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How To Fix the 10 Biggest Windows Annoyances

Let’s face it: Windows can be seriously annoying sometimes, but thankfully there’s also usually a workaround or third-party utility that fixes the issue. We’ve rounded up the ten things that annoy us most, along with how to fix them.

Note: this article was originally published a year ago, but we figured we’d add some more annoyances to the list and feature it again.

Messy Windows Context Menus, and How to Clean Them Up

One of the most irritating things about Windows is the context menu clutter that you have to deal with once you install a bunch of applications. It seems like every application is fighting for a piece of your context menu, and it’s not like you even use half of them.

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Thankfully cleaning them up is possible, though it will require you rolling up your sleeves a bit. We’ve got the entire process covered, from the registry hack method to using freeware tools to do the job.

How to Clean Up Your Messy Windows Context Menu

How to Clean Up Your Messy Internet Explorer Context Menu

Stop Windows Update from Automatically Restarting Your PC

If you like to keep your applications open and running on your screen, you’ve probably come back to your PC and noticed that Windows Update had rebooted you, losing everything that was open on your screen. Sure, you can temporarily disable the automatic reboot if you happen to be sitting in front of the PC, but what happens when you were away when it popped up?

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That’s not the only annoyance, but you can stop Windows Update from hijacking the sleep button if you need to.

Prevent Windows Update from Forcibly Rebooting Your Computer

How to Stop Windows from Shutting Down or Rebooting

Disable Irritating Windows Sounds, Like that Explorer Click Sound

The default Windows settings enable this click click click click sound for anytime you are browsing around the filesystem, and the same thing in Internet Explorer when you click on a link. It’s extremely annoying, but the fix is a simple one.

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Turn Off Windows Explorer Click Sounds in Windows 7 or Vista

Typing Your Password to Login Every Single Day

Nobody wants to admit it, but unless you encrypt your files, using a password on your PC won’t stop any tech-savvy person from getting into your data—all you have to do is use the System Rescue CD to change the password, or you can even use an Ubuntu Live CD to access files off a Windows PC.

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So if you’re tired of logging into your Windows PC, just make it login automatically instead.

Make Windows 7 or Vista Log On Automatically 

Disable the Caps Lock Key

The Caps Lock Key is something that most people will probably never need. Sure, you can always Map Any Key to Any Key and turn it into something more useful, like a Ctrl key for that Lenovo notebook with the awkwardly placed Fn key, or you can just disable it outright. Either way, up to you.

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Disable Caps Lock Key in Windows 7 or Vista

Map Any Key to Any Key on Windows 7 / XP / Vista

Finally Get Rid of Internet Explorer (Windows 7 Only)

About half of the people reading this article in Internet Explorer will be scratching their head right now and thinking… “what?” The other half using Firefox or Chrome will be thrilled that you can now delete Internet Explorer in Windows 7. It’s easy.

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Uninstall, Disable, or Delete Internet Explorer 8 from Windows 7

Get Rid of Sticky and Filter Keys

It’s great that Microsoft builds in accessibility features to help those that need it. For the rest of us, they are really irritating and need to be disabled.

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Disable the Irritating Sticky / Filter Keys Popup Dialogs

Disable Aero Snap, Aero Shake, or Aero Peek

All the new Aero features in Windows 7 are absolutely great, and I recommend that you learn how to use them.

But… if you are tired of windows snapping to the side of the screen or everything else minimizing when you move a window around, you can easily disable one or all of the features.

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Disable Aero Snap (the Mouse Drag Window Arranging Feature in Windows 7)

Disable Aero Shake in Windows 7

Make Aero Peek Display Instantly (or Disable it) in Windows 7

Disable Program Compatibility Assistant

This dialog can be seriously annoying when you are trying to install software—it pops up asking if you really installed the application correctly, even though 99% of the time the application installed just fine. It’s extremely annoying, but we can disable it.

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Disable Program Compatibility Assistant in Windows 7 and Vista

Fix Problems with the Taskbar Not Auto-Hiding Like it Should

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If you’ve had a problem where the taskbar just refuses to auto-hide even though you have the option enabled, you can read through this list of tips for some solutions to help fix the problem.

Fixing When the Windows Taskbar Refuses to Auto-Hide Correctly

Windows 7 Start Menu Search Slowing Down

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If you’ve got loads of files on your PC, you’ll find that the Windows 7 Start Menu search box starts returning results a lot slower than you’d like. Here’s how to speed it up.

