Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to hack your own computer

How to hack your own computer (or make registry changes to customize your experience)

Delve beneath the bonnet of Microsoft Windows and you'll find powerful customization options. The key is accessing the registry – the operating system's engine room – via the registry editor. Click Start, then Run, enter regedit.exe and press Enter.
The registry editor is a powerful piece of software that provides full control over the operating system, so be careful. But if you want to customize Windows to make it your own, there’s no better way to do it. These top five tweaks from IT support company Conosco will help you get started.
Easily encrypt and decrypt your files
Windows Vista and 7 allow you to protect data with encryption tools, but these are hard to find. This hack makes them more accessible. In the registry editor, locate the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced registry key, then right-click in the right-hand pane and create a 32-bit DWORD value called EncryptionContextMenu. Give it a value of 1. Now, whenever you right-click on a file, you'll find encryption options as standard.
Add an application to the right-click desktop menu
Scroll down to the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell registry key. Create a sub-key with the name of your chosen application e.g. Notepad, then create a sub-key underneath this one called Command. Locate the application you want to launch on your hard drive and copy the full path e.g. C:\Windows\System 32\notepad.exe. Back in the registry, left-click on the Command key, double-click the (Default) text that appears in the right-hand pane, and paste the application path into the box. Your application will now appear when you right-click on the desktop.
Display a start-up message

This is a cool hack, allowing you to display a custom message when the computer boots. Find the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced key and double-click on legalnoticecaption. Enter the headline of your start-up message, then click OK and double-click on legalnoticetext. Add your message and click OK. The message will appear the next time you restart your computer.
Disable pop-up notifications
This tweak will disable all bubble notifications that pop up near the system clock. Make sure you keep your system – including anti-virus programs - up to date, as your computer will no longer offer reminders. Open the registry, locate the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced key and set the EnableBalloonTips value to 0. To reverse the tweak, change the value back to 1.
Stop Windows Update from rebooting your computer
Sometimes Windows Update gets mad and announces it's going to reboot the computer. This can be frustrating if you're right in the middle of something. To disable this option, locate the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU key and create a new 32-bit DWORD in the right-hand pane called NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers. Give it a value of 1. This will prevent automatic restart when the computer is being used. To put things back to normal, delete the DWORD you created.

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