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Customize Vista's Interface Frequently Asked Questions


Below, you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding the customization of the Windows Vista interface. If you are unable to find the answer to your question here, you can find additional computer support via our Free Technical Support
Form or our Free Computer Help Forums.

Can I stop reporting problems to Microsoft? How can I reverse "Full Screen Mode" in Virtual PC?
Can I use XP Themes with Vista Can I sync my PDA with Windows Mail and Calendar?
How can I change the Numlock key to default ON? How can I get Vista to Automatically log me on?
My Weather Gadget Keeps Moving How can I change the order of the sidebar gadgets?
Why do I have to "Run as administrator" for many tasks? Where is Vista's User Start Menu?
Logon to Desktop Without Password How can I get a program to automatically start?
Narrator keeps running at Startup Will TweakUI for XP run on Vista?
How can I change the screen font size? How do you turn the Vista sidebar back on?
Can I use an HTML background image in Vista? Resuming After Screensaver Mode displays Login Screen
Can I make Vista's Start Menu like XP's was? Where do I go to change Vista's appearance?
How can I change the "Organization" field? How can I change the screen resolution in Vista?
How can I disable the notification window? Can I keep Vista from automatically defragging my system?
How can I change the Registered Owner information in Vista?  
 

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Can I stop reporting problems to Microsoft?

Q: Each time that Vista finds a problem it wants me to report the problem to Microsoft. Can I stop this from automatically prompting me?

A: Yes you can. Here's how:

  1. Go to Start>> Control System and Maintenance>> Problem Reports and Solutions.

  2. Select Change Settings.

  3. Place a checkmark in the checkbox titled: Ask me to check if a problem occurs checkbox.

  4. Click OK.

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How can I reverse "Full Screen Mode" in Virtual PC?

I've found that if you hold down the right ALT key and press ENTER, this will toggle the Full Screen Mode and Windowed Mode back and forth.

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Can I use XP Themes with Vista

No, Vista uses a different file extension for themes than XP.

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Can I sync my PDA with Windows Mail and Calendar?

Yes, go here for more information:

Windows Mobile Device Center

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How can I change the Numlock key to default ON?

Q: I have the BIOS set to the On position, but when I reboot Vista, it will turn it back off. How can I make it default to the ON position?

A: Follow the instructions outlined below:

  1. Go to Start

  2. In the Search box, type in: regedit

  3. Find the Registry Editor in the list and open it.

  4. Navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Keyboard
     

  5. Left click once on the Keyboard entry to empty its contents in to the right pane.

  6. In the right pane, locate the entry titled: InitialKeyboardIndicators

  7. Right click the above titled entry and select MODIFY

  8. The value should currently be 0 (off). Change the value to 2 (on).

  9. Close the registry editor and reboot your system.

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How can I get Vista to Automatically log me on?

Q: Is there a way to bypass the login screen so Vista just boots up and takes me right to my desktop?

A: Yes. Follow the instructions outlined below:

  1. Go to Start

  2. In the Search box, type in: netplwiz

  3. Press Enter on your keyboard

  4. Uncheck the entry titled: Users must enter a user name and password

  5. Click Apply

  6. Click OK twice to exit.

From now on, when you reboot, you will not see the login screen.

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My Weather Gadget Keeps Moving

Q: Can you tell me why my weather gadget keeps moving to the left? It isn't a big problem but it is kind of annoying.

A: Yes, there is a bug in the weather gadget. When it is detached from the sidebar on to the desktop it will slowly, over the course of many reboots, make its way to the center of your desktop. I'm sure that the bug will be fixed in time. Keep checking here and I will post it when Microsoft releases the fix.

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How can I change the order of the sidebar gadgets?

Q: I would like to reposition some of the gadgets in the sidebar. Can you tell me how to do it?

A: Sure, all you have to do is drag and drop them wherever you would like them. Even when you reboot your machine, Vista will remember that last placement of each Gadget.

