Window Vista Tips and Tricks | Windows Registry | Windows Vista

Windows Vista tips and tricks In this course, you'll move beyond everyday Microsoft® Windows Vista® use

to master its settings and utilities and make it your own. You'll learn how to take control over your desktop, manage the operating system and applications, improve performance, and streamline your workday routines. You'll begin by adding and removing programs and Windows features, working with desktop shortcuts, and more. As the course progresses, you'll learn about customizing the taskbar, keyboard, and monitor, tweaking the registry, tuning and troubleshooting Windows Vista startup, and using advanced Windows Vista tips and tricks. This course is designed for consumers who want to learn advanced maintenance and customization techniques in Windows Vista. To succeed in this course, you should already know how to do the following:
      

Start and shut down a Windows Vista computer, and navigate within Windows Vista Run programs Select single and multiple files in a file listing, such as Windows Explorer Move, copy, rename, and delete files and folders Use Control Panel and Device Manager Understand and create System Restore points Search the Web for information

What the lessons cover This six-lesson course covers advanced tips and tricks for becoming a Windows Vista power user. Here's what to expect in the lessons:

Lesson 1: Explains how to add or remove Windows Vista programs and features. You'll also learn how to make older programs work in Windows Vista, work with desktop shortcuts, and customize the Start menu. Lesson 2: Describes techniques for altering the look and feel of the Windows Vista desktop and taskbar, managing keyboard and mouse settings, and working with dual monitors. Lesson 3: Explores the inner workings of the Windows Vista registry and Windows Explorer. You'll also learn how to manage Vista services and access the Resource Monitor. Lesson 4: Describes useful Vista troubleshooting and speed-up techniques, including better ways to manage Vista startup. You'll also learn to work with the Recovery Console, set up a multiboot configuration, and reinstall Windows Vista. Lesson 5: Explains how to scan and replace drivers on your Windows Vista PC, and disable unneeded hardware elements. You'll also learn how to optimize wireless network adapter

settings and overclock your system. Lesson 6: Explores advanced Windows Vista tips and tricks, including restoring previous file versions. You'll also learn more about navigation and search techniques.

Beyond the lessons, be sure to complete the assignments and quizzes. They aren't required; however, they're designed to help you get the most out of the course, ensuring you've mastered the material in each lesson. Throughout this course, we provide Flash examples. To view these examples, you need the Adobe Flash Player. Keep an eye out for notes with links that say "See how to ____" or something similar. Some of these files are very large (10 MB or so) and may take a while to appear or download if you have a slow connection. Add and remove Windows Vista programs

Most applications (or programs) you buy come on a CD or DVD or in a download file containing a setup utility that you run to install the program on your computer. A setup utility does the following:
 

It copies files needed to run the program to your hard disk. It creates a shortcut to the program on the Start menu and sometimes on the desktop. It might also add a Quick Launch entry to the Windows Vista taskbar. It adds information about the program to the Windows registry.

The registry is a set of configuration files with information about your hardware, software, and system settings. Each time Windows starts, it reads and applies these settings. You'll learn more about the registry in Lesson 3. Automatic setup When you insert a program CD or DVD or run the download file, a prompt to install the software often appears automatically, thanks to the Windows feature called AutoPlay. Windows looks for a file called Autorun.inf or Autorun.exe, and then carries out the instructions in this file. As shown in Figure 1-1, Vista has discovered an Autorun.exe file on a program DVD. Vista recognizes the DVD as a software installer and asks whether you want to run Autorun.exe or open it in Windows Explorer to view its contents. If you want Vista to handle this type of file the same way every time, check the Always do this for software and games checkbox. To complete application installation, just follow the prompts.

You may be prompted for permission to continue. This is part of Windows Vista's UAC (User Account Control), which prevents unauthorized changes from being made to your system. Throughout this course, anytime you're following the steps and are prompted for permission, click Continue. You'll learn how to disable UAC prompts -- if you want -- in Lesson 3.

Figure 1-1: Decide how you want Vista to handle this installation file. Browse for the setup file If setup doesn't start automatically, the disc might not have an Autorun.inf or Autorun.exe file, and Vista might be unable to identify a setup utility on the disc. If AutoPlay doesn't display a menu, just browse the file listing on the disc and double-click the setup file. Usually, it's named Setup.exe or Install.exe and is in the top-level folder. If you can't find one, make an educated guess as to which file starts the setup program. Sometimes it has the word "setup" or "install" in the name, such as Install32.exe or Mssetup.exe. Its icon is a computer with red and green arrows pointing to a disc, as shown in Figure 1-2.

Figure 1-2: If there's no Setup.exe file, look for this icon.

If Windows isn't set up to show file extensions, click the Start button, click Control Panel, click Classic View in the left pane, and then doubleclick Folder Options. Click the View tab, and then uncheck the Hide extensions for known file types checkbox. Showing file extensions helps you find the right file, especially when you see several files with the same name but different extensions, such as Setup.exe, Setup.txt, and Setup.doc. When you open Control Panel, Windows Vista offers two views: Category view (also called Control Panel Home view) and Classic view. You access Category view by clicking Control Panel Home in the left pane; you get Classic view by clicking Classic View. Once you find the file you need to begin the installation, just doubleclick it and follow the prompts. Changing the Default AutoPlay Settings You can change the default settings for how AutoPlay behaves. Just open Control Panel in Classic view, and then double-click AutoPlay. The window shown in Figure 1-3 appears. For more control over AutoPlay, pick the Ask me every time option for the desired media type.

Figure 1-3: Decide how AutoPlay behaves for different media. Remove software and components Uninstalling software you never use isn't required, but it frees up space on your hard disk. This housekeeping practice can make your computer run faster if the hard disk is full, because Windows has more room to swap data in and out of memory. Even if your hard disk isn't crowded, freeing up space means you can store more programs, documents, music clips, and so on.

Removing certain types of programs can have additional benefits, too. If a program loads automatically each time Vista starts but you never use it, removing it helps your computer start more quickly. The uninstallation process reverses the three tasks a setup utility performs:
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It deletes program files stored on the hard disk. It removes the program's shortcuts from the Start menu, desktop, and Quick Launch toolbar. It removes any registry entries for the program.

An installed application is usually available to all users. Removing this type of application makes it unavailable to all users. Some people try to uninstall software by just deleting program files from the hard disk; however, this method doesn't remove shortcuts and registry entries. Normally, orphaned entries don't cause problems, but they do make the registry larger than it has to be and, therefore, Windows takes longer to start. Some programs include an Uninstall shortcut on the Start menu, as shown in Figure 1-4. This shortcut makes removal easy -- just select it and follow the prompts.

Figure 1-4: Look for an Uninstall shortcut on the Start menu. With some programs, you're prompted to insert the original program disc to run the uninstall utility. The reason is that these programs replace some standard system files with custom versions. When you uninstall, the programs need to recopy the standard versions from the disc back to your hard disk. If you don't have the disc, you can't uninstall the program. You can remove most Windows programs by using the Programs and Features utility in Control Panel. To use this method, open Control Panel in Classic view, and then double-click Programs and Features to see a list of currently installed programs. Select any entry, as shown in Figure 1-5. Depending on the program, you see separate Uninstall, Change, and Repair buttons or a single button marked Uninstall/Change. Click

Uninstall or Uninstall/Change, and follow the prompts.

Figure 1-5: You can remove most Windows programs with Control Panel's Programs and Features utility. Clean up after a failed installation Occasionally, you might experience a failure during application installation. When this occurs, try starting the setup process again. If you can't, try to uninstall the program and then reinstall it. When neither of those methods work, you're left with a partially installed program. To combat this problem, you can download and run the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility. This tool removes a program's Windows Installer configuration information, enabling you to "clean" the failed installation from your system. You have to delete any application or installation files that remain. After that, make sure all open programs are closed before attempting to install your application again. Now that you know how to install and remove programs, keep reading to learn how to turn Windows Vista features on or off. Turn Windows features on or off Windows features include the accessories and utilities that come with Windows Vista. Some are optional, and you can remove them to slim down Windows Vista. You can also add features -- not all utilities and applets included on the installation media are installed by default. Applet is Microsoft's term for a small application, usually one that comes with Windows, such as Notepad, or is included with a larger program, such as the Clip Organizer tool in Microsoft® Office. To modify installed features, open Control Panel in Classic view, and then double-click Programs and Features. Click Turn Windows features on or off in the Tasks pane on the left. The Windows Features dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 1-6. This list uses checked boxes for features that are turned on, empty boxes for features that are turned

off, and filled boxes with a blue background for features that are partially turned on.

Figure 1-6: Windows Features dialog box. Hover your cursor over any feature to read a description of what it does. To expand a feature to see its parts, click the plus sign to the left. Clear or mark checkboxes to make your selections, and then click OK to apply your changes. You might be prompted for the Windows Vista installation media or prompted to restart your system after you're finished. If not, close Control Panel. Some Windows feature categories are obscure and used for special situations that might not apply to you. For example, Microsoft® Windows® XP ships with the Telnet client already installed, but you have to add this feature to Windows Vista if you want to use it. (A secure Telnet client is recommended; explore those listed at Free SSH (Secure Shell) and Telnet Clients.) Despite all the built-in programs and features that Windows Vista has to offer, you might have some older programs you'd like to keep using. Next up, you'll learn how to make them work with Windows Vista. Make older programs run under Windows Vista Most programs you buy now are designed for Windows Vista or XP, so you should have no trouble installing and running them. However, if you have older programs you bought before Windows XP was released, they might not work perfectly (or at all) in Windows Vista. If you see a warning during setup like the one shown in Figure 1-7, check the program manufacturer's Web site to see whether an update is available to fix the incompatibility.

Figure 1-7: Many older programs require updates to work with Windows Vista. Another solution is using the Program Compatibility Wizard to specify which version of Windows to emulate when running the program. To run the wizard, select Start > Help and Support, type Program Compatibility Wizard in the search box at the top, and then click Start the Program Compatibility Wizard. (You can also start it from Control Panel, but only in Category view, not in Classic view. Click Programs, and then click Use an older program with this version of Windows.) Figure 1-8 shows specifying a version of Windows to emulate.

Figure 1-8: Select the Windows version for running this program. More advanced users might prefer configuring compatibility without the wizard. To do this, right-click the program shortcut, select Properties, and then click the Compatibility tab, shown in Figure 1-9.

