Hugh's Windows 7 Fixes

This is a checklist of changes I make after installing Windows 7 from scratch or acquiring a new computer with a pre-installed system.

I suppose it's a bit presumptuous to call these "fixes". Perhaps "regressions" would be a better term.

Preparation

If you have a machine with a pre-installed version of Windows 7, you may have to deal with removing Value-Subtracted Software "VSS"(tm) and/or obnoxious non-default configuration settings. That work is beyond the scope of this document. It takes a lot of experience to know what can be safely removed, but the rewards are great.

If your new machine isn't a laptop, erasing the disc and starting over with a real Microsoft Windows 7 installation disc is probably worth the price. You'll spend more time fooling around removing craplets than it would take to earn the price of an official installation disc by bagging groceries.

If your new machine is a laptop, matters are more complex: laptops often have customized track pads, video, audio, or WiFi cards. Starting with an erased disc may force you to visit the the laptop manufacturer's support site and download some drivers. Sometimes the drivers must be installed in a particular order. This procedure is not for Mom and Dad, but again, the rewards are great. Laptop manufacturers love to load their machines up with Craplets.

UPDATE 2012:

Microsoft is opening stores in malls around the country to compete with Apple stores. One of the features they offer is "decrapulating" any new computer you buy in the store. I've heard that they will decrapulate machines you bring in for a fee. Considering the effort involved, that would have to be expensive.

By some means, before you proceed, clean up your system as best you can and install all available updates and service packs. The reason for being picky about this point is that some service packs will undo some of the changes and you'll have to do them again.

Windows 7 Service Pack 1

If you have trouble installing SP1 on a well-used Windows 7 system, you may be experiencing the dreaded "0x80004005" error. If you see this number in the dialog that reports the failure, you'll need to take some radical steps:

First, you may want to surf all over the web and try some of the suggested fixes for 0x80004005. When you're tired of that, proceed as follows:

Insert your official Microsoft Windows 7 distribution disk (you bought one, right?) and run "setup.exe". (It will auto-run on most systems.)

After the language prompt, you will be asked about doing an Upgrade or a Clean install. Choose "Upgrade" and allow the process to complete. It will not damage your installed software. A few GUI settings may revert to their defaults. After the upgrade has completed, you should run the previously downloaded SP1 installer. In a Just Universe, it will now succeed. At this point, you'll have to install the whole collection of Microsoft updates again, but now they'll be correctly layered on top of SP1.

Changes that don't require registry editing

These are the easy little things that can be done with the GUI. Going though this list takes about an hour and has no risks.

Fixing the Start Menu

I used to have a list of settings here, but the Windows 7 start menu is hoarked beyond any simple configuration change. It is, in my opinion, hoarked at the conceptual level. I strongly recommend the free open-source program Classic Shell. It gives you the XP (or my favorite, Windows 2000) look. It also adds an UP button to Explorer and many other little things taken away by Vista and Windows 7 to avoid confusing the unwashed.

Classic Shell has "Skins". My favorite is "Classic Skin" with caption and small icons. In the preferences, enable all the "menu" (vs "link") choices for the sub-menus and hide everything you don't use. You won't be disappointed. (Did I mention that this program is really GREAT?)

Appearance Settings

	Control Panel -> Appearance -> Personalization -> Desktop Icons

		CHECK:
			Computer
			User's Files (Your name)
			Network
			Recycle Bin

		UNCHECK: 
			Allow themes to change desktop icons.

		After creating my account shortcut on the desktop by
		selecting "User's Files" above, I prefer to create another
		shortcut on the desktop to my Documents folder. Then I
		hide the profile directory by doing an UNCHECK on "User's Files"
		in the previous step. Once you have Classic Shell installed, you
		can quickly go up one level to see the files and folder at the
		profile level. I find that I don't need to do that very often and
		don't like having to open two folders to get to my Documents.

	Control Panel -> Appearance -> Personalization -> Change the Theme

		Select the "Windows Classic" Theme.

	Control Panel -> Appearance -> Personalization -> Desktop Background

		Click on the "Solid Background" icon and choose "Morbid Gray".

	Control Panel -> Appearance -> Personalization -> Taskbar and Start Menu

		Taskbar tab:

			UNCHECK: Lock the taskbar
			CHECK: Use small icons
			Taskbar location: Top (Yes Bill, Apple had it right.)
			Taskbar buttons: Never combine
			Notification area: Customize:
			CHECK: Always show all icons on the taskbar.

		Start Menu tab:

			No need to get wild here because we're going
			to replace the whole start menu with a 3rd
			party solution. But it will pick up these changes:

			UNCHECK: Store and display recently opened programs.
			UNCHECK: Store and display recently opened items.
			Customize Button:

			CHECK: Network
			CHECK: Run Command
			UNCHECK: Use large icons
			System administrative tools:
			SELECT: Display on All Programs menu. 

Desktop

	Right click -> View -> CHECK: Small Icons.
	Right click -> View -> UNCHECK: Align icons to grid. 

Explorer Window (The file browser)

	Bring up the "Computer" window, which is the top level view.
	
	Organize - Layout

		There are three toggles here.
		Turn off all three to get a plain window.

		CHECK: Menu bar.

	Menubar - View
		
		CHECK: Status bar
		SELECT: Details
		SORT BY: Name, Ascending
		GROUP BY: (none)

	Organize -> Layout -> UNCHECK: Menu bar.
	Organize -> Folder and search options -> View tab

		These change are not merely aesthetic: they materially
		improve performance when browsing and listing directories.

