Some of My Favourite Customizations for Windows 7

By Rory Monaghan


Thought I’d go with something a bit different for this post. I had a friend that recently got a new laptop with Windows 7 and so I was showing him some of the cooler features of Windows 7. Most of which aren’t obvious or advertised by Microsoft and some have even, also featured in earlier operating systems. There’s the more obvious one’s such as the shake feature which allows a user who has many windows open at once the ability to click and hold the front window and shake the mouse from side to side to make the window seem like it’s being shaken. This then automatically minimizes all of the background windows. Also the new snap-in window feature is pretty cool e.g. drag a window to the side it’s minimized in a certain way, drag it to the top it’s enlarged etc. But these are the more obvious one’s people talk about.

God Mode

The first one that I thought was really cool when I discovered it on Windows Vista is the GodMode option. GodMode is basically a one stop folder for any customizations you can make to your OS. So if you have problems remembering keyboard shortcuts or where certain things are located, this would be useful. I’m kind of stuck in my ways so don’t use it much, only if I get a mind block but I think it’s a pretty cool feature. Setting this up is very easy. As stated it’s just a folder so you just have to create a folder anywhere you would like it to be and just then rename this to:


That’s it! Easy, eh? You’ll notice the long code in the curly brackets disappears. That is because this is a unique GUID which triggers the feature but is not actually needed in the name and is removed from sight.

Folder appears as above with an applet like icon.

As seen above, the folder now contains shortcuts for making customization changes.

Changing the login screen Background

I don’t know if you guys that work on a computer all day really care about how personal your machine is, but I find having custom themes, pictures, alerts etc. gives me the illusion I’m not as trapped at my desk as I actually am! Now, I really like the ability to have multiple pictures on a slider as my background in Windows 7 which can be created using Control Panel\Appearance and Personalization\Personalization, but you can take it to a different level!

Ever get sick of that feeling you get every Monday morning, seeing that same old generic login screen? Well if you have the rights to do this, you should go for it! You can actually change the image on the login screen. You could do this as far back as XP. It’s a bit of a hack and you’ll need to be a machine admin to change this. But if like me you are, give it a try. FIRST, PLEASE BACKUP YOUR REGISTRY AS THIS IS A REGISTRY HACK

The first thing you need to do is go into your registry. Which you can do by opening regedit. Easiest thing to do for anybody out there who hasn’t used the registry before is to just put it into the search box that appears when you click the Windows Start button. When it is open you should browse to the below reg.


If the registry keys do not exist you should create, as it appears in my below image.

As per the image you will need to create a DWORD registry key called OEMBackground and set it’s value to 1

That should be the only change to the registry, next you have to get an image which should be no bigger than around 250KB. Difficult at times with such powerful cameras these days, I suggest re-sizing your image using Picture Manager or Photoshop if you have these. One you have the picture you want. You need to name it backgroundDefault as per my screenshot and place it in a folder %windir%\system32\oobe\Info\backgrounds\

Which in most cases will be under C:\ if that’s where the OS was installed to. %windir% will find the correct location for you.

Search by Internet

I really like the ability to search from explorer now when you click on the Windows icon. But there’s something not many would know which is switched off by default. I believe the ability to change this, is only in the more expensive releases of Windows 7 e.g. Ultimate. You can modify so that it gives the user the option to do a search via the internet from the search option in Start. It uses your default browser so you must have one set. Once you have open GPEDIT.MSC which you can search in said search feature 🙂

As per the below screen shot you should go to User configuration-Administrative Templates–Start Menu and Taskbar. Then double click on the first option as seen in the screenshot highlighted.

You will need to select enable and then apply

Once this is done you should be able to search via the internet through the option as seen in my screenshot below.

Problem Step Recorder

This is a pretty cool feature. You can open by searching for psr. This tool allows you the ability to record screenshots after every click selected, it saves these screenshots in  an .MHT file which you can modify with descriptions. I believe the purpose of the tool is so that users having issues can re-create the steps taken to generate the issue and then send this to a system admin so they can advise on what to do. I’ve actually mostly used it to record steps showing a user how to use something! Anyway, it’s as easy as hitting record, doing your actions with your apps or whatever and then hitting stop and saving your file.

Hope you enjoyed this. I might put more up again but thought this would do for now.

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