Customizing Windows

More Than 200 Hacks,Tweaks,Moods,and Customizations.

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Customizing And Removing Icons Desktop

Studies have shown that customizing your desktop will result in a 64 percent increase in productivity as well as a 248 percent increase in happiness levels of computer users. I was unable to contact the institute where these numbers purportedly came from to confirm this information, but even if these numbers are slightly off (or completely made up), customizing the desktop is still very beneficial.

This chapter will show you some cool tricks and tools to make your desktop look and work much better so that you can also benefit from a customized desktop. Starting with the icons, it will show you how to remove, enlarge, replace, and adjust the special effects, such as the drop shadows. Then, it will move on to customizing the way your desktop behaves and operates by using Active Desktop and a cool desktop PowerToy.

The desktop seems like a pretty simple part of the operating system, but there is a lot you can do to it to make using your computer more efficient as well as fun.

Customizing Desktop Icons
The first time I started up Windows XP, I was shocked to find only the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop.Where were the rest of the icons? Did the install screw up? Microsoft is starting to transition away from the desktop that we are all used to with previous versions of Windows.With the introduction of the Start panel, the same icons on the desktop are just not needed. Now, the desktop looks much cleaner and more visually appealing because there are not 50 icons on the screen blocking your view of the wallpaper.

I have to admit, I like the clean interface, but I miss some of the icons that used to be on the desktop. Thankfully, you can do a number of different things to customize the desktop to bring back some of the old icons and also customize them so that you can preserve the clean look while restoring functionality. The next several sections will show you how you can get your desktop looking the way you want it to by taking advantage of hidden features and tricks.

Removing all icons from the desktop
No matter how hard I try, I always end up with a lot of junk on my desktop. From programs that I download and documents that I was too lazy to save elsewhere as well as new program links that seem to pop up from nowhere, there is never an end to the war that I fight with my desktop to keep it clutter-free. I like to be able to see my desktop wallpaper and not have my view of the wallpaper blocked by useless icons. One great way to win the never-ending desktop war is to just disable the desktop’s ability to show the icons and instead place the most common desktop icons, such as My Computer and the Recycle Bin, on the Quick Launch bar.

Disabling the icons on the desktop is actually a very simple task. Most people never know about this feature, because it is placed where you would really never expect it.To get started, just right-click Desktop. Then expand Arrange Icons By and select Show Desktop Icons to unselect it. After a few seconds, the icons will disappear.

Don’t worry, the icons and folder on your desktop were not deleted. If you ever want to turn the icons back on, just repeat the preceding steps once more.

This is a very simple way to quickly clean up the desktop. It’s sort of like sweeping the dirt under a rug. The desktop clutter is still there, but you just can’t see it.

Customizing the icon drop shadow effect
One cool new feature of Windows XP is the Use Drop Shadows for Icon Labels on the Desktop. This new effect really makes the icons stand out from your wallpaper and makes them much easier to read when you are using a background, such as a photo, that has both light and dark spots. Unfortunately, depending on your computer’s hardware configuration, you may or may not be able to experience this cool new effect. If you have a newer computer that has an average graphics card, you will have no problem using this feature. But if you have an older graphics card, then you may be out of luck.

The Use Drop Shadows for Icon Labels on the Desktop can be turned on or off. Depending on the wallpaper that you are using, you may like or dislike the feature. I really like the new effect, but if you like having a clean and crisp interface, I recommend disabling the effect. Follow these steps to turn the feature on or off:

1. Click the Start button, and select Run.

2. Key in sysdm.cpl and click OK to launch system properties.

3. Click the Advanced tab, and then click the Settings button under the Performance
section.

4. While on the Visual Effects tab, scroll down to the bottom of the box.

5. Locate Use Drop Shadows for Icon Labels on the Desktop and check or uncheck the value, depending on what you would like to do.

6. Click OK to save your changes.

7. Click OK once more to close the System Properties window.
If you enable the effect by checking the box and the effect still does not show up after you reboot your computer, this is a sign that your computer does not support the feature.


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