Make Windows 7 Start Menu Search Find Your Applications Faster

Make the “New” Menu Open Faster

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If you’ve ever used the New menu from the Windows context menu, you’ve probably noticed that it’s not always as fast as it could be. Here’s how to make it faster by cleaning it up.

Cleanup & Make the Windows Context Menu’s “New” Folder Open Faster

How to Get Rid of Windows Defender (if You Don’t Need It)

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If you’re already running a full anti-malware suite, you might not even realize that Windows Defender is already installed with Windows, and is probably wasting precious resources. Here’s how to get rid of it.

How To Uninstall, Disable, and Remove Windows Defender. Also, How Turn it Off

Make User Account Control (UAC) Less Annoying

What Windows annoyance list would be complete without a way to disable those irritating User Account Control popup dialogs? There’s really no need to describe it, you already know how annoying they are.

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Disabling them is just as easy, but what you might not know is that you can actually create shortcuts that bypass the UAC prompts instead of just disabling it entirely, though either way is up to you.

Disable User Account Control (UAC) the Easy Way on Win 7 or Vista

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.

  • Published 11/4/10

Comments (49)

  1. SG

    good one….

  2. HugoHilter

    That is not bad! The most of this i know before, but it´s helpful to see it at once.

    Thanks from Germany

  3. WJV

    Thanks.
    Now how do I get my ‘folder up’ button back in the file explorer? I’ve missed it dearly since XP…

  4. LYNN FORSYTH

    How do I view all my computer settings? Are they consolidated to one or two folders?

    Are the settings readable or are they just jumbled alpabet/digital characters ?

    Lynn

  5. jim quinn

    Is there a way to stop me having to set the clock, each time I turn my laptop on, on my Acer Aspire7520? I use Firefox most of the time, Internet Explorer the rest of the time.
    I would appreciate (simple? ) help/advice.
    Thanks

  6. mike

    great article on windows annoyances1

    Here is another annoyance, and I don’t know how to fix it–

    Drag and drop to copy or move a file–is much harder in Win 7, than in XP. Because, when you drag it into the new folder, it is impossible to find empty space to drag it to. The whole line of what it thinks is the target file (to open the file with) is now selected, and the OS seems to think one wants to open the dragged file with that target file, rather than just copy or move the file there.

    I always try to look for a .txt, .pdf, .ini file, etc. in the target directory, to drag the file to, so Windows does not think the dragged file should be opened with the target file. Sometimes there is not such a file, in the target directory. It is clearly annoying.

    Whereas in XP, if one wanted to drag a file to be opened by another file, it would have to be dragged right onto that file’s icon. Much easier to find empty space that way,. In 7 though, the whole line i the target directory gets selected.

    Thanks, if you can help with this annoyance.

  7. mike

    PS–I agree with the one about folder up. Pretty stupid that microsoft removed that icon.

    Also, is there any way to go back to the kind of search function from XP, rather than the one in Win7?

  8. Mo

    i HAve annoying Windows pop up that asks Do you want to download only secure items? yes no
    How do I delete this? thanks mo

  9. goodsamaritan

    @WJV you dont need folder up anymore. if you look in the address bar at the top of explorer window you will see the path to where you are looking eg. c:\users\wjv\documents. each of these parts is selectable so if you wanted to go up 1 level just click the parent folder in the explorer bar, in the e.g case this would be wjv.

    @lynn forsyth. you need godmode..try this http://www.tomshardware.com/news/GodMode-Windows-7-How-to,9345.html

    @jim. need more info or why dont you google it yourself?

    @mike why not just drag to the folder name rather than “whitespace” also your post doesnt really make sense.

    @MO if you are using ie go to tools->internet options->security->Click the ‘Custom Level’ button->In the ’Miscellaneous’ section and change “Display mixed content” to Enable

  10. rupty

    when we right click for refreshing can we make changes to that menu the same way?

  11. John Donne

    wjv, if you don’t like being told by Microsoft what you need or don’t need and you want the folder up button back anyway, plus much more (like the classic-style menu in the start button), download a FREE program called Classic Shell (http://classicshell.sourceforge.net/). It fixes both Windows Explorer and the Start Menu in Windows 7. You won’t regret it.

  12. Joe Smith

    I wouldn’t consider logging in an annoyance… Hello security… Why don’t you post your SSN, DOB and full name on the Internet too. Those can be quite annoying to have to type in also.

  13. dood

    Since I just started reading the blog almost a month ago, it nice to see some old stuff which reminds me to uninstall defender.

    Speaking on services it would be nice to have a full-blown guide on what services are recommended to be disabled/manual/automatic with an explanation of each one (could be a weekly post or something.)

