If you recall, back in the times of Windows 95/98, Windows 2000 Workstation and even Windows XP, many tools were available, some for free, some for a fee, that allowed the more advanced user to make changes to their computer’s operating system. These changes were (and still are) called “Tweaks”. Many of these tools had a hidden, darker and sinister agenda. Some claim to do one thing, while, in fact, perform a totally different action on your computer. Some claim to be able to tweak your computer, modem, wireless connection or Internet speed up to hundreds of times, some claim to clean your computer from obnoxious programs. Both types usually do the opposite, and either install spyware, porn or casino traps, back-doors, Trojan horses or even viruses on your computer. Then, when you notice your computer stops working as it had in the past, they “come to the rescue” and offer to clean your computer after you pay them money.
So what does this have to do with Vista you may ask. Well, Windows Vista, Microsoft’s latest operating system, is one of those operating systems that you either like, as is, or hate. However, some changes can be made to the way Vista works in order to make it more usable for your needs, and in some way, reduce the many “issues” it has. Although Vista is a nice operating system, and although it has many interesting features and capabilities, in my opinion, one of the challenges with Windows Vista is that it has too many things that need changing. I’m sure you got this feeling while reading through my many Vista tips and tricks pages.
Anyway, back to the point. Luckily for us most of these changes can be performed by either using some built-in tools such as Control Panel Applets or the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc). Other tasks might require you to directly edit the Registry. However, since editing the Registry might not be suited for all computer users, some external tools were developed in order to help you make those tweaks without having to directly mess with the os’s Registry.
Going back to this article’s promo, I have recently came across such a tool, and from reading about it and testing it myself I can tell you that this one is safe for use and does not inflict any direct or hidden damage to your computer. The best thing about it is that it is totally free to use and that it requires no installation. You simply download the tool and execute it from the zipped file. Let’s hope that the author doesn’t change up his mind about having to charge money for this nifty tool.
Introducing – WinBubble – Windows Vista tweaking utility
WinBubble is an easy-to-use tweaking utility that focuses on enhancing your Windows Vista Experience. With just two clicks, WinBubble will help you to easily customize and tweak your Windows Vista machine. Some of its features cover customization, security and optimization and more. While these settings can be found in the Registry, using the tool is a lot easier and less risky.
Download link for current version: Unlock for Us: WinBubble
In case that URL changes, here is a URL that seems to be a bit more permanent: http://unlockforus.blogspot.com
After downloading the tool, unzip it to a folder of your choice, and run the WinBubbles.exe file.
Some of the settings in WinBubble include:
General Customizations and Tweaks
- OEM Logo and Information – Change your Original Equipment Manufacturer’s Information’s and Logo.
- Owner Information – Using this tool you can now change the Owner information easily.
Useful Tweaks to Desktop and Explorer’s Context Menu
- Taking the Ownership of a file – Helps solve the problem with “Access Denied” message when opening, moving or deleting a file.
- Copy to/Move To – This will speed up management of files.
- Add Disk Clean-up to Computer Right-Click Menu
- Turn Off/On Aero – This will increase the Performance for Gaming and Battery Usage
- Add WinBubble Launcher
This section includes checkboxes to add Internet Explorer Icon, Network Icon, Control Panel Icon and many more.
- Display the Windows Vista Build number on your Desktop
- Slow-Down animation – In order to use it press the Shift key and click the Minimize button.
- Customizing Shortcut icons – Allows you to remove the shortcut arrows.
Applying Security to your Computer
- Enable/Disable UAC – Listed on my site several times, UAC is designed to increase your computer’s security, yet at the same time it is so annoying that most people opt to disable it.
- Hide Shutdown button and options in the Start Menu – This will prevent shutdown of computer through the start menu, but you can still shutdown your computer through command prompt, shortcuts and other applications.
- Remove “New” in Explorer’s Context Menu – This will remove the New menu in Windows Explorer.
- Remove “Folder Options” – Prevent anybody in modifying your Windows Explorers settings.
- Enable/Disable Task Manager
- Disable AutoPlay in All type of media – This will prevent any worms or other viruses to run automatically when a disc/flash drive is inserted.
- Disable RUN command in the Start Menu and Task manager – This feature will remove the RUN command in the Start Menu, Task Manager, and disables the Win+R shortcut.
- Add Encrypt/Decrypt to Explorer’s Right-Click Menu (Context Menu)
- Disable access to Display Property and Disable access to Control Panel – Prevents access to Control Panel and Display properties.
- Hide ALL Fix Drives and Hide a specific Drive – Hide drives in Computer and Window Explorer. This is very useful if you want to hide the old Floppy drive, a secret network drive or any drives that you want to hide.
- Restrictions in Internet Explorer – Restrictions useful in Internet Cafes and schools.
- Screensavers (Bubbles, Ribbon and Mystify) – Allow you to customize settings in these screensaver types, not allowed through the regular Vista interface.
- Optimize your Windows Vista Experience – Easily turn the resource hogging Aero Theme on or off.
- Speed up your search through the different search options – Disabling the search in the File index can make a large difference.
As you’ve seen already, WinBubbles has so many options I can hardly list them all. Needless to say, as a freeware and installation-less application – this is a hard-to-beat deal!
Got a question? Post it on our Windows Vista Forums!