		CHECK - Always show icons, never thumbnails.
		UNCHECK - Hide extensions for know file types.
		UNCHECK - Display file size information in folder tips
		UNCHECK - Hide extensions for known file types
		UNCHECK - Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color
		UNCHECK - Show pop-up description for folder and desktop items
		PRESS - Apply to folders (Makes them all like this one.)

	Even though you pressed "Apply to folders", you may have to
	do these steps again starting in your toplevel user folder. 

Disable user account control

	I've tried to live with this... Without success.
	
	Start menu -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Action Center ->
	Change User Account Control Settings.
	
	Turn it off: drag the vertical scroll know all the way to
	the bottom - "Never Notify".
	You must be punished: Reboot. 

Prevent windows from being Trans-Urpulated™

	When you are dragging a desktop window, it becomes
	trans-urpulated when the mouse cursor touches the edge
	of the screen. (Who thinks up this stuff at Microsoft?)
	To get rid of this behavior:

	Control Panel -> Ease of Access Center -> Make the mouse easier to use

		Scroll down to see:

		CHECK - Prevent windows from being automatically arranged
		when moved to the edge of the screen. 

Restore "Quick Launch" to the task bar

	In XP, you could put a shortcut to any document or program
	on the Quick Launch section of the taskbar. Windows 7 has
	replaced this with a much restricted version: you can only
	"Pin" shortcuts to programs on the taskbar.

	The fix is easy:

	First, "unpin" any items your already have in the "Pseudo Quicklaunch" area.
	Next, close all programs and open windows to clear the task bar.

	Right click on the taskbar and select:

		Toolbars -> New Toolbar

	Now copy and paste in this address:

		%AppData%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

	And press "Select Folder"

	At this point, you see a new launching area over on the far right
	side of the task bar. It will have a text name showing "Quick Launch".

	Don't panic!

	Drag this over to the far left. It's hard to do this and you may have
	to try several times. It will get stuck against the vertical bar that
	marked the boundary of the old dysfunctional quick launch. To fix that,
	drag the old vertical bar (on the left) over the new vertical bar on 
	the right. Persist until you have the new quick launch all the way to
	the left.

	You will notice a bunch of crap already in the new quick launch bar such
	as "Quick Launch" "Launch Internet Explorer", "Show Desktop" and
	the odious "Switch between windows". Again, don't panic.

	Right-click inside the new quick launch near the left-most vertical bar
	(not on top of any of the craplets) Choose:

		UNCHECK: Show titles
		UNCHECK: Show text

	An extra vertical bar will remain on the right side of your icons.
	You may need to move this bar further right to show all your items.

	You can now right-click on the little craplet icons to remove any
	that you don't want. To add your own shortcuts, first create a desktop
	shortcut and drag it to the quick launch bar. You can delete the shortcut
	you created for this purpose: the one on the quick launch bar is a duplicate.
	You can also drag shortcuts out of the start menu folders and put them
	in the quick launch bar.

	You now have a traditional quick launch where you can drag shortcuts
	to programs or documents. Put a shortcut to Internet Explorer there
	and you can remove it from the desktop. I keep my mail client shortcut
	on the taskbar too. I usually remove the icons for "Show Desktop"
	and "Switch between windows". 

In Internet Explorer, "Send page by email" and "Send link by email" don't work

	First you have to install an email client.
	I recommend Mozilla Thunderbird, but Windows Live Mail is tolerable.
	It is also possible to install the old WinMail program - it's already
	on your system, but hidden! (See below)

	You might think that using the "Default Programs" control panel
	followed by "Set your default programs" would fix this.
	There are several web sites that recommend this as a solution, but
	they are wrong. Here's what works:

	Control Panel -> Default Programs -> Set program access and computer defaults
	SELECT: Custom
	
	Pull down the menu on the right side of the window next to the Custom button.
	In the "Choose a default email program", select your email client.
	Now press OK and back out.

Disable indexing and Windows Search

	Should you do this?

	I could write an essay about this topic, but the 
	short answer is that Windows Search doesn't search
	inside all your files when you search for content:
	Since you can't trust the damn thing, it's better to
	remove it entirely and substitute an alternative utility.

	Essay:
	Windows Search was invented to enable you to look for
	content inside some-but-not-all binary documents. This 
	capability is mainly there so you can search inside
	Microsoft Office documents. If you're a good Microsoft
	Do-Bee and mostly create and use documents created by
	Microsoft Office, that's a fine thing.

	The price you pay for this feature is that special
	"content searchers" must be invoked for each file type.
	The file types are determined by the file extensions.
	Programmers and web developers use lots of plain text 
	files with weird file extensions. Windows search won't 
	search the contents of these files unless you 
	reconfigure Windows Search each time you introduce a 
	new file type and tell it the file contains plain text.
	This is a PITA and it's easy to forget-- especially if you
	bring in directory trees full of stuff you didn't write.
	Since you can't trust Windows Search, you can only have
	peace of mind by installing a reliable search tool that
	really looks into every file. I like "Agent Ransack".
	(See entry in the Software section below.)

	As for indexing, it uses a lots of CPU and causes lots
	of disk activity -- often as not when you're trying to do something
	else with the computer. It's there to "speed up" the doubtful
	Windows Search. If you decide to keep Windows Search, indexing
	will speed up searches for files by name. If you're the kind
	of person who has no freaking idea (NFI) where your files are
	located, indexing might be good for you. Otherwise there's no
	reason to put up with the overhead.

