Confessions of a Windows Enthusiast

Where I rant about Microsoft products, computers and technology, and much more.

June 2007 - Posts

  • Controlling desktop composition through the registry

    As I was reading through some threads over at Neowin.net's Windows Vista Support forum section, I stumbled upon a thread where someone was asking how to disable the Windows Aero interface through the registry. There were several suggestions made, one of which included that the original poster disable the "Desktop Window Manager Session Manager" service completely, which to me seems like a bad solution even though it would achieve what the original poster was trying to tackle.

    You don't need to disable the "Desktop Window Manager Session Manager" service to disable Windows Aero and desktop composition. This can be done from the Windows Control Panel itself (by navigating to Control Panel, Appearance and Personalization, and under Personalization click on "Change color scheme" and then selecting "Windows Vista Basic" from the color scheme list), through Advanced system properties (by navigating to Control Panel, System and Maintenance, System, and choosing Advanced system settings from the task pane on the left, clicking the "Settings..." button under Performance, and then finally unchecking "Enable desktop composition" and clicking on the OK button), or last but not least, the registry:

    1. Click on Start, and in the Start Search field type regedit.exe and then press Enter.
    2. If User Account Control prompts you for consent, click on continue or provide the appropriate credentials.
    3. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM.
    4. Look for a REG_DWORD value named "Composition". If this key does not exist, create it.
    5. Double click on the Composition (REG_DWORD) value and change its value to 0.
    6. Log off and back on for this change to take effect.

    If you want to achieve this through the command line or through a command script, the appropriate command is REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM /v Composition /d 0 /f.

    That will disable desktop composition even if your computer supports it. To re-enable Windows Aero and desktop composition, change the Composition (REG_DWORD) value to 1 or change the scheme by going to Control Panel, Appearance and Personalization, and under Personalization click on "Change color scheme" and then select Windows Aero from the color scheme list.

    Alternatively if you would want to re-enable Windows Aero through the command line you can achieve this by running REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM /v Composition /d 1 /f.

    NOTE: This will NOT, under any circumstances, allow you to enable Windows Aero on graphics cards that do not have the proper support for Windows Aero or do not fit the prerequisites for enabling Windows Aero and desktop composition (for example, GeForce MX 440 graphics cards). For more information on the prerequisites and hardware requirements for Microsoft Windows Vista, please visit the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

    PostTypeIcon
    16,369 Views
  • HOW-TO: Disable Automatic Folder Type Discovery

    By default, Windows Explorer in Windows Vista will try to automatically detect the contents of a folder and display the correct detail settings, however in some situations you may wish to disable this behavior and customize the view settings manually as desired.

    This article applies to:

    • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic, 32-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, 32-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Business, 32-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate, 32-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise, 32-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic, 64-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, 64-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Business, 64-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate, 64-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise, 64-bit

    NOTE: This involves editing the registry. It is always recommended to create a back-up of the registry before making any modifications. Before performing any of the actions below, please save your work and close any Windows Explorer windows, as you will need to log off for these changes to properly take effect.

    Automatic method

    • Download the command script that I have created and extract the files to your Desktop. Once you have extracted the files, simply double click on “disable_automatic_foldertype_discovery.cmd” and read the precautions in the command prompt window that appears.

      This file has been scanned for viruses and does not perform any malicious tasks, it simply automates the task required to reset the Windows Explorer view settings and then proceed to disable the automatic folder content discovery.

    Manual method

    • Click on Start, and in the Start Search field type “REGEDIT”, and then press Enter.
    • If User Account Control prompts you, provide consent by clicking on Continue or entering a password.
    • In the left hand pane, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell
    • Right click on the “Bags” sub-key and click on Delete. When asked to confirm the operation click on Yes.
    • Right click on the "Shell" sub-key and from the menu that appears click on New, and then click on Key.
    • Give the new key a name of "Bags" (without the quotes).
    • Right click on the "Bags" sub-key and from the menu that appears click on New, and then click on Key.
    • Give the new key a name of "AllFolders" (without the quotes).
    • Right click on the "AllFolders" sub-key and from the menu that appears click on New, and then click on Key.
    • Give the new key a name of "Shell" (without the quotes).
    • Select the "Shell" key that you just creaited.
    • In the right hand pane of the Registry Editor, right click on an empty area and from the menu click on New, and then click on String Value.
    • Give the new REG_SZ (String Value) a name of "FolderType" (without the quotes).
    • Double click on the FolderType String Value and give it a value of "NotSpecified" (without the quotes).
    • Close the Registry Editor.
    • Click on Start, press the arrow next to the power buttons, and select Log Off from the menu that appears.
    • Log back in and customize your Windows Explorer folder view settings as desired.

