The final version of Windows 7 is being released this week to the general public, and after you get your hands on it the first thing you'll need to know is: Do all my tweaks still work?
If you haven't already made the switch over to Windows 7, be sure to check out our guide to upgrading to the Windows 7 RC, which should still be applicable for the final release. If you aren't sure whether you want to make the switch full-time, you can always setup a dual-boot with Vista or XP.
Disable Shortcut Icon Arrows
This is one of those little annoyances that doesn't really affect functionality at all, but if you are worried about making your system look just right, you might want to get rid of the unseemly arrows that show up on any shortcut. There's loads of different methods to get rid of these icons—back in XP you could just use Tweak UI, but starting with Windows Vista you needed another application: the Vista Shortcut Overlay Remover. It still works in Windows 7, and is just about the simplest way to get rid of the arrows. Why this setting isn't built into Windows, I just don't know.
Stop Windows Update from Automatically Restarting Your PC
This is my personal pet peeve with Windows—you are right in the middle of a few dozen things, with a ton of applications open on your screen, and you come back to your computer only to find that your PC has restarted because of Windows Update decided that rebooting that instant was more important than all that work you had on your screen. If you are sitting in front of your PC, you can always temporarily disable the automatic reboot, but there's another registry hack that will prevent it from happening in the first place.
Add Any Folder To Your Taskbar
This tweak has worked on every version of Windows for a very long time, and even with the new taskbar in Windows 7, it still works perfectly. Just right-click on the taskbar, choose Toolbars –> New Toolbar, and pick the folder you'd like to add. You can make them icon-only, remove the label, or make them use large icons. You can even use this trick to add the Quick Launch folder back to Windows 7.
Add "Take Ownership" to the Context Menu
If you were rocking an administrator account on Windows XP, you pretty much had access to do anything you wanted, but since Vista, Windows made it extremely difficult to change files and folders in any of the system directories. To easily solve this problem, there's a simple little registry hack that will add a "Take Ownership" item to the context menu, after which you can rename, delete, or do whatever you'd like.
Add Copy/Move to the Context Menu
Sure, there are loads of ways to copy or move files around in Windows, but there's one simple little registry hack that will add a "Copy To folder" and "Move To folder" option to the context menu. Once you've added them to the menu, you can pop up a dialog box that lets you easily choose a folder to move or copy the items to—it's one of those great little hacks that's been around forever, and still works in Windows 7.
Disable the Caps Lock Key
The Caps Lock key is by far my least favourite key on the keyboard—at least the scroll lock key doesn't interfere with my typing when I hit it by accident. Thankfully it's easy enough to get rid of with a simple registry hack, or you can map any key to any key using an easy freeware utility. If you'd rather not disable it, you can instead use Caps Lock as a keyboard-friendly navigation tool or turn it into a dedicated minimise button.
Stop Losing the Sleep/Shutdown Button to Windows Update
So you're rushing to finish up that report so you can duck out early and avoid someone asking you to work on the weekend, only to realise that Windows hijacked your Sleep/Shutdown button and is now slowly installing updates for the next twenty minutes or so. Thankfully there's another simple registry hack that will prevent Windows from changing out your regular shutdown button with the install updates variety.
Enable Remote Desktop
Remote Desktop doesn't come with all the flavors of Windows—you can only use it if you are running the Ultimate, Pro, or Business editions. If you are using one of those versions and want an excellent way to control the PC in the other room, Remote Desktop is where it's at—in Windows 7 or Vista it will even enable Aero through the Remote Desktop session. To enable for yourself, simply head into System properties, choose Remote Settings, and then change the radio button to enable it.
Disable Sticky / Filter Keys Dialogs
Have you ever been playing a game, or doing something else that required pressing the Shift or Ctrl keys a bunch of times, and then had the "Do you want to turn on Sticky Keys?" question pop up on your screen? It might be a great feature for some people, but it's not useful for the rest of us—and it's really annoying. Thankfully you can disable the keyboard shortcuts entirely by heading into the Control Panel's Ease of Access centre and looking under the keyboard section.
Disable Windows Explorer Click Sounds
Ever noticed that every time you double-click on anything in Windows Explorer, it makes an annoying clicking sound? If you do a lot of file management, this sound can quickly drive you batty. Thankfully there's a really simple way to disable it—just head into the Sounds panel and find the item called "Start Navigation" in the list. Once you've disabled that sound, you should be finally free of the irritation.
Disable User Account Control's Annoying Prompts
UAC has noble intentions, but for power users who know what they're doing, they can be extremely annoying. Windows 7 makes it so much easier to get rid of those annoying prompts than Vista—you can simply head into Control Panel, find the UAC settings panel, and then drag the slider to fit the level of annoyance you feel like dealing with. If you'd rather keep UAC enabled but want to prevent the prompts for a particular application, you can always create shortcuts that bypass the UAC prompts with a simple task scheduler trick.
These are just a few of the many Windows tweaks that still work in Windows 7. Do you have a can't-live-without tweak that you want to still use in Windows 7? Tell us in the comments.
The 20 Best Windows Tweaks that Still Work in Windows 7 [How-To Geek]