want.


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