Note: In some cases you will find that the Gadgets will not remember your settings and will replace the gadgets back their default order. This is a known bug and hopefully will be fixed when SP1 comes out.

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Where is Vista's User Start Menu?

Q: In Windows XP I used to modify the start menu items in:

C:\Documents and Settings\Default User\Start Menu

I can't seem to find where the default user settings for the start menu is found in Vista. Can you help?

A: Sure. Here's how:

  1. To access your user accounts start menu settings, go to Start.

  2. In the Search field, type in:

    shell:start menu
     

  3. Press Enter

  4. If you would like to access the 'All User' start menu, it is located here:

C:\Users\Default\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

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Logon to Desktop Without Password

Q: I am running Vista Basic and every time I startup my system I am asked for a password in order for my desktop to show. Is there a way that I can bypass the password and go directly to my desktop?

A: Yes, you can have Vista boot directly to your user account(s). Here's how:

  1. Click Start

  2. In the Search filed, type in:

    control userpasswords2
     

  3. Press Enter

  4. Uncheck the entry titled: Users must enter a password

  5. Click Apply

  6. You will be prompted for the User that you would like to auto-logon. Once you've selected the User, you are given a password box. Simply leave the password field blank.

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How can I get a program to automatically start?

Q: I have configured the program to automatically start when Windows starts, but Vista will not start it for some reason.

A: You will need to configure the program with Admin privileges, here's how:

  1. Go to Start

  2. Find the program you would like to auto-start

  3. Right click the program

  4. Select "Run as Administrator"

  5. Now, configure the program to run automatically when Windows starts.

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Narrator keeps running at Startup

I have a laptop with Vista Ultimate installed. Every time I start my computer, Narrator runs automatically. I can't seem to find the setting that would stop this. Can you help me?

I'm pretty sure your problem is that Narrator is starting at you logon page. Here's how to stop that from happening:

  1. Go to Start

  2. Select Control Panel

  3. Select Ease of Access

  4. Select Ease of Access Center

  5. From the left pane, uncheck by clicking the "Apply all settings to the logon desktop" checkbox.

  6. Select Save

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Will TweakUI for XP run on Vista?

Yes. You have to run it in compatibility mode. Here's how:

  1. Download the proper TweakUI program for your particular Vista architecture (eg: 32bit, 64bit)

  2. Once the program has installed, right click the program shortcut

  3. Select Properties

  4. Select Compatibility

  5. Run as administrator and in XP Compatibility Mode

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How can I change the screen font size?

Q: I'm using Vista Ultimate and the default screen font size is too small for me. I can't seem to find where this setting is at. Can you help?

A: Sure, here's how:

  1. Go to Start

  2. Select Control Panel

  3. Select Personalization

  4. From the left pane, select the desired font size

  5. Click OK

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How do you turn the Vista sidebar back on?

Q: I turned off my sidebar because a game I installed was flickering in that area. After turning it off, the problem went away. However, I can't find how to turn the sidebar back on. Can you help?

A: Sure, there are a few things that you can do:

Go to Start>> All Programs>> Accessories>> Sidebar

Once you've found the sidebar in your programs menu, you can drag it out on to your desktop as a shortcut.

Or, you can access Windows Sidebar properties from Control Panel (Start>> Control Panel) and have the sidebar startup when Windows starts. This will require a reboot.

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Can I use an HTML background image in Vista?

No. Vista doesn't support this feature as Windows XP did. I suppose it is due to Vista being much more security minded and that feature was viewed as a potential security risk.

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Resuming After Screensaver Mode displays Login Screen

Q: When my system goes in to screen saver mode after being idle for awhile. I move the mouse to reenter Windows, but when I do that I am taken to a login screen that displays the word "Locked". How can I bypass the login screen and make Vista reenter directly to my desktop?