Figure 1-9: Setting compatibility options. Check the Run this program in compatibility mode for checkbox, and then select the appropriate operating system from the drop-down list. You can also select any of the other settings, such as Run in 256 colors, Run in 640 x 480 screen resolution, and so on. Compatibility mode applies to programs designed to run in previous Windows versions; however, not all programs display a Compatibility tab in their Properties dialog box. Next, you'll learn how to manage shortcuts on your desktop and Start menu. Create and manage desktop shortcuts Most new computers have dozens of icons on the desktop. For a cleaner look, many users delete most of them. To delete a desktop icon, drag it to the Recycle Bin, or right-click it and select Delete. Deleting a program shortcut doesn't usually uninstall or delete the program. (If you delete a shortcut to an executable file, however, the program might not run anymore.) You can recognize a program shortcut by the blue arrow inside a white box at the lower left of the icon,

although sometimes you can edit a shortcut to remove this indicator. Not all program shortcuts have this indicator, so be careful. If you're in doubt about a desktop icon, right-click it, select Properties, and see which tab is on top in the Properties dialog box. If it's the Shortcut tab, you're working with a shortcut, and deleting the icon is okay. If you start the delete operation and are prompted to confirm that you want to delete a program rather than a shortcut, just click No to cancel. If your system is set up for multiple users, each user's desktop is separate, with a different set of shortcuts. Deleting a shortcut while logged on as one user doesn't delete the shortcut for another user. To create new shortcuts on the desktop, highlight a file in the All Programs list or Computer window, for example, and then drag the file to the desktop. When you release the mouse button, a shortcut appears on the desktop. Modify the Start menu and Quick Launch toolbar When you open the Start menu, shortcuts to your most recently used programs are listed in the left pane between the two rule lines. This list changes constantly, however, so there's no guarantee that a program is always available there. To remove a program from the recently used programs list (for privacy reasons, for example), right-click its name and select Remove from this list. At the upper-left corner of the Start menu is an area that never changes. It lists your default e-mail program and Web browser. You can place other shortcuts there, too (called pinning), so that they're always available, no matter how often you use them. To pin a program to the Start menu, click the Start button, right-click the program shortcut, and then select Pin to Start Menu. To remove a previously pinned icon, right-click it and select Unpin from Start Menu. Items pinned by default (e-mail and Web browser) have a Remove from this list option instead. Reorganize the All Programs list As you install and remove programs, the Start menu might become a tangled mess, with dozens of subfolders and icons in the All Programs list that you never use. Fortunately, there are ways to straighten it out. Right-click the Start button, and then select Open All Users. Click the Programs folder in the left pane to see a detailed list in the right pane of folders containing shortcuts for the All Programs menu. You can create, move, delete, and rename these folders just as you would regular files and folders. For example, Figure 1-10 shows a Windows items folder,

into which Windows programs usually appearing in the All Programs menu (Calendar, Contacts, Windows Defender, and so on) have been moved. You can also change the display order by clicking column heads in the right pane to sort them by name, type, and so forth. Click once for ascending order, and click again for descending order.

Figure 1-10: Edit the Start menu by reorganizing folders and shortcuts in the Programs folder. Organizing your All Programs menu into categories makes it more compact so that you can find programs more easily. For example, set up categories such as Utilities, Fun, Business, and so on, and then drag shortcuts and folders into these categories. See how to modify the Start menu. (2 MB file) Use the Quick Launch toolbar The Quick Launch toolbar is a row of small icons to the right of the Start button. This feature is handy for starting frequently used programs. If you don't see the Quick Launch toolbar, right-click the taskbar and then select Toolbars > Quick Launch to enable it. To add icons to the Quick Launch toolbar, just drag shortcuts onto it. Figure 1-11 shows a customized Quick Launch toolbar.

Figure 1-11: The Snipping tool and Notepad have been added to the Quick Launch toolbar. To delete an icon from the Quick Launch toolbar, right-click it and select Delete. Deleting a shortcut from the toolbar doesn't delete the program from your computer.

Assignments are designed to help you apply the information learned in the lessons. Work with Windows Vista programs For this assignment: 1. Remove a program installed on your computer, and then reinstall it. (Make sure you pick one for which you have the program disc and installation key code.) 2. Reorganize your Start menu by grouping programs into folders that you create. Make up your own filing system -- whatever makes sense to you. 3. Add a shortcut for your favorite program to the Quick Launch toolbar. 4. Pin a shortcut for a favorite program to the Start menu. 5. Open Windows Explorer, and then navigate to C:\Program Files. (If Windows isn't installed on the C: drive, substitute the correct drive letter.) Compare the folder names you see here to the entries in the Start > All Programs listing. What's the same? What's different?

Quiz: Lesson 1, quiz 1 Quizzes are designed to give you a chance to test your knowledge.

1. If you insert a program CD or DVD into your computer and nothing happens, what are reasons for this problem? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. There's not enough memory. There's no Autorun.inf or Autorun.exe file on the disc. The drive isn't set to AutoPlay. The program hasn't been installed.

2. Which of the following items are pinned to the Start menu by default? (Check all that apply.) A. B. Your word processing program Your e-mail program

C. D.

Your Web browser Your most frequently used program

3. A setup utility usually takes which of the following actions during installation? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Deletes the registry Copies files to your hard disk Creates shortcuts on the Start menu Makes changes to the registry

4. Uninstalling a program by deleting its files from the hard disk doesn't remove which of the following? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Associated graphics files Program shortcuts Registry entries .exe files

5. If you're not sure whether a desktop icon is a program shortcut, what should you do? A. B. C. D. Make an educated guess, based on the icon's name. Open the Properties dialog box and see which tab is displayed on top. See whether you can edit the desktop icon. Check its file listing in Windows Explorer.

Quiz Results

1. If you insert a program CD or DVD into your computer and nothing happens, what are reasons for this problem? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. There's not enough memory. There's no Autorun.inf or Autorun.exe file on the disc. The drive isn't set to AutoPlay. The program hasn't been installed.

Correct answer(s): BC

Explanation: Normally, CDs and DVDs display a menu automatically when you insert them. If this doesn't happen, the drive isn't set to AutoPlay or there's no Autorun.inf or Autorun.exe file on the disc.

2. Which of the following items are pinned to the Start menu by default? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Your word processing program Your e-mail program Your Web browser Your most frequently used program

Correct answer(s): BC Explanation: Your e-mail program and Web browser are pinned to the Start menu by default.

3. A setup utility usually takes which of the following actions during installation? (Check all that apply.)

A. B. C. D.

Deletes the registry Copies files to your hard disk Creates shortcuts on the Start menu Makes changes to the registry

Correct answer(s): BCD Explanation: A setup utility makes changes to the registry but doesn't delete it. If your registry were deleted, Windows wouldn't work at all.

4. Uninstalling a program by deleting its files from the hard disk doesn't remove which of the following? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C.
D.

Associated graphics files Program shortcuts Registry entries
.exe files

Correct answer(s): BC Explanation: Deleting files from the hard disk doesn't remove a program's shortcuts and registry entries.

5. If you're not sure whether a desktop icon is a program shortcut, what should you do? A. B. C. D. Make an educated guess, based on the icon's name. Open the Properties dialog box and see which tab is displayed on top. See whether you can edit the desktop icon. Check its file listing in Windows Explorer.

Correct answer(s): B Explanation: Open the Properties dialog box for the desktop icon. If the Shortcut tab is on top, you're dealing with a program shortcut. You got 5 correct out of 5 questions. Your Score: 100%

Change the desktop appearance
In Lesson 1, you learned some customization options for the Start menu, Windows features, and installed programs, but there's much more you can do. Windows Vista makes it easy to express your flair with the background, font, and color choices you make. In this lesson, you'll learn adjustments you can make to change what Windows looks like. Change the desktop theme A desktop theme is a combination of settings: font, background image, color choices, and sometimes sounds and icons. Applying a desktop theme is a timesaver because you don't have to adjust each setting separately. Windows Vista has a much different look and feel from earlier Windows versions. The default Windows Vista theme is also called Aero. If you prefer the traditional Windows look, you can select the Windows Classic theme. Unlike earlier versions, these themes are the only two supplied with Vista, but you can download free Vista themes from many Web sites. Be careful about using themes from third parties, especially if you're not familiar with the Web site. Make sure your antivirus program is running, and pay attention to any download warnings you see. Start your theme download adventure by following these steps: 1. Start your Web browser, and go to the Microsoft Download Center. 2. To the right of the All Downloads search list, type Windows themes, and then click Go. 3. Select one or two entries in the results, and then download and install them. 4. To change the theme, right-click your desktop, select Personalize, and then click Theme. The Theme Settings dialog box appears. Select the theme you want from the Theme drop-down list, as shown in Figure 2-1.

Figure 2-1: Themes Settings dialog box. If you modify a theme's appearance by changing its settings, the word "Modified" appears next to the theme name. To save these settings, click Save As, type a theme name in the File name text box, and then click Save. When you change themes, you lose access to the desktop while Windows carries out the change, so be patient. Change the desktop background The background is the main screen where you see desktop icons and the Windows Sidebar. By default, it's a blue-green image (Vista Aurora) in the Light Auras wallpaper category. A wallpaper is a bitmap image that makes up the background. You can use any image you like or disable wallpapers and use a solid color instead. To change the background, right-click the desktop and select Personalize. In the Personalize appearance and sounds window, click Desktop Background to open the Choose a desktop background window. The default folder for images is Windows Wallpapers, but you can browse in other folders or select an option from the Picture Location drop-down list, shown in Figure 2-2. For example, if you select Solid Colors, you can pick a color from the color palette. If you don't like any of the colors, click More to see additional choices.

Figure 2-2: Select a wallpaper or background color. At the bottom are option buttons for selecting a wallpaper position. From left to right, they are Fit to screen, Tile, and Center. The thumbnail images in Figure 2-2 show examples of each positioning option. Use TweakVI Many Windows Vista power users use Totalidea Software's Tweak®VI to modify appearance settings. The basic version is free, but you can get one-year subscriptions for Premium and Ultimate versions. Here's how to download and install the free version: 1. Start your Web browser, go to the Totalidea Software Web site, and then click the TweakVI link. 2. Click the DOWNLOAD button, and in the table at the lower right, click the download link (labeled "Click here") for TweakVI. 3. Click Run to download the file. If you're prompted for verification, click Run again. 4. TweakVI installation should start automatically after the download. If not, double-click the TweakVI desktop shortcut, or click Start > All Programs > TweakVI > TweakVI. 5. Follow the prompts to install the software. When prompted, download and install the EasyBCD software if you like, which is mentioned in Lesson 4. Although the basic version of TweakVI is free, you'll see a message box prompting you to subscribe each time you start the program. Just click the Start the freeware version button to continue. 6. As TweakVI starts for the first time, you're prompted to create snapshots. Click Yes, create snapshots now, enter a name for a restore point, and then click Create System Restore Point. 7. Once the restore point is created, click the Home link in the left pane. Figure 2-3 shows the main TweakVI window. For this lesson,

concentrate on Visual Tweaks options but explore the other options

Figure 2-3: TweakVI has many customization options.

Modify the Vista interface with TweakVI Click Visual Tweaks in the left pane, and then click Startmenu tweaks and settings, hide startmenu items, CTRL+ALT+DEL restrictions on the right to see the Startmenu tweaks plugin window shown in Figure 2-4.

Figure 2-4: Settings for modifying the Start menu.

Review the options on the Start menu tweaks and settings tab. You can disable balloon tips, clear the My Documents list at shutdown, hide many default folders, and more. There are even options to speed up the Start menu and re-sort items on the Start menu in alphabetical order. Explore settings in the Hide start menu items and CTRL+ALT+DEL tabs to find even more customization options. When you're finished, close TweakVI.

Modifying the desktop, background, and Start menu is just the beginning. Keep reading to see how to change screen colors and button styles. Change screen colors and Windows button styles In Windows Vista, you can change the color of menus, title bars, text, window backgrounds, and so on. You can also switch between the Windows Vista style for windows and buttons (raised 3-D buttons and thick, transparent borders) and the classic Windows style. To make these changes, right-click the desktop and select Personalize. Click Window Color and Appearance, and then pick a different color, as shown in Figure 2-5. To see more colors, click Show color mixer.

Figure 2-5: Window Color and Appearance dialog box.

Click the Open classic appearance properties for more color options link to open the Appearance Settings dialog box. Here you can select different color schemes to control what windows, buttons, and text look like. As shown in Figure 2-6, the Windows Vista Basic scheme, for example, removes many of the visual effects used in the default Windows Aero theme.

Figure 2-6: Preview a color scheme in the Appearance Settings dialog box. Click the Effects button to see other settings you can modify. For example, you can turn ClearType and drop shadows on or off and decide whether window contents remain visible while you're dragging them. Click OK or Cancel. Click the Advanced button to control font selections and styles, title bars, and other details, as shown in Figure 2-7. Advanced settings work best with the Windows Classic color scheme, but you can try them with other schemes.

