This book is not a mere tips-and-tricks compendium that tells you where to click, where to drag, and what commands to type. It takes advantage of XP's flexibility and new features, recognizes that there are specific tasks you want to accomplish with the operating system, and offers you bite-size pieces of functionality that you can put to use in a few minutes. It also shows how you can expand on their usefulness yourself. To give you this kind of help, the book is organized into 13 chapters.
- Chapter 1, Startup and Shutdown
With XP, startup and shutdown can mean much more than turning on your PC or selecting Shut Down from the Start menu. With hacks in this chapter, you can change the picture that appears on the startup screen, speed up the sometimes endless startup and shutdown processes, hack the Registry to control many different aspects of startup and shutdown, customize multiboot options, and much more.
- Chapter 2, The User Interface
XP lets you change the way it looks and works more than any other version of Windows, and this chapter shows how to do it. Want a speedy, stripped-down version of the OS? It's in here. Want to build your own themes and find thousands more online? It's in here as well. So are hacks for controlling the Control Panel, Start menu, and taskbar; creating transparent windows; and building your own cursors and icons. It also shows you how to make your PC look and work like a Mac, and how to give Linux a try without having to actually install any software. The hacks don't stop there, so interface hackers might want to head here first.
- Chapter 3, Windows Explorer
Windows Explorer provides a basic window into XP and lets you manage files and folders, among other tasks. When hacked, it does much more as well. This chapter shows how to customize folder icons and balloon tips, improve the context menu, find files fast by mastering the indexing service's query language, get more disk space by using NTFS compression, keep your PC secure with encryption, and more.
- Chapter 4, The Web
You probably spend a significant portion of your computing life on the Web, so why not make the most of it? Want to find information fast, straight from your browser, without having to head off to sites like Google? This chapter teaches you how to do it. You can also kill pop ups, stop spyware, surf anonymously without a trace, and speed up file downloads. If you host your own web site, you'll find out secrets of using the built-in Internet Information Services (IIS) web server. The chapter also shows you how to hack the free browser Firefox, which some people consider the best browser on the planet. In addition, it teaches you how to surf the Internet ad-free and shows you how you can literally Google your desktop by using Google technology to search through your email and files. There are many more hacks here as well.
- Chapter 5, Networking
XP was built for networking, and this chapter shows you how to take full advantage of it. Tweak your DNS settings for faster Internet access, make your home network run better, use command-line tools for trouble-free network operations, or get the most out of using the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for making inexpensive phone calls. This chapter helps you get the most out of XP's powerful, built-in ability to connect.
- Chapter 6, Email
Email is both the greatest productivity-booster and the greatest time-waster known to humankind. This chapter ensures that you'll stop wasting time and get more out of email. Slam spam, open blocked file attachments in Outlook and Outlook Express, get better email software, and retrieve web-based email using a normal email client. And you'll learn many ways to get more out of Google's email service, Gmail. There's all that and more here.
- Chapter 7, Wireless
It's an unwired world, and XP is at the center of it. XP was built with wireless in mind, includes built-in wireless discovery of networks, and because of that, makes it easy to set up home and corporate wireless networks, as well as connect to hotspots when people travel with their laptops or PDAs. So, in this chapter, you'll find out about wireless hackingeverything from war driving to finding wireless networks, protecting your home wireless network, using wireless encryption, solving hotspot woes, and more.
- Chapter 8, Security
From the moment you turn on your PC and connect to the Internet or a network, you're in danger. Snoopers and intruders can try to get into your system; crackers might try to install Trojans to take control of your computer or turn it into a zombie and use it to launch attacks against other PCs or web sites. The hacks in this chapter, though, will show you how you can use the Internet and networks, and still be safe. You'll learn how to hide files and folders using encryption, how to test your PC's vulnerabilities, how to use firewalls to harden your PC against attacks, how to punch holes through firewalls, and more.
- Chapter 9, The Registry
If you're going to hack XP, you'll need to use the Registry. It's that simple. This chapter goes beyond merely teaching you how to use the Registry and how it's organized (although it covers that in detail). It also shows you how to hack the Registry itselffor example, by offering hacks on how to use .reg files to edit the Registry safely, and how to track and restore Registry changes.
- Chapter 10, Applications
XP comes with a basic suite of built-in utilities, with the emphasis on basic. But you can hack these basic utilities so that they're much more useful powerhouses. Store multiple clips on the Clipboard, extend your real estate with virtual desktops, build a better backup strategy, take better screenshots, or use a universal instant messenger. In addition to utilities, an operating system needs applications to do much of its work. So, this chapter shows you how to hack them as well. Have older Windows applications that have a hard time running under XP? This chapter shows you how to make sure they run. You can also use command-line shortcuts to customize how each application runs, open and create Microsoft documents without Microsoft Office, and more.
- Chapter 11, Graphics and Multimedia
In XP, Windows gets serious about multimedia and graphics for the first time. In this chapter, you'll see how to get the most out of them, with hacks for saving streaming audio to your PC, making videos with Movie Maker, sharing music without the spyware, and converting images easily. Music lovers will find several ways to hack iTunes and how to take advantage of the new music format Ogg Vorbis.
- Chapter 12, System Performance
No matter how fast your PC is, it's not fast enough. This chapter shows you ways to hack XP to juice up its performance. Get the most out of your RAM, use the Performance Console to speed up system performance, and use a variety of Registry hacks to make XP run. For those who have upgraded to SP2, or are considering it, you'll also see how to combat SP2 upgrade woes.
- Chapter 13, Hardware
By itself, an operating system can't do a thing; it needs hardware to run on. In this chapter, you'll see how to use XP to hack your hardware. Remap your keyboard, set up a direct cable connection between PCs for a quick-and-dirty network, uncover "hidden hardware" with the Device Manager, and get better resolution on your laptop and your LCD screen. And yes, there are more hacks here as well.