In the previous articles in this series (parts I and II) I described how I began
setting up my new computer; connecting it safely to the internet, updating
software, and beginning to tweak some aspects of Windows XP.
As I continue, I’ll make changes to the Windows XP Task Bar, Start Menu,
Startup Programs, and Services.
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But first, one little bit of bookkeeping: labeling the hard disk. Why? It’s
an additional level of identification for that particular hard disk. Rather
than seeing “Local Disk (C:)” in Windows Explorer, the label is shown instead,
for example: “My Main Disk (C:)”. In my case I label the primary (C:) disk with
the machine name.
I then make the following changes to the task bar:
Now I move on to the Start Menu itself. Right click on an area near the task
bar and select properties. I really dislike how icons in the
notification area keep changing, so I disable Hide Inactive
Icons on the Taskbar tab.
On the Start Menu tab, I select Classic start
menu since it allows me more direct access to the programs menu,
which I seem to visit often. Then the Customize button, and
in the Advanced Start menu options I select:
Display Administrative Tools – I use them from time to
Expand Control Panel – personally I find it quite handy to
have the control panel display as a sub menu rather than a separate
Expand printers – especially when I have more than one
printer available to me, this – like network connections – is handy to have as a
Show small icons in start menu – among other things, the
start menu takes up less space when small icons are selected.
Uncheck used personalized menus – much like the
notification icons changing, I don’t like the way Windows tries to help by
moving recently used items around on my menus. I want things to stay where they
Now that I’ve made those changes to the appearance of the Start Menu, I
start changing its contents. I find it most convenient to modify the start menu
by using Windows Explorer. Right click the Start button, select Explore
All Users, and Windows Explorer will open on the Start Menu directory
tree. Here I add my own menus (right click in the file list and select
New, Folder which translates into a new
branch in the Start Menu.)
While I’m there I also remove Windows Update (it’s also a
menu item in Internet Explorer), Windows Catalog (I use it so
rarely it’s not worth being a menu item), and Set Program Access and Defaults
(available through control panel).
On to Windows Startup. This new computer came with several programs that
run at start-up, not all of which are needed. Start,
Run “msconfig”, and under the
Startup tab I disable:
Digital Line Detect (DLG.EXE) – adds features to my dialup
connection that I don’t need.
DSentry.exe – apparently changes the behavior of autorun
on Dell machines. I’ll use TweakUI for that later, and I certainly don’t need
software running all the time to do it.
BascsTray.exe – another application somehow related to my
Broadcom-based modem. I haven’t used my modem yet, and again, don’t need
software running all the time in case I do.
quickset.exe – a notification area application that allows
quick access to my laptops power settings. I don’t need it.
atiptaxx.exe – a notification area application that allows
quick access to the video settings. I don’t need it.
While I’m turning off software, I’ll do the same for services that start up
when the machine boots as well. Right click on My Computer,
select Manage, expand the Services and
Applications tree, and click on Services. For each of
the following services, right click on the service, select
Properties, and then click Stop and change
the Startup type to disabled:
Distributed Link Tracking Client
Network Location Awareness
A good resource for information on Windows XP services is maintained by
Black Viper. Don’t let the name fool you … he’s
got a lot of good information on services, as well as descriptions of most of
the commonly found services and their purpose.
Now the computer’s up and running, and starting to feel like my machine.
Next up: I start to install applications. Lots and lots of applications.
The Setting Up Series: