Quick Tip: Disable Highlighting New Programs in Windows 7, Vista, and XP

One annoyance you may not like about Windows is when it highlights newly installed programs which is enabled by default in XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Today we will take a look at disabling it in all three versions of Windows.
Here we look at an example of the annoyance, notice the tacky highlight over programs that were recently installed.

Disable in Vista & Windows 7
To disable it in Vista and Windows 7 right-click on the Start Menu and select Properties.

The Taskbar and Start Menu Properties screen open and you want to click on Customize.

In the Customize Start Menu screen scroll down and uncheck Highlight newly installed programs, then click Ok.

That’s it! Now you’re free of the annoying highlighting of new programs in the Start menu.

Disable in XP
You can do this in XP as well basically the same way. Right-click on Start \ Properties then make sure Start menu is selected and click Customize.

Then click on the Advanced tab and uncheck Highlight newly installed programs, click Ok and close out of the remaining screens.

If you are new to computers you may not want to disable this feature because it can help you easily distinguish between old and new programs. If you find it annoying, disable it and enjoy a cleaner Start menu.

Disable the “Check Online for a Solution” Dialog (Error Reporting) in XP, Vista, and Windows 7

When you’re trying to fix a computer or are setting it up for certain functionality for a business, it can be quite annoying always getting error messages when you know what your doing. Today we take a look at disabling those messages in XP, Vista, and Windows 7.
Usually the message says something like “Windows Mail has stopped working. Windows can check online for a solution to the problem. Check online for a solution and close the program.” It’s extremely annoying because you usually just want the program to close.
Note: Error Reporting can be valuable if Windows isn’t working correctly and shouldn’t be disabled unless you’re a system admin or power user. This is not recommended for the average home user.

Error Reporting is enabled by default on XP, Vista, and Windows 7. If an error occurs, a detailed message regarding the error pops up and you’re prompted to send the information to Microsoft. This is so they can gather error info from millions of PC’s and helps them create patches and Service Packs. In some cases it will check the error and provide solutions to fix it. When you’re setting up a machine for specific functionality, the messages get very annoying. There are a number of reasons why an experienced user or tech would want to turn them off, so lets begin.
Disable Error Reporting in Windows 7
Open up the start menu and type in problem reporting settings into the search box, or head to Action Center –> Change Action Center Settings –> Problem Reporting Settings. If you used the search, use the “Choose how to report problems” item in the list:

Then you can easily choose the option from the list:

Again, you probably should leave it enabled, but this will let you disable it.
Disable Error Reporting in Windows 7 with Group Policy
Note: This method used Local Group Policy Editor which isn’t available in Home versions of Windows 7.
Click on Start and enter gpedit.msc into the search box and hit Enter.

Local Group Policy Editor opens and you want to navigate to User Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ Windows Components \ Windows Error Reporting and under Setting double click on Disable Windows Error Reporting.

Change it from Not Configured to Enabled, then click Apply and Ok and close out of Local Group Policy Editor.

Disable Error Reporting in Vista
To disable Error Reporting in Vista click on Start and open Control Panel.

Make sure you’re in Classic View and double click on Problem Reports and Solutions.

Under Tasks click on the Change Settings link.

It’s worth noting here that if you choose Ask me to check if a problem occurs, error reporting is enabled but you get to choose whether or not to send the diagnostics to Microsoft. If you select Check for solutions automatically (recommended) then all data will be sent to Microsoft automatically. Since we want to disable it all together, click on the Advanced Settings link.

In the next screen under For my programs, problem reporting is…select Off then click Ok to close out of the Problem Reports and Solutions window.

Next you’ll see that everything under Choose how to check for solutions to computer problems is grayed out. Click Ok to close out of this screen.

Click Close on the message telling you that Error Reporting is turned off.

Disable Error Reporting in XP
To disable error reporting in XP right click on My computer and select Properties. In the System Properties window click the Advanced tab then the Error Reporting button.

The Error Reporting window comes up where you want to select Disable error reporting. Uncheck the box But notify me when critical error occur if you don’t want to see any errors at all then click Ok and Ok to close out of the System Properties window.

