Customizing Windows 7 Using The Windows Registry

According to the Engineering Windows 7 blog:

Only 15% of the beta users kept the default theme. 77% of the beta users created a custom theme by changing one or more elements of the inbox themes.

This means that the majority of people want to customize their computers to suite them… (Nothing new!)

This guide shows some ways to customize Windows 7 using the Windows Registry Editor by modifying settings that can’t be changed from the “Personalization” window. Since these tweaks modify the Windows Registry, it is advisable to perform a backup of your registry using ERUNT (or any other means you use).

To open the Windows Registry Editor:

  • Click on the Start
  • Type “regedit” in the search bar
  • Choose “Yes” if a “User Account Control┝ message appears

To go to a specific key in the windows registry:

  • Click on the arrow sign next to the key’s name to expand it.
  • For example if you want to open “HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftware”: Click on the arrow next to “HKEY_CURRENT_USER” then click on “Software”

To create a new value:

  • Right-click anywhere on the right side in the Registry Editor
  • Choose “New”
  • Click on the type of value that you want to insert

To modify a value:

  • Right-click the value
  • Choose “Modify…”

The following tables contain information about the values that need to be added/modified to apply the tweaks:

Windows 7 Task Switcher

The task switcher allows users to switch between open windows using the keyboard shortcut: ALT+Tab

Cool Switch (32-bit)

Cool Switch (32-bit)

Go to : HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl PanelDesktop

Value Type What it does affects Data
CoolSwitchColumns String Sets the number of columns of the cool switch NUMBERDefault= 7
CoolSwitchRows String Sets the maximum number of rows in the cool switch NUMBERDefault = 3

Windows 7 Desktop Slideshow (64-bit)

The desktop slideshow automatically changes the wallpaper after a set time interval. The user selects the images he/she wants to use in the slide show, the time interval and whether or not to shuffle their order. All this can be modified through the “Desktop Background” window, however the following can’t:

AnimationDuration – In 64-bit versions of Windows 7, there is a ‘fade’ animation that occurs as a transition between the images. This animation takes about 1 second.

Go to: HKEY_CURRENT_USERControl PanelPersonalizationDesktop Slideshow

Value Type What it does affects Data
AnimationDuration DWORD (32-bit) Sets the time taken by the animation in milliseconds NUMBERRemember: 1000 gives 1 second

There’s another DWORD (32-bit) value called “Interval” that sets the time at which the images change, however it seems to only work when data entered is the same as those available in the “Personalization” window. If a value given is “1000” for example, which means the desktop background has to change every second (crazy! I know), it still takes 10s to change. I think this is deliberately done by Microsoft, because if people were able to set the time interval to a very short period of time (below 10 seconds), it would overload the computer’s memory.

Windows 7 Logon Screen Background

See Customizing the Windows 7 Logon Screen

Slow Motion Aero (64-bit)

Slow Motion Aero

Slow Motion Aero

This tweak shows the aero animation, such as the transition that appears when minimizing a window, in slow motion when a user holds the SHIFT key. It works with Windows Vista as well.

Go to: HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsDWM

Value Type What it does affects Data
AnimationsShiftKey DWORD (32-bit) Whether or not to show aero animations in slow motion when the SHIFT key is held 0 = Disabled 1 = Enabled

After changing the data of the DWORD value, the “Desktop Window Manager” has to be restarted for the tweak to take effect. Here’s how:

  • Click on the Start
  • Type “cmd” in the search bar
  • Under “Programs”, right-click on “cmd.exe”
  • Choose “Run as administrator”
  • Choose “œYes” if a “User Account Control” message appears
  • Type in the Command Prompt window: “net stop uxsms & net start uxsms” (without quotes)

PLEASE NOTE: For this tweak to work, animations should be enabled.

If you need any help or have difficulties, just ask in the Comments.

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6 Responses to Customizing Windows 7 Using The Windows Registry

  1. kappalino January 10, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    Hi, I can’t get my registry changes to stick/stay! I’m trying to create a couple of DWORD’s in windows 7 regedit. I’m doing this in what I believe is administrator account.


    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREToshibaBluetoothStack V1.0AV]

    It had worked once but then i had done system restore and I have never been able to since. Could it be some higher level of access I need to change? I’m not running any virus protector except spybot which i disabled, and also I tried turning off windows firewall… any solution greatly appreciated!

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  3. Best reg cleaner October 19, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    LOL, this is what I used to do with Windows Xp and it worked great for me, thanks.

  4. registrycleaner October 21, 2010 at 5:52 am #

    An efficient registry cleaner software scans the system and the registry for unwanted information and performs registry cleaning by removing this unnecessary data.

  5. remove antivirus action virus November 29, 2010 at 8:12 am #

    Editing registry is risky. A registry cleane is a better solution!

  6. JV December 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    Anyone knows what is lasttick values on desktop slideshow?

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