Make Vista become beautiful

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Vista's screensavers
For reasons inexplicable to mere mortals, Microsoft doesn't allow you to customize how Windows Vista's screensavers work -- for example, by changing how the bubbles look in the Bubbles screensaver, or the number or thickness of the ribbons in the Ribbons screensaver.

If you're willing to get your hands dirty by using the Registry, though, you can customize both. For the Bubbles screensaver, for example, you can turn the bubbles metallic or keep them transparent, configure whether the bubbles should have shadows, and display the bubbles against the desktop or instead against a solid black background. For the Ribbons screensaver, you can change the number and thickness of the ribbons.

To customize the Bubbles screensaver, launch the Registry Editor by typing regedit at the Start Search box or at a command prompt and pressing Enter. Then:

1. Go to

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\
Windows\CurrentVersion\Screensavers\Bubbles

Select Edit > New DWORD (32-bit) Value, and create a new DWORD called MaterialGlass. Type 1 in the Value data field if you want glassy, transparent bubbles, or type 0 for metallic bubbles.
Setting the DWORD value.

2. Create a DWORD called ShowShadows, and give it a value of 1 to display shadows below the bubbles, and a value of 0 to have no shadow displayed.

3. Create a DWORD called ShowBubbles and give it a value of 1 to show the bubbles on the desktop, and a value of 0 to show them against a solid black background.

4. When you exit the Registry Editor, your new settings will take effect.

You can similarly hack the Ribbons screensaver. To do it, open the Registry Editor and then:

1. Go to

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\
Windows\CurrentVersion\Screensavers\Ribbons

Select Edit > New DWORD (32-bit) Value, and create a new DWORD called NumRibbons. Click Decimal, and then type in the number of ribbons you want to be displayed. The minimum number of ribbons is 1; the maximum is 256.

2. Create a DWORD called RibbonWidth, click Decimal, and then type in a number to determine the width of each ribbon. The smaller the number, the narrower the ribbon.

3. When you exit the Registry Editor, your new settings will take effect.



The Ribbons screensaver with its default settings (left), and after we've tweaked the number and width of the ribbons (right).

If you want to change any of the settings for either screensaver, you'll have to go back into the Registry, find the appropriate DWORD and change the value. To revert to your original settings, delete the Registry keys that you created.

Make Windows animation go slo-mo

Now that you've gotten your hands dirty in the Registry, here's a final fun hack for you. It serves absolutely no useful purpose except for entertainment and eye candy. It lets you slow down the animations that occur when windows minimize and maximize to and from the taskbar on your command.

To do it, you'll first edit the Registry. After that, when you want to slow down animations, hold down the Shift key. Release the key to make animations go at their normal speed.

Launch the Registry Editor by typing regedit at the Start Search box or at a command prompt and pressing enter. Then:

1. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM.

2. Select Edit > New DWORD (32-bit) Value and create a new DWORD called AnimationsShiftKey. Give it a value of 1.

3. Close the Registry Editor, log off of Windows, and then log back in again, or else reboot.

4. Hold the Shift key and minimize or maximize a window. The animation will be slowed down considerably. To make the animation go at normal speed, let go of the Shift key.


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