Figure 2-7: Fine-tune settings in the Advanced Appearance dialog box. You can create a gradient (fade) effect for items that have both Color 1 and Color 2 buttons. Change the power button The Windows Vista Start menu power button resides to the right of the Start Search text box (click the Start button to view it). By default, all you can do with this button is put your computer to sleep. However, you can customize its settings to change the way it behaves. Here's how: 1. Open Control Panel in Classic view, and then double-click Power Options. 2. Click Change plan settings under the currently selected power plan. 3. Click Change advanced power settings. 4. Expand Power buttons and lid, as shown in Figure 2-10, to change settings for the Start menu power button.

Figure 2-10: Change the power button's action. See how to change the Start menu power button's behavior. (1.2 MB file) There's a lot you can do to change the taskbar's look and behavior. You have many options for changing keyboard and mouse settings, too, discussed in the next lesson page. Change keyboard and mouse settings Most people use the default keyboard and mouse settings, but you can make a few adjustments to make Windows easier to use. If you have special keyboard or mouse software installed, the Properties dialog boxes might be different from the ones shown here and have different options. Keyboard settings Two keyboard settings you can adjust have to do with key repeat. You can set the repeat delay (the amount of time before a key starts repeating) and repeat rate (the speed at which repeating occurs). If you hold down a key and continue pressing, after a second or two, the character starts repeating rapidly onscreen. This is handy if you want a divider line in a document made up of asterisks or plus signs, for example. To change keyboard settings, open Control Panel in Classic view, and then double-click Keyboard. In the Keyboard Properties dialog box, on the

Speed tab, drag the sliders to adjust the Repeat delay and Repeat rate settings, as shown in Figure 2-11. To test the settings, click inside the Click here and hold down a key to test repeat rate text box and hold down a letter or number key. You can also adjust the cursor blink rate, which affects how fast the text insertion cursor blinks.

Figure 2-11: Keyboard Properties dialog box. Mouse settings Because you use your mouse for almost everything in Windows, make sure it works the way you want it to. You can change the range of cursor motion, the cursor size, and many other settings. Open Control Panel in Classic view, and then double-click Mouse. Click the Buttons tab shown in Figure 2-12.

Figure 2-12: Mouse Properties dialog box. Here's what these settings do:

Switch primary and secondary buttons: If you're left-handed and want to use your strongest finger for the primary mouse button (the left button, by default), you can switch the button functions. Double-click speed: Drag the slider to adjust the speed at which you must double-click for Windows to recognize your action as a doubleclick, not two single clicks. You can test this setting in the box to the right showing a folder. Turn on ClickLock: This setting turns the mouse button into a toggle, like the Caps Lock key, so you don't have to hold it down to drag. This setting is useful for people with limited mobility or dexterity.

On the Pointers tab, you can pick a different pointer scheme -- a collection of pointer graphics -- in the Scheme drop-down list. You can also edit each graphic separately. Just click the one you want to change in the Customize list, click Browse, pick the graphic you want, and then click Open. You can also enable or disable the pointer shadow on this tab. Turning it off can slightly improve the performance of a slow computer. Next, click the Pointer Options tab, and then drag the Select a pointer speed slider to adjust it. You can also change these settings:
 

Enhance pointer precision: This option improves pointer movement, but it can affect performance on slower computers. Automatically move pointer to the default button in a dialog box: With this option, the mouse pointer jumps to the default command

button in a dialog box automatically. Display pointer trails: This option makes a trail appear behind the pointer when you move it -- similar to exhaust fumes from a car. It's useful if you have limited vision. Hide pointer while typing: Use this option to make the pointer disappear when you're typing in a program to avoid confusion between the mouse pointer and the text cursor. When you move the mouse, the cursor pops back into view. Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key: When this option is enabled, you can press the Ctrl key to make a radiating circle flash around the pointer. It's helpful for people with limited vision or who tend to lose the pointer onscreen.

Work with dual monitors Working with dual monitors in Windows Vista is easier than ever before. You need a video card for each monitor that you plan to run under Windows, or in the case of a notebook PC, you can just attach an external monitor to the video port on your PC. To set up dual monitors: 1. Power off your PC and monitor(s), connect the second monitor to your graphics card, and then power on your PC and monitor(s). 2. After Windows Vista is up and running, right-click the desktop and select Personalize, and then click Display Settings. 3. The primary monitor is surrounded by a blue outline to show it's active. To display the second monitor, click the 1 or 2 box (whichever applies to the second monitor), and then check the Extend the desktop onto this monitor checkbox, as shown in Figure 2-13. You might need to adjust the resolution to match the second monitor's capabilities.

Figure 2-13: Set options for a second monitor. If you don't extend the desktop onto the second monitor, it displays everything the first monitor shows. This option is useful if you're showing a slide show and want other viewers to be able to see it easily on the second monitor, without looking at the first monitor over your shoulder. 4. You can also decide which monitor is the default by checking the This is my main monitor checkbox. After making your settings, click Apply or OK, and you're ready to work with two monitors. You've learned how to customize window and button styles, the taskbar, and more, but keep reading to find other customization options you might want to explore. What else? Windows has many more settings than what's covered in this lesson. Here are some settings to explore when you have more time:

 

Open Computer, and then click Tools > Folder Options. In the Folder Options dialog box, you have dozens of settings for file listings, including hiding or displaying hidden files, file extensions, and more. If you have visual, hearing, or mobility impairment, examine the Ease of Access Center in Control Panel. Open Control Panel in Classic view, and then double-click Sound to investigate sound settings. You can turn the speaker icon in the notification area on or off, configure different speakers, select a preferred sound card, and more.

Adjust visual effects for the best balance of features and performance. To do this, open Control Panel, double-click Performance Information and Tools, and then click Adjust visual effects in the Tasks pane. Change whether your monitor and hard disks power down after a specified period of inactivity. In Control Panel, double-click Power Options.

To get the best results when tweaking power options, click the Change plan settings link under a specific power plan, and then explore the available settings. Control Panel is a good place to start when you're exploring customization options. Take the time to investigate what's available in each category. Assignments are designed to help you apply the information learned in the lessons. Customize Windows Vista For this assignment: 1. Visit the Microsoft Download Center and search for desktop themes. Download and install one, and then try it out on your desktop. 2. Change your desktop background, and try it in three positions: Fit to screen, Tile, and Center. Pick the position you like best. 3. Change to another color scheme, and experiment with effects settings, such as drop shadows. If you don't like your new scheme, revert to the Windows Aero or Windows Vista Basic scheme. 4. Adjust the key repeat and cursor blink rate settings for your keyboard. 5. Adjust your mouse properties by selecting a different pointer scheme and adjusting the double-click speed. In addition, select an option that would be useful for someone with limited vision. 6. Experiment with taskbar settings by trying autohiding and grouping similar taskbar icons. Undo any changes you don't like. 7. Customize program icons in the notification area to hide inactive ones. To experiment further, add an icon for a program you use often and remove an icon for a program you use rarely.

Quiz: Lesson 2, quiz 1 Quizzes are designed to give you a chance to test your knowledg

1. What's the default action of the Windows Vista Start menu powerbutton? A. B. C. D. Optimize power settings Sleep Hibernate Shut down

2. True or False: Windows Vista comes with only the Windows Vista and Windows Classic themes by default. A. B. True False

3. Customizing settings such as fonts, title bars, and gradient effects works best with which color scheme? A. B. C. D. Windows Aero Windows Vista Basic Windows Classic Windows Advanced

4. Which of the following settings is a good way to save screen space? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Keep the taskbar on top of other windows. Auto-hide the taskbar. Group similar taskbar icons. Show window previews (thumbnails).

5. Which of the following mouse settings is useful for people with vision impairments? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Display pointer trails Enhance pointer precision Show location of pointer Snap To

Quiz Results

1. What's the default action of the Windows Vista Start menu power button? A. B. C. D. Optimize power settings Sleep Hibernate Shut down

Correct answer(s): B Explanation: By default, the Windows Vista Start menu power button puts your computer to sleep.

2. True or False: Windows Vista comes with only the Windows Vista and Windows Classic themes by default. A. B. True False

Correct answer(s): A Explanation: Windows Vista includes only the Windows Vista and Windows Classic themes by default.

3. Customizing settings such as fonts, title bars, and gradient effects works best with which color scheme? A. B. C. D. Windows Aero Windows Vista Basic Windows Classic Windows Advanced

Correct answer(s): C Explanation: Customizing these settings works best when you use the Windows Classic color scheme.

4. Which of the following settings is a good way to save screen space? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Keep the taskbar on top of other windows. Auto-hide the taskbar. Group similar taskbar icons. Show window previews (thumbnails).

Correct answer(s): BC Explanation: Auto-hiding the taskbar is a good space-saving option because it's displayed only when you need it. Grouping similar taskbar icons saves space too.

5. Which of the following mouse settings is useful for people with vision impairments? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Display pointer trails Enhance pointer precision Show location of pointer Snap To

Correct answer(s): AC Explanation: Pointer trails and the flashing circle that indicates the pointer location are useful options for users with vision impairments. You got 5 correct out of 5 questions. Your Score: 100%

Tweak Windows Explorer In Lesson 2, you learned to customize the Windows look and feel, including desktop themes, window and button styles, keyboard and mouse settings, the taskbar, and more. In this lesson, you'll learn to tweak key components to get the most out of Windows Vista. Windows Explorer remains a key utility in Windows Vista, especially for working with files, folders, drives, volumes, and so forth. In fact, any time you open a browse window in Windows, you're using Windows Explorer. Despite its many capabilities, many users don't know how to make Windows Explorer work effectively. In this lesson, you'll learn some tips, tricks, and shortcuts to help you make better use of this essential Windows tool. Windows Explorer shortcut keys In addition to the usual key combinations many Windows programs support, Windows Explorer recognizes the key combinations listed in the following table, which work on both desktop and notebook PCs. Key Combination Ctrl+N End Home F11 Left arrow Right arrow Alt+D Action Open a new window. Display the bottom of the active window. Display the top of the active window. Maximize or minimize the active window. Collapse the current selection or select the parent folder. Select and expand the first subfolder. Select the Address bar.

Table 3-1: Windows Explorer key combinations. Keyboard shortcuts improve your productivity and navigation speed because you can keep your hands on the keyboard instead of breaking your rhythm by entering a little text, then using the mouse, then entering more text, and so forth. You can print this keyboard shortcut table and use it as a cheat sheet while you're learning the shortcuts. Vista file tags in Windows Explorer Tagging can be used with some file types in Windows Vista to associate files with keywords and speed up searches. Unfortunately, only a few files types support tagging; however, tags are available for Microsoft Office files (.doc and .docx) and .jpg files. Many widely used file types, including other graphics files (such as .png, and .gif) and common text files (such as .txt, .rtf, and .pdf) don't accept tags, however. Figure 3-1 shows a file to which you can add a tag.

Figure 3-1: A taggable file. In the details pane at the bottom of Windows Explorer you can see the "Add a tag" option. Position the cursor over this option to enter a number of text tags separated by semicolons to the file's metadata. When you're saving taggable files, the Save As dialog box includes the same "Add a tag" option, as shown in Figure 3-2. If you don't see the details pane, select Organize > Layout > Details Pane. If "Details Pane" doesn't appear as an item on the Layout menu, select Organize > Folder and Search Options, select the Show preview and filters option on the General tab, click OK, and then select Organize > Layout > Details Pane.

Figure 3-2: The Save As dialog box includes the option to add tags. See how to tag files. (1.7 MB file) Pin programs to the Start menu As explained in Lesson 1, you can pin program shortcuts to the Start menu. You can do this from Windows Explorer too. Just right-click an executable file in Windows Explorer to see that option in the shortcut menu, as shown in Figure 3-3.

