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Windows / Windows Registry Tweaks

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Windows Registry Tweaks

On this page:

To edit the registry using Microsoft’s Registry Editor, click Run… in your Start menu, enter regedt32.exe and press your Enter key or click on OK.

WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Neither Microsoft nor I can guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

Unless otherwise noted, the following tweaks have only been tested in Windows XP. Please read this website’s Disclaimer before attempting to use any of these tweaks. Always make a backup of your registry before editing it.

Other online resources I like related to Windows Registry:

The registry command line tool

Windows XP comes with a command line registry tool, reg. I found out about it from this page at windowsnetworking.com.

On that website, it simply displays the help information provided with the command itself, and no additional information or discussion. Just in case that page disappears before Windows XP does, I've also captured the reg help: WinXP Commandline Registry Tool.

Setting the default NumLock status

The Num Lock status when current user logs in is controlled by the registry key:

   HKEY CURRENT USER\Control Panel\Keyboard\InitialKeyboardIndicators

The Num Lock status at the welcome screen is controlled by the registry key:

   HKEY USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Keyboard\InitialKeyboardIndicators

Edit the value and set it as desired:

   0 = Num Lock off
   2 = Num Lock on

Exit the Registry Editor and your setting(s) should take effect the next time you start your computer or log in again.

Change your name and company information

Change company name by editing value data for:

   HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\RegisteredOrganization

Change registered owner by editing value data for:

   HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\RegisteredOwner 

Disable the “Search Companion”

This is the little dog or whatever you have selected that appears in the left pane when you click on the Search button in Explorer (My Computer). It is labeled “Search Companion” there, but some call it “Search Assistant”. If you would rather not see the Companion when you want to search, you can disable it and have only a Windows 2000 search form there.

Locate the following registry key:

   HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CabinetState

Create a new String Value (by right clicking in the right pane of the Registry Editor) and give it the value “no” (you should not enter the quotation marks). Click OK and exit the Registry Editor. Now, when you click on the Search button, you won't see Rocky (or whomever) any more.

Disable the low disk space warning

My new HP laptop has a partition for system recovery -- so they don’t have to press and ship recovery CDs with the laptops… talk about straining at gnats! Reasonably enough though, they limited the partition size to just what they needed so they wouldn’t be wasting any more of my hard disk space than necessary (they prevent modification of that partition or its contents).

Of course, M$ Windows, being the nagging spouse/parent that it is, doesn’t want you to unwittingly run out of space, even on a partition that you basically only have read access to. So, every few minutes (once an hour, I think), a little tooltip pops up in the Tray area telling me I’m running out of space on that recovery partition. Talk about annoying!!

Anyway, M$ does not allow you to customize that low disk space warning, e.g. like enable/disable on a partition basis, or set the threshold of disk space (see the M$ knowledgebase article 285107). So, the only recourse is to globally disable it (which, thankfully, can be done).

  1. Open HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  2. If it’s not there, create a DWORD value and call it NoLowDiskSpaceChecks
  3. Double-click on NoLowDiskSpaceChecks, enter the value 1, and press OK.

Adjusting the login screensaver settings

Usually, Windows XP starts up and presents you with a welcome screen or a Welcome to Windows dialog box. Either one allows you to enter or click on a username and optionally provide a password before you can start doing anything. If you do not touch any input device (e.g., mouse or keyboard) within 10 minutes, the Windows logon screensaver starts.

If you want a more entertaining or informative screensaver, or you wish to change the amount of time Windows will wait before starting the screensaver, or even if you don't want the screensaver to come on at all, your only recourse is to edit the registry. Windows does not provide a nice dialog for adjusting this as they do for the screensaver settings once you are logged in.

Locate the following key:

   HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop
  • To use another screensaver, double-click on SCRNSAVE.EXE and replace logon.scr with the filename of the screensaver you wish to use. Screensavers are located in your WINDOWS\system32 folder and have the extension .scr (File Type is Screen Saver). Presumably, if you are geeky enough to do this to your computer, you are geeky enough to figure out which file you want here. Click OK.
  • To adjust the wait time, double-click on ScreenSaveTimeOut and replace the value (default value is 600) with your desired wait time in seconds. For example, to have Windows wait 5 minutes before starting the login screensaver, change the value to 300. Click OK.
  • To disable the login screensaver, double-click on ScreenSaveActive and change “1” to “0”. Click OK.

Exit out of Registry Editor, and the next time your computer is at the welcome screen or dialog, your new login screensaver settings will be used (i.e., there is no need to reboot for the changes to take effect).


You may also wish to edit the settings for your new logon screensaver. If you use one of the standard Windows screensavers, you can find the settings at:

   HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Screen Saver.screensaver-name

Not all screensavers have settings. If you are using a screensaver that did not come with Windows, you will have to find where in the registry it stores its settings. For example, my favorite screensaver, ElectricSheep, stores its settings at:

   HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ElectricSheep

So I used the following reg command to replicate my user settings for the logon screensaver:

   reg copy HKCU\Software\ElectricSheep HKU\.Default\Software\ElectricSheep /s /f

< Customizing Your Open Files Places Bar | Working With Windows | Dealing with Win2K/XP Services >


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