Productivity

Five Best Windows 7 Tweaking Applications

Windows 7 has been well received both critically and on the street. And while Lifehacker readers love Windows 7, a well-built OS isn’t a perfect OS. Check out these five applications that tweak Windows 7 and customise to your heart’s content.

A stock Windows 7 installation is a fairly pleasant place to work, judging from our readers’ reports. Even so, a little tweaking of its behaviour, looks and other features lets you optimise and personalise that desktop. Check out these five great tools for doing so.

God Mode (Windows, Free)

The “God Mode” in Windows 7 isn’t quite like a video game God Mode—alas, no infinite laptop battery life or unlimited bandwidth—but it is a pretty nifty hack, and doesn’t require any new installations. Create a new folder on your Windows desktop, save it with the name God-Mode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}, though you can substitute whatever name you want for “God-Mode.” The folder will change icons, and when you click on it, you’ll see every configuration option available in the control panel. That’s the real power of the Windows 7 God Mode—it takes all the toggles you have to dig through the control panel menus and sub-menus to get to, and puts them right in one master list. It’s worth trying out God Mode just to see settings you may not have even been aware of.

Regedit (Windows, Free)

The Windows registry is a treasure trove of tweak-friendly variables and values. You shouldn’t muck around in it blindly, but by reading up on specific variables, you can tweak all manner of things that slightly irk you. Stroll through here at Lifeahacker to read up on all sorts of neat tricks, like how to speed up the Windows 7 taskbar, customize the login buttons, and tweak Aero peek . While you’re learning about the registry, you’ll want to check out our guide to registry and registry cleaning. If you’re not comfortable directly editing your Windows registry, we’d advise you to check out some of the other Windows tweaking applications in the Hive Five. Many of the settings they provide are just a neat graphic interface for the variables hidden in the bowels of the registry.

Windows 7 Manager (Windows, $US40)

Windows 7 Manager doesn’t do anything that you can’t do with various pieces of freeware or registry tweaks, but it does roll together dozens of functions into a unified, simplified interface. Not only can you tweak the GUI of Windows 7 but you can also tweak your boot routines, find duplicate files, securely erase files, retrieve and backup software keys, and more. Windows 7 Manager comes with a 15 day trial, so you can pit it against the free options in today’s Hive before shelling out your hard-earned cash.

Rainmeter (Windows, Free)

Rainmeter is a skinning application for Windows, but that doesn’t quite do it justice. You can do nearly anything with data using Rainmeter, from embedding the weather into your desktop to massaging the entire way you interact with your OS into something new. The best testament to the versatility and outright coolness of Rainmeter is wandering through the rainmeter tag here at Lifehacker, and checking out all the unique desktops and tweaks readers have shared with us—also worth a peek is the best desktops of 2009, many of them featuring Rainmeter. If you look at your Windows desktop and go beyond thinking “I wish the taskbar had different spacing” and more toward “I wish my Windows interface looked like something totally new and Star Trek-flavored,” then Rainmeter is for you.

Ultimate Windows Tweaker (Windows, Free)

For those of you that remember and loved the TweakUI utility from Microsoft, Ultimate Windows Tweaker is a freeware tool that takes the concept of the old TweakUI and supercharges it for Windows Vista and 7. You can tweak hundreds of settings and variables including everything from including and excluding system tray icons to the menu pop-up speed to security settings for the control panel. It’s a 380k stand-alone portable application so if you’re curious to see just how many things you can tweak it’s no hassle at all to take it for a spin.

Have a favourite tool that didn’t make the cut? A registry hack you really want to share? Let’s hear about it in the comments. As always, if you have a great idea for a future Hive Five we want to hear about it. Send your ideas to [email protected] with “Hive Five” in the subject line.


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