Helpful XP Registry Hacks – Part 2

I had a couple more registry hacks that I thought might be interesting, but not as useful as the first bunch.  Since it is Friday and usually I have these things thought out, I’m going to throw more registry hacks at you…and maybe you’ll find them more useful than I do.

Change categories in the Control Panel
Windows XP’s Control Panel is broken down by category in the default Category view, but the group to which an item belongs is not always obvious. If you disagree with Microsoft’s assignments, you can switch them around. To assign a different category to an item, go to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Control Panel\Extended Properties\{305CA226-D286-468e-B848-2B2E8E697B74} 2

Find the item you want to change and double-click it to bring up a dialog box. Change the item’s DWORD value to your preference. Use Table A as a guide (shown with decimal numbers, which is the way you should enter them).

Table A
Category DWORD value to set
Other Control Panel Options 0
Appearance and Themes 1
Printers and Other Hardware 2
Network and Internet Connections 3
Sounds, Speed, and Audio Devices 4
Performance and Maintenance 5
Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options 6
Accessibility Options 7
Add or Remove Programs 8
User Accounts 9
Sort menus alphabetically
When you install a new program for a user, it doesn’t find its place in the alphabetical Start menu hierarchy right away; it hangs out at the bottom for a little while. If your users employ the Classic Start menu, they can realphabetize it manually by right-clicking the taskbar and choosing Properties, clicking the Customize button next to the Classic Start Menu, and clicking the Sort button. With the Windows XP style of Start menu, however, you don’t have an equivalent button. To make Windows always alphabetize the list, remove the permissions from the Registry key that controls the sort order for the Start menu. To do so, go to:

# HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MenuOrder

Choose Edit | Permissions and click the Advanced button. Deselect the Inherit From Parent The Permission Entries That Apply To Child Objects check box and then click Copy when the Security dialog box pops up. Click OK and clear the Full Control entry for your account and all security groups you are a member of. Leave only Read permission.

Change the desktop cleanup frequency
Through Display Properties (Desktop tab, Customize Desktop button, General tab), you can turn on and off a feature that runs the Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days. You don’t have an option to set a different interval there, but you can change the interval in the Registry. To do so, go to:

# HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\CleanupWiz

Change the Days Between Clean Up Value to some other number of days (in decimal format).

Use desktop patterns
Windows XP provides no direct support for the Patterns feature that was present in earlier versions of Windows, but the feature is still there. It’s just hidden in the Registry. To enable a pattern, first set None as the background in Display Properties. Then you need to find out the code for that pattern. To look up a code, go to:

# HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Patterns

A variety of patterns is listed, and each one has a Data value. Copy the value you want to the Clipboard. Then go to:

# HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop

Add a string value called Pattern. Then paste the string from the clipboard in as its value. The new pattern will appear the next time you log on.
Delete the Files Stored On This Computer category in the My Computer window
In Windows XP, the My Computer window’s listing is broken down by categories: Hard Disk Drives, Devices With Removable Storage, and so on. One of these categories is Files Stored On This Computer, which appears at the top of the My Computer window. If a user doesn’t need it (and most folks don’t), you can get rid of it. To do so, go to:

# HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MyComputer\NameSpace\Delegate Folders

Delete the {59031a47-3f72-44a7-89c55595fe6b30ee} subkey to remove the category.

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