Figure 3-3: The Pin to Start Menu option is available in Windows Explorer. As long as you know where to find the .exe file for a program, this method is a handy shortcut for pinning programs to the Start menu, and it's easier than trying to drag across the All Programs list from the Start menu. Next, you'll investigate a more complex Windows component: the registry. Scan and clean your registry

The Windows registry combines information on system hardware, the operating system, and applications with configuration data of all kinds. The information can be cryptic to decipher, so mastering the registry takes time and practice. Some people compare working with the registry to Dante's warning about entering the gates of Hell: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." It's not quite that bad, but you should never modify the Windows registry without backing it up first. You'll learn how to do that in this section. Direct versus indirect registry edits Every time you install a program, run a configuration tool, or use a Control Panel utility, you change the registry indirectly to add new entries (called registry keys or just keys) and alter values for registry keys (called registry key values or just registry values). The registry also keeps track of hardware that Windows detects each time it starts and maintains lists of recently accessed documents, programs, and so forth. When you use the built-in Registry Editor, Regedit.exe, you operate on the registry directly, usually to apply specific additions or changes, often described as registry hacks. A few tweaks are covered in this lesson, but

advanced registry hacking is beyond the scope of this course. Back up your registry Before you make any changes to the registry, back it up. Here's how: 1. To open the Registry Editor, click the Start button, type regedit in the Start Search text box, and then press Enter. 2. In the Registry Editor, select File > Export. The Export Registry File dialog box appears. 3. Type a file name for your registry backup file, select a folder, and then click Save. Consider saving a backup copy on a flash drive or CD for safekeeping. Now you're ready to change your registry. Two helpful registry tweaks To see what's involved in tweaking the registry, you'll step through two simple but effective tweaks. Turn off UAC prompting This registry tweak turns off the UAC (User Account Control) prompting that requires you to consent before Vista makes configuration changes, enables installs, or runs unsigned software, even when you're logged on with administrator privileges. Some users find this prompt annoying and want to disable it. Here's how: 1. In the left pane of the Registry Editor, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Policies > System. 2. Right-click the ConsentPromptBehaviorAdmin value in the right pane and select Modify. (You might have to extend the size of the Name field in the right pane to see this value.) Change the key value from 2 to 0, and then click OK. 3. Close the Registry Editor (select File > Exit). You might see a warning message indicating that User Account Control has been turned off, but it's okay because that's what you intended to do. The change should take effect immediately, without needing to restart Windows Vista. Like many things in Windows, you can enact this change in a couple of ways. The above is how to do it via the Registry. If you want to avoid modifying the Registry, there is an alternate method to achieve the same goal: 1. Select Start > Control Panel > User Accounts. 2. Click Turn User Account Control on or off. If prompted for an

administrator password, type it in and press Enter. 3. Select the Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer check box to turn on UAC, or clear the check box to turn off UAC, and then click OK. Although Microsoft recommends you leave UAC enabled at all times, turning off UAC prompting is generally fine in SOHO (small office/home office) settings, where formal security policies aren't used. In most businesses, however, this change might violate the security policy, so check with your IT department before attempting any changes. Add Copy To Folder to the Windows Explorer shortcut menu The second registry tweak adds a Copy To Folder entry in the Windows Explorer shortcut menu that appears when you rightclick a file name. When selected, this option opens a browse window in which you can select a location for copying a file. The Copy To Folder option is particularly useful if you transfer files to and from a USB (universal serial bus) flash drive often. To add the Copy To Folder menu item, follow these steps: 1. Open the Registry Editor. 2. In the left pane, navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT > AllFilesystemObjects > shellex > ContextMenuHandlers. 3. Right-click that entry, and then select New > Key. In the left pane, replace the default name, New Key #1, with Copy To Folder, and then press Enter. 4. In the right pane, double-click (Default), type {C2FBB630-297111d1-A18C-00C04FD75D13} in the Value data text box, and then click OK. (Make sure you type this value exactly as shown, including the braces.) 5. Close the Registry Editor. Figure 3-4 shows the Copy To Folder entry added to the Windows Explorer shortcut menu.

Figure 3-4: The Copy To Folder option added to the menu. Keep your registry clean As you install and uninstall programs, the Windows registry can become crowded with bits of useless, outdated, or orphaned information over time. Short of reinstalling Windows to get a pristine registry, using a cleaning tool once a month or so can be helpful. You can find countless cleaning tools, but be careful of ones that clean too drastically, which can be just as damaging as no cleaning at all. Stick to registry cleaners from reputable vendors and consult online reviews of cleaning tools. One free tool, CCleaner, works well and gives you control over what gets cleaned and what doesn't. Here's how to use this tool: 1. Start your Web browser and go to the CCleaner home page. 2. Click the Download CCleaner now link. 3. Click the Download from FileHippo.com link, and then click the Download Latest Version link on the next page. 4. Right-click the security warning message, if prompted, click Download File, and click Run in the File Download Security Warning dialog box. 5. Follow the prompts to install CCleaner, and then start the program. Figure 3-5 shows the main window.

Figure 3-5: The main CCleaner window. 6. Click Registry in the left pane, and then click the Scan for Issues button in the right pane. After a few moments, you should see a list of missing shared DLLs (dynamic link libraries), unused file extensions, and so on. Leave all the default checkboxes checked, as shown in Figure 3-6.

Figure 3-6: CCleaner selects all registry issues to fix. 7. Click the Fix selected issues button. (You might need to widen the window to see the all button labels in their entirety.) When CCleaner prompts you to create a restore point first, click Yes. 8. You can go through all the fixes one at a time, or just click Fix All Selected Issues to have CCleaner repair problems automatically. When you're finished, click Close, and then close CCleaner. 9. Restart your computer. If you have any trouble during startup, reboot, hold F8 down before the Windows logo appears, and select Last Known Good Configuration in the Advanced Boot Options screen. When your computer has restarted, return to your saved restore point.

The other features in CCleaner are useful too. The Cleaner utility, for example, is more thorough and faster than the Windows Disk Cleanup utility. Take the time to investigate some of CCleaner's other tools. There's more to scanning than cleaning your registry, however. Read on to learn how to scan your entire system for security issues. Perform routine security scans No Windows installation is completely secure, not even a pristine Vista setup. New exploits pop up constantly, so regular security scans should be part of your Windows upkeep routine. Two third-party tools for security scans are recommended: Gibson Research Corporation's ShieldsUP!! and free audits for SOHO users at SecuritySpace. Steve Gibson's ShieldsUP!! On Gibson Research Corporation's home page, click the ShieldsUP!! logo. On the next page, scroll down and click the ShieldsUP! link. Read the preliminary information, and click Proceed. You should see the ShieldsUP!! Services menu with these options: File Sharing, Common Ports, All Service Ports, Messenger Spam, and Browser Headers. For this lesson, you'll use the first three scan options. Click the File Sharing option. This scan checks to make sure external NetBIOS access to your Vista computer is disabled, and you aren't running any publicly available services (such as Web or FTP sites). Figure 3-7 is an example of results you might see. If you don't get a passing rating from this scan, ShieldsUP!! gives you step-by-step instructions for addressing the problem.

Figure 3-7: Results of a File Sharing scan. Next, scroll down and click the Common Ports option on the ShieldsUP!! Services menu. Figure 3-8 shows a passing score. Read through your results, particularly the details on each port check. Ports in the 0 to 1023 range shouldn't be accessible on your computer. If any are,

ShieldsUP!! explains how to fix the problem.

Figure 3-8: Results of a Common Ports scan. Finally, scroll down and click the All Service Ports option on the ShieldsUP!! Services menu. This scan adds ports 1024 to 1056 to its review, which include ports Windows uses for its services. Figure 3-9 shows a passing score for this scan. If you don't get this rating, read the tips for improving your security.

Figure 3-9: The All Service Ports scan marches through ports in the range from 0 to 1056. You can try other tests in the ShieldsUP!! arsenal. For example, the User Specified Custom Port Probe checks all possible TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) ports. Gibson's site is highly recommended for learning more about Windows security issues and solutions. SecuritySpace basic audit SecuritySpace offers commercial security scans for business networks and public Internet sites. However, a free basic audit is available for

SOHO users. Just follow these easy steps: 1. Register for an audit on your IP address. SecuritySpace sends you a confirmation e-mail with a link you click to verify your registration. 2. Log in, click the Run Audit button, and select a scan in the Audit Type drop-down list. Click the Begin Audit button, shown in Figure 3-10, and SecuritySpace scans your system. (You might be on a waiting list, so be patient.)

Figure 3-10: Enter audit details for SecuritySpace. 3. SecuritySpace notifies you by e-mail when the scan is finished and gives you a URL (uniform resource locator) where you can view the results and recommendations for solutions. Figure 3-11 shows the results of a more thorough No Risk Security Audit. This audit gives you a rating of vulnerabilities, such as high-, medium-, and low-risk vulnerabilities.

Figure 3-11: SecuritySpace rates vulnerabilities it finds on a system. Another site worth visiting is Audit My PC, which offers tests for firewalls, spam, privacy checks, and more. Now that you know how to keep your computer secure, the next section shows you how to use Resource Monitor to track usage statistics on your computer. Use Resource Monitor Resource Monitor in Windows Vista gives you a concise view of CPU (central processing unit), disk, network, and memory usage statistics. You can open Resource Monitor in a number of ways:
 

In Task Manager, click the Resource Monitor button on the Performance tab. Open Control Panel in Classic view, double-click Performance Information and Tools, click Advanced tools in the Tasks pane, and then click Open Reliability and Performance Monitor, which shows Resource Monitor in the Resource Overview pane on the right. Some power users prefer typing perfmon in the Start Search text box and pressing Enter.

Figure 3-12 shows the main window.

Figure 3-12: Resource Monitor shows utilization statistics for CPU, disk, network interfaces, and memory. Resource Monitor includes detail buttons for each resource category (the down-pointing arrows at the far right). Clicking these buttons gives you the following information:
 

CPU: A list of processes and related information, such as process ID, description, thread count, and CPU breakout data Disk: A list of processes accessing the hard disk, with information on read and write activity, process IDs, file specifications, and average response time in milliseconds Network: A list of processes accessing the network, with information on process IDs, send and receive activity, and network address (IP address or domain name) Memory: A list of processes consuming memory, with information on process IDs, hard faults, commit charges, working set size, and private and shared memory allocations

For all these listings, you can click column headings to sort entries by maximum or minimum values. Resource Monitor is also good for diagnosing slow performance. (Just keep in mind that using it adds 2 to 7 percent to overall processing activity.) It's more helpful than Task Manager at showing how separate processes consume system resources. You can also use it to identify memory leaks -- processes that continue to consume memory without releasing any -- and to see which tasks should be allowed to run without intervention, such as disk defragmenting and antivirus scans. Moving on In this lesson, you learned how to tweak key Vista components such as Windows Explorer and the registry, how to improve security by running scans and how to use the Resource Monitor. In Lesson 4, you'll learn about managing and speeding up Windows Vista startup, making the

best use of Windows Vista Backup and Restore Center, repairing damaged Vista installations, and setting up multiboot configurations. Before you move on, give the assignment and quiz a try.

Tweak Windows Vista components - Assignment For this assignment: 1. Use Windows Explorer to add tags to one or more .jpg files on your system. 2. Use Windows Explorer to search for Notepad.exe. Right-click the file name, and then select Pin to Start Menu. What happens? 3. Go to CCleaner.com, and download and install the current version of CCleaner. Use the tool to scan and clean your registry. 4. Go to Gibson Research Corporation's home page. Navigate to the ShieldsUP!! services, as described in the lesson, and run the File Sharing and Common Ports scans. 5. Open Resource Monitor, and then check the statistics in the four resource categories. Leave it open as you start your word processing program, open a Web page, and copy a file. What changes did you notice in these statistics? Quiz: Lesson 3, quiz 1 Quizzes are designed to give you a chance to test your knowledge.

