PC users don't agree on much, but they're close to unanimous in their low opinion of Vista's performance. There are plenty of manual tweaks you can make to grease Vista's skids--I ran down five of them a couple of weeks ago. You can also use one of the many Vista utilities to optimize the operating system. I described the free Ultimate Windows Tweaker and $29.95 Vista Smoker Pro in a post last week.
I split my work time about evenly between Windows XP and Vista. Let me tell you, I'll take Vista 99 days out of 100. Vista's safer than XP, it looks better than its predecessor, and it runs at least as fast as XP.
Performance has been a knock on Vista since the operating system was released, but there are some relatively simple ways to give Vista a little goose so it performs some common operations a tad faster. These five tips should shorten your workday:
Put an encrypt/decrypt option on your context menu If you frequently encrypt … Read more
Windows-based computers come with an almost dizzying number of options, from Internet Explorer to Notepad and everything in between. Trying to manage all these functions may be a lot easier for users with Fresh UI.
This free download gives users an unprecedented look and incredible control over their system. The Fresh UI display is that of an expandable file tree, giving a general look at all programs that can be tinkered with. This overview is what really makes this program special. By erasing the countless minutes that could be spent opening each individual program and learning how to make alterations … Read more
Isoclean makes audiophile-grade gold-plated fuses. This fuse is a "tweak," an accessory that promises to improve the sound of your hi-fi.
Audiophiles eat this stuff up. We put special cones or pads under our equipment to eliminate bad vibes, plug our electronics into AC power line conditioners, and buy equipment stands to coddle our components.
Isoclean isn't the first company to offer audiophile fuses, and I can't say I'm game for these types of tweaks. They reek of "snake oil" silliness, but an audiophile buddy couldn't stop raving about the difference the … Read more
Optimizing toolboxes can be ranked according to the robustness of their tools, and the areas of a system they allow you to manipulate. This utility weighs in on the light side, as it essentially allows you to enable or disable various Windows features. There's no monkeying around with the Registry or CPU -- Easy Tweak mostly replicates built-in Windows' tools.
Easy Tweak launches an attractive, easy to navigate interface. Instead of tabs, it uses a row of icons at the bottom, similar to the row of quick-launch icons on a Mac screen. Each category of tweak--system info, desktop, drives, … Read more
If you're a demanding aesthete who insists on stamping your imprimatur all over your computer's interface, TweakXPlorer might be just what you've been looking for. If you're looking for a serious Explorer performance-enhancing drug, you're probably going to want to look elsewhere.
TweakXPlorer is a simple utility that lets you slap an image in Explorer's background, change font colors, and adjust background settings for the Explorer toolbar. Simple buttons with clean icons will help you navigate through the three main interface tabs.
There's TweakFolder for folder changes, TweakToolbar for toolbar adjustments, and TweakThumbnail … Read more
Even Windows Explorer is skinnable, so if you're on the hunt for a decent way to change the shades of the XP file navigation system, you could do worse than TweakXPlorer. It's a simple utility that lets you slap an image in Explorer's background, change font colors, and adjust background settings for the Explorer toolbar, too.
Simple buttons with clean icons will help you navigate through the three main interface tabs. There's TweakFolder for folder changes, TweakToolbar for toolbar adjustments, and TweakThumbnail to change thumbnail resolution and size. Importing an image into the toolbar automatically resizes … Read more
Advanced Vista Optimizer consolidates into one dashboard numerous system-tweaking and configuration tools, from the basic to the advanced. The features cover the bases, including disk and Registry defragging, program prefetching and the proprietary Superfetching, start-up and shutdown tweaks, optimization adjustments for performance, memory, and hardware, an uninstaller, and a file splitter and joiner.
Designed to resemble Vista's Windows Explorer layout, the interface makes clever use of a breadcrumb trail at the top to make it easier to navigate back to any previously-visited level. Below the breadcrumb bar, the main window has been split into two levels. The top pane … Read more
Thanks to this free utility's well-designed user interface, managing our Vista settings was as simple as checking and unchecking our selections.
VistaTweaker uses tabs to organize all of Vista's settings. They are broken down into System, Windows UI, Internet Explorer, Software, Network, Performance, and Miscellaneous. The contents of each tab are broken down further into subcategories. Despite all of the settings options, we were never overwhelmed. From the interface, there are also options for checking or unchecking all of the options in one fell swoop. During our tests, we randomly made selections, from disabling notifications for new programs … Read more
Dozens of Windows settings in an easily navigated series of tabs and lists might not sound exciting, but with the right approach, it can be useful. The publisher of SystemCop delivers. This program wasn't designed to look pretty; it is programmed to work. Inexperienced people will make quick work of learning how to operate the program, but may not understand the need for each setting. The very short Help manual doesn't explain much.
Operating the app takes only checking option boxes and pressing an Apply button. The difficulty comes in knowing when to enable or disable a setting. … Read more