Computers for Beginners/Tips&Tricks

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Truly Removing Log Off User[edit]

We all know that WIN+R will launch the Run dialog. And if you didn't know that before, you do now. It's an easy way to launch programs in your path or Web pages (provided they start with either "http" or "www"). You can make a shortcut to this command easily in Windows XP, but first you need to have the default Start Menu view enabled. Once that's done, simply drag & drop the Run icon from the menu to your desktop (which is akin to a "cradle to the grave" operation). Rename it at will. While we're on the subject of XP Professional's Start Menu, if you wanna get rid of the Help and Logoff icons, TweakUI may not do the trick. But there are 2 methods to do the same used Windows Xp's built-in tools.

1) Using group policies[edit]

Launch gpedit.msc (from the Run command line). Be careful what you toggle in here; you could very well deny access to essential Windows features. Select User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar > Remove [This] menu from Start Menu. Of course, [This] could be "Help," "Logoff," or any other menu component. Note that the "F1" key will still respond to your call.

2) Using registry[edit]

Screenshot of removing/disabling logoff

Type REGEDIT on your run dialog box. Now browse to the following location in the window that opens up. HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer. On the right side you may see a value named NoLogOff. Double click on it and change its value to 1 If you don't see the NoLogOff value then create a STRING value and name it as NoLogOff; now change its data to 1
You may need to reboot.

Kill the Passport Balloon[edit]

Too many people are tricked into believing that you need to sign up for a Passport account when you get Windows XP. Wonderful job the marketing folks did, eh? Well, if you don't want to sign up for an account, nobody is forcing you to. At least, not yet. Are you tired of being reminded about signing up? Fire up REGEDIT.EXE and find your way to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ MessengerService. You'll see a "PassportBalloon" binary value in the right-hand pane. Double-click to open it. Now, in the resulting "Edit Binary Value" dialog, press the Delete key and enter: "0a" (that's a zero, sans quotes). This will effectively set the reminder counter to 10 and you won't be bothered with it again. Don't want the Windows Messenger to pop up when you launch Outlook Express? In the Registry, get to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Outlook Express and either edit or add a DWORD Value: "Hide Messenger" (sans quotes). Set this to "2" and you'll be good to go. Thanks to X-Setup (XTEQ.COM) for providing an easier way to get this done. Within that program, you can right-click on a plug-in and select "Information" for details and script code.

Kill the Animated Search Character[edit]

When I first saw the default search pane in Windows XP, my instinct was to return it to its classic look; that puppy had to go. Of course, I later discovered that a doggie door is built into the applet. Click "Change preferences" then "Without an animated screen character." If you'd rather give it a bare-bones "Windows 2000" look and feel, fire up your Registry editor and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ CabinetState. You may need to create a new string value labeled "Use Search Asst" and set it to "no" (sans quotes in each case). Before you go that far, let me make you aware of two things. First, you can accomplish the same task via the new TweakUI (available for download at WINDOWSXP.COM). Second, there's a nice benefit to the new Search Companion in Internet Explorer 6.0 (at least, with Microsoft Office's spell checker installed). Launch your browser and tap the F3 key. Now, enter your query, intentionally misspelling a keyword. Look at that! A red squiggly! Right-click on the word and select an appropriate replacement (if necessary). How's that for helpful?

Strange errors[edit]

From time to time, you will encounter some persistent errors or issues. The best way to resolve them is to try searching for that error on a search engine. More often than not, you may encounter the result on the first link (especially if you search by the error message), or otherwise have enough information to find the correct path.

While contacting the local computer expert may seem tempting, remember that they want to do work as well. As always, search before asking.