within windows is a database known as the registry, or the hive. a database is simply a place to store information about something for easy retrieval. the hive contains information about everything on your computer: program settings, hardware, user preferences, file associations, etc. editing the registry is meant to be intimidating, as nothing is verified by the system when you make changes, therefore it can severely damage and/or render your system useless if you do something wrong. it would be a good idea to create a restore point for your computer or back up the registry before messing around in the hive but even then you're not guaranteed to be safe. if you've got a little backbone and steady hands, the hive is a piece of cake.
once you're ready to move forward (c'mon, dun be scared), type win+r to run "regedit," where you can look around the folder structure to see how things are organized. basically you've got your main folders, sub-trees, and keys. as hundreds of registry hacks/tweaks are available all over the internet, i'm only going to provide a few examples here and a few more throughout the rest of the book where appropriate.
internet explorer has a default title that displays at the top of the window no matter what website you go to. aol usually modifies it to say "america online" even though it's microsoft's browser and not theirs. you can edit to say whatever you want as well, such as "america offline." in the registry, navigate to:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Internet Explorer \ Main
modify or create the value name "window title" either by right-clicking in the right window pane, or by using the "edit" option in the menu. use the following list for the specifics.
you may need to reboot before changes to the registry take effect, but in my experience changes more often than not take effect immediately. if your computer is fairly new, you may still be getting those annoying little pop-up alert boxes telling you what things are what and providing you with pretty useless information. you can see (and change) these values within the hive by navigating to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Microsoft \Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Tips
every time you start up your computer, you have the option to create a license window to display with whatever message you want, which should appear directly before the logon screen. to create your own logon message, navigate to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Microsoft \Windows NT \ CurrentVersion \ Winlogon
right-click "LegalNoticeCaption," click modify, and enter whatever text you want for the title of the window that will appear (for example, "legal notice"). then right-click "LegalNoticeText" and click modify; enter your message, for example "your version of windows is under investigation for piracy. please follow the on-screen instructions that will be provided after logging in to help us ensure you are using legal software. failure to follow these instructions may result in self-destruction. thank you, have a nice day."
to disable the shutdown button on your computer, go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ Explorer
change the value of "NoClose" from 1 to 0. if it doesn't exist, create it with the type "REG_DWORD" and it should be good to go.
we mentioned startup programs way back in the beginning of this book. another place to check for or add startup programs is within the registry. use regedit and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Run
you can add a program by creating a reg_sz with the name of the executable, along with the path to the executable. items added to your startup settings this way will not appear within your startup folder, but they will show up in msconfig. if you see something you don't want, right-click and delete the mother.
you can right-click any key within the registry to export it (a good way to back up certain items before messing around). you can also create .reg files within notepad to easily add/delete entries without using the regedit gui (a good way to mess with the registry on someone else's computer). consider the following example:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 ;creates subkey1 [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Key\Subkey1] ;changes the dword to equal 1 "Dword 1"=dword:00000001 ;deletes the string value "String 1"=- ;deletes the key Subkey2 [-HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Key\Subkey2]
these are some basic, fun examples that should hopefully make you feel a little more comfortable with the wretched hive, although far more useful ways to take advantage of this database will follow in later chapters.
even though most software comes with its own uninstall utility, the proper way to handle this should be done with "add/remove programs" in your cpanel. you can use the registry to hide programs from this list in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Uninstall: locate the program in question in the left pane. in the right pane, right-click display name and select rename. rename to QuietDisplayName.
disable the task manager? sure.
in both HKEY_CURRENT_USER and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE go to Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Policies/System and set Disable TaskMgr to dword:00000001. To reenable it, change values to dword:00000000.
feel free to explore these folders or the web for other nifty items, such as the recycle bin mentioned earlier.