Built-In Windows 8 Tweaks

4 Mins read

Windows 8 offers all kinds of customization opportunities, and the first crops up only seconds after you turn on your PC. How would you like to have your PC display a custom message before the Lock screen appears? It could be a reminder or a even a warning of some kind. Setting this up is easy. First launch REGEDIT and browse to HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\ Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon. Then double-click the option ‘LegalNoticeCaption’ and set its value to the title of your message.

Double-click ‘LegalNoticeText’ and set its value to the message itself. That’s it, you’re done – the message will appear when you next reboot. With any welcome message out of the way, you’ll normally see the standard Windows 8 Lock screen. The default background image in windows 8 is a bit bland, but the Bing app can help you find a new one. Launch it and check out the current images, then right-click on your favorite and select ‘Set As Lock screen’ to use it.

Start screen

The Start Screen looks great in windows 8, but one problem is you get very little control over the size of your Live tiles. One way around this is to tell the system you have a different size monitor. Windows 8 may then re-scale your Start screen to make the tiles larger or smaller. Launch REGEDIT and browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ Explorer\Scaling (create the Scaling key if you don’t see it). Right-click in the right-hand pane, select ‘New > String value’ and call it Monitor Size. Double-click ‘MonitorSize’, and give it a value representing the monitor size (in inches) you’d like to use – ‘21’, for example. Using a value larger than your actual monitor size should produce smaller tile sizes, while a smaller value normally increases tile size. This doesn’t always work, and you may have to experiment with different values, but it’s worth a try. Don’t forget you’ll need to reboot to see changes.

Coping with faulty hardware

Your PC’s failing? Here’s how to get by.

Even the most expensive PC can be brought down by simple problems, like a mouse that stops working, but there are some tricks to help you get by. Click ‘Control panel > Ease of access > Change how your mouse works > Turn on Mouse keys’. Click ‘setup Mouse keys’ to configure your system, then you’ll be able to use the arrow keys on your numeric keypad to move the mouse cursor, left-click, etc. Your speakers have stopped working? Click ‘Ease of access > Replace sounds with visual clues’, check ‘Turn on visual notification for sound’ and you can setup your PC to flash a program window, for instance. If your keyboard has failed, then running OSK.EXE (the on-screen keyboard) will help until you can get another. Maybe you can’t see the text cursor on a laptop screen – click ‘Ease of access > Optimize visual display’ and increase its thickness to whatever you like.

Revitalize your desktop

Refresh your PC with new backgrounds, icons, sounds and more If you’re bored of the regular Windows desktop wallpaper then right-click the desktop, click ‘Personalise > Desktop background’ and you can choose from various bundled images, your own pictures and even solid colours. If that’s not enough, right-click the desktop, click ‘Personalise > Get more themes online’ and a browser window will open at Microsoft’s Themes page. A Theme is a collection of backgrounds, colours and sounds, and the site has hundreds available, organised into categories like animals, art, movies, landscapes and more. Just browse the site, and download what you need. Sometimes you might like just one wallpaper from a theme, but this doesn’t have to be a problem. Extract the contents of the theme pack file (or install 7-Zip from and use whatever images you need.

Launch Windows 8 apps from the desktop

You don’t need to use the Start screen to access apps – we’ll show you how If you spend most of your time on the Windows 8 desktop, then accessing an app isn’t straightforward. You’ll normally have to switch back to the Start or Search screens, then find and launch it manually. Create the right shortcut, though, and you could launch any of the regular Windows 8 apps directly from your Taskbar. To try this with the New app, right-click your desktop and select ‘New > Shortcut’. Type cmd.exe /c start bingnews: && exit into the Location box and click ‘Next’. Type News as the name and click ‘Finish’. Right-click the new shortcut, select ‘Properties > Change icon’ and choose something appropriate. Sites like have lots of free icons to try. You can now double-click the icon at any time to launch the News app. This handy solution also works well with other apps, so feel free to get customising your Taskbar!

Set your default programs

Launch the right application whenever you double-click a file In theory, double-clicking a photo should open it in your favourite image editor. Windows 8 doesn’t always use the right default programs, but it’s easy to fix. Launch Control Panel and click ‘Programs > Set your default programs’. Browse the list of programs on the left, looking for and selecting whatever you’d prefer to use to open JPEG’s or any other file type. If you want that program to handle every file type it possibly can, click ‘Set this program as default’. If you would like more control, click ‘Choose defaults for this program’ and you’ll see a list of every file type the program can open. Check the box next to anything you’d like it to handle (or check ‘Select all’ for the full set), click ‘Save’, and double-clicking a file of that type should open it.

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