I want to tweak Windows XP and I don't want to spend any money on fancy software. Do you have any freeware software recommendations for me?
Yes! There are a few freeware software packages on the web that can and will help you tweak Windows XP (and also Win9X, NT & W2K) to some extent. I usually recommend 2 option I use the most. Both are free and will give you a lot of control over hidden system tweaks.
The first is Microsoft Tweak UI which is a part of the MS Powertoys. Make sure you install the latest version (v2.0) and not an earlier one.
If you have an older version of TweakUI installed, use Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel to uninstall it now. This includes the older version of TweakUI previously available as part of the single "Powertoys for Windows XP" package.
Download TweakUI for Windows XP
Unzip TweakUiPowertoySetup.zip using an unzip utility and place the files in a new folder in a convenient location, such as your desktop. Double-click TweakUiPowertoySetup.exe, and follow the instructions on-screen.
To start TweakUI, use the TweakUI shortcut in your Start Menu (it's no longer found in Control Panel), or run \windows\system32\tweakui.exe.
Note for Win9X users: This version will only work on Windows XP. For Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows 98, and Windows 95 you should download TweakUI version 1.33 (local download)
Unzip tweakui.zip using an unzip utility and place the files in a new folder in a convenient location, such as your desktop.
Right-click on the tweakui.inf file and select Install to install it on your system.
To start TweakUI, double-click the TweakUI icon in Control Panel.
Note: There's a bug in this installer. If it prompts you to insert a disk or specify the location of the TweakUI files, just point to the folder containing the files you just unzipped, and click Ok.
Send to Toys
One of my favorite tools, one that I usually install right after finishing setting up any new system.
Send To Toys is an enhancement of the Send To system menu. It has many nice features including:
Send To Toys Control Panel Applet allows you to manage the Send To system menu content, and configure Send To Toys settings.
"Add to Send To menu" and "Remove from Send To menu" allows you to personalize the Send To system menu for drives, folders, and programs.
Send To "Clipboard (as name)" copies the name of the file or files to the clipboard. Hold down the CTRL key to change the settings for this extension.
Send To "Command Prompt" opens a DOS console window, setting the current directory to the selected folder. If the selection was a file, the folder containing the file will be the active directory and the name of the file will be typed for you at the prompt. Hold down the CTRL key to change the active directory to a different folder
Send To "Favorites" adds a shortcut to your Favorites list. Hold down the CTRL key for the "Add Favorite" dialog.
Send To "Folder..." sends a file or files to another folder, you will be shown a dialog box that lets you choose where the files should be copied. To move the files press and hold down the SHIFT key. The creation of a new folder is not supported on Windows 95, 98, and NT.
Send To "Recycle Bin" send a file or files to the Recycle Bin. Hold down the CTRL key to perform a file shredding.
Send To "Run..." sends a file or files to the Run command dialog
Send to Toys is freeware and can be installed on any version of Windows.
Download Send to Toys v2.4 (527kb)
I'm very impressed with this low-level tweaking utility. I quote from the author's website:
"Want to tune and tweak your computer with settings that are normally hidden deep inside your registry ? Instead of wading through settings XenTweak can install all in one settings - saving a lot of time. XenTweak differs from other tweak programs because it tweaks the most common and tested settings. It also tweaks some settings never before seen in other tweak programs. XenTweak is only about 200k in size and it will increase your systems efficiency and performance.
I wrote XenTweak primarily for myself to save time when sorting out PC's, as I can enter in all the relevant registry tweaks in a very short space of time. After a short while quite a few people said that I should release XenTweak, so I did and I hope you like it. Just because XenTweak hasn't got a nice eye candy interface doesn't mean that its no good - in fact quite the opposite as it doesn't rely on external components and libraries. XenTweak is self contained and makes its own files when needed.
I have extensively tested all the options and tweaks and found them to work very nicely indeed, however I do recommend that you backup your registry. XenTweak is a new product and is still in its early stages of development and you may find things that I have missed so don't hesitate to contact me and I shall rectify anything that may arise. Just because XenTweak hasn't got a nice eye candy interface doesn't mean that its no good!"
- tweaks hundreds and hundreds of settings
- tweaks appearance settings
- tweaks start menu settings
- tweaks hardware settings
- tweaks CD & DVD speed settings
- tweaks HD speed settings
- tweaks modem speeds for faster connections and downloads
- tweaks network settings
- tweaks software settings
- tweaks internet explorer settings
- tweaks outlook settings
- tweaks performance and system settings
- tweaks cache settings
- tweaks shutdown problems
- tweaks security settings
- tweaks for covering up your tracks
- tweaks for defragmenting your memory
- tweaks for startup settings
- tweaks for various fixes
- tweaks for power management settings
- runs on win 95,98,98SE,ME,NT,2000 and XP
- self sufficient and creates its own files
and lots more... As I said, very impressive, and as always - free.
Download XenTweak v0.74 (2.05mb)
BTW, you should also check out Xen, a toll that'll cleanup your hard drive of all the junk that builds up over time and delete the trails that may lead people to who you are and what you do online? With this tool, you can delete cached files, history, URLs,
cookies and so much more!
Download Xen v1,85 (814kb)
ClipPath (Version 2.1)
This cool little freeware program can easily add a "Copy to Path" context menu to Windows Explorer.
ClipPath is a shell extension for Windows 95/98/NT4.0/2000 allowing to copy the name of a file to the clipboard. Just right-click the file in the Explorer and select the "ClipPath (\)" command from the ClipPath Pop-up Menu.
If you select multiple filenames, you'll be able to create a list of semicolon (;) separated filenames on a single line.
Download ClipPath v2.1 (30kb)
Installation of this extension is easy. First, copy ClipPath.dll and ClipPath.inf to any directory. Open the Explorer and right-click on the Setup Information file (ClipPath.inf). Choose the INSTALL command. When you're done installing, you can delete the original files.