1. Which of the following key combinations do you press to select the Address bar in Windows Explorer? A. B. C. D. Alt+A Ctrl+A Alt+D Ctrl+D

2. Which file types can be tagged in Windows Vista? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. .txt files All graphics files Microsoft Office files .jpg files

3. True or False: The only way to change the Windows registry is by using the Registry Editor. A. B. True False

4. How do you access Resource Monitor? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. In Task Manager, click the Resource Monitor button on the Performance tab. Click Start, type perfmon in the Start Search text box, and then press Enter. In Control Panel in Classic view, double-click Programs and Features, click Advanced tools in the Tasks pane, and then click Open Reliability and Performance Monitor. In Control Panel in Classic view, double-click Performance Information and Tools, click Advanced tools in the Tasks pane, and then click Open Reliability and Performance Monitor. Quiz Results

1. Which of the following key combinations do you press to select the Address bar in Windows Explorer? A. B. C. D. Alt+A Ctrl+A Alt+D Ctrl+D

Correct answer(s): C Explanation: Press Alt+D to select the Address bar in Windows Explorer.

2. Which file types can be tagged in Windows Vista? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. .txt files All graphics files Microsoft Office files .jpg files

Correct answer(s): CD Explanation: Any Microsoft Office files and .jpg files can be tagged in Windows Vista.

3. True or False: The only way to change the Windows registry is by using the Registry Editor. A. B. True False

Correct answer(s): B Explanation: You change the Windows registry indirectly when you install programs, use Control Panel utilities, and so forth.

4. How do you access Resource Monitor? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. In Task Manager, click the Resource Monitor button on the Performance tab. Click Start, type perfmon in the Start Search text box, and then press Enter. In Control Panel in Classic view, double-click Programs and Features, click Advanced tools in the Tasks pane, and then click Open Reliability and Performance Monitor. D. In Control Panel in Classic view, double-click Performance Information and Tools, click Advanced tools in the Tasks pane, and then click Open Reliability and Performance Monitor.

Correct answer(s): ABD Explanation: You can access Resource Monitor from Task Manager's Performance tab, entering perfmon in the Start Search text box, or through Control Panel (Performance Information and Tools > Advanced tools > Open Reliability and Performance Monitor). You got 4 correct out of 4 questions. Your Score: 100%

Perform advanced startup management
In Lesson 3, you learned to tweak key Vista components, such as the registry, perform security scans, and access Resource Monitor to view your system's CPU, disk access, network, and memory statistics. In this lesson, you'll fine-tune Windows Vista startup and learn how to repair system problems. An unfortunate effect of installing some programs is that they increase the number of startup programs that run every time your system boots. This increase can slow down startup considerably and might add unnecessary items to your notification area and runtime environment. Fortunately, built-in Windows tools are available to manage startup programs. What runs at startup? First, you need to know which programs run during Vista startup. To find the answer, click Start, type msinfo32 in the Start Search text box, and then press Enter to open the System Information utility. Next, expand Software Environment in the left pane, and then click Startup Programs to see a list of programs. Place your mouse pointer over items in the Command column to see which file is used to run the startup program, as shown in Figure 4-1.

Figure 4-1: View startup programs running on your Vista computer. Control startup programs You use different programs to turn off startup programs you don't need: the System Configuration utility and the Software Explorer tool included with Microsoft Windows Defender. Software Explorer also enables you to turn off the Sidebar on your desktop. Using the System Configuration utility You need administrator privileges to run the System Configuration utility.

To start it, click Start, type msconfig in the Start Search text box, and then press Enter. The main window appears with the General tab selected by default. At the bottom of the General tab, select the Selective startup option as shown in Figure 4-2, which enables you to turn startup items on and off as you like.

Figure 4-2: Selecting the Selective startup option Click the Startup tab, shown in Figure 4-3. This is where you manage startup programs separately. The checkboxes indicate that the program is enabled if checked.

Figure 4-3: System Configuration, Startup tab. When deciding which startup programs to disable, do the following: 1. Determine if any programs are redundant. For example, if you've installed a new antispyware program, you can disable the default Windows Vista spyware program -- Windows Defender -- from running automatically at startup, and then just run it occasionally on a manual basis. 2. Search online for more information on a program. An online search revealed that the GrooveMonitor Utility, for instance, is a tool installed as part of Microsoft Office 2007 and used only if you sync offline Office files with a SharePoint server. If you don't use that capability, you can disable this startup program.

To disable a program, uncheck its checkbox, click Apply, and then click OK. You're asked whether you want to restart immediately or exit System Configuration without restarting. Unless you must disable the program immediately, click Exit without restart. The next time you run System Configuration, you'll notice that any disabled programs have been moved to the bottom of the list, and the date you disabled them is shown in the Date Disabled column. Using Software Explorer To run Software Explorer, select Start > All Programs > Windows Defender. From the Windows Defender main menu, select Tools > Software Explorer, and in the Category drop-down list, select Startup Programs (if necessary), as shown in Figure 4-4.

Figure 4-4: Startup programs listed in Software Explorer. Programs you disable in System Configuration aren't listed in Software Explorer, and those you disable in Software Explorer aren't listed in System Configuration. It doesn't matter which tool you use. Just be prepared for these listings to be inconsistent. To disable a program in Software Explorer, just select its entry and click Disable. You can click the Remove button to delete all files associated with startup programs and free up disk space, but if you want to restore those programs, you have to find the files from another source (usually by downloading or using the installation disc). Now that you've modified startup programs to make Windows Vista start more efficiently, you'll learn more ways to speed up the startup process next.

Speed up the Windows Vista startup process Reducing the number of startup programs, as you learned in the last section, and disabling unneeded services are the two main ways to speed up the Vista startup process. When Vista starts, it launches many services in addition to startup programs. Depending on the system, 50 or more services might start, and not all are necessary. To see which services are running on your computer, follow these steps: 1. Press the Windows+R keys to open the Run dialog box. Type services.msc in the Open text box, and then click OK to open the Services console. 2. To sort the services to show only currently running (started) services in alphabetical order, click the Status column twice. You should see a list similar to Figure 4-5.

Figure 4-5: Sort running services in alphabetical order. 3. The Description column gives you brief information about the service. For more details, start your Web browser, and search on services by name to help you decide what's necessary. You can also consult Web sites such as TweakHound and BlackViper. Using a complete service name improves your search results. For example, enter Windows Vista DFS Replication service instead of just "DFS replication." The following table lists services that are generally safe to stop or disable. Service Distributed Link Tracking Client Notes Maintains links between NTFS files on a computer or across a network; okay to stop or disable when no linked files are used.

IPsec Policy Agent Enforces IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) policies; okay to stop or disable if you don't use IPSec. If you

don't use IPSec, you can also stop the IKE and AuthIP IPsec Keying Modules service. KtmRm for Distributed Transaction Coordinator Offline Files Required to coordinate multiple source transactions for Windows Web Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and other databases or transaction tools. If you don't use them, stopping or disabling this service is okay. Used to work on local copies of networked files when network access isn't available. If you don't use Offline Files, you don't need this service. Supports input from a touch screen; okay to stop if you don't have a touch screen.

Tablet PC Input Service

Table 3-2: Vista services safe to stop or disable. Stop first, disable second If you're sure you don't need a service, right-click its Status entry in the Services console and select Stop. Use your system for awhile as you normally do. If you don't experience any problems, return to the Services console, right-click the service name, select Properties, change the startup type to Disabled, and then click OK. If you only stop (rather than disable) an essential service, restarting your computer reestablishes the service. If you're in doubt, set the startup type to Manual, which gives Vista the option of starting it if needed. See how to disable an unneeded service. (1.3 MB file) Next, you'll learn how to use system recovery tools. Use the System Recovery Options menu In Windows 95, 98, and Me, you could create a startup floppy disk for booting if your system had problems. Windows XP didn't have this option but provided the command-line Recovery Console, in which you could perform limited troubleshooting and repairs. Windows Vista has replaced the Recovery Console with the System Recovery Options menu, accessible from the Windows Vista installation DVD. If you don't have a Windows Vista installation DVD, you might not be able to complete this portion of the lesson. However, sometimes the System Recovery Options menu is available on a hidden partition or with a repair and recovery utility supplied with your computer. If you can't find it, ask your vendor for help. Access the System Recovery Options menu To access this menu, you must restart your system from the Windows Vista installation DVD. Normally, you'd use this disc for installation, but early in the process, you can select the Repair your computer option to open the System Recovery Options menu. If you don't have a Windows

Vista installation DVD but do have a recovery utility installed, restart your computer, hold down F8 as Windows begins booting to open the Advanced Boot Options screen, and then select Repair Your Computer. Here's a step-by-step sequence if you're using the Windows Vista installation DVD: 1. After you insert the Windows Vista installation DVD and start your system, the first installation screen asks for local information -language, time and currency format, and keyboard layout. Make your selections, and then click Next. If prompted to log on as an administrator, select a user account with administrative privileges from the drop-down list, enter the password, and then click OK. 2. In the next screen, click Repair your computer. Windows scans your hard disks and lists all partitions it identifies. In most cases, it's a single partition. 3. Select the partition you want to repair, and click Next. The System Recovery Options window lists available recovery tools, as shown in Figure 4-6.

Figure 4-6: Select a recovery tool. Here's an explanation of the tools shown in Figure 4-6:

Startup Repair: This tool examines the drive's MBR (master boot record), boot partition, and partition tables, repairs what's damaged, and restores what's missing.

If you need to restore a system or boot drive to a new hard disk, bring it up on another Windows Vista computer, and use the Disk Management utility to mark the partition you want to make bootable as "Active."

System Restore: With this tool, you can access a previous restore point in your Windows Vista partition and apply it to the system

image in the partition selected for repair. If you're trying to recover from a damaged or improperly edited registry, this option usually gets you back up and running. CompletePC Restore: If you've used the "Back up computer" option in Vista's Backup and Restore Center, this tool enables you to restore the backup image to the drive of your choice. Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool: This tool runs a check to look for potential memory errors. It's useful if Windows error messages or blue screen codes suggest memory problems. Command Prompt: Use this tool to open a command prompt window for running command-line recovery tools.

When you're done using the recovery tools, if you're returned to the System Recovery Options dialog box, click Restart. Windows Vista recovery tools are easy to use and understand, and provide valuable improvements over previous versions of Windows. Next, learn how to use a multiboot configuration.

Set up and manage a multiboot configuration Installing more than one operating system and selecting which one you want to run from a startup menu is called multibooting. To set up a multiboot system, you need a separate hard disk for each operating system. It can be a physical disk or a hard disk partitioned into logical drives. Windows 2000 and later versions support multibooting. If you use any operating system that doesn't support multibooting, you must install it first. That way, the newer operating system that's capable of multibooting can detect the older operating system and set up boot options correctly. Windows Vista boot configuration data The Vista boot environment includes a firmware-independent data store for BCD (boot configuration data) and tools for managing Windows Vista boot options. BCD replaces the Boot.ini file used in previous Windows versions to store booting instructions. Windows Vista boot programs include the following:

Windows Boot Manager (Bootmgr): This system program controls boot flow. On a multiboot system, it displays a menu in which you select the operating system to use. Winload.exe: Each version of Windows Vista has its own instance of Winload.exe. This operating system loader creates the running environment for the operating system and loads the Windows Vista kernel, HAL (hardware abstraction layer), and boot drivers into memory. Winresume.exe: Each version of Windows Vista has its own

instance of Winresume.exe. This loader program restores Windows to its running state when a computer resumes from hibernation. Windows Vista BCD is described in the Microsoft paper "Boot Configuration Data in Windows Vista." Download this document for all the details. The NTLDR (NT Loader) program and Boot.ini file should be on the root drive for multiboot systems that include Windows versions prior to Vista. You should also install Windows XP before Vista on a dual-boot computer so that Vista can detect the presence of XP during installation and set up the BCD environment correctly. Reversing this order can result in Windows XP not being able to boot. Windows Vista boot tools In Vista, you can use two tools to manage boot settings: System Configuration and BCDEdit. You used the Startup tab in System Configuration previously, but this utility has a Boot tab, too, as shown in Figure 4-7. You can select basic boot options and use the Advanced options button to get help for boot problems from Microsoft's product support.