	Finally, consider that you could have both: Keep Windows Search
	with Indexing and use Agent Ransack when appropriate. Since I
	seldom use Office for anything, I prefer to reduce the overhead
	and get rid of it altogether:

	Remove indexing:

		UNCHECK: Index this drive for faster searching.
		Choose "Apply changes to drive C:" ONLY.
		If you select "All files and folders" instead, you will be a sad panda.
		Repeat this for other local hard drives.

	Remove the software:

		Start Menu -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Programs and Features
		-> Turn Windows features on or off:

		UNCHECK: Indexing Service (Should already be unchecked)
		UNCHECK: Windows Search (Microsoft will try to terrify you.)

	Microsoft will punish you for this. You'll have to reboot
	and endure a disk check. It's worth it. 

Speed up the boot process

	The most beneficial thing you can do here is minimize the
	number of startup applications...

		TBD.

	If you have a multi-core CPU, you can speed up the boot
	process by enabling them during the boot process:

		RUN: msconfig
		SELECT: Boot tab.
		PRESS: Advanced Options
		CHECK: Number of processors
			Choose 2, 4, or whatever you've got.
		CHECK: Maximum memory
			Enter the amount in megs, e.g. 2048 for 2G. 

Prevent warning dialog "These files might be harmful to your computer"

	This warning will pop up every time you move a web shortcut 
	or "active" file to or from a remote (smb) directory on your
	local LAN.

	Go to: Start Menu -> Settings -> 
	Control Panel -> Internet -> Security Tab
	Select the zone: "Local Intranet".
	Turn the Security Level slider down to Low.
	Press "Sites" button, then "Advanced".
	Use the dialog to add the IP number of each host on your LAN.
	-> I'm not sure if using the ip name or netbios name will work. 

Disable "Suggested Sites" from appearing in Internet Explorer 9's link bar.

	Like some zombie, it just keeps on coming back...

	You have probably already discovered that unchecking this box
	has no effect:

		Tools->Internet Options->Advanced->Browsing
			->Enable Suggested Sites

	Nevertheless, make sure that it is, in fact, UNCHECKED.

	Next, delete the "Suggested Sites" shortcut (again!)

	Next, go to the window:

		Tools->Manage Add-ons->Search Providers

		For each search provider you have with a status of Enabled,
		right-click on the provider and select "Disable Suggestions".
		(If it's already disabled, the option will read "Enable Suggestions",
		so don't select that!)

	Next:
		Start Menu -> Run
		Enter: gpedit.msc
		Follow:
			Local Computer Policy -> User Configuration ->
			Administrative Templates -> Windows Component -> Internet Explorer

		On the right-hand pane, scroll down to find "Turn on Suggested Sites".
		Double click on this to open a configuration window.
		Select the "Disable" radio button.
		Apply -> Ok. 

	It hasn't come back for the past 12 months. We shall see...

Create the "God Mode" panel:

	This procedure creates a single folder that contains every
	control panel for every feature in Windows. It basically 
	"Unstupidifies" Windows. If you're not the drooling nincompoop
	Windows 7 was designed for, you'll like this feature quite a lot.

	Create a folder. ("Take a card. Any card...")

	Rename the folder with this exact string:

		God Mode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

	The big long string with curly braces is called a GUID:
	"Globally Unique Identifier". They are used for all sorts
	of things in the software world where it wouldn't be annoying
	enough to use a meaningful name or phrase.

	The name will magically change to simple "God Mode" and you'll
	find that it contains shortcuts to nearly every Windows configuration
	feature.
	
	You can put this folder in the Start Menu, but it looks nicer if
	you double-click on it rather than letting it open like a menu
	with the left-arrow trigger. 

Create "Demi-god" panels:

	It turns out that there are many other keys to open Windows
	configuration panels. They're simply shortcuts to panels you
	could eventually find buried in the Windows 7 GUI.

	Here's the complete list documented by Microsoft as "Canonical Names
	of Control Panel Items":

	http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee330741%28VS.85%29.aspx

	To use one of them, create a folder as described for the "God Mode"
	panel, but use the name and GUID found in the Canonical Names table.
	
	You can also simply drag items from the God Mode window to any
	other folder. This will copy the shortcut.

	So what good are these? Well, you could create a folder called
	"My Panels" and just put in the ones you frequently use.
	That saves time because you don't have to dig though the huge
	God Mode list or slog though the regular Control Panel interface.
	
	Here's an example of the shortcuts I keep at the top level of
	my Start Menu, organized in a way that makes sense to me:

My Panels

This is only a starting point. You'll probably want to organize things differently. You can even change the names of the shortcuts so they're more concise. If you keep the "My Panels" folder in the Start Menu, you can reorder the items by simply dragging them.

Get rid of "Simple File Sharing"

	Control Panel -> Folder Options -> View tab

	Scroll to the bottom and uncheck:

		"Use Sharing Wizard"

	To share a folder and eliminate the prompt for credentials on the remote host:

		Right-click on the folder -> Share With -> Advanced Sharing
		Press the "Advanced Sharing" button.

		CHECK: Share the folder.
		Share name: Give it the name remote clients will use.
		Press "Permissions"
		Select "Everyone"
		CHECK: Full Control

	Note: If a folder was already shared the wrong way, you have to first uncheck
	the "Share the folder" box, apply the change, then repeat the procedure 
	outlined above. 

Changes that require registry edits

There are free programs that do these changes, but you never know for sure what's inside a free .exe file you download from the internet. I prefer simple regedit patch files. The following changes all have install and remove scripts. They are plain text files you can examine by dropping them on Notepad. If you're the suspicious type, you can prove that the "undo" scripts put the registry back the way it was by looking at the key with regedit before you run the "install" script and comparing it to the change applied by the "remove" script. I use all these changes and I've never had problems.