When you’re setting up a computer for a set of users in a company, chances are the settings will pop up error messages that you already know about, and this takes up time to click out of them. With error reporting turned off, experienced users can go about their business without being annoyed constantly. A couple of other suggestions to eliminate other annoyances is to disable Program Compatibility Assistant and disabling the delete confirmation dialog as well. So far I haven’t noticed as many errors in Windows 7 as Vista, and they seemed to be a regular occurrence on XP. Disabling Error Reporting allows the experienced user to save time by not having to constantly clicking out of them.

Play Your Favorite DOS Games in XP, Vista, and Windows 7

Want to take a trip down memory lane with old school DOS games? D-Fend Reloaded makes it easy for you to play your favorite DOS games directly on XP, Vista, and Windows 7.
D-Fend Reloaded is a great frontend for DOSBox, the popular DOS emulator. It lets you install and run many DOS games and applications directly from its interface without ever touching a DOS prompt. It works great on XP, Vista, and Windows 7 32 & 64-bit versions.
Getting Started


Download D-Fend Reloaded (link below), and install with the default settings. You don’t need to install DOSBox, as D-Fend Reloaded will automatically install all the components you need to run DOS games on Windows.

D-Fend Reloaded can also be installed as a portable application, so you can run it from a flash drive on any Windows computer by selecting User defined installation.

Then select Portable mode installation.

Once D-Fend Reloaded is installed, you can go ahead and open the program. Then simply click “Accept all settings” to apply the default settings.

D-Fend is now ready to run all of your favorite DOS games.

Installing DOS Games and Applications:
To install a DOS game or application, simply drag-and-drop a zip file of the app into D-Fend Reloaded’s window. D-Fend Reloaded will automatically extract the program…

Then will ask you to name the application and choose where to store it — by default it uses the name of the DOS app.

Now you’ll see a new entry for the app you just installed. Simply double-click to run it.

D-Fend will remind you that you can switch out of fullscreen mode by pressing Alt+Enter, and can also close the DOS application by pressing Ctrl+F9. Press Ok to run the program.

Here we’re running Ms. PacPC, a remake of the classic game Ms. Pac-Man, in full-screen mode. All features work automatically, including sound, and you never have to setup anything from DOS command line — it just works.

Here it’s in windowed mode running on Windows 7.

Please note that your color scheme may change to Windows Basic while running DOS applications.

You can run DOS application just as easily. Here’s Word 5.5 running in in DOSBox through D-Fend Reloaded…

Game Packs:
Want to quickly install many old DOS freeware and trial games? D-Fend Reloaded offers several game packs that let you install dozens of DOS games with only four clicks…just download and run the game pack installer of your choice (link below).

Now you’ve got a selection of DOS games to choose from.

Here’s a group of poor lemmings walking around … in Windows 7.

D-Fend Reloaded gives you a great way to run your favorite DOS games and applications directly from XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Give it a try, and relive your DOS days from the comfort of your Windows desktop.
What were some of your favorite DOS games and applications? Leave a comment and let us know.
Download D-Fend Reloaded
Download DOS game packs for D-Fend Reloaded
Download Ms. Pac-PC

How To Quickly Reboot Directly from Windows 7 to XP, Vista, or Ubuntu

One of the biggest annoyances with a dual-boot system is having to wait for your PC to reboot to select the operating system you want to switch to, but there’s a simple piece of software that can make this process easier.
This guest article was written by Ryan Dozier from the Doztech tech blog.

With a small piece of software called iReboot we can skip the above step all together and instantly reboot into the operating system we want right from Windows. Their description says:
“Instead of pressing restart, waiting for Windows to shut down, waiting for your BIOS to post, then selecting the operating system you want to boot into (within the bootloader time-limit!); you just select that entry from iReboot and let it do the rest!”
Don’t worry about iReboot reconfiguring your bootloader or any dual boot configuration you have. iReboot will only boot the selected operating system once and go back to your default settings.


Using iReboot

iReboot is quick and easy to install. Just download it, link below, run through the setup and select the default configuration. iReboot will automatically figure out what operating systems you have installed and appear in the taskbar. Go over to the taskbar and right click on the iReboot icon and select which operating system you want to reboot into.

This method will add a check mark on the operating system you want to boot into.

