Help me learn to live with Vista
September 13, 2007 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Help me learn to live with Vista. Tips, modifications, downloads sought.

I got a new job and got to buy a snazzy laptop to go with the new job. I went for one with some tablet functionality, which I've always wanted. To do that, I had to accept my fate and go with Vista.

I'd like to learn to love Vista. Are there ways to make it run a bit faster or start up faster? Better ways to manage multiple programs [I hear a lot about docks these days]? Things is does well that maybe I wouldn't know about? Any other tips, tricks and modifications?
posted by Mozzie to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Disregard your natural inclination to completely disable User Account Control (UAC), which is the part of Vista that forces you to click as many as 3 times whenever you want to move/delete/etc. a file in Windows Explorer. It is annoying, but it does make your computer much more secure. And (in my experience) if you do disable it, your directory and file permission structure goes totally haywire and will drive you batshit insane trying to clean it up.

Instead, download TweakUAC here, and use it to put UAC it in quiet mode--you get almost all the security without any of the annoying pop up boxes. Without exaggeration, this one small program is the reason that I didn't format and reinstall XP on my computer.
posted by jtfowl0 at 11:30 AM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is a far better tool than Vista's default window manager: Switcher2. (Older version: Switcher.)

This is fun to use, but mostly unnecessary besides eye candy or if you're used to using a Mac: Rocketdoc.

This program allows you to set any window to be always on top, change individual window transparency settings, etc.: PowerMenu.
posted by Blue Buddha at 11:54 AM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've really enjoyed the Missing Manual series from David Pogue. He has an entertaining way of explaining tips & tricks, general how-to stuff, and tweaks to make things run better - pretty much just what you've asked for. There are at least two available for Vista (one looks to be geared more towards PC beginners). You could check your libraries or pick up a copy at a bookstore.
posted by vytae at 12:31 PM on September 13, 2007

Turn off all the eye candy that makes Vista Vista. That really speeds things up.
posted by edjusted at 12:31 PM on September 13, 2007

Also, if you're a keyboard jockey, try Skylight. You can control program launching and switching all from the keyboard. Slick. (Disclaimer: I mainly use Mac OS X and I can't live without Quicksilver, which is a similiar program. I've used AppRocket on Win XP in the past, which has been replaced by Skylight, so YMMV)
posted by edjusted at 12:34 PM on September 13, 2007

I was just going to say that a tap of the Windows key will let you type the name of a program to run it, much like the no-longer-developed AppRocket did in XP. I'll have to check out Skylight too. Thanks, edjusted.
posted by stopgap at 3:17 PM on September 13, 2007

A few things that might come in handy:

Enable telnet

Easybcd for altering the boot menu

Disable aero

Install this KB
(if it already isnt a update yet)

Add more sidebar gadgets

I really dont recommend messing with the UAC. Once youre done installing software and playing with its innards you really wont see it all that often. I also wouldnt be surprised if SP1 also makes it a bit less aggressive.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:47 PM on September 13, 2007

I've been using Vista at work for a couple of months. A day or two in to using it I set the theme to "Windows Classic", which is basically Win98, just like I did with XP when I first met that. Makes it so much nicer to use.
posted by krisjohn at 9:06 PM on September 13, 2007

I've got Vista at work and OSX at home; at first, Vista can be a PITA but there are things that can be done to really improve it.

I've found moving the taskbar to the top of the screen helps - it's far less intrusive up there and makes it easier to focus on the app you've got running. Like edjusted I like Quicksilver on the Mac, but rather than Skylight I've got a keyboard launcher called Launchy installed for Vista. I wrote a post on my blog about it going into some more detail here, and the official site is here.

As with XP, you can use msconfig (START > main box > msconfig) to cut out crap that likes to start up when you start the OS. Use selective start up mode and cut out the large amounts of crappy apps that slow down your boot time.

I've not found running Aero makes it that much slower, but then I've got a pretty decent PC. Other little tweaks that were nice - the photo widget rotates FAR too quickly and is distracting. I've got it set to 5 minutes and it's like having a picture on a desk now, rather than a blinking web pop up.
posted by Sifter at 3:35 AM on September 14, 2007

Not sure if it's vista specific, but I just got a new computer and Windows Media Player 11 was taking 30 seconds to load a video. Until I turned off enhancements.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:24 PM on September 14, 2007

Disable Data Execution Prevention so that Vista will play nice with your other programs.

To cut down on resources and speed things up, turn off Aero, the sidebar, and search indexing. They might be the three things that make Vista what it is, but you won't really miss them, I promise.

I still have to use a virtual machine with XP installed on it just to run some of the programs I use every day, but at least I have realtime thumbnail previews of all my open programs! (After six months, I have not yet learned to love Vista.)
posted by tjvis at 2:58 PM on September 17, 2007

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