  14. Douglas

    @jim quinn
    Sounds like you need a new battery on your motherboard

  15. William

    I run Windows 7 with Opera as the browswer since it refreshes (f5 key) faster than Firefox, but not as fast as I would like. How can the page being refreshed with the f5 refresher key to refresh faster? When I hold it down it just seems to refresh at whatever speed it feels like.

  16. Ernesto

    EXCELLENT !!!! CONGRATULATIONS !!!

  17. Kevalin

    @Joe Smith: For some people, the problem with being clever is… they’re no god at it.

    Did you miss the part of this very short article where it essentially said that anyone with even moderate hacking skills and half a brain can crack your login password without breaking a sweat? On the other hand, if it’s just you and your computer in the house (or, you, your computer and some very serious non-geeks), having to type in your login password EVERY SINGLE TIME you’ve left your computer sit idle for more than fifteen or twenty minutes can get old very fast. Disabling it does indeed remove a more or less unnecessary annoyance.

    Not to put took fine a popping on it, Joe, but if your login screen password is the only thing between your precious computer secrets and any half-brained hacker, you HAVE posted your full name, date of birth and social security number for all to see.

  18. Randy

    @jim quinn

    One thing you might try (after you check if you need a motherboard battery) is click on the time and date in the right corner then click on the adjust time and date link, then on the 3rd tab (Internet Time) and then (Change Settings) @ make sure that the internet time website you have chosen is correctly working. If not choose another location (link) in the drop down and click update.
    Just a thought

  19. lun

    The UAC only aids security if it is set to the highest warning level. If it’s set to anything lower than that it can, by design, be bypassed completely. Annoying but true.

    Even at the second-highest level, it won’t prompt you when changing system settings. The UAC prompt level is a system setting.

  20. THE GREAT

    Instead od doing lots of work with the context menu just download glary utilities, it does all the work! AMAZING

  21. Tony Rush

    Simpler solution: buy a Mac.

    I can’t believe people still put up with the hassles of Windows…. And following these instructions (while helpful) is like buying a brand-new car that doesn’t work right…and then having to fix it yourself.

    If your car, refrigerator or DVD player ran as poorly as your Windows computer does, you’d take it back. The most amazing thing Microsoft has ever done is fool people into thinking that it’s “normal” to have a computer that crashes and slows down regularly.

  22. tommy2rs

    @Tony Rush

    If Mac’s are perfect why does every Apple store have a Genius bar? Not to mention the required appointment at said Genius bar.

    I own and service Mac’s, Windows and Linux machines for my livelihood. They all break and they are all subject to PEBKAC and I D 10 T errors.

  23. Al

    0 for 10.

  24. billy

    I feel antiquated with my XP when I read such articles. I guess primitive should be the right word. Anyway great info.

  25. Patabugen

    @Tony Rush “Simpler solution: buy a Mac.”

    I love the idea that learning a whole new operating system is easier than learning the new features of one you know. I’m not saying that either Windows or Mac are easier to use then the other, only that XP -> 7 is easier than XP -> Mac. If you’re going to advocate Linux, or any OS switch, why not push for a free version?

    Just because English has crazy spellings, doesn’t mean we should all go out to learn Hebrew.

    For those above who also miss Backspace being ‘Up’, Alt and Arrow Up do the job now.

  26. Rick

    I have windows vista. When I copy and paste URLs into a word document I cannot access the copied site using CTRL. Get message “this operation cancelled due to restrictions on computer. Contact system administrator”, and that is me. How do I allow using the CTRL + click?

  27. Kevin

    I would like to see a feature to bypass the recycle bin like in Linux when you can bypass the Trash Can in the context menu. All of these so called annoyances are somewhat anal.

    @ Tony Rush = Fail

  28. HCamper

    @Rick First thing to set is from Control Panel and Firewall add an exception for Word and any other Office programs.
    If your using Office 2007 open Word and go to the Orb in the top left corner.
    Click the Orb and select Word Options.
    Then Select on the left hand side Advanaced Options.
    The Edit section fourth item down the page select the use Ctl + Click.
    to follow hyperlink.
    If the Cltl + click box is not selected you are restricted from adding hyper link content.
    Please be aware
    that putting links to outside content is a security risk.
    The reason for having this setting is to prevent
    linking to bad places.
    To fix how conent is added to word do the following:
    On the same advanded options page go to the bottom selection
    in the General section set the check box for update automatic links on open.
    If the document is going to be given to another person it might be advised to add a notation
    in the footer or back page of document with information about the links origin and Web site default home page.
    I personally do not like clicking a link and getting hijacked by a web site.
    Another secure way to provide links is to set at link to google and wrap the hyper link in a google search. If the link has changed google will try and resolve the new link. See google homw page for search tips.