Figure 4-7: The Boot tab in System Configuration includes options for troubleshooting. BCDEdit is a complex tool that modifies the BCD store, which supplies configuration parameters that control how the operating system is booted. You can also use it to add, delete, edit, and append entries to the BCD store. Other options are available for emergency management services and debugging control. To learn more about them, open a command prompt window, and type bcdedit /? to see the help file, or visit TechNet to see the BCDEdit Command-Line Options documentation. If using a complex command-line tool to edit boot configuration data isn't appealing, try the NeoSmart Technologies free EasyBCD tool. It gives you simple, GUI access to nearly everything BCDEdit does at the

command line. For detailed instructions on setting up a dual-boot system with Windows Vista and XP, see James Bannan's excellent article "How to dual-boot Vista with XP - step-by-step guide with screenshots." You can download it from APC Magazine. Even with all you know about recovery tools now, sometimes they aren't enough to resolve problems with the operating system, and you have to start over. Next, see how to reinstall Windows to solve startup problems and repair damage to your system. Reinstall Windows Vista The last resort in fixing a startup problem is to reinstall Windows Vista. You can do this by booting from the Windows Vista installation DVD, if you have one. If you bought Windows Vista separately, you have the DVD; if you got it free with your new computer, you probably don't. As mentioned previously in the lesson, new computers might not come with a full version of Windows Vista, however. Instead, they come with a recovery CD -- or nothing at all. The files for reinstalling Windows Vista might also be in a hidden partition on your hard disk. Sometimes the hidden partition is accessible only through a program on the recovery CD, and sometimes you can get to it from the command line. You can also try restarting your computer, and then holding down the F8 key as Windows begins booting. Reinstalling over the existing Windows Vista installation often solves your problems. A reinstallation in the same location preserves most of your settings, including your installed programs. If a reinstallation doesn't work, you might need to wipe everything from your hard disk and start over. To do this, during Windows Vista setup, you use the option to delete existing partitions and create new ones. You'll lose everything -- including data. Therefore, back up your files and settings regularly so you can restore them quickly, if needed. Some computer manufacturers provide a recovery CD that doesn't enable you to do a reinstall. You can just do a wipeout and start over with the original factory configuration, so you'll lose all your data and any programs you've installed. Check your documentation to find out the options for your computer. Moving on In this lesson, you learned ways to speed up and troubleshoot Vista startup, how to work with the System Recovery Options menu, and how to work with boot management programs and multiboot systems. This

lesson is just the tip of the iceberg for Windows troubleshooting, but there's more than enough here to get you started. In Lesson 5, you'll learn about managing hardware devices, drivers, and BIOS settings in Windows. Before you move on, give the assignment and quiz a try. Manage Windows Vista startup - assignment For this assignment: 1. Use the System Information utility to examine the list of startup programs on your Windows Vista computer. 2. Use a search engine to look up four programs on the Web. Based on your research, determine whether you can disable these startup programs. 3. Select two startup programs that you can safely disable; disable one in the Software Explorer tool and one in the System Configuration utility. Restart your computer and see what happens. If you don't like the results, enable the programs again. 4. Boot from the Windows Vista installation DVD (or your vendor recovery CD, if you don't have a Vista DVD). Open and explore the System Recovery Options menu. Quiz: Lesson 4, quiz 1 Quizzes are designed to give you a chance to test your knowledge. 1. Which of the following is a recovery tool available in the System Recovery Options menu? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. System Repair CompletePC Restore Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool Startup Repair

2. True or False: Startup programs you disable in Software Explorer aren't listed in System Configuration utility, and vice versa. A. B. True False

3. True or False: After disabling a program in the System Configuration utility, Windows Vista requires you to restart your computer. A. B. True False

4. True or False: When you reinstall Windows Vista over an existing

installation, your data and installed programs are preserved. A. B. True False

5. Which of the following are most likely to speed up the Windows Vista startup process? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Disable unnecessary startup programs. Add more memory. Disable unnecessary services from loading automatically at startup. Turn off the Aero theme's visual effects. Quiz Results 1. Which of the following is a recovery tool available in the System Recovery Options menu? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. System Repair CompletePC Restore Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool Startup Repair

Correct answer(s): BCD Explanation: Available recovery tools include CompletePC Restore, Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool, and Startup Repair. Another tool is System Restore (not System Repair).

2. True or False: Startup programs you disable in Software Explorer aren't listed in System Configuration utility, and vice versa. A. B. True False

Correct answer(s): A Explanation If you disable a startup program in one tool, it's not listed in the other tool.

3. True or False: After disabling a program in the System Configuration utility, Windows Vista requires you to restart your

computer. A. B. True False

Correct answer(s): B Explanation: After disabling a program in the System Configuration utility, you're asked whether you want to restart immediately or exit System Configuration without restarting.

4. True or False: When you reinstall Windows Vista over an existing installation, your data and installed programs are preserved. A. B. True False

Correct answer(s): A Explanation: You can preserve your data and installed programs by reinstalling over an existing Windows Vista installation.

5. Which of the following are most likely to speed up the Windows Vista startup process? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Disable unnecessary startup programs. Add more memory. Disable unnecessary services from loading automatically at startup. Turn off the Aero theme's visual effects.

Correct answer(s): AC Explanation: The best ways to speed up the Vista startup process is to disable unnecessary startup programs and disable unnecessary services from loading automatically at startup. You got 5 correct out of 5 questions. Your Score: 100%

Windows Vista and your hardware
In Lesson 4, you learned how to speed up Windows startup, use system recovery tools, and set up a multiboot configuration. In this lesson, you'll focus on hardware. Windows Vista is good at managing computer hardware, and with most new equipment designed for Plug and Play, you generally don't have to configure settings manually upon installation. As with any machine, however, things can go wrong, and if you're going to be a Windows Vista power user, you need to know how to fix them. Here are a few problems you might need to know how to solve:
 

You want to make sure you have all the latest drivers loaded, but you're not quite sure how to do this or find the correct updates. You want to be sure your computer is running as fast as possible, but you don't know how to find out whether your CPU and memory have hidden reserves you can use.

By the end of this lesson, you'll know how to cope with all these situations. System and performance settings You can always check the basics on any Vista system by opening Control Panel and double-clicking System in Classic view to open the window shown in Figure 5-1. It shows which version of Vista is running (Business, in this case), the Windows Experience Index rating, the CPU in use, the amount of RAM (random access memory) available, and whether the operating system is 32- or 64-bit. At the bottom of the window is the computer's name, description, and membership in a local workgroup or domain.

Figure 5-1: The System applet provides basic information about a Windows Vista computer. Click Change settings at the lower right to open the System Properties dialog box. Click the Advanced tab, and in the Performance section, click Settings to open the Performance Options dialog box, shown in Figure 5-2.

Figure 5-2: The Performance Options dialog box. The Visual Effects tab has checkboxes to enable or disable many of the visual enhancements in Windows Vista. You can disable all of them by selecting Adjust for best performance, which makes your computer run faster. Selecting Adjust for best appearance enables all the options to make your Windows Vista display richer and more interesting. You can also select Custom and enable or disable each option one by one. Disabling certain visual effects (such as transparent glass) disables most of the Aero theme's special effects. The Advanced tab has settings for processor scheduling and virtual memory. In most cases, you should leave the default settings, but you can make minor adjustments, if needed. For example, if you have more than 2 GB of memory, you can reduce the paging file's size (used for virtual memory) to between 1 and 2 GB without affecting Vista negatively. See how to modify Vista performance settings. (2.3 MB file) Now that you know how to find system performance information and modify it, next you learn how to discover whether you need new drivers for your hardware.

Scan and replace drivers on a Windows Vista system Before you start updating and replacing drivers for hardware components, you need to determine which drivers are outdated. Several tools are available for this purpose, and all scan your system, list installed hardware components and your current drivers, and identify whether newer drivers are available for any of these components. In this lesson, you'll use a Web-based tool called DriverAgent, which downloads an ActiveX control to your computer to scan it and list hardware components and drivers. You can use other tools to get the same information, such as DriverGuide or TotallyDrivers, to name a few. However, if you purchased your computer from a manufacturer that included a system scanning/upgrading utility, you should use that tool. To start this process, go to the DriverAgent Web site and click the Web Scan on the right side. On the next page, click the Scan Now, It's Free! button. If it's your first visit to this Web site, a file download security warning appears. Click Install and follow the prompts to continue. As DriverAgent runs, it displays progress information on checking chipsets, drives, and other system hardware components. When the scan is finished, a results chart appears. A green checkmark indicates the driver is up to date, and a red X indicates an outdated driver. In Figure 5-3, two drivers are out of date -- one for the graphics card and one for the Ethernet network adapter. These two system components are the most likely to need new drivers.

Figure 5-3: After the scan, DriverAgent discovers two out-of-date drivers. After you determine which drivers need to be updated, there are two ways to proceed:
 

Note the vendor of the hardware component (such as NVIDIA® for the graphics card), download the necessary driver, and install it. For $30 a year, you can become a DriverAgent member and link to the drivers you need straight from the DriverAgent scan results. Then you download and install the drivers. The download rates from DriverAgent's servers are usually faster than downloading from vendor Web sites.

After you install new drivers, run another scan to check your ratings. In the next section, you'll learn how to disable hardware components you don't need. Disable unneeded hardware elements To view the devices and drivers installed on your PC, click the Start button, type device manager in the Start Search text box, and then press Enter to open the Device Manager window shown in Figure 5-4.

Figure 5-4: Device Manager lists device categories. Device Manager lists all the hardware installed on your computer, shows the status of each component, and enables you to access properties for each component. To view the properties for a device, click the plus sign next to a category, and then double-click a device. Figure 5-5 shows the properties for a disk drive, for example.

Figure 5-5: Viewing the properties of a hardware device. The following steps walk you through identifying and disabling an unused device. If your computer includes two network interfaces, for example, and you don't plan to use one of them in the future, it's a prime candidate for being disabled. Here's how to do it in Device Manager: 1. Expand the Network adapters category. 2. Right-click the unused network interface entry. 3. Select Disable from the shortcut menu. The network adapter is then displayed in Device Manager with a down arrow next to its name, indicating that it's been disabled, as shown in Figure 5-6.

Figure 5-6: A disabled hardware component in Device Manager. As you explore Device Manager's many categories, often you find unused devices in these categories:
 

Floppy disk drives: If you have no floppy drive installed, disable the drive and its controller. IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers: If you're not using ATA Channel 1 or Channel 2 -- for example, you have only SATA devices in your computer -- disable these devices.

 

IEEE 1394 Bus host controllers: If you don't have FireWire devices, you have no need for devices in this category. Infrared devices: If you don't connect to peripheral devices, such as PDAs (personal digital assistants), wirelessly, you can disable this category. Ports: If you don't use COM or LPT ports, disable them.

