Forget the do-it-yourself blundering. Here are safer methods.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

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Blog: Tweaking software for Windows and OS X

July 30, 2006

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2006, Al Fasoldt

   After I messed up my main computer by trying to delete "unnecessary" system files -- and botched the job so badly my computer no longer worked -- I got religion, so to speak, and decided to share my favorite safe ways of tweaking a modern computer. I have tips for both Windows and Mac OS X.
   Screen tweaks:
   Windows users should download and install this free Nokia monitor test program.
   Mac OS X users should do the same for SuperCal.
   Tips on adjusting your monitor for both systems are here, here and here.
   System settings tweaks:
   For Windows, My king-of-the-hill, break-a-leg and grab-this-as-fast-as-you-can tweaking utility for Windows is the appropriately named Tweak UI, originally created by Microsoft guru Raymond Chen in the very early months of Windows 95.
   (Let it be said that Chen rescued Windows from a fate worse than dearth -- oh, what a bad pun! -- by allowing users to change otherwise inscrutable system settings in Windows 95.) Tweak UI is, and has always been, free. Get the XP version here and a version for older Windows operating systems here.
   For Mac OS X, a comparable tweaking program is the free TinkerTool, which allows OS X users to change dozens of settings from an easy-to-understand interface. They can be set back to their defaults easily, too.
   A version that tweaks even more settings (not needed by most users) is TinkerTool System; it costs 7 Euros (payable in dollars).
   There are billions of other tweaking utilities -- I'm only exaggering a little, as you'll see once you start hunting for them on Google -- but these are the ones that do the best job.