    All thses settings above should fix the problem.
    Windows & Linux can Work Together :)

  29. Ed Stewart

    By far the best fix for windows problems is to format and install Linux, been running foolproof for 10 years now

  30. chandran

    all topics are found to be interesting&useful I think….acn 7-11-10

  31. HCamper

    @dood Yes a Service and Use guide might be a nice thing to have. The only problem is
    that it would be hard to top the guide avaliable at “Black Viper” he has an excellent of information
    and registry files to reset of twek services.
    He has covered Windows 20000, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.
    He has a seperate “services wiki” that has information covering what and how each service works.
    He also is a multiplatform person so information about Linux installs and use is also avaliable.
    He might be easier to get and offer a “Perma Link” to his site when “service” and “services” questions are part of a post or article.
    Windows & Linux can work Together :)

  32. akbozo

    god. i miss this stuff. i forgot how much fun microsoft could be. been using ubuntu for about 18 months, i don’t experience any of these things anymore. it’s a wonderful life.

  33. jon

    I would love to get rid of Internet Explorer, but unfortunately some sites, and not only Windows Download, don’t work in Firefox. Thus I have to keep IE, though I only use it when all else fails, and don’t much like the experience.

  34. Gera

    Or you could just nuke that crap and install Linux, of course.

  35. Doc

    Here’s one for you: I like using portable editions of many programs, notably CCleaner Portable and Defraggler Portable, which are set up on D: drive. How do I get Windows 7 to stop nagging me “Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?” every time I launch them?

  36. HCamper

    @Doc First Item to address is that most “Portable Editions” of programs are designed to run from
    a USB or pen drive.
    They are intended to use a file manager like “PortableApps.com platform” that works with any hardware you like (USB flash drive, iPod, portable hard drive, etc).” quote from
    the projects home page.
    Portable applications are really designed to work in an isolated mode IE. using ini files and storing all data on the plugin drive.
    The normal way to install “Portable Editions” is using the previously mentioned tools.
    The portable installer enforces the idea of no registry access and settings are stored on the “Removable Drive” and not in the “User” profile or “System” folders.
    As soon as you run a program using “Explorer” default profile and settiings come into play.
    This not just a windows issue running “Portable Editions” it is a multiplatform issue.
    Once an application is run from local hard drive it will use the default settings for both user profile and temp folders (No real way around this is by design for both Windows and Linux).
    Explorer will require permission to make settings and temp folder changes (Hence a Nag from system and Explorer).
    Once you have have installed portable apps to your hard drive the settings are going to be stored to that drive instead of a plugin drive.
    Solutions:
    The first task to isolate applications to being portable is not use any programs that live in the system on drive “C:\”.
    One possible work around is to install a another file manager like “Free Commander” for windows install the “Portable Edition”.
    Create folders for where Temp,Settings and data on drive D:\.
    When you install “Free Commander” set t to use locations on drive D:\Temp files and D:\Settings
    D:\Documents just for the “Portable Editions” add each application to “Free Commander” and only run them from “Free Commander” only.
    Create a folder and file structure for “Portable Editions” that stays away from drive C: will help to control system nags. Set the file & folder permission you want for each program. Set the drive “Recycle Bin” and “Restore” settings to custom for each drive.
    For most applications previous system nags will go away.
    Do not add any short cuts that reference “Free Commander” or “Portable Editions” in task bar,menu and desktop.
    The reason for not adding shortcuts is “Windows search and System restore” will spend a lot of time trying to help out by resolving everything on drive D:\.

    The one program you listed that will always cause nags will be the “Crap Cleaner” aka CCleaner which requires both registery and folder permissions to operate. To work around problems for the “CCleaner” right click the properties of program and set the security permissions to “Allow” read and “Write”. The nags for permissions should be greatly reduced.
    I hope that above infromation explains why and how to work around nags.
    I personally have run “Windows” “Portable Editions” located on a pen drive and under Linux. I have had to deal with nags from Linux about do I really,really want to run this program and make changes on even the external pen drive.
    I Hope this helps.
    Windows and Linux can Work Together :)

  37. Sandra

    Great info! Can anyone tell me how to get rid of the little annoying XP box that pops up to sign in with your password before Windows welcome screen loads? I have just been clicking OK because there is no passwoed and wait for the Welcome Screen to load and sign in there but its making me crazy! The computer use to be my sisters so her name comes up in it. I have tried deleting her as a user but its still there!

