like most versions of windows, vista’s default setup isn’t the greatest. this guide lists the changes i make after i have vista installed. it’s mostly so i remember what all i do, but may point out some tricks you haven’t come across before.
map network drives
since i probably don’t have samba configured the best on my linux server, it’s name means nothing to windows. it needs to be added to the hosts file [code]\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts[/code]. UAC will prevent this file from being edited, so find notepad in the start menu (you can type it into the search box), right-click on it and choose [i]run as administrator[/i]. open the hosts file and add a line to the end with the ip address, some whitespace, and then the name of the server. save and exit.
go to [i]start → computer[/i] to get the computer window to come up (thankfully, they’ve dropped the “my” in front of it). click the [i]map network drive[/i] button on the toolbar.
in the map network drive window, choose an open drive letter and a network location. leave [i]reconnect at logon[/i] checked so that you won’t need to do this every time you boot.
disable unneeded services
black viper has a comprehensive guide to the [url=http://www.blackviper.com/WinVista/servicecfg.htm]services in windows vista[/url]. here’s what i changed on mine:
[bullets]base filtering engine → disabled certificate propagation → disabled diagnostic policy service → disabled diagnostic service host → disabled diagnostic system host → disabled distributed link tracking client → disabled fax → disabled ike and authipsec keying modules → disabled ip helper → disabled ipsec policy agent → disabled netlogon → disabled offline files → disabled parental controls → disabled problem reports and solutions control panel support → disabled readyboost → disabled remote registry → disabled smart card → disabled smart card removal policy → disabled tablet pc input service → disabled (except on galileo, which is a tablet) terminal services usermode port redirector → disabled webclient → disabled windows firewall → disabled windows media center receiver service → disabled windows media center scheduler service → disabled windows media center service launcher → disabled windows media player network sharing service → disabled windows remote management (ws-management) → disabled windows update → manual winhttp web proxy auto-discovery service → disabled wlan autoconfig → disabled (except on galileo, which has wlan)[/bullets]
note that windows update goes to manual, not disabled. if you disable it, you can’t install windows hotfixes or some software (for example, visual studio 2008).
disable security center and windows defender
while security center is a service, it gets automatically turned back on if you simply disable it. go to the control panel and switch it to classic mode if you haven’t already, then open security center. if it says security center is turned off, turn it on. click the [i]change the way security center alerts me[/i] link on the left, then choose [i]don’t notify me and don’t display the icon (not recommended)[/i]. now go back into services and disable the security center service.
windows defender also caused problems if you simply disable the service. run windows defender (it’s in the start menu somewhere — use the search to find it quickly). within windows defender, go to [i]tools → options[/i], scroll down to [i]administrator options[/i], and uncheck [i]use windows defender[/i]. when you click save you will have to confirm a couple times, but now you can safely disable the service.
enable automatic login
if you only have one user account or almost always login with the same account, you may want to have windows do this for you automatically. in the start menu search box, enter [i]netplwiz[/i]. it should give you one result, so use that. uncheck [i]users must enter a user name and password to use this computer[/i] and click [i]ok[/i]. the [i]automatically log on[/i] window pops up — fill in the user name and password fields.
stop welcome center from coming up
starting with the second time you log in, the welcome center will have a [i]run at startup[/i] checkbox in the lower left. uncheck it and it won’t bother you anymore.
disable user account control (uac)
from the start menu, click your user image. this will bring up the user accounts control panel. click the [i]turn user account control on or off[/i] link in the main region. uncheck the checkbox and click ok. the change won’t take effect until you restart.
right-click the start button and choose [i]properties[/i]. under the [i]start menu[/i] tab, click the [i]customize[/i] button. make the following changes:
[bullets]computer: don’t display this item connect to: uncheck control panel: diplay as a menu default programs: uncheck documents: don’t display this item games: don’t display this item help: uncheck highlight newly installed programs: uncheck music: display as a menu network: uncheck personal folder: don’t display this item pictures: don’t display this item run command: check search: uncheck search communications: uncheck search favorites and history: uncheck search files: don’t search for files number of recent programs to display: 8, minus however many you intend to pin internet link: uncheck e-mail link: uncheck[/bullets]
change drive icons
it’s easier to tell my mapped drives apart if i give each one its own icon. this is done by creating registry keys. run regedit, then get down to [code]HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer[/code]. create a key called [code]DriveIcons[/code], then under that create a key that is called the drive letter, for example [code]X[/code]. under that, create a key called [code]DefaultIcon[/code] and set its default value to the icon file you want to use. you can use a file with multiple icons if you add a semicolon followed by a number telling it which icon to use. repeat as desired for additional drives. Similarly, a key called [code]DefaultLabel[/code] will change the text that displays for that drive when empty (in the case of cd/dvd/memory cards).
