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The default appearance settings of Windows irritate me with its dumbing down of the interface and I always modify Windows Explorer with

  • launch by default to My Computer %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /e,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}
  • Always show icons, never thumbnails
  • Show hidden files and folders
  • Display the full path in the title bar
  • uncheck Hide extensions for known file types
  • uncheck Hide protected operating system files
  • uncheck Remember each folder's view settings
  • uncheck Use sharing wizard

I also customise the Start menu

  • System administrative tools - Display on the All Programs and the Start menu
  • Control Panel - Display as a menu
  • Number of recent programs to display = 12 - 24

Even multiple settings in Task Manager

  • Processes with PID (and Command Line) columns; columns rearranged
  • uncheck Always on Top
  • Hide on minimize
  • Minimize on Use
  • Networking show Bytes sent per interval, Bytes Received per interval
  • View graph as Bytes Sent and Bytes Received, but not Bytes Total

That is just a subset of alterations I make to every Windows system i bring up. I was wondering if there is a scriptable manner to this. Does anybody know where WE and Start settings are stored and edited?

share|improve this question
Isn't this a superuser question? – Manuel Faux Jul 30 '09 at 18:25
in fact i typed this in but decided to post it here since this type of Windows shell adjustments seems to be of more interest to administrators who manage farms of machines. – icelava Jul 31 '09 at 3:29
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Below is my default set, I run this reg file at the T-13 phase of Windows 2003 setup so that it can be run as the default user, that way every subsequent user inherits the settings. I build all of my systems via a scripted Windows install DVD/ISO. You could do the same with a disk image. I prefer the scripted approach as just one DVD will work with every systems I own and the changes I need can be stored in an SCM system. If you use ImageX as your disk imaging tool you can store versions of sort.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
; Set the default Windows Explorer Settings

; Open dual paned view by default in Explorer

; Disable Visual Effects
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics]
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics] 
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop] 
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop] 
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop] 

; Don't highlight newly installed programs

; Automatically search for network folders and printers

; Disable restoring mapped network drive connection on startup
[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Network\Persistent Connections]

; Disable Prefix 'Shortcut to'

; Show Statusbar in all windows
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main]
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Would you mind talking more about your scripted install DVD nd the other tricks you do? Either here -- or offline via email? – SirStan Aug 14 '09 at 17:24

You can also use reg.exe to make changes.

What I do when I really want to find, how/where this settings are kept is, I use process monitor from Sysinternals website and check for any registry setting changed by explorer or whatever is associated process. That way you can 99% percent find the setting you want.

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Most of the things you list here are registry tweaks at lower levels, and you can script registry tweaks. Telling you everything would take a very very long time, so I will link you to a couple websites that should help. The first is a list of registry tweaks, and where the values are and what to change them to to get the desired effect. The second is a Msoft KB article on scripting registry changes. Good luck, hope this helps.

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