Tweaks I make every time I install Windows

As preparation for moving one of my machines from Vista to Windows 7, I'm compiling a list of all the little tweaks I like to make to machines that I use a lot:

Boot from the Windows DVD.  Delete all partitions; make each hard drive one big partition.  (Hmm... apparently Windows 7 really wants a second 100 MB partition.  Do the partition dance to force it into installing on a single partition.)

In the "password hint" box, type a misleading hint.

In "Help protect your computer and improve Windows automatically", choose "Ask me later."

Once I'm in, create a new limited user (not a member of the Administrators group) and use that as my primary account.

Control Panel | Hardware and Sound | Mouse
    Pointers | Enable pointer shadow (uncheck)
    Pointer Options
        Enhance pointer precision (uncheck)
        Hide pointer while typing (uncheck)

Right-click taskbar | Properties | Taskbar
    Use small icons (check)
    Taskbar location on screen (change to "Right")
    Taskbar buttons (change to "Never combine")
    Notification area | Customize
        Turn system icons on or off
            Clock | Off (select)
            Volume | Off (select)
            Network | Off (select)
            ... turn everything off, except sometimes.
            (for example, I might leave Power on for a laptop.)
        Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar (check)
    Use Aero Peek to preview the desktop (uncheck)

Windows Explorer | Organize
    Layout | Details pane (uncheck)
    Folder and search options | View | Advanced settings
        Always show icons, never thumbnails (check)

        Always show menus (check)
        Display file icon on thumbnails (uncheck)

        Display file size information in folder tips (uncheck)
        Display the full path in the title bar (Classic theme only) (check)
        Hidden files and folders | Show hidden files, folders, and drives (select)

        Hide empty drives in the Computer folder (uncheck)
        Hide extensions for known file types (uncheck)
        Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) (uncheck, Yes I'm sure)
        Show pop-up description for folder and desktop items (uncheck)

Control Panel | System and Security | Windows Update | Change settings
    Download updates but let me choose whether to install them (select)
    Allow all users to install updates on this computer (check)

Elevated command prompt | gpedit.msc | Local Computer Policy
    User Configuration | Administrative Templates | Windows Components
        Windows Explorer | Turn off numerical sorting in Windows Explorer (enable)
    Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates
            Power Management | Video and Display Settings
                Turn Off Adaptive Display Timeout (Plugged In) (enable)
                Turn Off Adaptive Display Timeout (On Battery) (enable)
        Windows Components | Windows Update
            Do not display 'Install Updates and Shut Down' ... (enable)
            Do not adjust default option to 'Install Updates and Shut Down' ... (enable)

Control Panel | View by: Small icons (select)
    AutoPlay | Use AutoPlay for all media and devices (uncheck)
    Indexing Options | Modify | Show all locations
        Offline Files (uncheck)
        C:\Users (uncheck)
        C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu (uncheck)
    Troubleshooting | Change settings | Computer Maintenance | Off (select)
    Windows Defender | Tools
        Automatic scanning | Automatically scan my computer (uncheck)
        Real-time protection | Use real-time protection (recommended) (uncheck)
        Administrator | Use this program (uncheck)

Right-click Start Menu | Properties
        Computer | Don't display this item (select)
        Connect To (uncheck)
        Control Panel | Don't display this item (select)
        Default Programs (uncheck)
        Devices and Printers (uncheck)
        Documents | Don't display this item (select)
        Enable context menus and dragging and dropping (uncheck)
        Games | Don't display this item (select)
        Help (uncheck)
        Highlight newly installed programs (uncheck)
        Music | Don't display this item (select)
        Open submenus when I pause on them with the mouse pointer (uncheck)
        Personal folder | Don't display this item (select)
        Pictures | Don't display this item (select)
        Search other files and libraries | Don't search (select)
        Search programs and Control Panel (uncheck)
        Use large icons (uncheck)
        Number of recent programs to display (set to 20 to make the menu bigger)
        Number of recent items to display in Jump Lists (set to 20 to make the menu bigger)
    Store and display recently opened programs in the Start menu (uncheck)
    Store and display recently opened items in the Start menu and the taskbar (uncheck)

Right-click everything that is pinned to the taskbar
    Unpin this program from taskbar

Right-click Recycle Bin | Properties
    For each hard drive in turn (select)
        Don't move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately... (select)

Control Panel | Appearance and Personalization
    Personalization | Change desktop icons | Recycle Bin (uncheck)
    Change desktop background
        Picture Location: Solid Colors (select, choose black)

Control Panel | User Accounts | Change your account picture
    Browse for more pictures