    If you would like to reset Windows Explorer back to the way it should act by default:

    • Click on the Start button, and in the Start Search field paste the following bold text command: REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\AllFolders" /f
    • Press the Enter key to execute the command.

    Folder content auto discovery will be enabled on any folders that have not been previously opened. However, if you would like to reset the view settings on all folders so that auto-sensing is automatically enabled, simply download the "Reset Windows Explorer View Settings" command script, extract the .cmd file from the Compressed Folder (ZIP file) and execute the command script, paying attention to the on-screen information.

    Hope this helps!

    PostTypeIcon
    58,379 Views
  • HOW-TO: Reset Windows Explorer's View Settings

    Consider this scenario. You have customized your "Documents" folder the way you like it with icon sizes and grouping settings. However, after you have applied these customizations and you re-open the "Documents" folder, you may see that the customizations are improperly applied, have been lost, or the folder has defaulted to a different view (for instance, the Pictures view, where all files are now displayed as large icons and thumbnails). Also, if you open the root directory of a hard drive, you may notice that columns such as "Date Taken" and "Rating" are displayed for example, when they should not be displayed. You have tried navigating to the Control Panel and opening Folder Options and clicking "Reset Folders", however this does not resolve the issue.

    Another scenario to consider: You have selected the "Extra Large Icons" option for a folder full of pictures. However, when you browse to that folder at a later date, you may notice that the pictures are now displayed in "Detail" view, and you must manually change the folder view to your desired settings.

    There are three methods in which this task can be completed: Automatic (which is the easiest), semi-manual, or manual.

    This article applies to:

    • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic, 32-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, 32-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Business, 32-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate, 32-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise, 32-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic, 64-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, 64-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Business, 64-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate, 64-bit
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise, 64-bit

    NOTE: These involve editing the registry. It is always recommended to create a back-up of the registry before making any modifications. Before performing any of the actions below, please save your work and close any Windows Explorer windows, as you will need to log off for these changes to properly take effect.

    The automatic method

    • Download the command script that I have created and extract the file to your Desktop. Once you have extracted the file, simply double click on "resetviews.cmd" and read the precautions in the command prompt window that appears.

      This file has been scanned for viruses and does not perform any malicious tasks, it simply automates the task required to reset the Windows Explorer view settings.

    The semi-manual method

    • Click on Start, and in the Start Search field copy and paste the following command that is in bold text: REG DELETE "HKCU\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags" /f
    • Press the Enter key and the command will be executed
    • Click on Start, press the arrow next to the power buttons, and select Log Off from the menu that appears.
    • Log back in.

    The manual method

    • Click on Start, and in the Start Search field type "REGEDIT", and then press Enter.
    • If User Account Control prompts you, provide consent by clicking on Continue or entering a password.
    • In the left hand pane, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell
    • Right click on the "Bags" sub-key and click on Delete. When asked to confirm the operation click on Yes.
    • Close the Registry Editor.
    • Click on Start, press the arrow next to the power buttons, and select Log Off from the menu that appears.
    • Log back in.

    Hope these instructions prove to be helpful, if you know anyone who has been affected by this please feel free to pass them a link to this article.

    PostTypeIcon
    32,526 Views
  • HOW-TO: Change the window border size in Windows Vista

    If you are using the Windows Vista Basic theme you have probably noticed that the window borders are rather thick, and may even look slightly unattractive (this depends on your preferences of course). Here's how you can make that window border smaller to clean things up a bit:

    • Right click on the desktop and click on "Personalization".
    • Click on Window Color and Appearance.
    • In the Appearance Settings window select "Windows Vista Basic" from the color scheme list.
    • Click on the "Advanced…" button.
    • Under "Item" click on the drop-down list and click on "Border Padding".
    • In the "Size" box set it to 0, 1 or 2
    • Click OK to dismiss the "Advanced Appearance" dialog, and then click OK again to dismiss the "Appearance Settings" dialog.

    If you are using Windows Aero, you can still make the window border smaller but it requires two extra steps.

    • Right click on the desktop and click on "Personalization".
    • Click on Window Color and Appearance.
    • Click on "Open classic appearance properties for more color options".
    • In the Appearance Settings window select "Windows Aero" from the color scheme list.
    • Click on the "Advanced…" button.
    • Under "Item" click on the drop-down list and click on "Border Padding".
    • In the "Size" box set it to 0, 1 or 2
    • Click OK to dismiss the "Advanced Appearance" dialog, and then click OK again to dismiss the "Appearance Settings" dialog.
    • Click OK in the "Window Color and Appearance" window to apply the settings and then close the Control Panel window.
    PostTypeIcon
    10,550 Views