Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to change your Windows password from a Linux CD

If you've forgotten your XP logon password, or you got a hand-me-down computer from a friend or relative who forgot to tell you the password to log on, you might think you have to reinstall Windows to get in. Not if you have a Ubuntu 9.10 Live CD or Ubuntu 9.10 on a bootable flash memory drive. Here's what you need to do (based on 32 bit version of Ubuntu):

1. Boot up Ubuntu and click System | Administration | Synaptic Package Manager.
2. In the Synaptic Package Manager window, click Settings | Repositories.
3. Check the box that says "Community-maintained Open Source software (universe)."
4. Click the Close button.
5. You'll see a dialog box that says "Downloading Package Information," then "Rebuilding Search Index."
6. When you get the Quick Search box, enter chntpw in the Quick Search field and click Search or hit Enter.
7. When chntpw shows up in the search list, click its checkbox and click "Mark for installation."
8. Click the Apply button.
9. Click Apply again to confirm what you want to do.
10. When you see "Changes applied," chntpw is installed. Close the Synaptic Package Manager.
11. Back on the Ubuntu desktop, click Places in the top left and under Computer, click the drive where Windows is installed. Note the drive label.
12. Click Applications | Accessories | Terminal to open a terminal window.
13. At the prompt, enter the following, pressing Enter after each line:
cd /media
14. Change to the directory with the same name as the hard drive label you noted before, using the command:
15. Now switch to the correct directory on that drive by typing this command:
cd WINDOWS/system32/config/
16. To change the administrator password, first type:
sudo chntpw SAM
17. This displays the SAM file, which includes a list of the user accounts.
18. You'll see the "User Edit Menu," which gives you four choices. The first is to clear the password (make it blank). To do this, enter 1 and then when asked to confirm (y/n), type y.

You can change the password instead of clearing it by choosing 2, but it's easier to just make it blank, log onto Windows, and set a new password within Windows. It might all seem like a bit of a hassle, but it beats reinstalling Windows and losing all the programs that are installed on the computer.

How to share a file from an OS X computer to an XP computer

If you have an OS X computer (or one of your family members does) and you want to be able to share its file with your XP system(s), here's how:

1. First, the Mac and PC must belong to the same workgroup. XP's default workgroup is named "Workgroup," and by default the Mac creates a workgroup called "Workgroup" for connecting to a Windows machine. If you've changed the workgroup name on the XP computer, you'll need to change it on the Mac, too. If that's the case, you can find out how here: Click Here
2. After making sure they belong to the same workgroup, on the Mac you need to open System Preferences from the dock or the Apple menu.
3. Click Sharing in the Internet & Network section.
4. Check the File Sharing checkbox. This will share the public folders of all user accounts. You can add folders by clicking the + button below the Shared Folders list.

Troubleshooting printer sharing from XP to Vista or Windows 7

Want to share the printer attached to your XP computer with other systems that are running Vista or Windows 7? This can be especially tricky if the XP system is joined to a Windows domain, because of security issues. This article offers some tips for making it work: Click Here

Monday, November 29, 2010

Free P2V Tool

Disk2vhd is designed to create VHD versions of physical disks. This tool can be used to convert systems running Windows XP SP2 and up as well as Windows Server 2003 and up. To read more about it: Click Here

How to enable Remote Desktop on an XP Pro computer - remotely

It's easy to set up an XP Pro computer so you can access it across the local network or Internet - if you're physically sitting at the computer. You just go into System properties from Control Panel, click the Remote tab and check the "Allow users to connect remotely to this computer" checkbox. But what if you want to connect to the desktop of a computer that hasn't been set up this way? Are you out of luck? Maybe not. Here's how to change that setting remotely:
1. From another computer on the network, open the registry editor.
2. On the toolbar, click Rile, then Connect Network Registry.
3. Enter the IP address or name of the computer to which you want to connect.
4. Enter the user name and password of an administrative account on the other computer to log onto the computer to which you want to connect.
5. Now the other computer's registry will be shown in the registry editor console.
6. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server
7. In the right pane, double click the entry DenyTSConnection. Set the value data to 0. If the item doesn't exist, create it as a new REG_DWORD value).
8. Close the registry editor. You should now be able to connect to the other machine using Remote Desktop. If it doesn't work, you may have a firewall on the other machine with settings that are preventing the connection. As always, back up the registry before you make any changes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to change the wallpaper in Windows 7 Starter Edition

By design this feature is locked out by Microsoft (Shame on you!). If you still want to change it though you will need to do some registry work with permissions.

