Editor: Say hello to fellow tech writer and Lifehacker reader The How-To Geek, who was kind enough to pull together some of best Windows Vista power tweaks here on Lifehacker today.
Whether it’s the nagging prompts or the irritating notifications, Windows Vista’s default settings can grate on your nerves… which doesn’t help you be the productive person you want to be. A few simple tweaks can cut down on the irritation—and drastically alter your views on Vista. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to tame the Vista beast and make it a less naggy operating system to work on.
First, considering Windows Vista’s tendency to use up resources and slow down, make sure you clean up your computer’s clutter, and that you have a decent amount of memory (1GB is the bare minimum for Vista). If you need to upgrade, you can check out Adam’s guide to installing memory, after determining the type of memory your computer needs. There’s nothing more annoying than trying to run Vista on a machine that isn’t up to snuff. Once you’re working with the right amount of memory, it’s time to get tweaking.
Make UAC Less Annoying
We’ve all seen the Mac versus PC ads making fun of Vista’s User Account Control, and likely you already know how to disable it. However, we couldn’t put together a list of Vista annoyances without including some methods to make UAC just a little less annoying. Rather than disabling it entirely, you can disable just for administrators, disable the secure desktop, or even create shortcuts to disable UAC for a specific application.
Keep Windows Update from Rebooting Automatically
How many times have you been right in the middle of something when Windows prompted you to reboot for updates? Or worse… you were right in the middle of something, stepped away for a bit, and come back to find your computer has restarted itself because Windows Update decided to. Sure, you can disable automatic reboot temporarily, but if you leave your computer on with applications open, it’s much better to prevent Windows Update from rebooting your computer with a simple registry hack.
Stop Losing the Sleep Button to Windows Update
It’s the end of a long day, and you want to just put your computer in sleep mode instead of shutting everything down, so you click on the start orb and click Sleep like you always do… except Windows has changed the Sleep button to “Turn off and Install Updates.” Now you have to wait for the long painful process of installing updates while you sit there and get angry that you just lost your place.
Disable the Irritating Click Sounds
Have you ever noticed that every time you open a folder in Vista, or click on a link in Internet Explorer, an irritating click sound plays in your speakers? You might have thought your mouse was getting more vocal, but it’s actually just an annoying sound effect that’s enabled by default. A few quick steps later, you can have that annoyance disabled… just look under Sound in Control Panel, and turn off the sound for “Start Navigation.”
Use Compatibility Mode to Make Applications Work
With all of the changes in Windows Vista, it’s no surprise some applications just flat-out don’t work. The best bet is always to check with the manufacturer to see if they have a Vista-compatible version, but if that’s not an option you can always use Compatibility mode. I’ve found that this especially helps when running video games or other software that wouldn’t be updated over time.
Fix File Copying Problems
Stop Hard Drive Grinding
Have you ever noticed that your hard drive never seems to stop grinding when using Windows Vista? You can make Vista behave by disabling SuperFetch, and trim down the number of items being indexed by the built-in search, or even disable it altogether if you don’t use it.
Stop the Annoying Pop-up Notification Balloons
If you’ve turned off automatic updates, the firewall or just aren’t running with the “recommended” settings, Vista will annoy you with messages about checking your computer security. You could take the drastic step of disabling all notification balloons entirely, or if you want to only get rid of this annoyance, you can simply tell the Security Centre to stop bugging you.
Restore Missing Icons
Every version of Windows seems to have different icons on the desktop or Quick Launch by default, but unfortunately Windows Vista makes it far too easy to delete the built-in icons, and unsuspecting users aren’t sure how to get them back. You can easily restore the Flip3D or Show Desktop icons, or you can hit the link to restore Recycle Bin and other built-in desktop icons.
Install XP on Your Vista Computer
If all else fails and you simply can’t get used to Vista’s quirks, you can always install Windows XP on your pre-installed Vista PC, either as a dual-boot, or completely replacing Vista. This is especially useful for gamers or anybody running old software that won’t run with compatibility mode mentioned above.
For more Vista tweaks and ideas, check out Lifehacker’s Windows Vista hub.
What annoys you most in Windows Vista? Tell us in the comments.