5 handy Windows 8/8.1 registry tweaks

Windows 8 and 8.1 are controversial because they fundamentally changed the way Windows works, and with every subsequent release, they fall back halfway. For example, Windows 8.1 allows users to boot directly to the desktop, but you must change this setting manually.

In the next update coming soon called Windows 8.1 Update 1, any non-touch devices will automatically boot to the desktop. They’ll also add a power button to the start screen, so you don’t have to go to the Charms menu anymore. Either way, it’s just a big mess of two worlds, and it’s constantly changing with each release, which is sure to confuse and upset more people.

Anyway, if you’re using Windows 8, here are some useful registry tweaks that I’ve been using for a while to make it work better. I have previously written about 10 ways to hack the registry for Windows 8, but I find the ways below more useful on a daily basis. If you have some registry tweaks of your own that you’d like to share, post them in the comments! Also, note that you should restart your computer after each registry edit for them to work.

Taskbar – Single click on stacking program

By default, if you have a program stacked on the taskbar, clicking on it brings up the preview window, where you can see all open windows.

taskbar preview

In the above example, I have three explorer windows open and when I click on the taskbar icon it shows a preview for those three windows. Then I have to click on one of them to open that particular window. I have always found this to be completely useless. Yes, it looks great and all, but it’s really not all that effective.

Instead, you can do a small registry edit that will help you cycle through all the open windows when you click once! You can still hover over the icon and preview all open windows and click on whichever one you like, but with tweaking you can just click on the icon and quickly scroll to the window you want without loading the preview. Here is the tweak:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
; Change the behavior of taskbar clicks in Windows 8
“LastActiveClick” = dword: 00000001

You can either go to the registry manually and add this code there, or you can open Notepad and copy and paste the code above into a new file. Read my previous post on how to add some options context menu in Windows 8 for instructions on how to create and run a registry file using Notepad.

Add Disk Cleanup to Context Menu

I run disk cleanup quite often on my computer and find it annoying to look for it every time I want to use it. You can add a context menu option so that whenever you right click on a drive in Windows 8/8.1 you will also get the option to clean the drive.

the contenxt menu cleans the drive

Here is the code that will add the keys to the registry for it to work.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
; Add “Disk Cleanup” option to Drive Context Menu..
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Drive\shell\Disk cleanup]
“Icon” = “cleanmgr.exe”
[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Drive\shell\Disk cleanup\command]
@ = ”Cleanmgr.exe /d% 1

Context menu of Safe Mode

Need to boot Windows 8 into safe mode? I wrote a whole post on this topic because of entering safe mode in Windows 8. You must either use msconfig, press SHIFT while clicking Restart on the charms bar, or use the system recovery disc.

Well, what if you could add safe mode options to the right-click context menu as shown below:

safe mode context menu

Fortunately, the geniuses at Eight forums wrote a registry hack with some script files that allows you to add this awesome option to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. They have complete instructions on how to install the scripts and you can download the reg file directly from their website. Definitely made booting in safe mode a lot more convenient for me.

Add top-level domains to IE AutoSearch

Internet Explorer 11 in Windows 8 has a cool feature where it will give you suggestions of web pages as you start typing. For example, if I type “mi”, I get this list:

i.e. auto urls

You will see the .com and .net domains in the results. By default, there are four domains set to match: .com, .net, .org, and .edu. However, you can add more to this list if you want. Assuming you work for the government or live in the UK or another country and want to add that to the list of recommendations, all you have to do is run the registration code below.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
; == Add additional URLs to Internet Explorer’s automatic url search ==
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main\UrlTemplate]
“5” = “www.%S.gov”
“6” = “www.%S.mil”
“7” = “www.%S.co.uk”
“8” = “www.%S.be”
“9” = “www.%S.de”
“10” = “www.% S.nl”

You can change those values ​​to any value you like such as .in for India etc. You can also add as much or as little as you like. Just make sure it starts at 5 and goes up from there.

Remove default Windows library

Another tweak I always make on my Windows 8 system is to remove all those default library folders in Explorer. I personally have my own folders to organize stuff and therefore don’t use them.

windows library

Again, those in Eight forums came up with a reg file to remove all these folders from your system so you have a clean explorer window like this:

Explorer clean interface

If you like the desktop one, it’s usually in Favorites, so I usually remove that even when I use it. Now instead of having a bunch of folders that I never click on, I just have a list of my hard drives and external devices. Much cleaner!

So those are some quick registry tweaks for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 that will hopefully help you be more productive with the operating system. If you have some tweaks of your own, let us know in the comments. Interesting!

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