  38. HCamper

    @Sandra There are two guide(s) located in the XP section of “How-to Geeks”.
    First one is for removing the “User Name”.
    It is the category on remove and labeled ” remove-the-username-from-the-start-menu-in-xp”.
    The second one is for “User Accounts”.
    It is the category on remove and is labeled “remove-user-accounts-from-the-login-screen-in-windows-xp”.
    Both guides will solve the question about removing user name pop up on logon.
    I would suggest you create a password for your self from the “User Account” section in
    “Control Panel”.
    You can set the system to “Auto Logon” with that “Password” using the “TweakUI” tool.
    Using a blank or empty password is not a safe way to run windows.
    If you install the tool “TweakUI” you can set your “User Account” to auto logon if desired.

    The steps in the guide(s) show how to remove the past user “Name” and “Settings” related to that user.
    I would recommend you make a “System Restore Point” point before making any changes.
    So check out the “Windows XP” section of “How-to Geeks” and get your system “Tweaked” for
    how you want it.
    I hope this helps :)

  39. etherium

    windows 7 still is the best OS i have ever used to date.
    i actually spent a week using the latest mac and another four days or so using the new linux os just to get compare….

    they are so inferior.

    Microsoft may act like the big kahuna sometimes, but they do have really great stuff …. every other product marketed that is.

  40. Greg

    I would have to agree with Etherium, 7 is the best…. I’m a Computer Programmer and I’ve worked a lot with MAC’s, and Linux, Unix, and Ubuntu….. not 1 compares to 7. All of these “annoying” things are you people being lazy as can be.. All OS systems break and or have problems. Get over it…Do you want Windows to Dress you when you wake up also?

  41. Mike

    @Greg – Just awesome :) Completely agree.

    Like Greg, I am also a programmer and have worked with a variety of operating systems on a regular basis. I do have certain complaints about each and every one of them, which is why I have a triple boot system (XP, 7 and RH Linux). I prefer Linux hands down, however lets face it… It’s just not very software friendly. Yes yes, blah blah, most things have a linux port, agreed.. Gaming is where Linux fails, and do start talkin about Wine cuz that thing is fail. Windows 7 is what I use primarily, however it isn’t very gaming friendly either. Horizontal Pan… Need I say more?

    This is a great guide to ridding yourself of those annoyances, I usually do 90% of this stuff within minutes of getting a system installed. Which is what I was in the process of doing when I came across this thread looking for anything I had missed.

    @Tony Rush… just sad…

  42. Jim

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me know how to get rid of that horrid sound in IE!!!

  43. Lukong

    Behind every great Computer Corps.is an Epic Geekster

  44. jolin

    Actually most times there is no need to rebuild or reinstalled your PC windows system, what you need is Tuneup360. You just need to click one big “fix now” button and get your computer fixed at once.

  45. Ben Boom

    For all of the idiot trolls who pop up and yell “Just install Linux” (sigh – there’s always somebody who does this)…how well is your copy of Photoshop running under Linux? And no, Gimp is not a substitute unless you’re doing really simple work. The problem is that even though Windows sucks, there is some good software for it and that is often not available for the unix variants.

  46. T Greenwood

    Still, the most annoying thing in Internet Explorer is when I have a few different things open, and I am opening a slowly loading IE page. I go back to a different program and start working, and when the IE page finally loads, it interrupts what I’m doing by popping up in front. This is extremely annoying and nobody has been able to tell me how to disable it so far.

    Is there any way to disable this? Also, I am on a work computer with a lot of security settings that I do not want to attempt to defeat (or lose a high-paying job) so no registry hacks.

  47. Rabbit

    @Greg:

    Though you have a valid point, i think the purpose of these forums and pages on tweaking Windows functions is because the idea of Windows having to “dress people in the morning” and otherwise Molly-Coddle them…is what i assume most Windows users have had *enough* of and are trying to AVOID, I know I most certainly am.

    And people get argumentative and obnoxious in forums…it’s human nature. So you probably have the right to tell people to quit b!tching, lol. However, I’ve been checking out the How-To-Geek pages for the last couple of days and seems to me that the vast majority of the “annoyances” found on Windows systems that the technicians here have been so kind to address fixes for have primarily revolved around Microsoft being *too* controlling. Unfortunately, it seems that everywhere you turn these days newer software and applications, in their quest to be as User Friendly As Possible seem to be sacrificing “User Freedom” for the sake of “User Convenience”…it’s kinda sad.

  48. Jack Sams

    I cannot download or upgrade Adobe Flash Player, can you help me?

  49. biggest flash drive

    Good Review

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