Steer clear of entries in the System devices and Universal Serial Bus controllers categories unless you're sure about what you're doing. Before you disable unneeded devices in Windows, check your PC's BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) to see whether you can disable a device there first. If you can, you'll save on Windows resources and speed up the initial booting process before Windows starts. Next, you learn how to check and modify settings for your wireless adapter. Optimize wireless network adapter settings New notebook PCs routinely come equipped with wireless network interfaces (or adapters). This section covers some common settings you can modify to optimize wireless connections. Here's how to check your wireless adapter settings: 1. Click the network icon in the notification area, and then select Network and Sharing Center. 2. Click Manage wireless networks in the left pane, and then click Adapter properties to open the Wireless Network Connection Properties dialog box. 3. Click Configure to open the wireless adapter's Properties dialog box, and then click the Advanced tab. The specific entries listed on the Advanced tab differ depending on the wireless adapter installed in your notebook PC. However, the following general entries are usually the most common:

AP Compatibility Mode: In most cases, this entry should be set to Higher Performance. However, if you're experiencing dropped connections, open the Value drop-down list and select Broader Compatibility. Channel: This is the radio channel on which the wireless adapter starts looking for wireless access points within range. If your wireless access point is configured with a different value than what's shown here, set your adapter to match. Minimum Power Consumption: If this entry is set to Enabled, open the Value drop-down list and select Disabled.

This setting alone can make a big difference in optimizing wireless connections. If your notebook PC's power settings are configured to

maximize battery life, your wireless connection could be dropped each time the computer hibernates. Check your notebook PC's power settings (click the power icon in the notification area on the taskbar, or doubleclick Power Option in Control Panel, Classic view). Select the High performance option if you leave your notebook PC plugged in most often.
   

QoS (Quality of Service) Mode: This setting should match your wireless access point. Rate: Open the Value drop-down list, and then select Use best rate. Throughput Enhancement: If you're experiencing frequent dropped connections, disable this setting if it's enabled. Wireless Mode: Match this setting to the mode used by your wireless access point: 802.11 b/g, 802.11a, or 802.11n.

Next, learn how to tweak your BIOS settings. Tweak your BIOS For most BIOS implementations, pressing Delete or F1 during startup displays the BIOS setup screen instead of continuing with normal startup. In most BIOS environments, you find entries such as the following:

Standard CMOS Features: Use this entry to set date and time, to identify connected hard disks and other drives, to establish halt conditions (errors that cause the computer to shut down), and configure basic memory data.

CMOS stands for Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. It's a lowpower semiconductor technology used in microchips.

Advanced BIOS Settings: Establish boot priority for multiple devices (so the computer knows in what order to request devices to provide startup information) and configure drive, keyboard, and hard disk controller settings. Integrated Peripherals: Attached devices are usually displayed here with enabled or disabled status, along with other features, such as RAID (redundant array of independent disks), USB ports and setup, and so forth.

For disabling unneeded devices, the BIOS is the right place to turn, particularly for floppy drives, IDE channels 0 and 1 (often called the primary and secondary IDE controllers), and IrDA (infrared) devices. Disabling devices in the BIOS makes them "invisible" to Windows and prevents your system from interacting with them during startup, which boosts overall speed slightly.

Don't knock disabling devices in the BIOS as a speedup technique until you've tried it on your PC. Depending on your motherboard, you can improve boot time by as much as 30 seconds. When BIOS tweaks cause problems What happens if you make a BIOS change and your PC or Windows doesn't start properly? As long as you can use Delete or F1 to access the BIOS setup program immediately upon bootup, you can go back in to reverse the change you made. For this reason, making one change at a time and then restarting to observe the results is best before you make other changes. Changing several settings at a time makes determining which one caused problems difficult. Write down all BIOS settings you change so that you can enter them again if you must return to factory defaults. Most computers, however, offer a handy BIOS backup and restore utility, and you can check the date of BIOS backup files to see which version you want to restore. If you can't access the BIOS setup program, find and use the CMOS reset pin block on your motherboard to reset your computer to its factory defaults, and then recover from there. (Check the documentation that came with your computer to determine where the CMOS reset pin is located.) If you're serious about learning more ways to speed up your system and improve performance, continue reading to find out how overclocking works. Overclocking 101 Overclocking refers to systematic speedups applied to your computer's CPU, memory, graphics processor, and other system components. Some power users keep ratcheting speeds up until their computer doesn't perform properly, and then back off to the last speed setting that worked. If you're not comfortable with this method, take a more conservative route when experimenting with overclocking settings. You computer must meet two requirements to accomplish even modest overclocking goals, such as speeding up CPU and memory speeds by 5 to 10 percent:

The BIOS must enable you to increase CPU clock speed and speed up memory access by tightening memory timings or speeding the memory clock. Your computer hardware must be robust enough to keep working when pushed to run faster than its top-rated speed.

You might find, after examining your PC's BIOS, that your computer's overclocking capabilities are slim or none. Serious overclockers buy system components designed to run at higher-than-rated speeds, especially motherboards, CPUs, memory, and graphics cards (many of which are already overclocked). The expense of purchasing components for overclocking can easily double or triple the price of standard components. What affects CPU speed? Two BIOS settings affect how fast your CPU runs. The multiplier describes how many times the FSB (front-side bus) clock speed is multiplied to produce the net CPU speed. For a typical FSB speed of 200 MHz (megahertz) and a multiplier of 11, the CPU is clocked at 2.2 GHz (11 x 200 MHz). Generally, speeding up memory involves some speedup to the FSB clock, which overclocks the CPU automatically. You can get a good idea of what's possible with BIOS settings by reading your motherboard manual, but to learn the limits and techniques for overclocking specific motherboards, do an Internet search on "overclocking" plus the name of your motherboard. You'll find lots of reports, reviews, and advice on how to squeeze the most out of your motherboard, CPU, and memory. As CPU speeds increase, you must usually boost the voltage supplied to the CPU. This technique poses a real risk of burning out the part through overvoltage or overheating, so stop short of limits that other experimenters report in their overclocking attempts. What affects memory speed? Two kinds of settings affect memory performance. Timings affect memory latency -- the time the computer takes to read from or write to a memory location -- and FSB clock speed determines how fast memory runs and improves performance by speeding everything up, including reducing latency. Here are the best approaches to tightening memory timings:
 

Experimenting with different memory timing settings and then restarting to observe the effects Investigating reports from other experimenters and vendors and trying recommended settings.

In general, you can safely boost the FSB clock speed by 10 to 15 percent, depending on the motherboard-CPU-memory combination you're using. Some dedicated overclockers achieve performance boosts of 40 to 80 percent above rated capabilities.

Useful (and free) PC investigation tools Visit the CPUID Web site to download two useful PC investigation and overclock-reporting tools: CPU-Z and PC Wizard 2008. CPU-Z reports accurate information about your CPU and related timing data plus memory and related timing data. PC Wizard 2008 examines more system details and offers basic benchmarking tests. Both are helpful for observing the results of overclocking your system. Figure 5-7 shows the CPU-Z interface.

Figure 5-7: The CPU tab shows the CPU speed (core speed), multiplier, and FSB (bus speed) settings. These tools are also handy just for learning more about hardware components and settings on your system. Moving on In this lesson, you learned how Windows interacts with hardware and examined some utilities for viewing and managing hardware and system settings. In Lesson 6, you'll explore a grab bag of interesting, useful things you can do in Windows Vista. Before you move on, complete the assignment and take the quiz to reinforce what you learned in this lesson.

Work with hardware settings – assiginment For this assignment, determine the following information about your computer. Figure out which utilities and Properties dialog boxes to use in Windows to gather the following information:
     

Version of Windows Vista (including any service packs) CPU type and speed, and actual CPU clock rate in effect Amount of RAM installed, memory speed, and timings in effect Motherboard manufacturer, make, and model Basic system performance rating (also called the Windows Experience Index rating) Graphics card and network adapter drivers and whether newer versions are available

Quiz: Lesson 5, quiz 1 Quizzes are designed to give you a chance to test your knowledge. 1. True or False: Turning off Visual Effects options can improve system performance. A. B. True False

2. True or False: One method of optimizing the performance of your wireless network adapter is to enable the Minimum Power Consumption setting. A. B. True False

3. Which of the following Device Manager categories is a likely place to look for unneeded hardware components you can disable? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Human Interface Devices Floppy disk drives Infrared devices Network adapters

4. What's the difference between disabling a device in the BIOS and disabling a device in Device Manager? A. B. C. D. There's no difference. Devices disabled in the BIOS must also be disabled in Device Manager. Devices disabled in the BIOS are invisible to Windows; devices disabled in Device Manager remain visible to the BIOS. Disabling devices in the BIOS leaves them visible in Device Manager, so they must be disabled in both places.

5. Which of the following BIOS settings affects how fast your CPU runs and can be used to overclock your system? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Multiplier FSB clock speed Latency timing Standard CMOS features Quiz Results

1. True or False: Turning off Visual Effects options can improve system performance. A. B. True False

Correct answer(s): A Explanation: Visual Effects use memory, so turning them off can result in better performance in Windows Vista.

2. True or False: One method of optimizing the performance of your wireless network adapter is to enable the Minimum Power Consumption setting. A. B. True False

Correct answer(s): B Explanation: To optimize the performance of your wireless network adapter by safeguarding against dropped connections, you should disable the

Minimum Power Consumption setting.

3. Which of the following Device Manager categories is a likely place to look for unneeded hardware components you can disable? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. D. Human Interface Devices Floppy disk drives Infrared devices Network adapters

Correct answer(s): BC Explanation: Many new computers no longer have floppy drives installed, so you can safely disable this device. If you don't connect to peripheral devices wirelessly, you can disable infrared devices, too.

4. What's the difference between disabling a device in the BIOS and disabling a device in Device Manager? A. B. C. There's no difference. Devices disabled in the BIOS must also be disabled in Device Manager. Devices disabled in the BIOS are invisible to Windows; devices disabled in Device Manager remain visible to the BIOS. D. Disabling devices in the BIOS leaves them visible in Device Manager, so they must be disabled in both places.

Correct answer(s): C Explanation: Devices disabled in the BIOS are invisible to Windows, and your system doesn't interact with them during startup, which speeds up booting. Devices disabled in Device Manager remain visible to the BIOS.

5. Which of the following BIOS settings affects how fast your CPU runs and can be used to overclock your system? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. Multiplier FSB clock speed Latency timing

D.

Standard CMOS features

Correct answer(s): AB Explanation: The multiplier and the FSB clock speed affect how fast your CPU runs. You got 5 correct out of 5 questions. Your Score: 100%

Restore previous file versions
In Lesson 5, you delved into hardware and system settings. In this lesson, you continue exploring advanced features and utilities to get the most out of Windows Vista. Every time you use the Windows Vista Back Up Files Wizard or when a file changes from one restore point to the next, Windows Vista makes a shadow copy of the changed file's previous version. You can use shadow copies to restore a file to a previous point in time if you accidentally damage or delete it. To take advantage of the restore points Windows Vista creates daily by default, however, you must enable System Protection (a feature of System Restore) to create restore points for all drives. Shadow copies and the restore previous versions functionality are available in Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions only. To do this: 1. Open Control Panel in Classic view. 2. Double-click System, and then click System protection in the Tasks pane. 3. In the System Properties dialog box on the System Protection tab, mark the checkboxes next to each drive on which you save files. 4. Click OK, and then close the Control Panel. Determine whether a file or folder has a previous version To determine whether a file or folder has a previous version, open Windows Explorer, navigate to and right-click the file or folder, select Properties, and then click the Previous Versions tab in the Properties dialog box. If no previous version is available, you see a message to that effect in the Properties dialog box. If a previous version is available, you see a list of versions and dates, as shown in Figure 6-1.

