Tweakui for Win9x, ME, NT, W2K and XP

by Wayne Maples [Published on 20 April 2004 / Last Updated on 20 April 2004]

Microsoft has released Tweak UI 1.33 . The Microsoft Windows Shell Development Team has put together a set of productivity tools called PowerToys. If you're a Windows power-user, go ahead and try them out, but realize these are unsupported tools. Microsoft Technical Support is unable to answer questions about PowerToys. Supports Win9x, Windows ME, Windows NT and Windows 2000. TweakUI for XP is now available as part of the PowerToys for XP.

When you used Tweak UI to setup automatic logon in Windows 2000, the password appears in plaintext in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon. However, when you use the latest version of Tweak UI, the password no longer appears at this location. Instead, it is encrypted in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SECURITY\Policy\Secrets\DefaultPassword.

I like TweakUI. But consider the more powerful freeware X-Setup which currently includes 500+ tweaks. For administrators, the following feature is compelling.

With Record Mode activated, nearly all changes from a plug-in or wizard are recorded to a REG file. This file can then be easily applied to thousands of machines without needing to install X-Setup on them .

X-Setup works for Windows 95, Windows 98 (SE), Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and Windows ME

Another alternative is WinHacker. Many of the settings that change the way Windows works and feels are hidden in the overwhelming registry, or in configuration files. WinHacker features:

  • Ability to rename or change the icon of any shell folder (such as My Computer, Recycle Bin).
  • Add / Remove specific shell folders from My Computer or the Desktop.
  • Ability to move your desktop directory, and other folders such as Favorites, etc
  • Show Windows Bitmaps as thumbnails in Explorer.
  • Scripting language to create 'plugins' that can modify the registry, INI files, etc.
  • Full context-sensitive help (What's This? help).
  • Windows 95/98/2000 and Windows NT 4.0 specific features.

TweakUI and such tools can cause confusion. I see messages about the Most Recently Used List being unavailable. This is caused by running TweakUI and clearing the Add new documents to Documents on Start Menu check box on the IE tab of Tweak UI. The group policy setting that governs the display of MRUs indicates that MRUs are not to be displayed. If you get called about some strange behavior on a workstation, as in this kind of component missing, check to see if the user has been experimenting with TweakUI. It can result in Help Desk calls.

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