Getting Windows XP to Behave

A FAQ list for getting around unwanted features in Windows XP.

Last updated 11 April 2002.

Questions, submissions, and error corrections to:

How do I turn off this new GUI? Can't I get a plain, Windows-standard interface in Windows XP?

Before you decide to turn this off, remember: you're just fighting the inevitable. What Microsoft says Windows will be is what Windows will be. It's like people trying to use the Windows 95 file manager instead of using Explorer when Windows 95 was first released. You've got to adjust.

But if you really want to do it, go ahead. Right-click on the desktop. Click on the Properties menu item, which brings up the Display Properties. Click on the Appearance tab, and then pull down the Windows and buttons: options. Select Windows Classic style.

If you don't mind the way the Windows are designed structurally, but you just hate the red, green, and blue child-like interface, you can change the color scheme. Just pull down the Color scheme: drop-down menu and select one of the (few) other options. A recommended option is Silver.

How do I change the Start menu back to something a little less cluttered - something like the standard Start menu of the last 7 years.

Again, you're just fighting the inevitable. But you can if you want.

Right-click on the Start menu and click Properties. You can select either Classic Start menu (which is like the one in Windows 2000) or Start menu (which is the new Windows XP menu).

While you're there, be sure to spend a little time getting to know all the options hiding behind the Customize button for each of the two Start menus. Lots of customizations await you.

I installed an image editor, but when I open a file from Explorer, it opens with Microsoft's Picture and Fax Viewer application. I know the images are associated with my application. What gives?

Microsoft tries to make your life easier by taking decisions out of your hands and doing things for you. This makes your life easier, right? Anyway, you'll have to edit the registry to get around this "feature"

Navigate to:


There will be a key called ShellImagePreview. Highlight it and delete it. That should allow your default associated application to work as expected.


When I pressed Ctrl-Alt-Delete in Windows 2000, I could then just hit the Enter key and my machine would be locked. This little habit doesn't do much for me in Windows XP.

How I get rid of that terrible login screen. I don't want to list the available accounts. (Isn't that a security violation of some sort?) I want it the way it was in Windows 2000.

These two have the same solution. Open the Control Panel. Open the User Accounts applet. Click on the Change the way users log on or off task. Deselect the Use the welcome screen option.

That will solve both issues, but, unfortunately, fast user switching will be disabled.

I want to create shares for specific users. The share mechanism only allows me to share for all network users. How can I create a limited share?

Open an Explorer window. Click on Tools, then choose the Folder Options... menu item. Select the View tab. There, you will see the setting in question, Use simple file sharing (Recommended). Ensure the option is not checked, and you will be able to share folders for specific users.

The Zip Folders feature is terrible. It slows down Explorer and messes with my utilities. How can I disable it?

There's no way to easily do this, unless your typing fingers work accurately. You'll need to unregister the COM DLL that provides the functionality. To do this, click the Start menu and then click on Run.... Then, type:

	regsvr32 /u zipfldr.dll

How do I prevent the dial-up prompt from appearing when I'm not connected?

This happens when you're offline and some application wants access to the Internet. (I had this problem with WinAmp, of all things...) To prevent IE from popping up a prompt, change its settings in the Internet Options (from the IE menu or in the Control Panel).

To prevent the other applications from irritatingly prompting you to connect, open a command prompt and type:

	sc config rasauto start= disabled
	net stop rasauto

Then, you should be able to avoid the prompt.

How do I determine how long my machine has been running?

Easy! Open a command prompt and type:

	net statistics workstation | more

This will print a date and some superfluous information (superfluous for our purposes, anyway). The date it prints is the time you booted your machine.