Figure 6-1: A folder with many previous versions. To examine the contents of a previous version, select it and click Open. When you find a version you want to restore, select it and click Restore, and Windows Vista overwrites the newer version with this version. Shadow copies can be a lifesaver when you want to undo unwanted changes or unexpected modifications to files. Shadow copies and USB drives Unless you schedule automated backups through the Backup and Restore Center or run this tool manually, you won't have access to shadow copies of files saved to USB drives. That's because System Protection creates restore points only for physical hard disks in your computer. Therefore, you can't count on daily coverage from Vista's automatic restore points for USB drives. If you want to access shadow copies of files on these drives, you must back them up. Schedule automatic backups of these drives, too, to match what restore points do for internal hard disks. The Backup Files Wizard works only on NTFS, however, so you can't back up USB drives formatted as FAT or FAT32 with this tool. As an alternative, copy files on a USB drive to a hard disk that can be backed up.

Next, you'll learn ways to customize the Sidebar. Make the Windows Sidebar work for you Windows Sidebar is the vertical bar on the far right of your desktop. It contains several mini-programs called gadgets that provide information at a glance and easy access to frequently used tools. For example, you can use gadgets to watch a slideshow from your Pictures folder, display a calendar showing your schedule, provide feedback on CPU and memory consumption, and display an old-fashioned clock face to check the time, as shown in Figure 6-2.

Figure 6-2: The Windows Sidebar with gadgets. Add, reposition and remove Sidebar gadgets To add a gadget, right-click the Sidebar, and then select Add Gadgets to open the Gadget Gallery, shown in Figure 6-3. You must be logged on with administrative rights to install a new gadget.

Figure 6-3: The Gadget Gallery. To find more gadgets for your Sidebar, click Get more gadgets online in the Gadget Gallery to see what's available. This takes you to the Personalize Windows Vista Sidebar page on the Microsoft Web site, where you can investigate gadgets by top ratings, category, type, and so on. For example, in the Mail and IM category, you can add gadgets to watch Microsoft Outlook, Skype™, MySpace.com®, AOL® Mail and AIM®, and Gmail™, among others. If you're a regular eBay® shopper, add one of the eBay Search gadgets in the Search tools category. If you like staying on top of current events while you're working, add gadgets for news, weather, sports, and radio, and get RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds from a variety of sites. You can have multiple copies of a gadget open at once, such as several clocks that display the time in different countries, or several stock tickers configured for specific stocks you're closely watching. (Although you can add stocks to the Stocks gadget, you have to scroll the list to see all of them. Having a second Stocks gadget with different stocks selected lets you see things at a glance.) To open multiple instances of the same gadget, just add the same gadget from the Gadget Gallery. If you use dual monitors and want to control which monitor the Sidebar appears on, right-click an empty area of the Sidebar and select Properties. In the Windows Sidebar Properties dialog box, select the monitor's number from the Display Sidebar on monitor drop-down list. To reposition a gadget, select it and then drag it up or down in the Sidebar. To close an open gadget, right-click it and select Close, or click the X in the gadget's upper-right corner. Sidebar keyboard shortcuts As with other Windows components, you can use several keyboard shortcuts to work with the Sidebar. The following table lists some useful items; for more shortcuts, check the Windows Help and How-to Keyboard Shortcuts Web page. Key Combination Windows+spacebar Action Bring all gadgets to the front and select the Sidebar

Windows+G Left arrow (or Alt+left arrow) Right arrow (or Alt+right arrow)

Cycle through Sidebar gadgets Go back in Slideshow Go forward in Slideshow

Table 6-1: Some Windows Sidebar shortcut keys. Close the Sidebar The Windows Sidebar makes frequent use of system resources, so users with single-core CPUs might want to turn it off. Just right-click the Sidebar and select Close Sidebar. It remains turned off until you turn it back on, which you can do by right-clicking the Windows Sidebar icon in the taskbar and selecting Open, or by clicking Start, typing sidebar in the Start Search text box, and selecting Windows Sidebar from the programs list. Keep reading to learn how to use common folders to your advantage in Windows Vista. Use Windows Vista common folders You're probably already familiar with Windows Vista common folders: Documents, Music, Pictures, Video, and Downloads. These folders make organizing your files easier because they're available in all Windows Vista programs. Here's a brief explanation of common folders:

Documents: Microsoft Office saves your work in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, and so forth in this folder by default. If you work with Office applications frequently, this folder is one of the most often used in the Windows Vista file system. Pictures: Vista and image applications save digital pictures and images in this folder, whether they come from a digital camera, a scanner, or another source. Vista recognizes common image file extensions, such as .jpg, .bmp, and .gif, easily. Video: Vista saves video files, such as clips from a digital camera or files from a camcorder, in this folder. When you download pictures or videos or copy them from media, Windows Vista places them in the Pictures or Video folders automatically unless you specify otherwise. Music: This folder is where Vista looks for and stores all your music files. Windows Vista also uses it automatically as the primary folder for Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center. When you download music or copy it from a CD, Vista places files in this folder unless you specify another location. Downloads: Any files you download are stored in this folder automatically, unless you specify otherwise. It makes a handy

catch-all for downloads you want to use later. Some power users, however, prefer keeping data files on a drive separate from the one storing the operating system. The choice is yours. However, here are some caveats to consider:

Windows Vista manages common folders for you, directs files of related types into those folders automatically, and begins searches for files in those folders.

Consider building a folder structure within Vista common folders to avoid having to reconfigure default settings in applications made for Vista, and in Vista's Search feature. This can be a real time-saver if you find yourself repeatedly clicking Browse and navigating to a separate drive to access your files.

Because Documents, Pictures, and other common folders are part of the user's folder structure, they're included in system restore points and usually backed up when the system drive is backed up. These backups make access to previous file versions easier. If you don't use the common folders for storing data files and use a separate drive instead, you must remember to enable System Protection on other drives so that you can take advantage of shadow copies to restore previous file versions.

Now that you understand why using Vista common folders saves you time and effort, you're ready to learn some advanced search techniques to find what you want quickly and easily. Use advanced search techniques Searching in Windows Vista is easier and more efficient than in previous Windows versions. The Start Search text box displayed when you click the Start button is an easy way to find programs, as you've noticed from the numerous times this method has been used throughout the course. If you can't remember the specific program file name to enter in the Start Search text box, an easy alternative is clicking Start > Help and Support, and then entering a program name in the Search Help box. The Search box in Windows Explorer enables you to search only what's selected in the left pane. However, even if you select Desktop as the focus of your search (which intuitively means Vista should search everything listed under it), this feature doesn't always find the item you're searching for. In that case, click the Advanced Search link in the right pane to get more search options, as shown in Figure 6-4.

Figure 6-4: Set the search scope, specify search criteria, and even search hidden and system files. When performing an advanced search, select Computer in the Location drop-down list to include all media on the computer in the search. Select the Everywhere option for the most all-inclusive search. You can also narrow down your search by date, date modified, and date created. Within those options, you can select specific dates or date ranges. In addition, you can tighten the search scope by file size, tag, or author. If you use Outlook and work with files as attachments to messages, important files can wind up stored in temporary Internet folders on your system. These folders aren't included in search processing, so if you need to search for a file attachment, check the Include non-indexed, hidden, and system files (might be slow) checkbox in Advanced Search. See how to use advanced search techniques. (1 MB file) Save customized searches In addition to the preconfigured searches available in the Searches item in the Folders list (such as Recent Documents, Recent E-mail, Recently Changed, and so on), you can create customized searches and save them in the same list. To set up and save a customized search: 1. Enter your search parameters in the Search box. 2. Select a location in the Location drop-down list or in the Folders list in the left pane, such as Computer.Vista displays the search results in the right pane. 3. Click Save Search on the toolbar. 4. In the Save As dialog box, enter a search name in the File name text box, and then click Save. Your saved search appears in the Searches folder list. The next time you're looking for related information, just open the Searches item in the Folders list, and then click the saved search. Moving on

In this final lesson, you learned how to restore previous file versions through a shadow copy. You also learned about customizing the Windows Sidebar, working with Vista common folders, and using Vista's powerful search capabilities. Before you pat yourself on the back for finishing this course, however, complete the assignment and quiz to test your understanding of the lesson's materials. Assignments are designed to help you apply the information learned in the lessons. Find it fast with Windows Vista -Assignment For this assignment, practice using the Search tool in Microsoft Vista. For each item in the following list, try using the Start Search text box, the Advanced Search tool in Windows Explorer, and the Search Help box in Help and Support. Which technique gets you to the resource fastest? What have you learned about using Vista's search capabilities more efficiently?
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System Configuration Backup and Restore Center Internet Explorer Device Manager Notepad Quiz: Lesson 6, quiz 1

Quizzes are designed to give you a chance to test your knowledge.

1. True or False: System Protection creates restore points only for physical hard disks in your system. A. B. True False

2. Why might you want to close the Sidebar? A. B. C. D. To streamline your desktop To save on system resources To help you learn how to use other search techniques To emulate a Windows XP desktop

3. Which of the following are reasons for using Windows Vista common folders? (Check all that apply.) A. B. Vista manages common folders for you. Vista directs files of related types into common folders automatically.

C. D.

Vista begins searches for files in common folders. Vista automatically enables System Protection on external drives so you can take advantage of shadow copies to restore previous file versions.

4. When you know the exact file name of a program, which of the following search techniques is the most efficient way to open the program? A. B. C. D. Help and Support Start Search text box Windows Explorer Advanced Search

5. When you're using the Advanced Search tool in Windows Explorer, which of the following Location settings produces the most thorough search results? A. B. C. D. Local Hard Drives Documents Everywhere Computer

6. If you're searching for a file attachment to an e-mail, which of the following options should you select in Advanced Search? A. B. C. D. Include e-mail and Web browser folders Include attachments Include temporary Internet folders Include non-indexed, hidden, and system files (might be slow) Quiz Results

1. True or False: System Protection creates restore points only for physical hard disks in your system. A. B. True False

Correct answer(s): A Explanation: Only physical hard disks are included when restore points are created.

2. Why might you want to close the Sidebar? A. B. C. D. To streamline your desktop To save on system resources To help you learn how to use other search techniques To emulate a Windows XP desktop

Correct answer(s): B Explanation: The Sidebar makes frequent use of system resources, which can slow performance on single-CPU computers.

3. Which of the following are reasons for using Windows Vista common folders? (Check all that apply.) A. B. C. Vista manages common folders for you. Vista directs files of related types into common folders automatically. Vista begins searches for files in common folders. D. Vista automatically enables System Protection on external drives so you can take advantage of shadow copies to restore previous file versions.

Correct answer(s): ABC Explanation: Windows Vista manages common folders for you, directs files of related types into those folders automatically, and begins searches for files in those folders.

4. When you know the exact file name of a program, which of the following search techniques is the most efficient way to open the program? A. B. C. D. Help and Support Start Search text box Windows Explorer Advanced Search

Correct answer(s): B

Explanation: When you know the name of the program executable file, use the Start Search text box. Otherwise, you're better off searching in Help and Support.

5. When you're using the Advanced Search tool in Windows Explorer, which of the following Location settings produces the most thorough search results? A. B. C. D. Local Hard Drives Documents Everywhere Computer

Correct answer(s): C Explanation: The Everywhere location setting is all-inclusive.

6. If you're searching for a file attachment to an e-mail, which of the following options should you select in Advanced Search? A. B. C. Include e-mail and Web browser folders Include attachments Include temporary Internet folders D. Include non-indexed, hidden, and system files (might be slow)

Correct answer(s): D Explanation: Because e-mail attachments are stored in temporary Internet folders, you should select the Include non-indexed, hidden, and system files (might be slow) option in Advanced Search. You got 6 correct out of 6 questions. Your Score: 100%

Instructor

Cindy Fox Cindy Fox has been working with computers in some form -hardware, software, networking, programming, management, writing, and teaching -- since 1986. Cindy owns Butterfly Consulting LLC, which provides database and Web design, hosting, programming, training, and writing services to a diverse client base. Cindy is a certified college instructor and the author of QuickBooks QuickSteps (McGraw-Hill, 2004).

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