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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Automatically run programs with administrator status

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Windows 7 is more secure than previous versions of the operating system and like Vista, it features User Account Control (UAC). This limits what a program is able to do and if it needs to modify the system in any way, it will be blocked. Some programs will ask permission by displaying a pop-up UAC window, but others just don't work at all.

Autoruns is an interesting case. This useful utility is like a souped up version of msconfig and it shows the programs that start with Windows. You can use it to disable startup items that you don't need. The problem is that even if you are logged on as an administrator, it won't allow you to disable startup items. It must quit and restart in administrator mode. You can get around this by right clicking the program or menu item and selecting Run as administrator. Most likely you'll forget sometimes.

There is a way to specify that certain programs are always to be run with administrator status instead of standard mode. It can be useful for some applications.

Right click the menu item or the program and select Properties from the menu that pops up. Go to the Compatibility tab and tick the box down at the bottom that says Run this program as an administrator. Click OK to close the dialog.

UAC and gadgets

Some people have reported that if you turn off User Account Control by going to User Accounts in the Control Panel, then desktop gadgets won't work. The reason is that Microsoft doesn't want to let unknown gadgets have full unrestricted access to the system. I've switched off UAC and gadgets still work, so this isn't true for everyone. It may be that Microsoft has changed this feature in an update or service pack, or it is only the case with a certain version of Windows 7. If you have this problem, then here is the solution.

Click Start and enter regedit into the search box. When the registry editor starts, go to the following key in the left-hand pane: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \SOFTWARE \Microsoft \Windows \CurrentVersion \Sidebar. Right click Sidebar and select New, Key. Name it Settings and then select it. Click Edit, New, DWORD (32-bit) Value and name it AllowElevatedProcess. Double click this after creating it and set the value to 1. Quit regedit and restart Windows. Your desktop gadgets should now work.

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