Rather than linking to each of the registry files, you can download the whole collection and install the ones you like:

Windows 7 Fixes - Registry Files

To apply one of the changes, right click on the installer and select "Merge". To remove the change, right-click on the remover and select "Merge". A few of the changes require restarting Explorer or rebooting as noted in the following sections:

Disable IE9 "Pinned Sites"

	Internet Explorer 9 has a new feature that might conceivably
	be useful: When you create a shortcut by dragging the url
	from the address bar to the desktop, you create a special
	kind of url shortcut that can be placed on the taskbar and
	then opened with one click.  These are called "pinned sites".
	Other things are possible: the site can interact with the
	pinned link if it contains Microsoft-only webapp features.

	If you want to create the old-fashioned plain link like those
	made by IE8 and all previous browsers, you have to hold down
	the shift key when you drag a url to the desktop.

	So why not live with this new feature and make all shortcuts
	"pinnable"? It turns out that whenever you create a pinned link,
	the browser reloads the page in the browser. This is Strike One.

	Frequently (but not always) the session context the page
	had with the remote server will be lost when a page gets
	reloaded. (Or perhaps your credit card will be charged again.)
	In some cases, it erases your entire browsing history, i.e. you
	can't back up to the previous page. This is Strike Two.

	When you drag a pinned link back onto the browser window to
	load the site, it doesn't simply go there, instead the browser
	throws up a dialog and asks you if you Really Want to Go There.
	This is Strike Three.

	If you prefer to simply drag urls to the desktop and have
	a regular link created just like IE 8 and all previous
	browsers you will want this fix:

		Disable pinned sites - Install.reg

	If you decide you'd rather go back to being annoyed:

		Disable pinned sites - Remove.reg

	This fix doesn't really disable pinned sites:
	You can still create a pinned link by holding down the
	shift key. In other words, it reverses the default
	behavior by making pinned links the special ones and the
	old simple links the default. This is really how it should
	have worked in the first place. 

Change folder icons so they look like folders

	Who the hell uses or even recognizes file folders tilted up
	on their sides? Right now, go take a folder out of your
	filing cabinet and balance it on edge. In a few seconds,
	it will flop over. If it was already full, the papers inside
	will spill out all over your desk making a big mess. This is
	a metaphor for what's going on at Microsoft.

	The human factors people at Microsoft are truly berserk.
	This is what committees achieve: Everyone feels they have
	to contribute something, no matter how absurd.

	So the new diversity-hire from tribal Mongolia on the Windows 7
	design team speaks up (after 3 weeks of silence) and says she
	thinks it might be nice to rotate the folder icons up on
	edge. In her yurt, she explains, there are no filing cabinets. 
	Instead, file folders and papers are punched though at their
	top edges using a bone awl. Then a leather thong is used to hang
	them from the wicker bracing that holds up the hide walls. They
	hang vertically. She's comfortable with that. And you
	Western Civilization bastards had better become more culturally
	sensitive. After she throws a menacing glare around the table,
	the fix is in.

	From the registry fixes archive, copy these files to
	the C:\Windows folder:

		XP_ClosedFolder.ico
		XP_OpenFolder.ico

	I don't normally like to put things in system folders, but
	things can go wrong if they aren't in a folder with the 
	proper permissions.

	You will find scripts to install and remove:

		Windows xp folder icons - Install.reg
		Windows xp Folder icons - Remove.reg

	You must restart Explorer (or reboot) to see the change.

	There are a few special folder shortcuts that won't be changed
	even if you recreate them. To deal with these (only one or two
	in most cases) you need to assign them a new folder icon by
	hand. Here's an example:

	I like to keep a shortcut on the desktop called "Documents".
	This points to:

		c:\users\myname\My Documents

	This shortcut will show up as vertical even if you create 
	it after doing the patch. The fix is simple: Right-click
	on the shortcut and press the Change Icon... button.
	Then navigate to c:\windows\XP_3_ClosedFolders.ico

	There are one or two other cases where you need to do this,
	but then you're done. I haven't had to look at a vertical
	folder for over a year. 

Open a command window in a selected directory

	The old "Commmand Window Here" was available as a shell extension
	installed by a Windows XP PowerToy. It gave you a context menu
	selection to open a command window with the default directory set
	to the selected directory.

	It turns out this is built into Win7: Hold the shift key down when
	you right-click on a folder. A selection for "Open Command Window Here"
	will appear in the context menu.

	But having to hold down the shift key is obviously an intolerable
	annoyance: Here's a quick registry fix that will make it visible
	all the time as it was in XP:

		Open command window here - Install.reg
		Open command window here - Remove.reg

	The change is instant. No need to restart Explorer.

Open a command window in the explorer window context

	Adds "Open command window here" to the context menu that
	appears when you right-click in an EMPTY area of an 
	Explorer window. The default directory in the command window
	with be the same as the Explorer window. 
	
		Open command window explorer - Install.reg
		Open command window explorer - Remove.reg

	The change is instant. No need to restart Explorer.
	I find this more useful than the regular "Open command
	window here".

Disable "Full row select"

	This fix removes an immense annoyance, but it's a little
	bit tricky to explain: When you have a folder open in
	Explorer and the view is one of the non-icon modes such as
	"Details", it's nearly impossible to move a file into that
	folder by dragging and dropping. Instead, when you drag
	the file icon over the prospective destination window, the
	whole line under the mouse clear across the window is
	"active": when you drop the file, it will launch some
	program or cause you to drop the file into the wrong
	folder. There is no "safe" area where you can drop the
	file to move it into the folder open in the window. In XP,
	only the file name was active, so you could drop a file
	anywhere else in the open window and it would simply move.