Control Panel | Ease of access
    Change how your mouse works
        Mouse pointers | Regular Black (select)
        Prevent windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen (check)
    Change how your keyboard works
        Set up Sticky Keys | Turn on Sticky Keys when SHIFT is pressed five times (uncheck)
    Optimize visual display
        Turn off all unnecessary animations (when possible) (check)

Make a folder on the desktop named "_"
    Open the following folders simultaneously
        C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
        C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu
    Copy various shortcuts from Start Menu over to _
        Command Prompt
        ... whatever else strikes my fancy
    ... as I install programs, consider adding them here if I use them a lot

Right-click the taskbar | Toolbars | New toolbar... | Desktop | _ (Select Folder)
    Right-click the taskbar | Lock the taskbar (uncheck)
    Drag the thumb of the _ toolbar to the top of the taskbar
    Right-click _
        Show Text (uncheck)
        Show title (uncheck)
        View | Small Icons (check)
    Drag the taskbar to be a tiny bit wider so three small icons fit side-by-side
    Drag the view-active-tasks part of the taskbar to be big
    Right-click the taskbar | Lock the taskbar (check)

Make a 1-pixel-by-1-pixel black .jpg and set it as the LogonUI background

I'm sure I'm forgetting some other things.  I'll add them later when I run into them.

I could probably make a series out of this.  Possible candidates for future posts: "Tweaks I make every time I install Office", "Tweaks I make every time I install Firefox"...

Command Prompt | Alt-Space | Defaults | QuickEdit Mode (check)

Comments (9)

  1. some one says:

    Why not just go back to Windows 95 or even Windows 3.1? Why the reason for turning things off? You just mention them as tweaks but no justification for these tweaks. Are you running on an old machine that is slow with all this turned on? What is your justification? I find it kind of weird that an MS blogger is turning off all the features of a new OS built by their employer? It is as if your employer created something you don’t like? I’m just wondering if MS wants this published out in the public. Leaving one to question if this employee of MS is turning these features off is Windows ready? Does this insider know something I don’t know or am i just reading into things because I don’t see the justification for doing these things.

  2. Jim says:

    wow, Windows 2000 called, he wants his favorite user back…

  3. I remember Windows 2000 fondly, it must be admitted.

    Windows 95 and Windows 3.1, not so much.

    This post was half-finished; I hit "Publish" without realizing it (meant to hit "Save but don’t publish") and then went to a meeting.

    I’ve added a (short) justification but this list will probably grow longer…

  4. > if this employee of MS is turning these features off is Windows ready

    That’s a fair question.  I suppose the way I think of it is, everyone has a different set of features they need and want… a feature that makes sense for me isn’t going to make sense for you and vice versa.

    Unfortunately, there’s only one default (or, I suppose, only default per SKU.)

    Fortunately, there are settings that can be tweaked.  So I turn off the stuff that I don’t like but which is on by default (mouse drop shadow, Aero Peek, indexing service) and I turn the stuff on that I do like but which is off by default (file extensions for known file types.)

  5. I do have specific justifications for some of these (others I just turn off "while I’m in there") which I may get to explicating once I’m done compiling the list.

  6. I’m going to bookmark this and watch the list grow & change . . . but don’t worry I understand this is Matthew’s list NOT Microsoft’s — the wonderful thing about personal computers is that they are personal!

    Don’t worry about the comments — you don’t need to "justify" anything . . . but an explaination as to why YOU picked certain settings WOULD be nice! (^_^)

    Blake Handler – Microsoft MVP

    "The Road to Know Where"

  7. june46 says:

    I dont know if i will be migrating to Win7 quite yet but i will be watching for any updates in case i do, or should i say, when i do.

    Thank you for taking the time to outline your steps for noobs to follow

    – June H.

  8. Dennis says:

    I have an unwritten list like this, some of mine is the same, like allowing 20 items in the recent list and unchecking hide extensions for known file types (one of the worst features ever, how is this ever a good thing?!?).

    However, like some other comments stated, it seems like you’re going out of your way to disable most features. I get into habits like that once in a while, sometimes to the point that I forget why I did those things in the first place. Did I have a low powered PC that couldn’t handle them or was there an annoying bug 15 years ago that was fixed 14 years ago?

    What I try to do now is to leave most features enabled and see how I now feel about them if I leave them on. Even if they annoy me, I try to leave them on for a week or so, just to see if maybe I’ll change my mind after a while.

  9. Bugfix says:

    "Hide pointer while typing" does not work as of Windows XP and later. It works only on Windows 9x and Me. NT always hides the pointer while typing and there is no way to not hide it. Can you file a bug for this to the Windows team?

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