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Vista Help & Support

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Installing Vista SP1

Vista Tips and Tricks

Vista’s User Account Control

System Recovery Tools

Fix Vistas Master Boot Record

Vistas Prefetch or SuperFetch

Vista Firewall

User Interface

Usability Tips

Performance Tweaks

Software Tweaks

Security Tweaks

Compatibility Wizard

Tip Guide

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User Guide

Remote Assistance







Vista’s Tips and Tricks


Finding your System Tray Icons in Vista

To remove your speaker Icon, Network Icon or your clock from the System Tray.

Just go to your Start Menu, r-click on an empty spot and click on Properties. Click on the Notification Tab. Go down to System Icons. And uncheck those you wish to disable.

Removing the Windows Defender System Tray Icon from the taskbar

To remove the Windows Defender Icon, open up Windows Defender. On the toolbar at the top choose “Tools”. Under the “Tools and Settings” area choose “Options” in the settings area. Scroll down to “Real Time Protection Options” and look for “Choose when Windows Defender Icon appears in the Notification Area”. Now choose which action you would like. “Only if Windows Defender detects an action to take”, or “Always”. Choosing the first option will remove the Icon, but if Windows Defender is alerted to something. It will appear in the notification area to warn you of something amiss.

Finding the Quick Launch Toolbar in Vista

Just go to your Start Menu, r-click on an empty spot and click on Properties. Click on the Toolbars Tab.

In the Toolbars Tab is where you will find the settings to add or remove Quick launch or other toolbars.

Quickly Open Network Connections List in Windows Vista

One of the biggest annoyances in Windows Vista is that you cant immediately open the Network Connections list to see the list of adapters, like you could in XP.

In Windows XP, you could right-click any network connection and select Open Network Connections, but in Windows Vista, the only option you have is to open the Network and Sharing Center via the same right-click menu.

To immediately open the connection list, you can just type ncpa.cpl into the Start menu search box:

And up pops the network connection list just like your used to:

You can also create a shortcut somewhere to the full file path if you want even easier access.

Just use C:\windows\system32\ncpa.cpl as the location of the shortcut.

Clean up what you don't need

 If you installed Vista yourself and have experience installing previous Windows operating systems, you surely noticed that Vista hardly asks any questions about your computer

 Windows Vista makes all kinds of assumptions about your computing habits and the features you may or may not need, and it inevitably installs some overhead that you simply don't need. You can get rid of it.

 Windows XP had the "Add/Remove Windows Features" button in the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs applet, and Vista has something like it.

1. Open Control Panel and click "Uninstall a Program" to launch Vista's Uninstall or Change a Program Window. In the Tasks pane on the left, click "Turn Windows Features On or off."

2. Check the list of features. Each feature is preceded by a checkbox, which, if filled, indicates the feature is installed. If you hover the mouse over a feature, a help tool tip appears to tell you what it is.

3. Uncheck any feature you don't need. Some of the features are headings with a sub-list below them; just click the little "+" sign to expand.

For a gaming system, purge everything except:

> Some of the games

> XPS Viewer (under .NET Framework 3.0)

> Remote Differential Compression (a network optimizer)

> Windows Ultimate Extras

Note that when you uncheck features, you're not removing these features from your system; you're simply turning them off so they don't sit in the background eating up resources.

You can turn any of them back on by invoking this window and filling the checkboxes.

Using ReadyBoost

NOTE: Your Flash Drive must be “ReadyBoost” Compatible. If you do not see the “ReadyBoost” Tab while setting up your system. Then your drive is not compatible. You must buy a Flash Drive that supports “ReadyBoost”.

ReadyBoost is a Vista feature that uses a compatible USB flash device to enhance performance.

 Note that the oft-misunderstood feature isn't a replacement for a memory upgrade, and it doesn't affect game performance you won't see higher frame rates by adding a keychain drive to your system.

 ReadyBoost caches disk reads on the fly and can often speed up data access. Reads from a USB key or other ReadyBoost device are much faster than random reads from a platter on the hard drive.

 ReadyBoost data is encrypted, so if someone swipes the flash device he or she can't tell what you've been up to. It's secure, and it really does speed up access in certain instances.

 To enable ReadyBoost, just plug in a flash device. (Microsoft recommends one about the same size as your system's main memory. For instance, if you have 1GB of RAM, grab a 1GB ReadyBoost device.)

 The system will automatically detect the drive and offer to use it either as an external drive or as a ReadyBoost drive. Simply choose the latter, and a window will appear.

 You can change the amount of memory on the device is used for speed. Windows will recommend the amount it can use with the most efficiency. Click "OK" and you're done.

 Adding a ReadyBoost drive isn't like doubling your system's memory, but the performance benefits are well worth the price of a USB flash device.

Shut down Background Services

For the most streamlined operation, it's essential that your computer have as few programs running in the background as possible.