In a nutshell, “\\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\Wallpaper” is the registry location where Windows stores the file name to use as the wallpaper image (for those of you who don’t know, the Registry is simply a place where Windows stores all of the configuration details for every single aspect of Windows, and can be viewed with the program RegEdit.exe). The default value for the wallpaper is “%windir%\web\wallpaper\windows\img0.jpg” (where %windir% is shorthand for your Windows directory, usually c:\windows\). Also by default, this image file is protected and this registry entry is protected. However, you can override these protections by changing the owner of the file and the owner of the “Desktop” branch of the registry.

The reason why people get a black screen after they change either the image, or the image file name in the registry, is because the windows DLL responsible for displaying the wallpaper checks if its the original image file or not. If its not, it clears the wallpaper entry in the registry (resulting in no image being displayed on the desktop, leaving it black). The solution then, is to make the registry entry read only, so that windows cant change the registry entry to an empty value again if the image file is different from the original.

Make sense so far?

So, the easiest solution is this:

Go to the “c:\windows\web\wallpaper\windows\” folder, and rename the img0.jpg file to something else (a backup), and then copy your desired wallpaper image file to this folder, and rename it to img0.jpg. Then open regedit.exe and go to the “\\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\” branch. Right click on “Desktop” in this branch and select Permissions from the pop-up menu. Click on the Advanced button, go to the Owner tab, and select your login user name from the list of possible owners. Click OK, and then OK again to close the Permissions dialog. Now go back into the Permissions dialog (with yourself now as the owner of this registry branch). Click on the Advanced button again, and now click on the Add… button. Enter “Everyone” and press OK, you’ll get a list of permissions to choose from next, select the last one Read Control, and press OK. Finally select your user name from the same list of “Permission Entries” / “user names”, and press the Edit button. This is the most important step … from the list of permissions, make sure that Full Control, Set Value, Delete, Write DAC, and Write Owner are NOT selected. Clear them if they are, and press OK. Before you close the Advanced dialog, make sure the “Include inheritable permissions from this objects parent” is NOT checked, and press OK to close the Advanced dialog, and then OK again to close the Permissions dialog.

You are done. Now close regedit, and restart Windows, you should now have your own desktop wallpaper :)

If one day you want to change your wallpaper, simply replace the img0.jpg file with the wallpaper image you want. To make this easier in the future, you can add the “c:\windows\web\wallpaper\windows\” folder to your Pictures Library, so its more easily accessible when you go to My Picutres. You could alternatively change the wallpaper path in the registry again, but you would have to first set Full Control permissions against your user name, and then make it Read Only again afterwards. Just replacing the existing image is probably a simpler solution for most.

So there you have it. Its perhaps not the most convenient/elegant solution for those without a bit of technical know-how, but it does work, without extra programs or spending money to upgrade.

Monday, October 04, 2010

How to fix error message "Spooler subsystem app has encountered a problem and needs to close"

When you try to start or stop the Print Spooler service, or when you click Start and then click Printers and Faxes, you may receive the following error message: Spooler subsystem app has encountered a problem and needs to close or when you try to print, you receive the following error message: Operation cannot be completed. To correct this follow the instructions in this Microsoft Support article: Click Here

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to add a network printer for all users

To prevent you having to log in as each user (or even worse set up all printers in the Default User profile) you can use this command to add a network printer globally for all users. I have not had a chance to test very thoroughly so I am not sure if it will select the default printer or not (but that would be a small price to pay if not).
Click Here

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to lock down Interent Explorer with Content Advisor

Ever had an occasion that you wanted a low cost way of controlling internet access on a computer? Use the Content Advisor functionality with a custom rating file. Here is a link on how to set it up: Click Here

Keep in mind that this is not a highly secure solution but it will slow them down and usually kids lose interest and move on if they are getting blocked somewhere.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How to uninstall programs in Safe Mode

Ever have one of those stubborn applications that won't uninstall in normal Windows mode? You might have to boot into Safe Mode to uninstall it - but wait a minute. Windows Installer doesn't work in Safe Mode, at least not by default. You can change that, though. Click Here

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

DVD drive does not function after you install Windows 7

Certain models of DVD drives may not work properly after you install Windows 7 on your computer. This might be caused by a problem the drive has with one of the power saving features. Check KB article 975270 for a workaround: Click Here

Friday, May 28, 2010

Can't add files to Live MovieMaker from networked computer

If you use Live MovieMaker in Windows 7 and want to add a network file by clicking on "click to browse" to add a video file, you can browse to other computers on your network and open the folder, but when you choose the file, you get a message that says "Files can't be added directly from a network folder." It tells you to copy the files to your computer and try again - but maybe you don't want to fill up your local hard drive by doing that.

There is a registry edit that will fix this annoying problem. This works in both Windows 7 and Vista. As always when editing the registry, be careful and back it up first. Here's what you do:

1. Open your registry editor and navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows Live \ Movie Maker
2. Right click an empty space in the right pane and select New | DWORD (32 bit) value
3. Name the new value AllowNetworkFiles
4. Double click it and in the Value Data box, type 1
5. Click OK.
6. Close the registry editor.

Now you should be able to browse to a network location and open those files directly in MovieMaker. Note that this change applies only to the logged on user, so if you use a different account, you'll get that same error message again unless you repeat this process

How to gain more taskbar space by hiding the notification area (Windows 7)

The notification area on the Windows 7 taskbar (formerly known as the system tray) contains icons that can provide you with useful information. But some people never really use it, and would like to hide it in order to gain more useful space on the taskbar. Well, you can do that by editing the registry. As always, back it up first and be careful. Here are the steps:

1. Open the registry editor and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ Explorer
2. In the right pane, right click an empty space and select New | DWORD value
3. Name the new value NoTrayItemsDisplay
4. Double click it and type in the value data as 1.
5. Right click on the taskbar and click Task Manager.
6. On the Processes tab, kill the Explorer.exe process.
7. On the Applications tab, click the New Task button.
8. Type explorer.exe and click the OK button.

The notification area should now be hidden. If you want to unhide it, repeat the steps and in step 4, assign a value of 0.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Executable file on Windows 7 or Vista computer starts the wrong program

If you run an .exe file on your Windows 7 or Vista computer and it opens a program other than the one you expected, even though the file's program icon displays the right program, you may need to modify the registry to get the file association of the .exe file back to the right setting. For instructions on how to do this manually, and a link to a Microsoft "Fix It" wizard that can fix the problem, see KB article 950505 at: Click Here

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How to turn off Backup Notifications in SBS 2008 & Windows 7

This information as well as other registry keys concerning backup & restore can be found at: Click Here


On Windows client platforms beginning with Windows 7, users are automatically prompted to configure the Windows Backup feature if they have not already done so. These notifications appear at computer startup time, beginning seven days after the operating system is installed. They also appear when the user plugs in a hard disk drive; in this case, the notifications appear immediately.

OEMs and developers of third-party backup applications can use the DisableMonitoring registry value to turn off these automatic notifications.

This value does not exist by default, so it must be created under the following registry key:


The DisableMonitoring registry value has the data type REG_DWORD and is interpreted as follows: If the value's data is set to 1 and if users have not already configured the Windows Backup feature, the automatic notifications are turned off. If an automatic notification is already present in Action Center, setting this registry value causes the notification to be removed at 10:00 the following morning.
If the value does not exist, if its data is not set, or if its data is set to zero, the automatic notifications are not turned off.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Changing the Time Server in Windows

Has your Windows not been keeping up? It could be because the windows time server it is trying to sync with is getting overloaded. To change your time server follow these steps:
1. Right-click the taskbar clock and choose Adjust date/time.
2. Click the Internet time tab, then the Change settings button. (This might be a little different in Windows XP.)
3. Erase what's in the Server field and replace it with
4. Click Update now. In a few seconds, Windows' clock should get synchronized.
5. Click OK, then OK again, and you're done.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

ITunes Error: iTunes Library file cannot be saved.

This error can be caused by several different misconfigurations. You should check each of the follow (in this order). I had one that bugged me for 2-3 weeks on a new Windows 7 Professional installation that turned out to be #3 on the list. Hope this helps!

1. Make sure you are a local Administrator on the machine. A lot of times in Domain (or networked) environments the Network Administrator will not make the domain account a local administrator.
2. Make sure you have full rights (read and write) to the iTunes Music folder. It would not hurt to change the owner permissions to yourself as well.
3. If iTunes has ever had a problem in the past updating the library (maybe because of #1 or #2 above or any other reason) it will write the change out to a *.TMP file in the iTunes Music folder (same place the library file is stored). Until you reboot in Safe Mode and delete these *.TMP files you will continue to get the error. (Note: I had 30 of these files on the machine I had the issue with)
4. Change the shortcut to "Run as Administrator".

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

How to remove all but the most recent restore point

System Restore is a great feature, but all those restore points can take up a lot of space on your hard drive. It's easy to get rid of them all - just disable and then re-enable System Restore. But what if you want to keep your most recent one, just in case? Yep, there's a way to do that, too. Here's how:
1. Click Start | Run.
2. In the Run box, type CLEANMGR
3. In the Select Drive dialog box, choose the partition where the restore points are located.
4. On the More Options page of the Disk Cleanup dialog box, click the Clean Up button.

This will delete all the restore points except the most recent one and free up space on your hard disk.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Windows 7 Registry changes to boost Performance

A few simple changes to your Windows 7 Registry can boost system performance. This article is excerpted from the book Microsoft Windows 7 Your Way: Speed Up and Customize Windows from Que Publishing. Click Here

Thursday, February 04, 2010

How to get Windows XP style windows on Windows 7

Classic Start Menu is a clone of the original start menu, which you can find in all versions of Windows from 95 to Vista. It has a variety of advanced features:

* Drag and drop to let you organize your applications
* Options to show Favorites, expand Control Panel, etc
* Shows recently used documents. The number of documents to display is customizable
* Translated in 35 languages, including Right-to-left support for Arabic and Hebrew
* Does not disable the original start menu in Windows. You can access it by Shift+Click on the start button
* Right-click on an item in the menu to delete, rename, sort, or perform other tasks
* Available for 32 and 64-bit operating systems
* Has support for skins, including additional 3rd party skins
* Fully customizable in both looks and functionality
* Support for Microsoft’s Active Accessibility
* And last but not least – it's FREE!

To download click here

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How and what to backup before reformatting your Hard Drive

This article provides some useful tips on how to reformat XP the right way: Click Here

Monday, January 11, 2010

How to print to a printer on a Mac from Vista/Win 7

I have had quite a time trying to get a Vista or Windows 7 PC to print to a Mac. I did stumble across this post that looks pretty good. I have a situation where I will be using this in the next few weeks and will let you know how it goes. Click Here

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Auto Login for Windows XP & Windows 7 Domain Machines

TweakUI really spoiled all of us. We got very lazy in the way that we "tweaked" the registry. If you want to set up auto login on a Vista or Windows 7 Domain joined machine follow the steps in this article: Click Here

BTW...if your machine is not domain joined you can setup autologin via the User Account GUI

"God Mode" Control Panel

Do you want to be able to have a One Stop Control Panel? Windows enthusiasts are excited over the discovery of a hidden "GodMode" feature that lets users access all of the operating system's control panels from within a single folder.
This works on Vista (32 Bit Only) and Windows 7

All you have to do is:
1. Create a New Folder
2. Rename the folder to: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}