On your next reboot the system will automatically load your choice and skip the Windows Boot Manager. If you want to reboot automatically just select “Reboot on Selection” in the iReboot menu.

To be even more productive, you can install iReboot into each Windows operating system to quickly access the others with a few simple clicks.

iReboot does not work in Linux so you will have to reboot manually.

Then wait for the Windows Boot Manager to load and select your operating system.


iReboot works on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 as well as 64 bit versions of these operating systems. Unfortunately iReboot is only available for Windows but you can still use its functionality in Windows to quickly boot up your Linux machine. A simple reboot in Linux will take you back to Windows Boot Manager.
Download iReboot from neosmart.net
Editor’s note: We’ve not personally tested this software over at How-To Geek, but Neosmart, the author of the software, generally makes quality stuff. Still, you might want to test it out on a test machine first. If you’ve got any experience with this software, please be sure to let your fellow readers know in the comments.

Week in Geek: Users can Upgrade Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 Release Preview for $39.99

Our latest edition of WIG is filled with news link goodness covering topics such as Google has announced another round of product closures, Mozilla will be cutting back on development of Thunderbird, the dark side of QR codes, and more.

Weekly News Links

  • Windows 8 Pro upgrade set for $39.99, Media Center tooUpgrading to the next version of Windows just got cheaper: Microsoft knocked down the upgrade price to $39.99, and throws in Media Center, too.
  • Microsoft confirms Windows 8 testers to get $40 upgrade price, tooThose running Microsoft’s Windows 8 Release Preview also will be permitted to move to Windows 8 Pro when it’s available for the newly announced upgrade price.
  • Windows Explorer to Become File Explorer in Windows 8 RTMMicrosoft is reportedly making some more changes to its Windows 8 platform in preparation for the upcoming RTM and final flavors. One of these will affect the name of one of the most popular tools the platform has at the moment, namely its Windows Explorer.
  • Microsoft to Remove Desktop Gadgets from Windows 8Windows 8, the next-generation operating system from Microsoft, should arrive on shelves without a feature that some users have been accustomed to ever since Windows Vista, namely desktop gadgets.
  • Mozilla’s B2G to be called Firefox OS, will ship in 2013Several new device manufacturers and mobile carriers have lined up to support Mozilla’s mobile operating system. The software platform, which is based on Mozilla’s Boot2Gecko (B2G) project, will be called Firefox OS when it launches on handsets next year.
  • Double security for Flash under LinuxChrome version 20 represents a major step forward for the security of the Google browser, at least for Linux users, for whom this has often been a somewhat neglected area. It introduces a new sandbox concept which precisely regulates and filters the system calls a process is able to make.
  • Thunderbird development to be stalled by MozillaAn email leaked this past Friday forced Mozilla to reveal its decision to reduce resources for the Thunderbird email client ahead of a planned announcement on Monday. The early announcement from Mozilla Foundation chair Mitchell Baker explained that the organisation felt that, as an open source, cross-platform email client, Thunderbird was unlikely to be a “source of innovation” and future leadership.
  • Google Service Drops Support for OperaJust a brief notice for any users of Google services (everyone, in other words), to say that Google has now stopped supporting the Opera browser within the Blogger (.blogspot) admin interface.
  • Spring cleaning in summerThis past week Google announced another round of product closures. You can view the list of products in this blog post from Google.
  • Pruning The Garden: Saying Goodbye to a Few Zoho ServicesZoho has also announced a round of product closures this past week and you can view the list in this blog post from Zoho.
  • Is it time for Microsoft to ‘retire’ its tarnished brands?What do Internet Explorer, Hotmail, and Zune have in common? They’re all intensely disliked by the elite tech press. So maybe they need to just disappear.
  • Why Google and Ubuntu don’t say “Linux”Some people are complaining that neither Google nor Ubuntu refer to their operating systems as Linux, here’s why they don’t use the “L” word.
  • FSF criticizes secure boot, raises concerns about distro implementationsThe Free Software Foundation (FSF) has published a statement outlining the organization’s concerns about secure boot and its potential implications for open source software. The paper also evaluates the solutions that Linux distributors Canonical and Red Hat have adopted to address the issue.
  • The dark side of QR codesQuick response codes are everywhere — magazines, take-out menus, and the sides of bus stops. But this marketing tool could be just the opportunity hackers are looking for.
  • Report: Android malware doubled in just one monthMalware targeting Google’s open source Android mobile operating system continues to rise – according to a new report, hundreds of thousands of devices have already been infected via applications from the official Google Play store.
  • Researchers create “clickjack rootkit” for Android that hijacks appsResearchers at North Carolina State University have demonstrated a prototype rootkit for Google’s Android operating system that can “clickjack” users into launching malicious applications when they think they’re executing legitimate ones. And unlike other rootkits, this one targets Android’s application framework, and not the operating system’s kernel—making it relatively easy to develop.
  • Apple, Google remove Trojan spamming app from storesThe Find and Call app would capture users’ phone book contacts and transmit them to a remote server, security company Kasperky Lab discovered.
  • Web users beware: DNSChanger victims lose Web access July 9On that day, the FBI will be shutting down the temporary DNS servers it used to assist DNSChanger victims.
  • Ransomware threatens to frame user and inform policeAs well as encrypting files on a victim’s computer, a new strain of ransomware discovered by security specialist Sophos threatens to contact the police about certain types of files if the system’s owner doesn’t pay a ransom of €3,000.
  • “Printer Bomb” spread using compromised .htaccess filesCompromised .htaccess files on web servers allowed the “Printer Bomb” trojan to spread, says a Symantec researcher. The “Printer Bomb” trojan, named Trojan.Milicenso by Symantec, was notable for creating massive print jobs full of garbage characters that made printers run out of paper.

