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
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
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.