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  Perk up your Windows XP

1. Speedup the Start menu
The Start menu takes quite a while to display the list of programs installed. In order to get Windows XP to display the list faster, you will have to edit the registry settings. But before you set about doing this, remember to back up your registry before making any changes. To speed up your Start menu, go to Start > Run and type regedit. This will open the registry window. Then navigate to the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER
\Control Panel\Desktop folder. Thereafter, scroll down in the right panel and double-click on the menu ‘Show Delay File’. In the Value Data box, change the default value for the menu speed from 400 to a lesser number, such as 1 or even 0. Click OK. You should now find a significant increase in the Start menu speed.

2. Modifying visual settings
If you have only 128 MB RAM, your machine might be a bit sluggish after installing Windows XP. So to achieve optimal performance without buying additional RAM, disable certain visual settings and free up some precious memory. Go to the Control Panel, click on the Advanced tab in System, and choose Settings under the Performance option. Change various graphical effects. Uncheck the animation and shadow options as they tend to consume a lot of memory. You should get a better response from your OS now without spending any money on RAM.

3. Grouping/ungrouping taskbar items
Try opening more than three windows of any program, for instance Internet Explorer, and you will see them automatically grouped together under a single button. This happens because Windows XP, by default, enables the option for grouping similar programs on the taskbar. To uncheck this option, right-click on a blank area of the Taskbar and select Properties. Under Properties, deselect ‘Group Similar Taskbar Buttons’, and then click OK.
If you want to specify the number of windows before Window XP groups the program windows, you will have to navigate to the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows \CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\Taskbar Groupsize. Now right-click on Taskbar Groupsize and change the hexadecimal value to whatever you like (for example, 4 or 5 or even 10). XP will now group the programs according to the number you set.

4. Disabling Automatic Windows Update and System Restore
There are certain services such as Windows Update and System Restore, which are automatically loaded and occupy a lot of space. If you would like to disable them, right-click on My Computer and choose Properties. Click on the System Restore tab and check the box ‘Turn off System Restore’. This will increase Windows performance and save disk space.
Similarly, locate the ‘Automatic Update’ option just next to ‘System Restore’. This option will periodically ask you to update the OS. You can go ahead and disable this, but remember that you will have to update Windows manually after applying this option since there will be no reminders.

5. Creating personal screensavers
You can use your photographs for creating slide show presentations or even creating a screensaver. Right-click an empty spot on your desktop, choose Properties, and click the Screensaver tab. In the Screensaver list, click on ‘My Pictures Slideshow’, and click ‘Settings’ to make any adjustments such as how often the pictures should change, their size and whether you would like to use transition effects between pictures. Click OK to finish. The screensaver that will now be generated will display photographs from the My Pictures
folder in a random manner.

6. Increasing connection speed
Some of us may find that after installing Windows XP, the Internet connection gets slower. A possible reason for this is the QoS (Quality of Service) installed. This service reserves 20 per cent of the bandwidth for itself, even with QoS disabled. In order to remove this reserved quota, you will have to make sure you are logged on as Administrator. Go to Start > Run and type gpedit.msc. Expand the ‘local computer policy’ branch, the ‘administrative templates’ branch, and the ‘network’ branch. Highlight the ‘QoS Packet Scheduler’ in the left window and in the right window double-click the ‘limit reservable bandwidth’ setting. Then, on the Setting tab, check the ‘enabled’ item and change the ‘Bandwidth limit %’ to read 0. After doing this, you should immediately notice a boost in your Internet connection speed.

7. Bridging connections
If you’d like to connect two or more computers via LAN, then you should utilize the Network Bridge option provided in Windows XP. There is no configuration required and you do not need to purchase additional hardware such as routers or bridges. IP addressing, address allocation, and name resolution is highly simplified in a single subnet IP network. To use this feature you
will have to open Network Connections. Under LAN or High-Speed Internet, select each of the private network connections that you want to be part of the bridge. Right-click one of the highlighted private network connections and click Bridge Connections.

8. Removing MSN Messenger
How do you remove MSN Messenger in Windows XP? Not from the Add/Remove program list but by locating SYSOC.INF in the \Windows\INF folder (hidden file and folder). Open it in Notepad and locate the line: msmsgs=msgrocm.dll,OcEntry,msmsgs.inf,hide,7
Remove the word ‘hide’ from the line and save the file. After making the necessary changes, you’ll be able to see MSN Messenger in the Add/Remove Windows components list. You can then remove it for good.

9. Renaming multiple batch files
In Windows XP, you can easily rename multiple files at a single go and save a lot of time. Click Start and click My Pictures or the folder where you have saved the pictures. Switch the view from the default Filmstrip to Thumbnails by clicking the Views button on the toolbar. Select all the pictures you want to rename by highlighting the last picture you want, then press and hold down the [Shift] key until you include all the pictures that have to be renamed, ending with the first picture in the list. Right-click the first picture, and then click Rename. Rename the first picture, and then click in the white space next to one of the pictures. The pictures are renamed all at once!

10. Creating boot-up disk
In order to create a bootable floppy disk in XP, insert a floppy and go to the floppy icon in My Computer. There you will have to right-click the floppy drive icon and click on the Format option. You will see the option ‘Create MS-DOS Start up Disk’. After creating the boot up disk, you will be able to boot into Windows XP using this disk.



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