Improve Your Windows 7 Registry With 7 Easy Tweaks

Add 'Open Command Prompt Here' Option for Any Folder

Though they have fewer and fewer reasons to do so, some users (including me) like to perform tasks from a command line. Unfortunately, navigating the myriad folders on a Windows 7 system from a command prompt can be a pain, especially if many of them have long file names.

But it's easy to arrange for Windows 7 to open a command prompt window automatically in the directory being viewed. To do this, open the Registry Editor and navigate to the HKCR\Directory\Background\shell key. Highlight shell; right-click it; and choose New, Key from the menu. Name the new key Open Command Prompt Here. Once you've created the new key, highlight it and again choose New, Key from the menu. Create another key named command. Highlight the newly created command entry, and you'll see in the right Regedit pane that a default string value has been automatically created. In the right pane, highlight (Default), right-click it, and choose Modify from the menu. In the Edit String window that opens, type cmd.exe, click OK, and close the Registry Editor. When you're done, right-click the background of your desktop (or any folder in Windows Explorer) and choose Open Command Prompt Here to open a command prompt with a command line pointing to that directory.

Add a Defrag Option When Right-Clicking Hard Drives

For most Windows users, defragging a hard drive entails opening the Computer menu or the Libraries menu, right-clicking the drive, selecting Properties from the menu, clicking the Tools tab at the top of Properties window, and finally clicking the Defragment Now button. Here's how to arrange to launch the Windows Disk Defragmenter simply by right-clicking your hard drive.

Open the Registry Editor and navigate to the HKCR\Drive\shell key. Highlight shell; right-click it; and choose New, Key from the menu. Name the new key runas. After you create it, a default string value should be automatically appear in the right Regedit pane. Highlight the runas key in the left pane, right-click (Default) in the right pane, and choose Modify from the menu. In the subsequent Edit String window that opens, enter Defragment and click OK.

Next, highlight the newly created runas key again, right-click, and choose New, Key from the menu once more. Create another key named command. Highlight command and, in the right pane, highlight the (Default) value that was automatically created; then right-click it, and choose Modify from the menu. In the Edit String window that opens, type dfrgui.exe, click OK and close Regedit. Now, when you right-click a drive in the Computer window or the Libraries window, the Defragment option should be available.

Pin Applications to Your Background Context Menu

You can set up quick access to your favorite applications by making some simple tweaks to the Windows Registry.

Windows 7 affords users multiple areas to pin shortcuts for their favorite applications. But what if you have an application or utility that doesn't warrant a prime piece of real estate in your Taskbar or Start Menu? Well, you can neatly tuck those apps away in your right-click context menu for quick access.

To pin an application to a context menu, open the Registry Editor and navigate to the HKCR\Directory\Background\shell key. Highlight shell, right-click it, and choose New, Key from the menu. Name the key whatever you like; we chose CCleaner, since we decided to add a shortcut to that handy cleaning utility to our menu. Once you've created your new key, highlight it, and again choose New, Key from the menu. Create another new key named command.

Next, highlight command and once again you'll see that an automatically created default string value now appears in the right Regedit pane. In the right pane, highlight (Default), right-click it, and choose Modify from the menu. In the Edit String window that opens, enter the path to the executable for the application that you'd like to run; in our case we entered "C:\Program Files (x86)\CCleaner\CCleaner.exe" (including the quotes). Click OK, and then close Regedit. Henceforth, anytime you right-click your desktop or the background of a folder, you can launch the application with a single click.

Disable Notification Balloons

Few things are more annoying to experienced users than the balloon tips that pop up in the notification area on a freshly installed copy of Windows. Thankfully, they are easy to disable with a quick Registry hack.

Open the Registry Editor, navigate to the HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced folder, and highlight Advanced. You'll see a number of strings and DWORD values listed in the right Regedit pane. Right-click a blank part of the right pane; choose New, DWORD Value from the menu; and name it EnableBalloonTips. After creating the new DWORD value, highlight EnableBalloonTips, right-click it, choose Modify from the menu, and enter a value of 0 (the value will probably be set to 0 automatically). Close Regedit, restart your machine, and the balloon tips should be gone for good!

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