	Microsoft was proud of this annoyance. They gave it a
	marketing name: The "Full Row Select" feature.
	Pretty Cool, eh?

	Use:

		Disable full row select - Install.reg
		Disable full row select - Remove.reg

	After installing the fix, you have to restart Explorer.

	If you are still unclear about what this does and why you need
	have this fix, check out the follow-up comments in this article:

How to disable full-row select?"

Remove shortcut text

	When you create a shortcut, the text "- shortcut" gets
	appended to the file name. The gigantic arrow that appears
	on the icon is sufficient for most people, but "Cletus"
	on the Microsoft Human Factors Study Team, found it
	confusing. If you're of normal intelligence, you can
	remove the "- Shortcut" suffix:

		Remove shortcut suffix - Install.reg
		Remove shortcut suffix - Remove.reg

Use a small shortcut arrow

	The arrow on Win7 shortcuts is too big. It obscures the icon
	and looks obtrusive. This restores the XP-style small arrow:

		Small shortcut arrow - Install.reg
		Small shortcut arrow - Remove.reg

Disable the caps lock key

	Not a Windows 7-specific annoyance. But still an annoyance.

	You know the drill:

		Disable caps lock - Install.reg
		Disable caps lock - Remove.reg

	Must reboot for this change to take effect.

Add "Take Ownership" to the Explorer context menu

	Permission problems are common with Vista and Win7.
	This script provides an Explorer context menu (right-click)
	to "Take Ownership" of a selected file or directory.

	Scripts:

		Take ownership - Install.reg
		Take ownership - Remove.reg

	Even if you don't see an immediate need for this, you should
	install it if you intended to restore WinMail (see below) 

Enable routing

	If you don't know what this means, you don't need it.
	
	Scripts:

		Enable routing - Install.reg
		Enable routing - Remove.reg

Create .txt files instead of .TXT files with Explorer context menu.

	When you use the Explorer context menu to create a
	new text document, Windows 7 will create the file:

		New Text Document.TXT

	The upper case file extension looks gauche - it would be nicer
	to see this instead:

		New Text Document.txt

	Scripts:

		Lower case txt - Install.reg
		Lower case txt - Remove.reg

	You'll need to restart Explorer to see the change.

Disable unwanted system services

	If you're a fan of the "Windows 2000 Look", you have an 
	alternative to some of the settings I've presented earlier:
	Simply disable these two system services:

		Themes
		Desktop Window Manager Session Manager

	This will cure all sort of obnoxious behavior and save 
	lots of memory as well.

	These Themes services can be disabled on Windows XP with similar
	benefits.

Changes that require special software

I don't like to do things this way, but sometimes there's no alternative. We've already discussed Classic Shell which is the best of the best. This section describes a few others.

Disable taskbar always on top

	This useful feature was part of Windows XP and Vista.
	Win7 removed it so that now the task bar is always on top.
	You can select the option to "auto hide" the task bar, but it
	will always reappear if you mouse over the area. Personally,
	I like to look up at the clock now and then and prefer to
	have the taskbar visible unless I've decided to cover it up
	with other windows.

	Microsoft removed this option because they found some
	substantial number of cretins who went into blind staggering
	foam-at-the-mouth fits when they couldn't find the taskbar.
	Microsoft, you must understand, does all their human factors
	research using denizens of homes for myopic imbeciles.

	Scene from Microsoft Human Factors Research Lab, Seattle.
	The camera pans and then zooms down into "The Pit" where
	diaper-clad adults crowd around sticky computer monitors.

		Cletus: 
		"SAY CLEM, WHERE'S MA GAH-DAM TASKBAR?!!! THIS HAR COM-POOTER'S
		GOT ME SHEET-STOMPIN MAD!!!" 

		MS Engineer, observing though a one-way window: 
		"Well, Mr. Gates. I guess we'll just have to change that
		before we release Windows 7."

		Bill Gates:
		"Yes, the task bar must always be visible. Glad we found
		the problem first before the release. I'll inform
		the board about the delay immediately."

	There have been several efforts to restore this function, but I
	found serious defects in all of them. Finally, having tried everything
	else, I decided to write one myself. You can get it here:

Windows 7 Taskbar Masher

Changes that require stealing

	Just a joke of course. You do have old copies of Windows XP
	and Vista around don't you?

Run Windows XP's Paint on Windows 7

	I just can't stand the GUI on the new Win 7 paint program.
	It may have more features, but the butt-ugly way of doing
	things with the "Ribbon" is a constant annoyance.

	The fix is easy: From a nearby Windows XP box, collect these
	files from the c:\Windows folder:

		system32\mspaint.exe

		Help\mspaint.chm
		Help\mspaint.chw
		Help\mspaint.hlp
		Help\ntart.chm
		Help\ntdef.chm

	Create a folder on your Win 7 system:

		C:\Program Files\Windows XP Paint
	
	Add all the files you gathered from the XP system:
	They all go here at the top level, don't recreated
	any subfolders:

		mspaint.exe
		mspaint.chm
		mspaint.chw
		mspaint.hlp
		ntart.chm
		ntdef.chm

	Create a shortcut to mspaint.exe for your Start Menu such
	"XP Paint" or whatever you prefer.

	QED.

