Thursday, June 07, 2007

Vista Tippage #8

Regarding UAC, Persistent Services, and Desktop Composition management, and Messin with the Recycle bin.

Best I can tell, this is the eighth post that is primarily Vista Tips related. So starts my numbering to help me keep track of them and avoid having to keep coming up with clever titles all the time.


Disabling Vista Aero interface via the registry

Not sure why anyone who could run Windows Vista Aero would want to disable it from the registry. If you don't want it, I would just change it via the Windows Control Panel...Appearance and Personalization options and set it to whatever there. Maybe if you are running into an older application that isn't playing nicely with Vista Aero and desktop compositing (a.k.a. Desktop Windows Manager, a.k.a. DWM).

However, Kristan Kenny provides the method via her post: Controlling desktop composition through the registry

  1. Click on Start, and in the Start Search field type regedit.exe and then press Enter.
  2. If User Account Control prompts you for consent, click on continue or provide the appropriate credentials.
  3. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM.
  4. Look for a REG_DWORD value named "Composition". If this key does not exist, create it.
  5. Double click on the Composition (REG_DWORD) value and change its value to 0.
  6. Log off and back on for this change to take effect.

If you want to achieve this through the command line or through a command script, the appropriate command is REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM /v Composition /d 0 /f.

That will disable desktop composition even if your computer supports it. To re-enable Windows Aero and desktop composition, change the Composition (REG_DWORD) value to 1 or change the scheme by going to Control Panel, Appearance and Personalization, and under Personalization click on "Change color scheme" and then select Windows Aero from the color scheme list.

Alternatively if you would want to re-enable Windows Aero through the command line you can achieve this by running REG ADD HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM /v Composition /d 1 /f.

I believe another quick way to toggle desktop composition on/off (3d vs 2d effects) in Vista is to press Ctrl+Shift+F9.

Hack your Vista Logon Screen for Free

Not satisfied with the Vista Aurora background on your Vista user login screen? Well, if you are just a teensy bit brave, Stardock is offering their LogonStudio application for free.

It supports both XP or Vista.

Ryan over at Cybernet News has more details: Stardock’s Free LogonStudio Now Works with Vista.


TweakUAC is a free utility that allows you to selectively control your User Account Control settings in Vista. That's the thing that gives you the pop-up warnings if a program or process is going to use "administrator" level permissions instead of "standard" level permissions to launch an program or action. More on UAC here on TechNet and some development history on the UACBlog (now closed).

It provides three UAC "modes":

Turn UAC off. (Reboot required)

Switch UAC to the quiet mode. This just hides prompts IF your profile is in the administrator doesn't help "standard" group members. All other UAC features still work as intended.

Leave UAC on. Turns UAC back "fully" on if it was in quiet mode or off.

If you have previously turned UAC off or switched it to operate in the quiet mode, you can use this option to restore the original behavior of UAC.

TweakUAC has been getting some notice on a number of blogs and tech sites...and generating some discussion if it is such a good idea to be running such a program from a security standpoint--particularly in "quiet mode". Many in the theme that it might be letting Windows cooties run-wild on the system.

Developer Andrei Belogortseff has been working hard to clear up some misconceptions he feels have been cast on his program. His response on the TweakUAC blog page: Is the "quiet" mode of UAC less secure?

Is it dangerous to use the "quiet" mode of UAC then? It's only dangerous if you consider yourself as one of the potential damaging factors and want to get an extra warning when you are about to do something potentially dangerous. (Yes, ignorance is always dangerous, not just when it comes to computers). However, if you are an experienced user and have some understanding of how to manage your Windows settings properly, you can safely use the quiet mode of UAC.

I have it installed on my Vista Home Premium system. I am running Lavie and my Vista profiles as "administrator" accounts. Alvis gets a "standard" user account.

Yes I could easily have disabled UAC manually in its entirety but I haven't. In general, the UAC elevation prompts aren't really as annoying as the tongue-in-cheek Apple TV commercial make them out to be.

As experienced PC users, we are using TweakUAC to temporarily drop into "quiet mode" only when getting ready to apply software updates to the Vista system as many times the update-helper applications toss up a number of UAC elevation prompt requests and it can be a hassle tracking them down...especially if they open in the task bar and not a desktop window.

Nice little recommended for those who know what they are doing and the specific times to use it. "Standard" profile account users need not apply.

Why a Windows Service may Respawn

Microsoft MVP Donna Benaventura of shares a great reminder on why some attempts to disable a running service under Vista (or XP) may fail and see it keep coming back to life.

Turns out that some services allow for additional failure setting activities.

She provides screenshot examples for The Background Intelligent Transfer Service and Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service that have settings for First failure, Second failure, and Subsequent failures.

So if a service is disabled or "killed" some might just restart depending on what the settings are. So if you don't want a service to run or come back again like a sure you change the activity settings as well to "Take No Action" for the First failure.

Great tip, Donna!

Messin' with the Trash in Vista

Finally, via Lifehacker via Add advanced Recycle Bin options

This registry tweak replaces the goofy "delete" command from the Recycle Bin explorer shell list with a "Clear Temp" command to keep users (like me) from repeatedly deleting their Recycle bin icon from the desktop when we mean to empty it. Doh! Instead that command empties the user's system temp folders instead.

It also adds a handy "Disk Cleanup" command to the list to perform a super-charged extended disk cleanup action on all disks.


The registry file link is about 3/4 of the way down this page of Vista tips. Download the zip file. Unpack then run one to set the registry hack and if you don't like it, run the other to set it back to the default settings.

While you are there, check out all the Vista registry hacks, tips and utility links they have for you. Some rather clever ones include:

  • Remove the arrow (Shortcut Overlay) without side effects (reg hack)

  • Customize the appearance of Windows Sidebar (Windows Sidebar Styler at Stanimir Stoyanov’s Blog)

  • Convert web widgets into gadgets for Windows Sidebar (Amnesty™ Generator for Vista)

  • Customize / hide the Favorite Links list. (tip)

  • Shell Commands for Windows Vista. (tip)

  • Generate a System Diagnostics report. (tip)

  • Copy To Folder & Move To Folder Context Menu Items (reg hack)

  • Show/Hide System Files Context Menu Item (exe + reg hack combo)

You've been tipped!


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