Some people are content to use their computers as they were originally designed. Others take matters into their own hands, get a little adventurous, and tweak every corner of their operating system until it fits into their workflow perfectly. This is for those in that second group.
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You've probably already searched through a lot of menus and hidden settings, and maybe even downloaded some awesome apps to help you along. But when it comes to really digging in your heels, you need to look into the darker corners of your OS — the parts that people give you caution before entering. Here are some of our favourite skills and tweaks for Windows, Mac and Linux in that realm — and remember, back up before you start tweaking!
If you're looking to start tweaking your Windows system, we recommend you start out with a tool like Ultimate Windows Tweaker. It's incredibly easy to use (it's basically just a window full of checkboxes), and you can tweak everything from Windows Explorer to the start menu, taskbar, welcome screen, and lots more. The 7+ Taskbar Tweaker is also a great tool for more taskbar-centric changes.
When you're ready to go deeper, it's time to open up the Windows Registry. If you still aren't sure what the registry does, check out our explainer on the subject. Basically, it's a database that stores settings and preferences for nearly everything on your system. By going in and changing things directly, you can unlock a lot of hidden features and settings in Windows. Some of our favourites include:
- Hide Pre-Populated Items In Windows Explorer's Sidebar
- Clean Up Explorer's 'Open With' Menu With A Registry Hack
- Lose The Taskbar Thumbnail Delay In Windows 7 With A Registry Hack
- Show Drive Letters Before The Drive Name In Windows Explorer
Mac OS X
In OS X, you'll probably perform most of your deep tweaks from the command line. Before you start digging into a terminal, though, warm up a little bit with a system tweaker like OnyX. Not only can it unlock hidden features in the Finder, Dock, QuickTime, Mail, iTunes, Spotlight and other apps, it also has a lot of maintenance features built-in to keep your system running in tip top shape.
Once you want to go a little further, it's time to open up that terminal window and get to work. OS X's built-in terminal is great, but our favourite terminal emulator is iTerm2, which contains a bunch of extra features to make command line work easier. Some of our favourite command line tweaks include:
- Turn Off The New "Elastic Scrolling" In OS X Lion
- Remove the Delay When Showing And Hiding the Dock In OS X
- Single Application Mode For Mac Keeps Your Desktop Distraction Free
- Unlock Old School Arcade Games In Your Mac's Terminal
If you're using Linux, you're probably no stranger to system tweaks. In fact, you're possibly already an expert on the subject. So, instead of telling you what you should do, we'll share a few of our favourite tips and resources with you out of the gate:
- Ubuntu Tweak and Unity Tweak customise every inch of Ubuntu
- This Cheat Sheet Makes Learning Your Way Around Linux Easy
- Master The Command Line This Weekend
- Build A Killer Customised Arch Linux Installation
- Top 10 Tools That Are Better In The Command Line
- The Best Terminal Emulator For Linux
Have a great weekend!