Run Windows XP's Wordpad on Windows 7

	The new Wordpad in Windows 7 not only has the dreadful
	ribbon, it also seems to be creating some sort of web
	page. You can't, for example, create single-spaced text
	with line breaks where you want them. Instead, the program
	creates a paragraph whenever you press <Enter>, leaving a big
	gap between the lines. 
	
	The whole ribbon thing, IMHO, is senseless, hateful, ugly, and
	takes up too much space on a laptop or netbook display. If users
	are too illiterate to deal with menus, what the hell are they
	doing with a word processor?
	
	The same sort of procedure described above for Paint
	can be used to acquire WordPad from XP. Create a folder:
	
		C:\Program Files\Windows XP Wordpad

	Collect these files from an XP system and put them inside:

		mswrd6.wpc
		mswrd8.wpc
		wordpad.chm
		wordpad.exe
		wordpad.hlp
		wordpad.inf
		wordpad.PNF
		write.pwc

	Create a shortcut to the wordpad.exe file and store it
	somewhere in your Start Menu. I call mine "XP Wordpad".

Enable Windows Mail

	Many of us reprobates would prefer to run Outlook Express
	on Windows 7, but that choice isn't available, right?

	Mwoo HA HA HA! WRONG. It's there right now, just hidden
	away by the order of some demented marketing goob at Microsoft.

	The following procedure is slightly more involved than the other
	changes documented here, but IMHO, it's one of the best changes
	you can make to Windows 7. Be sure to read though the whole section
	before you start.

	Before we go on, I should remark that Mozilla Thunderbird,
	the free, open-source email client from the Firefox browser people,
	looks and acts almost exactly like Outlook Express and has better
	support for remote directories (LDAP). So if doing the following
	dreadful hack puts you off, give Thunderbird a try.

	You may recall that Windows Vista (Pause to hear the 
	"Frau Blucher" effect from Young Frankenstein) - had an email program,
	"Windows Mail", which was pretty much Outlook Express with some
	minor "improvements."

	It turns out that Windows 7 already comes with Windows Mail, but the
	"Windows Live" creatures at Microsoft hid it because they wanted to force
	you into trying their piece-of-stuff "Windows Live" program. Sorry for
	the foul language. This thing really gets my dander up.

	The invisible files are on your computer in:

		c:\Program Files\Windows Mail
	
	If you've already installed Windows Live Mail, uninstall it first.

	If you've been using Windows Live Mail for a while, you may want
	to export your address book first. If you don't use IMAP, you may want
	to preserve all your archived mail. Doing this stuff is beyond the
	scope of this article.

	1) Right-click and Merge the registry settings in:

		Enable windows mail - Install.reg
		
	This is a fairly large regedit file, but nearly all the changes
	are additions, not modifications. Unfortunately, I was too lazy
	to work up a "remove" script. If you don't like it, just stop
	using it. Re-installing Windows Live Mail, or better, Thunderbird,
	will fix all the changes that integrate mail with other parts of
	the operating system.

	2) Execute this command line to make WinMail.exe visible:

		attrib -s -h "c:\Program Files\Windows Mail\WinMail.exe"

	3) Navigate an Explorer window into the folder:

		c:\Program Files\Windows Mail

	4) If you haven't already done so, install the "Take Ownership"
	   context menu function documented in a previous section.

	5) Right-click and select "Take Ownership" on the file:
		
		msoe.dll

	6) Rename that file to something like msoe.dll.original

	7) Now it's time to go hunting. You need a file from a working
	Windows Vista machine. The file is called "msoe.dll". It is
	different for 32 and 64 bit systems, so the copy of Vista you
	use to get the file must agree with your Windows 7 system.
	Put the vista version of msoe.dll in your Windows Mail folder.
	If it's too much trouble to find msoe.dll on your old Vista 
	machine, you might find it somewhere on the web ;-) Be sure to
	get the 32 or 64 bit version to match your Windows 7 installation.
	
	8) Create a shortcut to WinMail.exe on your desktop or wherever
	you prefer.

	9) Run the program and configure your account as usual.

	QED!	

	If you use IMAP, don't forget to change the folder synchronization
	settings on all your folders to "Headers Only" or you'll be downloading
	mail for a month or two.    

	Note: When you install a new service pack, you may find that Windows
	Mail has disappeared. Not to worry: All you have to do is run the
	"attrib" command again and copy in the replacement msoe dll. After 
	that, the mail program will be available and all you accounts and
	settings will be in place as they were before.
	
	Enabling the old Windows Mail on Windows 7 really hoarks off the
	"Windows Live" team at Microsoft. (But don't worry, soon they'll
	all be looking for jobs elsewhere.)
	
	UPDATE 2012: Microsoft appears to be "soft playing" Windows Live.
	I can see the handwriting on the wall.

What about Microsoft Office?

Office has also been given "The Treatment" including a ribbon GUI and entombment of features deemed "too hard" for modern college graduates.

If you haven't looked into these open-source projects recently, I strongly suggest you give one or both a try:

If you need help choosing, here is a comparative review: OpenOffice vs LibreOffice vs The World.

Webapps have become so powerful, it's possible to manage without installing software at all. Cloud-based office tools let you run applications in your browser. A nice review of these methods along with other free office alternatives can be found at: Gizmo's Freeware - Best Free Office Suite

Changes that are too scary for me

It is possible to remove the obnoxious large bar in Explorer that has the utterly useless icons for "Organize" "Open" "Print "Burn" "New Folder" etc. It's called "Explorer Tool Bar" and has been the subject of much heated discussion on the web. Although everybody hates it, (except Microsoft Sheeple), it's rather hard to remove. A simplified method exists, but it depends on running mystery code with a dodgy reputation. For now, I've put off dealing with this because I don't have time to investigate the matter. To carry forward the work yourself, start with this search phrase:

Removing the Windows 7 Explorer Toolbar

Anti-malware solution

I've been using Microsoft Security Essentials for several years. You download it free from Microsoft. It is unobtrusive and reasonably effective.

