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Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

One of the things that drives me crazy on Windows Vista is all of the optional updates that show up in the Windows Update list. I want to look at Windows Update and see that there are no updates, not see that there’s a list of 14 language packs that I don’t really need

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System administrators will almost always set the default home page for the browser to the corporate website or intranet when building a machine. This is just a small registry hack that will set the home page for IE6 or IE7.

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Why you’d want to disable tabbed browsing is a mystery to me, but I received a request for a registry hack to force IE7 to not use tabs. I can only assume that it has to do with keeping users from too much confusion when upgrading from IE6.

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Firefox resizes large images by default to fit in the browser window. This can get really annoying if you are browsing a lot of large images.

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The more applications that you install into Windows, the longer the computer takes to shut down. This is especially true for applications that install a service that runs when the computer starts, and even more true for services that refuse to shut down quickly, or time out when being shut down.

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If you dislike the new Favorite Links panel in the Windows Vista Explorer panel, you might not realize that it’s really called the Navigation Pane, and it’s extremely simple to turn off. 

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If you use a toolbar such as the Google or Yahoo toolbars, you probably won’t want to see the built-in search box in Internet Explorer 7. There’s a quick registry fix that you can do to enable / disable this.

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You’ve seen the SendTo folder in action any time you right-click a file and select the Send To folder from the context menu. What you might be unaware of is that you can customize the items in this menu.

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Vista Start Menu Health Without Start++

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If you have set the default feed reader for Firefox, you no longer have an option to preview a feed before adding it to your feed reader of choice. This can be a little frustrating when trying to quickly look at a feed without actually adding it.

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If you’ve just upgraded your Linux box, or you are wondering how many processors a remote server has, there’s a quick and dirty command you can use to display the number of processors.

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The find utility on linux allows you to pass in a bunch of interesting arguments, including one to execute another command on each file. We’ll use this in order to figure out what files are older than a certain number of days, and then use the rm command to delete them.

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If you get an error in Visual Studio .NET 2003 every time that you hit the F1 key for context-sensitive help that says “Please Wait While Windows Configures Visual Studio .NET Enterprise Edition 2003″, then you are in luck, because I have a solution.

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If you can’t stand the User Account Control prompts, but you’d still like to retain a little bit of security, you can disable it for Administrator accounts only. What we’ll be doing is actually changing Windows Vista to automatically elevate the privilege level for administrators without prompting.

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The default action for the Power button on the start menu in Windows 7 is shutdown, and in Vista is Sleep, which isn’t necessarily useful for everybody, so we’ll explain how to change it here.

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This tip really isn’t very useful, but it’s an interesting hack to show your friends. You can enable a “Slow Motion” animation that will only activate if you are holding down the Shift key while you minimize/restore/close/open a window.

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Some icons are just obvious enough that nobody should need text below them to tell them what the icon is for. A good example of this is the icon for Internet Explorer. We’re all really used to it by now, and the text just makes it ugly.

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The recycle bin is really obvious. We’ve been seeing the same thing since Windows 95, so having text on the icon to tell us what it is seems a little unnecessary. With a little registry patch, we can easily remove the text.

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ShareYourScore.com is a site where you can upload your Windows Vista Experience Index assessment and share it with the world. You can also take a look at other people’s top scores, and even see average scores for a particular component. This site could be useful for troubleshooting, since you can see what other people with the same components scored. I’m hoping they expand the site’s functionality in the future, but it’s a good start.

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The Public folder in Windows Vista is used for sharing folders and files with people on the same computer or the same network. The normal location for the public folder is C:\Users\Public, but this isn’t necessarily the best location for it, especially if you don’t have enough space on your C: drive. With some registry editing, we can move the location of the folder.

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If you like to build batch files to automate cleanup on your computer, you’ll probably want to include at least one of these commands in your batch script. You can automate any one of the functions on the Internet Explorer 7 Delete Browsing History dialog.

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The Windows Vista start menu search box is one of my favorite features in Vista, but searching can be pretty slow if you have a lot of personal files, because by default the start menu search also searches files, windows contacts, windows mail, history, and favorites.

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The Windows Vista BootScreen is pointless, but Microsoft decided to hide a more visually appealing boot screen that can easily be enabled with very little trouble. I’m not sure why they didn’t make the boot screen better.

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Expose is an application on Mac OSX that tiles all the open windows with the press of a key, letting you quickly choose between them. Now there is finally a Mac OSX Expose clone application for Windows Vista that runs great! Not only that, but it’s open source, so you can improve it if you wanted to.

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Windows Vista by default has huge borders, probably to show off the new transparancy. If you’d prefer a more slimmed-down, minimal approach, you can easily configure this setting to make it more reasonable.

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