Regardless of whether you like it or not, Microsoft is not backing down — Windows 8 is definitely here to stay. The operating system is different than any previous version. In fact, it could be called the most radical change to Windows since 1995. Those changes have spawned a lot of controversy among the user base, especially with those who seem think they “just can’t live without the Start menu”.
In fact, the “upgrade” has created a whole new ecosystem of apps, including numerous ways to add the Start menu, customize the Start screen, disable features like the Charms menu, boot to the desktop and a lot more.
One of the oldest customization apps for Windows, Tweak Me, has now joined in with this new genre of Windows 8 personalization tools. Version 1.3 has added full support for the latest Microsoft OS and consolidated some of those one-trick-pony apps.
So, what do you get?
The new Windows 8-supporting version comes with some very specific tweaks. In fact, the new version of Tweak Me comes with options to disable the Charms bar, disable app switcher, disable the lock screen, disable the app store, enable and use legacy boot loader, and supports hybrid boot (fast boot) options. Some of those options can be handled by a Registry change, but that can be complicated for most users.
The app will prompt you to agree with the usual end-user license agreement, but a word of warning here — the app will attempt to install Instagrille (a desktop Instagram app) by default so, if you don’t want that installed then uncheck the box during the setup process.
Also, be aware that you will be required to have Administrator rights to launch and run the app.
Tweak Me will immediately prompt you to set a “restore point” upon launch and I would certainly recommend that you heed that advice. After that you will be faced with a clean and simple interface that includes four simple options — Tweaks, Cleaner, Startup and Context Menu.
What do all of these do? A number of geeky good things that will appeal to the techie types out there, but perhaps should be left alone by the “average” user because some of these functions can have serious repercussions with a computer system.
Tweaks is the landing screen upon launch and probably the page most users will find most helpful. