For a lot of people, using a Windows computer isn’t exactly a experience that can be “customized”. Most people work hard just to figure out how the operating system works. The extent of “customizing” involves things like changing the Windows desktop background or configuring the default email system.
Given, there are plenty of readers that could alter some of the most obscure regions of the Windows OS, but for the rest of you who don’t walk on water when it comes to computers – I’d like to introduce an app that can help.
Here at MUO we’ve previously covered a number of free utilities developed by Fresh Devices. Kyle previously wrote about FreshDiagnose, a useful utility that lets you analyze and bookmark Windows. I also covered Freshview, an app that helps you organize all of your multimedia files. Recently, I discovered that Fresh Devices also offers another utility called FreshUI that will help you quickly and easily tweak your Windows Operating System just like a pro.
When you first install and launch FreshUI, you’ll see that the application is laid out in a way that makes it very easy to learn. All of the areas of Windows that you can customize are laid out clearly along the left pane, and organized in a simple tree view with only six major categories.
Using FreshUI, you can quickly customize all areas of Windows, including standard Windows apps, how hardware behaves and even specific privacy settings that matter most to you. The beauty of this application is that you don’t have to dig through the Windows OS to find them.
Apps that you can tweak include standard Windows programs like Hearts or Notepad, but also some of the deeper apps like the Registry Editor. Now, keep in mind that this app isn’t for changing the options in these applications or modifying typical app settings. It’s actually for customizing the apps by enabling or disabling certain features about them.
For example, within the Internet Explorer section you can tweak each of the available options in the menu of IE.
This allows you to customize the app for all users by doing things like disabling the ability to modify proxy settings or even disabling the ability to close IE itself. These are all settings that you’d have to dig through registry settings or the control panel in order to enable or disable. With FreshUI, some of the most advanced “hacks” are right there at your fingertips.
Beyond applications, you can also customize the behavior for your computer hardware. For example, optimizing your CPU cache, enabling or disabling your CD Player’s autoplay feature, tweaking some of your motherboard memory settings and much more. Obviously, you should only make these changes if you really know what you’re doing – otherwise you could actually do some damage. Side note – always click on File -> Save Windows Settings before you get started so you can always restore the default settings.
Beyond applications and software, you can also tweak some of Windows standard components, like Windows Explorer itself. For example, blocking access to specific drives, modifying the “free space” warning if it’s getting really annoying, or disabling the ability for users to map new network drives. All of these somewhat advanced Windows “hacks” are brought down to Earth when you use FreshUI.
If you’ve always wanted to tweak things like the display or behavior of your task bar or start menu, then you’ll be very pleased when you click on the “Windows Interface” category. There are lots of cool things you can customize here that you probably never even realized were configurable.
Of course, what most people would like to do is tweak the heart of the operating system itself – things like startup and shutdown features or security settings. If you click on the “Windows System” option in the left pane, you’ll see that FreshUI basically opens up the hood and hands you the wrench.
Another very useful area of FreshUI that I plan to recommend to all of my friends who constantly complain about their bogged down computer with a slow Internet connection, is the “Covering Your Track” section of this application.
Here, you can wipe out logs, histories and junk files associated with all of your Internet and Windows usage. You can set up the system so it doesn’t track recent documents or last user, and even the option to clear network history each time you log onto the network.
Whenever you’re finished setting up all of your Windows customizations to exactly what you want, don’t forget to click on File and “Save Windows settings“. The last thing you want to do is lose all of the customizing options you set. If things go wrong, you can just restore the settings that you saved before you made any customizations at all.
Do you see a place for FreshUI in your customizing arsenal of tools? Do you know of any other similar free utilities that do it better? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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