WindowsDevCenter.com
oreilly.comSafari Books Online.Conferences.

advertisement


AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Six Top Tips for Hacking Windows Vista

by Preston Gralla
01/30/2007

Finally, the long, five-year wait is over--Windows Vista is here. But you won't have to wait five years if you want to start hacking it; you can start right now. Check out these six top tips for hacking Windows Vista.

Note: For more help on using Windows Vista, check out my book, Windows Vista in a Nutshell.

Hack the Windows Explorer Shortcut Menu

The right-click menu in Windows Explorer is quite useful; right-click a file and a menu appears, letting you take a variety of actions, such as opening the file, printing it, deleting it, copying it, creating a shortcut to it, and so on. Figure 1 shows you the screen you'll see. (Note that the "Scan with…" option is only available if you install antivirus software, such as avast! Anti-virus.)

The right-click menu
Figure 1. The normal menu that appears when you right-click a file in Windows Explorer

But there's a way to power up the menu. Hold down the Shift key as you right-click a file, and you get several new menu options, as you can see circled in Figure 2.

The Shift right-click menu
Figure 2. The options circled are added when you hold down Shift when right-clicking a file.

Here's what the options do:

  • Open as Read-Only: As the name says, it opens the file as a read-only file.
  • Pin to Start Menu: This pins a shortcut to the file in the top section of the Start menu. To remove the shortcut to the file from the Start menu, right-click the shortcut and select "Remove from this list."
  • Add to Quick Launch: This adds a shortcut to the file to the Quick Launch toolbar, on the left side of the Taskbar. To remove the shortcut, right-click it and choose Delete.
  • Copy as Path: This copies the file name and path to the Windows clipboard, for example, C:\Budget\2007 memo.xls. You can then paste the text wherever you want.

Hack Windows Vista Screensavers

Windows Vista's screensavers, for incomprehensible reasons, cannot be customized using the user interface. Want to change the way bubbles look in the Bubbles screensaver? Forget about it. You won't find a way to do it.

You can, though, hack the Windows Registry to customize many of the screensavers. For the Bubbles screensaver, for example, you can add three new values to the Registry, and turn the bubbles metallic or keep them transparent; configure whether the bubbles should have shadows; and display the bubbles against the desktop or instead against a solid black background.

To do it, open the Registry Editor, then go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Screensavers\Bubbles. Select Edit-->New DWORD (32-bit) Value, and create a new DWORD called MaterialGlass. Give it a value of 1 for glassy, transparent bubbles, and a value of 0 for metallic bubbles.

Create a DWORD called ShowShadows, and give it a value of 1 to display shadows below the bubbles, and a value of 0 to have no shadow displayed.

Create a DWORD called ShowBubbles and give it a value of 1 to show the bubbles on the desktop, and a value of 0 to show them against a solid black background.

When you exit the Registry Editor, your new settings will take effect.

You can similarly hack the Ribbons screensaver.  Open the Registry Editor, then go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Screensavers\Ribbons. Select Edit-->New DWORD (32-bit) Value, and create a new DWORD called NumRibbons. Click Decimal, and then type in the number of ribbons you want to be displayed. The minimum number of ribbons is 1; the maximum is 256.

Create a DWORD called RibbonWidth, click Decimal, and then type in a number to determine the width of each ribbon. The smaller the number, the narrower the ribbon.

When you exit the Registry Editor, your new settings will take effect.

To go back to your old settings, delete the Registry values.

Pages: 1, 2

Next Pagearrow