As Windows 8 gets closer to the final release, I’ve already started seeing a lot of ways to customize or tweak the registry! There are a lot of visual and under-the-hood changes in Windows 8 and not all of them can be changed via the GUI settings.
In this article, I’ll show you 10 cool registry hacks you can use to customize your Windows 8 install. I’m sure there will be a lot more customizations in the coming months, so feel free to post a comment and let us know any that you find.
Disable Charms Bar Hint
The Charms bar in Windows 8 pops up the second you move your mouse to the top right or bottom right corner of the screen. I find it annoying because I do this by accident a lot. There is a registry key that lets you disable the hint so that the bar only opens when you move to the top or bottom right and then slide your mouse down or up along the right edge.
Desktop Icon Spacing
Thanks Microsoft for getting rid of the options to customize our desktop! What used to be so easy is now a registry hack! In order to change the desktop icon spacing (horizontal and vertical), you have to edit two values in the registry. Check out our previous post below.
Change Number of Row Tiles
By default, Windows 8 will try to figure out the number of rows it should show on your Start Screen based on the resolution of your monitor. What if you don’t want the number of rows it determines? Well, you can change it to a different value if you like. As you can see, I decided on only two rows instead of having 5 rows. You can choose a value from 1 to 5. Navigate to the following key:
Create a new DWORD value here and name it Layout_MaximumRowCount. Give it a value between 1 and 5. Enjoy!
Disable User Account Control
User Account Control is a different beast in Windows 8 and you can’t even fully disable it via the traditional GUI interface you see above. To actually turn it off, you have to go to the registry. However, there are a few unexpected consequences to disabling UAC in Windows 8, which you can read in full below.
Confirm File Delete Dialog
Another missing feature in Windows 8 is the confirm file delete dialog we were all so familiar with. I never noticed it too much, but when I first deleted a file in Windows 8, I was shocked to see that the file just went straight to the recycle bin. I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually, but if you really want it back, here’s how to get it back. Navigate to the following registry key:
Go ahead and create a new key under Policies called Explorer. Then create a new DWORD value and give it a name of ConfirmFileDelete. Change the value to 1 if you want the delete file dialog and 0 if you don’t want it. Sweet!
Even though it’s so old and useless, I still like having the ability to change the registered own in Windows to whatever I like. Don’t ask me why, it’s just some weird geek thing from the early days of Windows. Luckily, Microsoft still has the value stored in a registry key which you can change to whatever you like.
Under CurrentVersion, just find RegisteredOwner and change it. Also, note there is a RegisteredOrganization, you could could actually put two custom lines in the about Windows dialog. How do you even get to that dialog in Windows 8? Go to the Start Screen and start typing winver.
Paint Desktop Version
If you’re running several copies of Windows 8 on multiple computers and in virtual machines like I am, it’s nice to have the Windows version painted onto the desktop automatically. Windows 8 has a registry key that enables you to add this to your desktop automatically. Navigate to the following key:
Find PaintDesktopVersion under the Desktop key and change the value from 0 to 1. Next time you login, you’ll see the Windows 8 version number and build number.
If you don’t like the border size around all your windows while on the desktop, then you can change it by going to the following key:
Find the key called BorderWidth and change it to any value between 0 and 50. It’s defaulted to -15, which is some odd numbering scheme employed by Microsoft which I don’t really get. Luckily, you can just use 0 to 50 for this registry setting instead of the crazy negative numbers.
Prevent Users From Uninstalling Apps
By default, you can uninstall any app that you download from the Windows Store. However, it could be useful to create a user account for guests or your kids and then prevent users from uninstalling the apps. As you can see above, when I right-click on a metro app, the Uninstall options is gone! Navigate to the following key:
You’re going to have to create the Explorer key under Windows and under Explorer you’re going to need to create a new DWORD value called NoUninstallFromStart. Give that a value of 1 and then sign out and sign back in.
Enable Snap on Low Res Screens
If you’re running Windows 8 at a lower resolution, you may not be able to snap metro apps to the right or left side of the screen. However, using a little registry hack, you can get the benefit even on lower resolutions. Navigate to the following key:
Under the ImmersiveShell key, create a new key called AppPositioner. Under the new key, go ahead and create a new DWORD value called AlwaysEnableLSSnapping. Go ahead and give this a value of 1.
If you’re using Windows 8 and feel comfortable modifying the registry, feel free to play around with the options above and customize Windows 8 to your delight. Enjoy!