A power toy you'll love to play with

Looking over the previous This Old Resource Kit columns, I can't believe I've forgotten to talk about TWEAKUI. It's not an administrative utility, but administrators love it. Heck, everyone loves it.

Shortly after Windows 95 first appeared, Microsoft placed a set of cool utilities called PowerToys on its Web site. TWEAKUI was probably the most popular of these utilities. It's a Control Panel applet that lets you tweak the user interface (UI). Basically, TWEAKUI is the result of a Microsoft programmer's efforts to give a bunch of useful Registry settings a nice GUI.

After you install Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit or Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Resource Kit on your machine's hard disk, find the PowerToys folder. Inside PowerToys, find a file named tweakui.inf. Right-click the file, and select Install. TWEAKUI will install, and you'll see a Help file about the utility.

Open Control Panel, and you'll find that you now have the TWEAKUI applet. Open the applet, and you'll see a dialog box with tabs labeled Mouse, Network, General, New, Add/Remove, Explorer, Repair, Desktop, My Computer, and Paranoia. (No, I'm not kidding.)

TWEAKUI Tabs
The Mouse tab controls mouse sensitivity to double-clicks and drags; this functionality is no big deal. But, it can also speed up the appearance of your Start menu. You can configure in the Registry the duration of the delay between the time you click Start and the time the menu appears; TWEAKUI provides a nice slider to control the delay, so you can play around with the delay and discover which setting you like best.

The Network tab answers a question I often hear: "How do I get my NT machine to automatically boot and log me on without waiting for me to type a password?" If you tell TWEAKUI your name and password, NT will eliminate your logon sequence and immediately take you to the desktop when the system boots. (Bypassing your password obviously creates a security problem, but you might want to use this TWEAKUI feature on your home computer.)

The General tab provides check boxes that let you turn on and off error beeps, smooth scrolling, and window animation. You can also specify locations for your Desktop, Favorites, My Documents, Recent Documents, and other user-specific folders. This functionality is useful because NT tends to stick all of its files on the drive you install the operating system (OS) on. If that drive fills up, you might be able to free up necessary space by moving the desktop to another drive.

The Explorer tab lets you control how Explorer identifies an icon as a shortcut rather than an object. You can tell Explorer not to automatically prefix a shortcut's title with Shortcut to, and you can suppress the small boxed arrow that appears by default in the lower left corner of shortcut icons. If you turn off your Welcome Screen tips, you can use the Explorer tab to turn them back on.

The Repair tab rebuilds icons, repairs the font folder, and repairs system files. The New tab lets you customize the menu that appears when you right-click a container and select New. For example, on my system, I can right-click my C drive and create a new text file, HTML file, or Word document. The New tab lets you add file types to the menu's list and remove file types from the list.

Paranoia has two subsections­Covering Your Tracks and Things That Happen Behind Your Back. The first section lets you tell your system to automatically erase the queue of recently visited documents when you log on so other people can't easily see which files you've been using.

The second section lets you stop music CDs and Autorun CD-ROMs from automatically playing when you put them in the CD-ROM drive. Removing that functionality is one of the first things I do when I set up a new system; getting a Do you want to install NT? message every time I place the NT Server CD-ROM in my CD-ROM drive is incredibly irritating.

TWEAKUI Online
TWEAKUI is a cool tool, no doubt about it. You can take advantage of TWEAKUI even if you don't have the resource kit. Download the utility from the Microsoft Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/downloads/contents/PowerToys/W95TweakUI/default.asp).