BE SURE to turn off Windows Defender (which comes with Win7). Never run two concurrent virus solutions at the same time.

Changes beyond the power of the human mind

Consider these challanges!

Remove the Show Desktop button

This button appears to the right of the clock. Obviously, it must be destroyed, but no one knows how! There's a utility that makes it disappear, but it leaves an unsightly space next to the clock. For the time being, fixing this annoyance remains beyond the reach of our civilization: just like the seatbelt retractor in your car.

Save Microsoft from self-destruction

I see Microsoft got rid of the Windows 8 GUI guy. That's progress.

It's interesting that MacOS, Windows 8, and Gnome 3 (Linux) are all getting disfunctional GUIs at the same time. It must be a generational thing. It will be remembered, I believe, as "iPhone Derangement Syndrome" (IDS)- using a mobile phone interface paradigm in an inappropriate context. Think about what these people are doing in bed. Yuck.

Handy tips

Task Manager access

	The old standby Control-Alt-Delete no longer displays the task manager,
	but rather a large screen-filling vomit-splash of useless information.
	The new combination to open the task manager is:

		Control-Shift-Escape

	You can also access the task manager from the right-click menu popup
	on the task bar. (And this is very nice because you can choose the
	remote Task Damager when using a Remote Desktop Connection.)  

Compensate for the missing address bar in Explorer

	In XP, you could see the path to the current folder in the address bar.
	Win7 shows a sequence of menus instead. To get the old view, left click
	in an empty part of the address bar. You will see the file path XP-style.
	If you just want to copy the paty to the clipboard, right-click on an
	empty area of the address bar and select: "Copy address as text"  

Accessing WebDAV shares

	WebDAV has always been a challange even in the XP days.
	And now nothing that worked on XP will work on Vista or Win7.
	Microsoft must really feel threatened by the WebDAV protocol.

	At least it no longer requires registry hacks and patches.
	
	To mount a webdav share:
	Right click on Computer and select "Map Network Drive..."
	Enter the URL in this form:

		https://someserver.someplace.com/somefolder

	If you need alternative credentials, check the box and
	it will prompt for a username and password. Note that
	the protocol is https so the remote server MUST have an
	SSL certificate installed and working. Plain http will
	NOT work.

	IMPORTANT: Webdav on Windows 7 will be insanely slow unless you take these steps:

		Internet Explorer -> Tools -> Internet Options
		Select the "Connections" tab.
		Press the "LAN Settings" button.
		UNCHECK "automatically detect settings"
	
		This flaw and the fix are documented here:
		http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2445570

	If setting up an SSL certificate on the remote machine is
	inconvenient for you, there is a way around it: Changing
	one number in the registry will enable non-ssl webdav
	connections from your machine:

		Enable Basic WebDAV - Install.reg

	To put things back the way they were:

		Enable Basic WebDAV - Remove.reg  

	As a final insult, Microsoft has arranged for Windows 7 to nag
	you everytime you drag a file from a remote webdav directory
	to a local folder. You will see warning window that says:

		These files might be harmful to your computer

	This is a pure example of Microsoft's famous "FUD" technique.
	They want WebDAV users to experience "Fear Uncertainty and Doubt."

	The fix for this is a bit involved and a great deal of
	contradictory advice exists on the web. The first step is
	generally agreed:

	Starting from Internet Explorer->Tools or the Control Panel, select:

		Internet Options -> Security -> Local intranet

	Allowed levels for this zone:

		Move the slider to: Low
		Note: This is a popular idea, but I have experimented
		and found that the default setting "Medium-low" works fine.
		In fact, any setting is ok if you add your server to the
		"Sites" list. What appears to be broken is the ability
		to recognize non-Microsoft hosts as local to the same LAN:	

	Sites -> Advanced:

		Add the path to the remote webdav server.

	But where does this path come from?
	This is the reason so much contradictory advice occurs:
	You must use the path shown in the Explorer window title bar
	after a successful connection.

	For example, if the title bar shows something like:

		Computer webdav (\\www.mysite.com@SSL\DavWWWRoot) (X:)

	The path you add to the zone will be:

		\\www.mysite.com@SSL

	The server may be shown as an IP address, or without @SSL:
	Just enter what you see inside the parentheses and the nagging 
	will stop.

	The next time you open this window, the path will look like this:

		file://www.mysite.com@ssl

	This, evidently, is the canonical form Windows prefers.

Using the built-in screen clipping tool

	Imagine - A non-annoying feature was added to Windows 7!

	Win7 comes with an Accessory to clip rectangular areas of the
	screen. This is nice for documenting applications. (You can still
	do CTL-ALT-PrintScreen to clip the entire window.)

	To start the Snipping Tool, select it from:

	Start Menu - Programs - Accessories - Snipping tool

	You can now click and drag a selection rectangle to capture
	any part of the screen to the clipboard.  

Change meaningless network interface names

	Most people put up with names like "Local Area Connection",
	but when you have several network cards, it becomes difficult
	to remember where they are connected.

	You can rename "Local Area Connection" to "OfficeLAN", and so
	on with your other interfaces. For example I often have a second 
	card called "ControllerLAN". Just right-click on the name you
	see on the network control panel and select Rename.  