Super User Questions

  • How do I determine if an unbootable copy of Windows is a 64-bit or 32-bit installation?
  • How do you customize the icon on a USB stick?
  • How can I create a separate toolbar from the Task Bar?
  • Google Chrome opens a blank page when searching from Chrome Omnibox / address bar
  • Google search results – getting actual links
  • PNG – How to reduce PNG file size for web?
  • Can avi files contain a virus?
  • Suggestions for iGoogle replacement/alternative?
  • 2 identical PCs – can I swap a single hard drive between and expect Windows 7/XP to work?
  • New laptop battery: 80% capacity

How-To Geek Weekly Article Recap

  • The Best Websites for Free Online Courses, Certificates, Degrees, and Educational Resources
  • How to Use an Xbox 360 Controller On Your Windows PC
  • VPN vs. SSH Tunnel: Which Is More Secure?
  • Desktop Fun: Starships Wallpaper Collection Series 2
  • Ask the Readers: What’s Your Favorite Windows Customization Trick?
  • HTG Explains: What “Everything Is a File” Means on Linux
  • The Best How-To Geek Articles for June 2012
  • What You Said: Your Favorite Windows Customization Tricks
  • HTG Explains: How Private Browsing Works and Why It Doesn’t Offer Complete Privacy
  • How to Stream Videos and Music Over the Network Using VLC

Geeky Goodness from the ETC Side

  • The ‘Circular’ Evolution of the Windows Logo
  • 100 Years of Earthquakes [Wallpaper]
  • Paying Customers versus Pirates – How DRM ‘Really’ Works [Humorous Image]
  • How to Turn a Match into a Miniature Rocket [Video]
  • The Red Light Morality Scale: Or, If You’re Glowing Red You’re Probably a Bad Guy
  • A Day at Work in the YouTube Complaints Department [Video]
  • Go Directly to Desktop Mode in Windows 8 on Login (Without Installing Extra Software)
  • Microsoft Discontinuing Windows Home Server
  • Obsolete Computer Parts as Art [DIY]
  • Talk About Cleaning the Crumbs and Cruft Out of the Keyboard! [Humorous Image]

One Year Ago on How-To Geek

  • How To Diagnose and Fix an Overheating Laptop
  • How To Skin Your XBMC for Fame, Glory, and Best Looking Media Browsing Around
  • HTG Explains: What Are the Differences Between Linux Shells?
  • Ask HTG: Vanishing Battery Meters, Repairing VirtualBox, and Spinning Down Hard Drives
  • How To (Un)Lock Your PC By Being Nearby (With a Bluetooth Phone)

