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Desktop Appearance & Design

Updated May 2023


'Shortcut To' words removed

To remove the words Shortcut To, edit the registry:
On the right side, double click on Link
Change the Value to: 00 00 00 00
Then go to, and delete the key:
You may or may not have that 2nd key.
You'll see the changes next time you restart your computer


Resize / Moving a window, Especially if it's lost at the top of your screen

Press ALT+Space Bar,
From there, you can choose Minimize, or even Move, if you've lost your window.
To move it, choose Move, then use your up/down/left/right arrow keys to move it around. When you have it back in order, press the press <enter> key to set it in.


Screen Saver on Demand!

Want your screen saver to kick in whenever you say? Create a shortcut to it, then set up hot-key access to the shortcut.
In Explorer, find your screen savers in the Windows folder or in the Windows\System32 folder.
Find the one you want. Right click and hold and drag it to your desktop. Release the click and choose Create Shortcut Here.
Now you can set up your shortcut or hot key if you want. Right click on the shortcut and choose Properties, then click on the Shortcut tab. Place the cursor anywhere on the Shortcut key line, press any key, and Windows adds the Ctrl+Alt part automatically. Click OK to close the dialog box. Ready for a test run? Try pressing the shortcut key you just set up.


Start Menu Folders Pinned (Dell Dock moved to Start Menu)

These procedures assume you are using Classic Shell for the start menu
To get away from using the Dell Dock program, folders can be pinned directly to the Start Menu and a special icon assigned to it.
Navigate to the folder of: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
Create your newly named folders for each category you want. (I used Work, Publishing, Internet, Accessories and Tools)
Change the icon of the folder through the Properties/Customize (tab)
Move all the icons off the Dell Dock and place them on the desktop
Move the icons off the desktop into the appropriate folders you just created
Click on Start / All Programs. Right click on each of your folders and choose Pin To Start Menu (Classic Shell)
Arrange the folders in the order you choose
Arrange the shortcuts within the folder too...if you want


Start Menu picture change

You probably have a chess piece for your picture on your Start Menu. Yuk (if you don't play chess)
Change it:
Click on the picture, then click on Make changes to my Account in PC Settings, then click on the link for 'Browse for one' and go find a picture you want to use.


Icons for Default Apps Changed

I like the blue Notepad icon better than I like the text document looking icon. So, here's how to change the default icon.
Open regedit, and navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\txtfile\DefaultIcon
Double click on DefaultIcon and change the path to %SystemRoot%\System32\notepad.exe,0
You will probably have to log off and then log back on to see the change.


Control Panel Cascading on Start Menu

It's quite convenient to have your control panel listed on your start menu just like the the others there. If you don't have Control Panel on the right side when you click on Start, then you really should get the free program called Classic Shell. You can really customize your computer experience with that program!!
Once installed, Right click on the Start button and Settings
On the tab called Main Menu, scroll to the bottom and UNcheck the box for "Use Categories view for the Control Panel


Control Panel in 'GodMode'

Control Panel on steroids ! This shortcut will give you access to all the computer settings you want...all in one convenient place.
Right click on the desktop and choose New > Folder
For the location, copy & paste this text: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}
The icon for the new folder will be that of the Control Panel icon.


Start Menu with smaller icons

Have your Start Menu take up less space (and get rid of the Windows logo that goes up the side) I think it's best to install and use Classic Shell first.
Then Right click on the Start Button and choose settings
Click on the Skin tab and put the check in the box for Small Icons


Want more choices for changing icons

Whenever you change an icon, you'll be offered the default source of icons. It's a file called shell32.dll in the C:\Windows\System32 folder. But there's 2 other files in the System32 folder called pifmgr.dll and moricons.dll


More Icons in other .dll files

But there are some .dll files that have icons, and some that don't. How do you know which do, and which don't?
Here's a time to go to Regedit. Don't do this if you feel uncomfortable in going to Regedit.
In Regedit, navigate your way to:
Right-click the icon on the right side and select Modify. Change the value so it only reads: %1
Close Regedit and restart your computer.
Next time when you go looking for an icon, check the icon of the .dll files. If it's different, (not the old un-associated windows icon) then there are icons to be found.
To change it back, replace %1 with:
for XP, reset it to: %SystemRoot%\System32\shell32.dll,-154


Icons using cursors & Cursors using Icons

Did you know that?
Yes you can use the image of a cursor as an icon on your desktop (or for any shortcut)
Just do the same as you normally do to change an icon (right click on the shortcut, select Properties, Change Icon, Browse). But this time navigate your way to the C:\Windows\Cursors directory. You will need to change the Type (bottom left corner) to All Files. Then just select a cursor. Your shortcut will now look like your favorite cursor
And do the same if you want to use a icon as a cursor. Just use the browse, and have it show All Files and go find one.