Allow remote desktop connections

	Right-click on Computer - Properties - Advanced System Settings
	Remote Tab:

	SELECT - Allow connections from computers running any
		 version of Remote Desktop.  

Dealing with videos

	If you're into collecting and watching videos of many types,
	you've probably encountered "Codec Packs" that claim to enable
	near every format. I urge you to forebear: These things cause
	irreversible changes to your system.

	Microsoft has eased off a bit from their Pan-ignoramic™ attempt
	to take over the world with DRM-infested video files.
	Windows Media Player on Win7 will even play some h.264 vidoes.
	(H.264 WILL take over the world, BTW.) But Windows Media Player
	won't deal with some very popular container formats and codecs,
	so you do need something extra.

	Fortunately, the open-source community has found some answers
	that are both safe and reversible:

	1) Install the Video LAN Project's "VLC" player - It will let
	you watch nearly anything, including DVDs.

	2) Install FFDShow - It will let you watch nearly anything
	using the built-in Windows Media Player by supplying the
	proper codecs.

	I usually do both.  

Opening .chm help files

	These are the little help files that were used to document programs
	in earlier versions of windows. Many software packages used them.
	In a gesture almost too perverted to imagine, Microsoft has
	disabled support for displaying these files. The fix is easy:

	To view a chm file, right-click on the file, select Properties,
	go to the General tab and press the Unblock button near the bottom.
	This must be done for each chm file you want to read by double-clicking. 

Install and use the FTP server

	Why did Windows 7 have to hose this simple thing up?
	As Sir Edmond Hillary said: "Because it was there."

	Control Panel - Programs and Features - Turn Windows features on or off

		FTP Server - CHECK: FTP Service
		Web Management Tools - CHECK: IIS Management Console

	To start the server:

	Administrative Tools - Services
	
		Select the "Microsoft FTP Service"
		Change the startup type to "Automatic"
		Press the "Start" button.

	To adjust the settings:
	
	Control Panel - Administrative Tools -Internet Information Services Manager

		Authorization Rules - (Right click to add a rule)
		
			Allow - Anonymous Users - Read/Write
	
		Connections (Left column) - Sites - (Right click to add a site)
		
		FTP site name:
			Controller (Or whatever you like.)

		Binding and SSL settings:
		
			CHECK: No SSL
			CHECK: Anonymous

		Now right-click on the site you added and select:
		
			Manage FTP Site -> Start

	Finally, whatever your target ftp home directory will be must
	have appropriate permissions:

	Right click on the ftp site in the left column and select
	"Edit Permissions". On the Security tab under "Group or
	user names", press the "Edit" button. Press the "Add" button
	and enter "Everyone". Use the check boxes to enable the desired
	access, at least Read & Execute. Back out with OK, etc.  

Import your Outlook Express address book

	On Windows XP and earlier, the contacts data base was
	kept in a single file of type ".wab" 
	On XP this location depends on your username:

		C:\Documents and Settings\
			Application Data\
			Microsoft\
			Address Book\
			.wab

	In Vista and Windows 7, each contact is kept in a single xml
	file stored in the directory:
		
		C:\Users\\Documents\Contacts

	It's very easy to import the contacts from your old .wab file:
	Just double-click on the file and a dialog will appear offering
	to convert them to the new format and add them to your Contacts
	folder.  

Telnet shortcuts

	Create a regular shortcut with this command line:

		%comspec% /k "Telnet.exe host.ip.com"

	The "%comspec% /k" part keeps the window open if the connection
	fails. That way you can read the error message.  

Change network connection policies

	When Windows discovers a new network connection, it ask you about
	how you want to protect yourself and control visibility. The choices
	are "Public" or "Private". To change this later and adjust other
	obscure network settings, you run the Security Policy Editor:

	Run secpol.msc 

Internet connection sharing with an existing LAN

	When you configure windows to be a router for internet
	connection sharing (ICS), you may be disappointed to
	discover that you have to let ICS assign DHCP addresses to all
	the machines on your LAN. There was no way to choose the range
	of addresses assigned or to use fixed existing addresses.

	HOWTO change the DHCP scope for Windows 7 ICS

	1. Stop ICS services.

	2. Edit the registry
	[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\SharedAccess\Parameters

	3. Replace IP address in "ScopeAddress","ScopeAddressBackup" to what you want.

	4. Change the IP Address in the TCP IP Setting Tab in the second NIC to
	the first IP Address of that subnet and the first NIC connected to the internet.

	5. Restart the ICS services.

	6. Update the DHCP leases on the clients:

		ipconfig /renew

	7. Sometimes you have to reboot... 

Other resources

David Karp's fabulous "Windows 7 Annoyances" has finally been released! Pubished a year late in twelve volumes, it's well worth the price.

Windows 7 Annoyances

See also:

Windows 7 Annoyances Discussion Forum

This forum is a constant source of new discoveries about ways to undo Microsoft "improvements." In a few more years, we'll have Windows 7 looking and working as well as Windows 2000!

Update after service pack installation

After installing Windows 7 SP1, I had to re-do a few of the registry edits: The Windows XP folder icons and the shortcut suffix removal had to be re-installed. I had to recreate some of my regular desktop shortcuts that pointed to folders so they would show up as XP horizontal folders.

Windows 8 is on the way!

I have the developer's evaluation copy installed and I'm working on a new write-up. Unfortunately, I'm only allowed to work on this an hour a day, right after I take my new meds. On the day I first ran Windows 8, the neighbors had to call 911. Some nice men came and took everything sharp out of my house. But when I remember to take my pill, the doctors say I'm almost normal...