Despite the millions of hours and dollars that were spent developing Windows XP and its follow-up, Windows Vista, it would have been miraculous had either operating system arrived fitting every user like a glove and anticipating the way that each of us likes to use our computer.
Instead, both versions of Windows come with thousands of options, allowing each person to set them up the way they want to. This means that, with a few tweaks here and there, you can make your computer far easier to use. We’ll show how a few simple nips and tucks can help make your PC more suited to you.
Let’s begin with the Start menu. If you use the standard Windows XP Start menu it’s possible to make significant changes to the way it looks and behaves. To do this, right-click on the Start button, choose Properties then click the Customize button. The dialogue box that appears allows you to reduce the size of icons on the Start menu.
This is ideal for those with smaller screens, as the menu will now take up less space. The same menu allows you to reduce the number of shortcuts to commonly used programs found on the menu, or you can try the Show on Start menu options to select a favourite web browser and email program so they always appear at the top.
To speed up access to the Control Panel, click the Advanced tab and choose to display it as a ‘menu’ instead of the default ‘link’. Vista users who want to achieve the same effect need to dig slightly deeper. Right-click on the Start button and choose Properties.
Make sure the Start menu (as opposed to Classic Start menu) is selected and then click Customize; scroll down the list and remove the tick next to ‘Use large icons’ then click OK, then OK again to confirm the changes. Both XP and Vista allow any programs in the Program list to be ‘pinned’ to the top of the Start menu where they’re easy to find - just select the program and choose Pin to Start Menu.
Like several others, this option isn’t available if you right-click XP’s Start button, choose Properties and choose the old-fashioned Classic Start menu.
Since so much of our time is spent looking at the Desktop, it’s worth making sure that this is set up just the way you want. In Vista, right-click anywhere on the Desktop and choose Personalize from the pop-up menu. When the window opens, click the Desktop Background link and browse the list for alternatives to the standard lake at sunset photo.