I've put together some info and links for tweaking and customizing Win XP from around the web that I personally use, and hope you can utilize some of these resources to make XP look and work your way. This is by no means all encompassing but merely my opinion on those sites and programs that have worked for me to get the performance, looks, and ease of use that I want with my XP system. There is some overlapping info on these various sites so some ideas are addressed more than once.
Tips, Tricks, & Tweaks Sites
- MDGx This is a huge site with about 100 pages of all kinds of info, tips, tweaks, tricks and links.
- Tweaktown-Part 1 Good basic info
- Tweaktown Part 2 Good basic info
- Paul Thurrott's supersite Covers all flavors of Windows.
- WindowsNetworking Another good site with tweaks, resource links, registry & user tips.
- Tweak-XP.com This is another large site with lots of info, articles, faqs, & downloads, definitely needs exploring.
- ExtremeTech Good basic info.
- MS Expert Zone I know it's a Microsoft site but there are tips, how to articles, and a wealth of info in the various newsgroups pertaining to XP only.
- WindowsXP2002 Another useful site with tweaks, programs, drivers, & utilities.
- BlackViper This individual's site is a great source of info on the'services' that are running on your XP machine. An explanation & dependency guide are listed for all the services XP installs including SP 2. His site is no longer up but these are archives of his work.
- Kellys-Korner Another excellent source for the ins and outs of XP--Highly reccommended
- OverclockersClub This is another site that covers the different services that XP uses.
- SpeedGuide.net Here, you will find specific information on how to optimize the Windows 2000/XP Registry for Cable Modems, DSL, or any similar type of broadband Internet connection.
- Modem Guide for XP This guide will take you through optimizing the performance, reliability & security of your Dial-up connection in Windows XP as well as several other tips.
- Annoyances.org A good site dealing with those little 'things' that drive you crazy with Windows. Lots of tips and tweaks pertaining to performance and a good list of links, a large collection of tips.
- DougKnox.com An extensive collection of vbs files for your registry to get things done in WinXP
- OneComputerGuy A nice site, easy to navigate with plenty of info
Programs for Tweaking
Caution: Some of these programs require careful use of their ability to change registry settings with their various options, so be sure to back up important files and initiate a restore point before proceding
- Xteq X-Setup (free) It allows you to change settings that are normally hidden deep in configuration files like the registry, easy to use but very powerful.
- Power Toys (free) From Microsoft, probably the best component here is Tweak UI, you can also download Here. A review of Powertoys is located Here NOTE: this version will only work on Windows XP.
- Tweak-XP Shareware but 50 uses before registration so it should be more than enough for the average user. It is actually a suite of 56 different utilities and the best advanced configuration utility I've seen for Windows XP.
- ClearType Tuner (free) Those of you who use the ClearType fonts under Windows XP might want to check out the ClearTweak utility. This program allows you to change the contrast setting under ClearType.
- Radeon Refresh Rate Fix (free) The main function of this program is to let the user specify optimal refresh rates under Windows 2000 and XP for OpenGL and Direct3D modes with Radeon display adapters.
- XP-AntiSpy The xp-AntiSpy is a little utility that lets you disable some built-in update and authentication 'features' in WindowsXP.
There are quite a few programs available for changing the look of XP, the GUI is not easily modified as was the case with 9x & ME. Here are some programs (freeware & shareware} that allow you to change themes, logons, bootscreens, and also create your own. I've tried all the software listed so my comments accompany the descriptions.
- LogonLoader (free) This is the program I use for changing logon screens, it also allows for rotation of your different screens each time XP is started. . . .Works fine
- LogonStudio (free) Stardock's LogonStudio(TM) allows users to create logons for Windows XP as well as apply them. Rather than requiring a resource hacker and downloads of .EXE files, LogonStudio uses a scripting language to allow anyone to create customized .LOGONXP files. . . .works fine
- Windowblinds (free trial-60 days) It extends Windows XP, Windows 98, ME, NT, and 2000 to have a fully skinnable user interface. You can change the style of title bars, buttons, toolbars and much more. It gives you total control over your graphical user interface but I found it to be somewhat of a resource hog on my machine. . . .Works fine
- Style XP (free/90 days) Style XP is an add-on that customizes the way your XP system looks. You can edit your Themes, Visual Styles, Wallpaper, and XP Desktop Properties in one place. There is also a small free program to allow the use of visual styles with XP that I have not had time to check out thoroughly. . . .Style XP is the program I use to manage my themes & styles
- Style Builder (free trial) StyleBuilder allows you to build your own Windows XP styles to use in conjunction with Style XP. Style XP converts XML-based themes made in StyleBuilder into Microsoft's format, which is natively read by Windows XP. . . .A bit of a learning curve, but useful if you are into graphics for XP
- Resource Hacker (free) Resource HackerTM is a utility to view, modify, rename, add, delete and extract resources in 32bit Windows executables. It incorporates an internal resource script compiler and decompiler and works on Win95, Win98, WinME, WinNT, Win2000 and WinXP operating systems. It can be used to extract the bmps in logons, themes, and boot screens for modding by any graphics program. . . .Not for the faint of heart, mostly for advanced users
Sites for XP Themes, Visual Styles, & Logons
Here are my favorite sites for XP graphics, themes, cursors, etc. I'm sure there are a lot more out there that need exploring but I frequent these a lot.
- ThemeDoctor A lot of really nice themes available including cursors, sound and wallpapers. Excellent site for themes.
- ThemeXP.org One of the largest sites on the web containing hundreds of themes, logon screens, boot screens, and wallpaper that pertain to XP
- DeviantART A good site but it is difficult to navigate in my opinion
- Wincustomize This site has over 1500 skins for Windowblinds, quite a few logons, and cursors to use with CursorXP
- ThemeWorld Another good site for themes, wallpapers, etc.
- Winxptheme Small site with some decent themes & logons
Special thanks to Muckshifter, Rando, and Ladypcer for a couple of the links that I use all the time.
Happy Tweaking, Alakazam
Updated May 2006