Ways to make Vista and XP work your way

Had enough of Windows' shenanigans?

Had enough of Windows' shenanigans? I'll show you how to print elegant folder lists, dispatch Balloon Tips and annoying icon wizards, and copy files that won't copy. Plus, I debunk a performance hoax that's making the rounds on the Net.

Disable customise notifications

The Hassle: The Customize option in the Taskbar tab of the Properties menu on my PC is greyed out. How can I hide and restore the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the System Tray.

The Fix: Leave it to Microsoft to make things confusing. Right-click the Taskbar and choose Properties — 'Hide Inactive Icons' is checked, right? Clear that check box, click Apply, and you're in business. And if you ever trash your system tray, grab a copy of the Taskbar Repair Tool: It's a miraculous freebie ($US5 for the Pro version) that fixes dozens (36 to be exact) of taskbar, quick-launch, and system-tray problems.

Battle balloons and icons

The Hassle: I bought a laptop with Windows Vista (I know, silly me). The OS keeps asking to remove desktop icons, and the Balloon Tips are driving me nuts. Have a solution?

The Fix: I agree — Windows' Desktop Cleanup Wizard is ever so annoying. (Hey, Microsoft, I like my old, unused shortcuts!) In XP, you can disable the wizard with a VB script from Kelly Theriot. The process is easier in Vista: Right-click on the Desktop, choose Properties, Desktop, Customise Desktop, and clear the Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard Every 60 Days check box. You can ditch Balloon Tips in XP with Doug Knox's VB script; in Vista this script can be a killer, so you'll want to read the instructions on the gHacks page about it.

Print any folder list

The Hassle: My friend asked for a printed list of all my MP3s. I spent an hour and still couldn't figure out how to do it.

The Fix: There's an easy way to do this, and a hard way. Me, I'm lazy (it's the genes), so I use Karen's Directory Printer. The free utility generates folder and subfolder listings in every way imaginable, including (or excluding) the file size, creation date, and attributes. For you purists avoiding extra programs, Microsoft has a weekend project to print folders from your context menu in XP or Vista. Be aware, though, that it involves batch files, folder mods, and Registry hacks.

Beware this speedup hoax

Not everything you read on the Internet is true. I spotted a tweak — a modification of the Quality of Service (QoS) Packet Scheduler's settings — that purportedly gives both XP Professional and Vista a 20 per cent bandwidth boost. I wish. I tried it, as did a few buddies. Though some of us didn't see a thing, others, me included, perceived improved performance. Unfortunately, it was merely the power of suggestion — Microsoft's experts say the tip is bogus, and I believe them. However, if you use Wi-Fi, tuning your router's QoS settings can help with some applications.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Steve Bass

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?