right-click the desktop and choose [i]personalize[/i]. use window color and appearance to change how things look. i like to change the color to graphite. use desktop background to choose an image for the desktop. use screen saver to change the screen saver away from the crappy default. i set it to none because i have an lcd which don’t suffer from burn in. you can jump to the power options from the screen saver dialog by clicking the link near the bottom. click the [i]change plan settings[/i] link under the active plan, then [i]change advanced power settings[/i] to get at all power options. i make the following changes:
[bullets]additional settings → require a password on wakeup: no sleep → sleep after: 0 (never) power buttons and lid → start menu power button: shut down search and indexing → power savings mode: power saver[/bullets]
back at the personalization window, click sounds. vista randomly plays the default beep sound for some reason i haven’t been able to figure out, so to stop it from annoying me i set it to a wav file with a few milliseconds of silence. i also customize the new mail sound. i don’t change anything else available on the right side, so next is [i]change desktop icons[/i] from the left. check the boxes for computer and network. i don’t use the recycle bin (except on my laptop where the delete key is dangerously close to an arrow key), so disable it by right-clicking the recycle bin and choosing [i]properties[/i]. turn off the delete confirmation dialog and choose the [i]do not move files...[/i] option to disable the recycle bin. now you can uncheck it in the desktop icon settings to hide its icon. you also have the option of changing the icons for everything that shows in the box. i change computer and network.
that’s it for the personalization control panel. i rename [i]computer[/i] to my computer’s actual name — do this by selecting the icon on the desktop, hitting f2, and typing the new name. network isn’t so easy — it requires a registry edit. browse to HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\MuiCache and find the value named “@C:\\Windows\\system32\\NetworkExplorer.dll,-1” — it will probably be set to “Network.” change this to whatever you want — i set it to the name of my workgroup.
speaking of workgroup, by default vista puts you in a workgroup named “workgroup,” which is pretty stupid. to change it, right-click on the computer icon and choose [i]properties[/i]. under the [i]computer name, domain, and workgroup settings[/i] section there’s a [i]change settings[/i] link. click the [i]change[/i] button in the window that pops up, and enter your workgroup name.
the windows sidebar starts out with clock, slideshow, and feeds. i like to have weather, clock, calendar, and slideshow. feeds would be nice if it was easier to customize what feeds it shows, but since it’s not i just don’t use it. get rid of feeds by putting the mouse over it so a close button appears next to it, then click the close button.
to add more stuff to the sidebar, click the plus at the top of the sidebar. drag whichever ones you want (weather and calendar) onto the sidebar. you can drag them up and down to change the order — i like weather on top, then clock, calendar, and slideshow. if you don’t like at microsoft, put the mouse over the weather to get the wrench icon to show up, then click it. choose your location and temperature unit. the clock’s wrench lets you pick from 8 different faces and also allows you to name the clock, choose what time zone to show, and display the second hand. i like face #2, with no second hand. calendar has no wrench but if you click on the big orange day it will change to a month view, which i prefer. slideshow’s wrench lets you choose your photo directory, and some other fancy options. i set it to the photos directory on my server with subfolders, for 30 seconds, fade transitions, and shuffled.
trust local network
somehow even with vista, windows doesn’t realize that computers on the same subnet and in the same workgroup are part of the same lan. go to [i]control panel → internet options → security[/i] and select [i]local intranet[/i]. click the [i]sites[/i] button. uncheck [i]automatically detect intranet network[/i] (it doesn’t work). click advanced and enter the names of other computers on the lan as “websites” so that windows will see them as part of the local network.
windows explorer now displays “favorite links” in the left pane. i never go to any of the directories that are there by default, so here’s how to delete them and put in your own. simply right-click on a link that’s not one of your favorites and choose [i]remove link[/i] to get rid of it. to add one of your own, simply drag and drop into the favorite links pane to create a shortcut. you can also rename links from the right-click menu, or open the favorite links folder by right-clicking the empty space and choosing [i]open favorite links folder[/i]. drag and drop links to re-order them as you please.
you can get to folder options from the control panel. make the following changes on the view tab: [bullets]display simple folder view: uncheck hidden files and folders: show hidden files and folders hide extensions for known file types: uncheck hide protected operating system files: uncheck launch folder windows in a separate process: check use sharing wizard: uncheck[/bullets]
move special folder locations
since i have a file server, that’s where i keep my music files. to point my vista music special folder to the server, open the start menu, right-click [i]music[/i] and choose properties. on the location tab, change the local music location to the one on the network. say no when it asks if you want to move everything.