A: To make Vista bypass the login screen:

  1. Right click an empty area of your desktop

  2. Select Personalize

  3. Select Screensaver

  4. Remove the checkmark from the checkbox titled: On resume, display logon screen

  5. Click OK

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Can I make Vista's Start Menu like XP's was?

Sure, here's how:

  1. Right click an empty area of the Taskbar

  2. Select Properties

  3. Select Start Menu

  4. Select Classic Start Menu

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Where do I go to change Vista's appearance?

Q: I would like to change things like my font size, icon spacing and such. Where do I go to find these settings in Vista?

A: Here's how to find the settings you require:

  1. Right click an empty area of your desktop

  2. Select "Personalize"

  3. Select "Window Color and Appearance"

  4. Select "Open Classic Appearance Properties"

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How can I change the "Organization" field?

Q: When I purchased my computer, it came already pre-configured. When I download something, it has the company that I purchased it from listed in the organization field. How can I change that setting to reflect my organization?

A: This will involve editing the windows registry. Please make a backup copy of the registry or create a restore point prior to making any changes to it.

  1. Navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion
     

  2. Single left click once on the "CurrentVersion" key. This will empty its contents in to the right pane.

  3. In the right pane, locate the entry titled: RegisteredOrganization

  4. Double click RegisteredOrganization and fill in the organization that you would like to use.

  5. Exit the registry editor

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How can I change the screen resolution in Vista?
  1. Right click an empty area of your Desktop

  2. Select Personalize

  3. Select Display

  4. Adjust the resolution to the proper setting for your monitors screen size.

15 inch monitors: 1024 X 768
17 - 19 inch monitors: 1280 X 1024
20 inch monitors: 1600 X 1200

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How can I disable the notification window?

Q: I keep getting a popup notification window that tells me that I have some programs turned off each time I start my system. I have these programs turned off to increase my load time so I don't need Vista's constant reminder. How can I disable this?

A: To disable the Notification Balloon tips, follow the instructions below:

Note: This method requires making a change to the Windows registry. I recommend manually creating a restore point prior to making any changes in case an editing error is made.

  1. Go to Start

  2. Select Run

  3. With the run command window open, type in: regedit.exe

  4. Press Enter on your keyboard or click OK

  5. In the Windows registry, navigate to the following key:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced
     

  6. Single left click the "Advanced" registry entry to empty its contents in to the right pane.

  7. Right click an empty area of the right pane and select New>> DWORD Value.

  8. In the DWORD textbox, type in: EnableBalloonTips

  9. Once this new REG_DWORD is created, double click it.

  10. In the "Value data" textbox, enter the number 0.

  11. Click OK

  12. Exit the Windows Registry

You may have to reboot your system for this to take effect.

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Can I keep Vista from automatically defragging my system?

Q: I would like to control when Vista is defragged. Is there a way that I can disable this feature and perform a system defrag when I would like to?

A: Yes, here's how:

  1. Go to Start

  2. Select Control Panel

  3. Select System and Maintenance

  4. Select Performance information and Tools

  5. Select Advanced Tools

  6. Select Open Disk Defragmenter (continue through any UAC prompts)

  7. Untick the radio button titled: Run On A Schedule (Recommended)

  8. Select OK

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How can I change the Registered Owner information in Vista?

Q: When I purchased my PC, it has the Registered owner information as the company that I purchased it from. Is there a way that I can change the Registered Owner information to reflect my companies name?

A: Sure, here's how:

Note: The information provided below contains Windows Registry changing information. Be sure that you create a restore point prior to making any changes. This will create a backup of your registry.

  1. Go to Start

  2. Select Run. Type in: regedit [Enter] or click OK

  3. Navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_Local_Machine\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\Current Version
     

  4. Single left click the "Current Version" entry to empty its contents in to the right pane

  5. In the right pane, locate the entry titled: Registered Owner

  6. Right click the Registered Owner entry and select Modify

  7. Edit the "Value data" textbox to enter your personal Registered Owner name

  8. Click OK and close the Windows Registry

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