 You can tell a bit about how much junk is running behind the scenes by looking at the system tray (the area next to the clock on the taskbar). The more icons you see there, the more stuff is running that you may not actually need.

 I recommend a two-step process for getting rid of any background services that you don't need. Check out the tray icons and use the interfaces from those programs to disable them natively. Then, run good old MSCONFIG to clean out anything else.

 First, look at the tray. Some of the stuff there belongs there; you might see a little speaker icon, a battery power icon, an icon for the Sidebar, network status icons and a few other odds and ends that Windows puts in the tray.

 Look for third-party icons; Such as QuickTime, it often occupies a part of the tray.

 Right-click on any icons you find that aren't simple Windows status icons. Look for settings, properties or a similar option. Then, in the resulting window, look for a way to prevent the program from loading when Windows starts.

For example, to prevent Steam (a popular game-data delivery service) from automatically loading, you would:

1.  Right-click the Steam tray icon.

2. Click "Settings."

3. Click "Interface."

4. Uncheck "Run Steam When Windows Starts."

5. Click "OK."

 QuickTime, however, presents a challenge. You can tell it not to display the tray icon, but it will still run in the background. For that, and other programs that don't always display tray icons, use the second method.

Click the Start button, type "msconfig," and hit "Enter."

You'll see the System Configuration window, which operates essentially the same as it does in Windows XP. Click the "Startup" tab.

 Look at the list of startup items. Each is preceded by a checkbox. You can prevent any of these programs from starting simply by un-checking it.

 You'll note that QuickTime, which wouldn't let me disable it through its interface, is there. Simply uncheck it to prevent it from running in the background and sucking up system resources.

 Steam, QuickTime and many other such programs will start automatically when they're needed. For example, if you launch an MOV file, QuickTime will start whether or not its little applet is running in the background. Steam will launch if you start a Steam game, even if it's not running behind the scenes.

 Now, some items are necessary. You might see things like a mouse or game pad applet that the hardware needs to offer its programmability. You might see Windows Defender, which, if your computer has constant Internet access and lacks another anti-spyware program, could help protect it.

 Here's a good rule of thumb: If an application in MSCONFIG references hardware, you should keep it. If it references software, get rid of it (unless it's a vital security program).

 Hardware applets often supply needed front ends; software applets usually help a software program open faster. Software opens just fine without helper applets, so there's no need for them to suck up processor cycles all the time.

When you've cleaned out the list, un-checking anything you don't need, restart the computer.


Speed Up the Interface

 Windows Vista features what some of us think is the prettiest graphical user interface in the operating-systems industry. Its stylish transparencies and nifty animations driven by Direct3D and your graphics card give it a polished look that's a pleasure to use.

 Unfortunately, that shiny, new interface, called Aero, is also a resource hog. If you're running Vista on a PC that's near or just above the system requirements, you might want to shut off some or all of those features.

Here are some actions you might want to take to tweak interface services:

1. Lose the transparency. Right-click the desktop, click "Personalize" and click "Windows Color and Appearance." Uncheck "Enable Transparency." Click "OK."

2. Get rid of the Sidebar. It's cool, but some of those gadgets chow down on memory. Right-click the Sidebar, click "Properties" and uncheck "Start Sidebar When Windows Starts." Click "OK." Then right-click the Sidebar and click "Close Sidebar." If you ever want it back, you can simply click the Start button and key in "sidebar" and hit "Enter."

3. Get rid of some of the visual effects. Open Control Panel, click "Performance and System Tools" and click "Adjust Visual Effects." In the resulting window, you can uncheck line items for animations, fades and other effects; or simply click "Adjust For Best Performance."

4. Go with a non-Aero theme. To get rid of Aero entirely, use the Windows Classic, Windows Vista Basic or Windows Standard theme. Right-click the desktop, click "Personalize" and click "Windows Color and Appearance." Click "Open Classic Appearance Properties" . and choose a theme in the Color Scheme list box. Click "OK."

 When you perform such tweaks, Windows Vista won't look as pretty. It will, however, respond much faster. A high-end system might not benefit a whole lot from these adjustments, but they'll improve low-end computers in spades.

Defrag Once in a While

If you've somehow gotten the impression that Windows Vista doesn't need to be defragmented, think again.

 Vista comes with a defrag program (Microsoft's worst yet, in terms of usability) and it even comes preconfigured to defrag the hard drive once each week.

 Unless you keep your computer on 24 hours a day, launch Disk Defragmenter (click Start and type in "defrag" and hit "Enter") and disable its scheduler.

You can do this on your own, with a better defrag application, which, unlike Microsoft's, still shows you a map of the drive as it defrags.

Download Disk-Defrag from AusLogics and install it. Then run it. It's speedy and free.

 Unless you install and uninstall programs, move and delete data and otherwise assault the hard drive regularly, you don't need to defrag more than once a month.

Pick a night after you're done with your PC, start the Disk-Defrag application, start a defragmentation and go to bed.






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