How-To Geek Comics Weekly Roundup

  • Working on a Velcro Budget
  • He got a Standing Ovation Because?
  • Good and not so Good Internet Venues
  • Their Emergency Broadcasting System Needs an Update
  • Even Aliens Take Health Insurance into Account
  • Why His Blog is Considered Free Speech
  • Perhaps He Should not Have Mentioned That on Facebook

How-To Geek Weekly Trivia Roundup

  • What Was The Name Of The First Laser Light Show Technology?
  • Advertisers Set Analog Watches To What Time To Attract Customers?
  • Which Letter Does Not Appear On The Periodic Table?
  • Fireworks Originated In Which Country?
  • What Was The First Song Encoded Into MP3 Format?
  • What Common Office Supply Staple Is Capable Of Generating X-Ray Radiation?
  • What Animal Was Used To Make The Sound Of The Star Wars TIE Fighter?

Use a Windows 8-Like Task Manager in Windows 7, Vista, and XP

One of the new features in Windows 8 is the improved Task Manager, which provides access to more information and settings. If you don’t want to upgrade, there is a way you can use a simple Windows 8-like Task Manager in Windows 7, Vista, or XP.
The Windows 8 Metro Task Manager does not need to be installed. Simply download the .zip file (see the download link at the end of this article), extract the files, and double-click the Windows 8 Task Manager.exe file.

A window displays a list of tasks currently running with the status of each task listed. To end a task, select the task in the list and click End Task.

One advantage the Windows 8 Metro Task Manager has over the Windows 7 Task Manager is the ability to restart Windows Explorer with one click. To do so, simply click Restart Explorer.

Just like the Windows 8 Task Manager, there is a More Details link.

However, when you click the More Details link, the Windows 7 Task Manager opens to whichever tab was active the last time it was open. Unfortunately, you do not have access to the same tabs available in the real Windows 8 Task Manager.
However, the Windows 8 Metro Task Manager does provide the useful Restart Explorer button lacking in the Windows 7 Task Manager.

For easy access, you can pin the Windows 8 Metro Task Manager to the Taskbar, create a shortcut on the Desktop, or add it to the Desktop context menu.
Download Windows 8 Metro Task Manager for XP, Vista and 7 from http://vishal-gupta.deviantart.com/art/Windows-8-Metro-Task-Manager-for-XP-Vista-and-7-300826389. Microsoft .NET Framework is required to run Windows 8 Metro Task Manager. Download the Web Installer or the Standalone Installer.

How to Delete a Windows Service in Windows 7, 8, 10, Vista, or XP

If you are a fan of tweaking your system and disabling services, you might find that over time your Windows Services list becomes huge and unwieldy with a large number of services in the list that will never be enabled.
Instead of just disabling a service, you can alternatively completely delete the service. This technique can be especially helpful if you’ve installed some piece of software that doesn’t uninstall correctly, and leaves an item in the service list.
This should work in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and even XP.
Important Note: Once you delete a service, it’s gone, and it’s going to be a pain to add it back. Use with caution. Or don’t use it at all unless you are trying to clean up a malware infestation.

Deleting a Windows Service

The first thing you’ll need to do is identify the name of the service, so open up Services through the start menu or control panel, and then find the service in the list that you want to delete. If you can’t figure out how to open it, use WIN + R and type in services.msc.

You’ll want to open up the properties by double-clicking on the service name, and then highlight the “Service name” value and copy it to the clipboard. This is what we’ll need to disable it.

You’ll need to open up a command prompt, and if you are using Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, or Vista you’ll need to right-click the command prompt and choose Run as Administrator. We’ll use the sc command to actually do the work.
The syntax used to delete a service is this:

sc delete ServiceName

If your service name has spaces in it, you’ll need to wrap the service name in quotes, like this:

sc delete “Adobe LM Service”

Note that I’m not recommending deleting this particular service, it’s just an example.
Now if you use the F5 key to refresh your Services list, you’ll see that the service is gone.

I’ve found that using this technique (carefully) can make your Services list a lot more useful, since you don’t have to weed through dozens of items you will never have enabled.
Note: You should think long and hard before deleting a service, because it’s very difficult to get them back once they are gone.