Windows 7 beta tips, tricks and tweaks

Testing out the Windows 7 beta? Here are a handful of ways to get around the interface and make it act the way you want.

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User Account Control tips

The User Account Control (UAC) security feature was one of the most reviled additions to Windows Vista, with good reason -- its constant warning messages asking for permission to continue many operations drove users around the bend. UAC has been significantly improved in Windows 7 so that it's not as intrusive as in Vista, but you can still tweak it if you like.

Modify UAC

Here's how to turn UAC on or off, and make it less or more intrusive than the default:

1. Go to the Control Panel --> User Accounts and Family Safety.

2. Click User Accounts, then click Change User Account Control settings.

3. From the screen that appears, use the slider to select the level of protection you want. Here are the four levels, and what they mean:

Always notify me. Think of this as UAC Classic. It works like Vista's UAC: When you make changes to your system, when software is installed or when a program tries to make a change to your system, an annoying prompt appears.

Notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer. This is the default; make a change yourself and UAC leaves you alone. When a program makes a change, a prompt appears. Otherwise, UAC sits there silently.

Notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer (do not dim my desktop). This setting is identical to the default setting, with one difference: It won't dim your desktop so that you only see the UAC prompt asking you to take action. This presents a slightly elevated security risk over the default setting, because theoretically a program could allow a malicious program to interfere with the UAC prompt.

Modifying User Account Control UAC

Modifying UAC. Click to view larger image.

Never notify. In this one, UAC is completely turned off. This is, of course, an insecure option and not recommended for most users.

After you make the selection, click OK. Depending on the selection you made, you may need to restart it for it to take effect.

Use gadgets without UAC

If you turn off UAC as described in the previous tip, you can't use gadgets, tiny applets that run on the desktop, because Microsoft deems them a potential security threat. However, if you feel comfortable enough with that potential threat, you can use gadgets even when you've turned off UAC by following these steps.

(Important: Always create a Restore Point before editing the Windows Registry.)

1. In the Search bar, type regedit and press Enter. This will launch the Registry Editor.

2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Sidebar\Settings.

3. Create a new DWORD value called AllowElevatedProcess. To create the new DWORD, select Edit --> New DWORD (32-bit) Value and give it the name AllowElevatedProcess.

4. Set its value to 1.

5. Close the Registry Editor, right-click the desktop and select Gadgets. You'll now be able to add gadgets as you would normally.

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