Vista Tweaks

This one is really simple but one of my favorites. You can adjust the desktop icon size by holding down the control key, then pressing down on the scroll wheel and rotating it. I would be happy to get rid of them completely and just have a list of the file names, as I do understand the language. But this got them down to the smallest they could possibly be and I appreciate that. It does work the other way too if you happen to like them large.

updates

The recommended setting is “download and install updates automatically.” That one lost work for me a couple of times before I went in and changed it. The problem is that if you set it to do this at 3 am and put the puter to sleep but leave work open that hasn’t been saved, it will download the updates, and restart the computer to finish installing them. You can lose any unsaved work.

If you open the updates window, (start > all programs > Windows update) there is a “change settings” link near the upper left. Click on that and you have the change settings options, like “check for settings but let me choose whether to download and install them.” That’s the one I picked.

It lets me know when anything is available. Then I can save and close everything, download and install them. I would certainly consider it important to get them one way or another because they might be a needed security patch.

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speed it up

A simple way to speed up vista is to turn off the decorative visuals. It looks a bit different with a rectangular start button for example instead of round with 3d effects, but I really like simple anyway and it is easy to reverse if you don’t like the change.

Click Start, then RIGHT click on Computer. Click on Properties.

Then, under Tasks in the upper left, click on Advanced Systems Settings.

“Windows Needs Your Permission…” click continue.

Next window, System Properties, it should already be on Advanced tab, if not select that.

Find ‘Performance’ box (top one) and click on Settings.

Performance Options window opens. Under Visual Effects tab, select ‘Adjust For Best Performance’ and click OK.

Click Ok again and you’re finished. To reverse, just follow the above steps and select ‘Let Windows Choose What’s Best For My Computer’. You can also choose Custom and check whichever features you wish.

You can also go to control panel > system and maintenance > power options and choose between performance and energy efficiency.

I did do this myself and do like the new looks better, but I have a strong preference for performance and for simple. I do not like flashy, ornate decorations and that kind of stuff.

One speed up that isn’t specific to Vista, but too many people don’t know about it. That’s the Disk Defragmenter. (If you do know about it, you can skip to the next little headline.) If you press the Windows key or click on start, then type in defrag, about half way through that bit of typing, the disk defragmenting tool will be at the top of the search results.

Click on it and then another click or 2 to get it going. If I am doing a lot of work I sometimes run it weekly. If you don’t do much, 6 months might be often enough.

Any time that you make a change in (as an example) a MS Word document, that change will not be located with the original file. It will be somewhere else on the drive, with only that location’s HD address added to the original file. Defragmenting the disk puts all the parts of the document back together in one place. That saves space and speeds up opening the doc.

You can also run the disk clean up tool, at Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup.

turn off user account control

If you get tired of seeing “Windows needs your permission to continue” you can turn off the system that produces those warnings. I have not done this myself because I do see a point to them, but I have to agree that they go a bit too far. I can’t think of any possible reason why the MS Windows disk defragmenter needs your permission to continue. Some days I expect to see a pop up saying “Are you sure you want to start the computer?”

Click start, then control panel, then user accounts and family safety.

Click User accounts and then “turn user accounts on or off.” When Windows needs your permission to continue (for the last time) click Continue. Then you can uncheck the box by “Use user account control to help protect your computer” and click OK. Click on restart the computer to finish the job.

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