Stretching images for your desktop

If the image you want to use for your desktop is just to small, you can utilize a stretch feature.
Settings > Personalization. In the Background section, click on the arrow for 'Choose a fit' and try different one until it's as you like.


Recycle Bin renamed

Only go here if you feel comfortable modifying the registry.
Start the Regedit (Start, Run, Regedit)
Navigate your way to:
Right click on the word (Default) in the right pane and select Modify. For the data, type whatever name you want to use, such as Trash Bin, or (in my case) Toilet.


Start menu cascading faster

Even find that when you use the start menu it goes to slow for you? Or for that matter, to fast?
Go to Start, Run, and type Regedit. Navigate your way to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop.
Add a New, String Value. Type: MenuShowDelay and press [enter]. Now double-click on MenuShowDelay and type in a number between 1 and 10. (1 being the fastest and 10 being the slowest). Click on OK and restart the computer.
This will be a bit of trial and error. If you find you typed 1 for the value and it's definitely to fast, you'll have to go through the Regedit again and change the value to, say, a 3. Then restart the computer again.


Icons to have no name

Do you have icons on your desktop that just don't need a name? Or that you don't want to have name?
Right click on the icon and choose Rename. Press and hold the Alt key and (on your numeric keypad with NumLock on) type 0160. Release both and now you have an icon with no name.


Mouse Double-Click speed

Having trouble with your double-click. It just doesn't seem to activate at the rate you choose? You can fix that and have it adjust to what you want.
Settings > Devices > Mouse > Additional Mouse Options
Move the slide closer to the Slow or Fast...depending if you need to slow it down or speed it up.


Cursor with class

You are still seeing that 'ole hourglass on your screen when your computer is working on it's own, are you?
Well try something different, just for the heck of it.
Go to Control Panel / Ease Of Use
Click on Make mouse easier to use then click on the Pointers tab.
Here you will see a listing of all the different pointers that Windows is currently using for different tasks.
Click on the hourglass for Busy, then select Browse. You will be taken to the directory of your cursors. Each icon you click on will show you a preview of what the pointer will do. Just keep trying different pointers until you find one you like. When you find one, click on Open, then click on Apply, and OK
You can find many cursors available throughout the Internet. are some files that I've copied from my computer. I've found most of them on the Internet in various places. Just download and extract them (with an un-zipping program like WinZip). Hands, Misc
After you've downloaded the files from the Internet, go to Control Panel, Mouse, Pointers. Then use the browse button to locate your new cursors. Just click on them one at a time. If you click on one that you don't want to keep, just press your delete key.
When you've decided what cursors to keep, just click on Cancel. Next, in an Explorer, Move all of your new cursors to the C:\Windows\Cursors directory. Then follow the steps at the beginning of this tip to change your mouse pointer.


Desktop Background-Windows Choices

The Windows Spotlight and other Microsoft desktop images are in a strange place.
Go to the following folder:
Copy all the images to your Downloads\Images folder (just a safe temporary place)
Open a command prompt using Run As Administrator
Go to the root folder then type: cd Users\OWNER\Downloads\Images (to get to that folder)
Once there, type: ren *.* *.jpg
You can now view the images properly. Delete what you don't want and move the ones you DO want to your Pictures folder
You can also find images in the folder: C:\Windows\Web\Screen.


Desktop image unwanted

If you find that you change your desktop image, but when you reset the computer that image keeps showing up, it's because Windows doesn't know any better ;)
Here's how to remove the offending image so you only have the image you want showing
Open a File Explorer and go to the folder:
You'll see the offending file in there....if you remember the name of it.
Then just click on it and delete it, then reset your computer.


Shortcut Arrow Changed - Made Lighter

I Hate those dark blue or black large arrows. Here's how you can change yours too (only if you're comfortable opening regedit):
Open regedit
Navigate to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons
NOTE: If Shell Icons it is not in the left pane under Explorer, then right click on Explorer and click on New and Key.
Type Shell Icons for the new key's name and press Enter.
In the right pane of Shell Icons, right click on a empty area and click on New and String Value, and name it 29.

Double click on the value called 29 to modify it with one of the 2 options below. Now you can choose the small dark arrow that Windows had before, or you can choose a lighter one that I created
First, notice the comparison in the 3 different styles.

Option 1 - Use the small old style shortcut arrow as seen above in the middle.
In that box as noted above, type in in the following: C:\Windows\System32\shell32.dll,29
Then click on OK.
This will give you a smaller arrow for the shortcut.
Option 2 - My Light grey arrow:  
If you prefer one that's light, right click on the light arrow icon above and save my icon file to the folder of C:\Users\[YOURNAME]\AppData\Local
Back in the registry entry dialog box, for the Value Data, type in the following: C:\Users\[YOURNAME]\AppData\Local\icon-LiteArrow.ico
This will give you the small light arrow as shown in the comparison image above
Restart the computer to apply the new small arrow appearance.


Icon Text Size Changed (as well as title bars, tool tips, etc)

If you have the start menu Control Panel in the List view then click on Personalization, then on the left side click on Control Panel Home.
Click on Start and type the words Control Panel in the search box.
Click Control Panel that shows at the top of the list
click on Appearance and / Personalization
Under Display, click on 'Make text and other items larger or smaller'
You can only change colors of text size and few other minor things CAN still change other aspect. have to go to the registry and do it manually...but it'll be worth it for icon size, icon horizontal and vertical spacing, active & inactive title bars, scroll bar color and other special aspects
Go to each of the following keys and make the same change in each one. It will take some experimenting, but hey...if you know how to play around in the registry, it's worth it!
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Colors
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\Colors
You will need to restart the computer to see the changes.


Notifications missing.

Suddenly the battery icon, the volume icon and the 'safely remove' icon came up missing. Here's the fix
Open Regedit
Navigate to the following key
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\TrayNotify
click the IconStreams registry entry, then delete it.
click the PastIconsStream registry entry, then delete it.
Close Regedit and restart the computer.


Notification for Windows Security Icon not showing

For the times when Windows Security icon won't show in the task bar and it is not listed as an option to turn on or off. Here's the fix:
Right click on Taskbar > Task Manager > Startup (tab)
At the bottom for Windows Security notification icon, right click and changed to Enabled.
Worked for me first time.
If, that doesn't work, here are a few other options to try:
1) Check CCleaner Startup items
2) In Windows 10, tablet mode makes your device touch-friendly so you can use your computer without a keyboard or mouse. Even if your device doesn’t come with touch capabilities, tablet mode still influences how your computer works. System > Tablet > Set to Never Use Tablet Mode
3) Navigate to C:\Users\OWNER\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer > Delete all IconCache files > Restart your computer and check if the taskbar is now displaying the icons.
If you are unable to delete the files, open command prompt RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR > Type the following:
cd /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer attrib –h iconcache_*.db del iconcache_*.db start explorer
Then restart the computer
4) Open regedit RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR > Navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT > Local Settings > Software > Microsoft > CurrentVersion > TrayNotify. Locate IconStreams and delete it. > Restart your computer.
Navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT > Local Settings > Software > Microsoft > CurrentVersion > TrayNotify > Delete pasticonstreams > Restart your computer


View two Programs at Side by Side.

How many times have you found that you are doing a lot of copying and pasting from one program to another. Actually I'm doing it right now. I am constantly copying between WordPerfect and Outlook Express. One way of working faster is to have any other programs minimized but WordPerfect and Outlook Express.
Click on the first program. Then press the 'windows' key + {left arrow}
Click on the second program and press the 'windows' key + {right arrow}   (or for Windows 10, pick one of the previews that pop up for you to pick from.
Windows 11: In Win11, you have have 4 all at the same time.
Hover your mouse over the Maximize icon at the top, then choose the location you want that to be in.


Lock Screen MS Edge icons remove.

Getting rid of those 3 icons on your Lock Screen CAN be removed. It's just a desktop background image issue.
Go to Settings > Personalize > Lock Screen
Change the Background from "Windows Spotlight" to "Picture".
Click on any other link on the left side, then close the dialog box.


MeetNow Turned Off.

Turn off that damned "MeetNow" icon that Microsoft decided to sneak (put) in the notification area. It has to do with Skype's version of Zoom.
Here's the manual way to make it go away.
Using Regedit, navigate to:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer (you'll probably have to create that last key of Explorer
Create a new DWORD called: HideSCAMeetNow
Give it the value of 1
Then go to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer (again, create the key Explorer, if needed)
Create a new DWORD called: HideSCAMeetNow
Give it the value of 1
Restart the computer and it'll be gone.


Power Icon Missing/Grey'd Out.

vWhen the power icon is missing and it's grey'd out denoting that you can't change it to ON, here's the fix:
Go to Device Manager
Expand the section for Batteries
Right click and choose Disable Device on BOTH items there
Click on Action > Scan For Hardware Changes
Go back and re-enable both battery items
The power icon will reappear.


Search Icon removed from taskbar search box.

To remove the "suggested" icon from the search box on the task bar:
Go to Taskbar Settings > Down arrow for Search Box > Choose Search Icon And Label.

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