Customize your desktop

Tweak UI is a powerful utility that you can use to customize your Windows 2000 desktop and many of your system's usability settings. Whereas Tweak UI 1.1 isn't compatible with Win2K, the new Tweak UI 1.33 is fully compatible with Win2K, Windows NT, Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), and Windows 98. You can download Tweak UI 1.33 from Microsoft's Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/ntworkstation/downloads/powertoys/networking/nttweakui.asp. In this Top 10, I show you the coolest things that you can do with Tweak UI 1.33.

10. Control Windows attributes. You would expect a utility with the name Tweak UI to let you customize your UI. Tweak UI offers more desktop-customization settings than I can list here. However, you'll find some of the more popular items on Tweak UI's General tab. You can toggle on and off animation for menus, list boxes, and drop-down lists, and you can enable or disable mouse tracking and tooltips (i.e., the text boxes that automatically appear when your mouse passes over certain menu options).

9. Customize the appearance of shortcuts. On the Explorer tab, you can eliminate the Shortcut to prefix from new desktop shortcuts, and you can control the type of arrow that shortcuts display.

8. Repair your icons. Occasionally, your system might display desktop icons incorrectly after you run certain programs or install new software. Tweak UI's Repair tab lets you rebuild all your desktop icons. The Repair tab also lets you repair the Font folder, hot keys, regedit (e.g., when regedit doesn't show all columns), and the Temporary Internet Files folder (e.g., when the folder acts like a typical folder and ceases to show Internet addresses).

7. Customize Windows Explorer settings. Although you'll find these settings on the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) tab, Tweak UI offers a variety of Windows Explorer customization options. You can enable shell enhancements; show Control Panel, the Documents menu, and Dial-Up Networking on the Start menu; and disable the Logoff option.

6. Log on automatically. Tweak UI's Logon tab lets you instruct the system to automatically log on at system startup. On the Logon tab, you can also disable the display of the Shutdown button.

5. Limit the Control Panel display. You can use Tweak UI to select the applets that Control Panel displays. To hide the entire Control Panel or any of its applets, simply go to the Control Panel tab and delete selected items from the list.

4. Set up system privacy options. The Paranoia tab's Covering your tracks list box lets you control several user privacy settings. You can clear the Document history, the Internet Explorer history, the Last User logon ID, and the Find Files history.

3. Enable command completion. Tweak UI's Cmd tab lets you set up a command-completion character and a directory-completion character. You use this character in the Command Prompt window to automatically fill in file and directory names for the entered command.

2. Customize the Places bar. The Tweak UI utility's Open tab lets you customize the Places bar, which Win2K's Open and Save dialog boxes display. You can add icons for your own folders rather than accepting the default History, Desktop, My Documents, My Computer, and My Network Places options.

1. Control CD AutoPlay. One of Tweak UI's primary benefits is that it lets you interactively control system settings that otherwise require registry alterations. AutoPlay CD options are a good example. On the Paranoia tab, you can disable the AutoPlay feature for audio CDs and CD-ROMs.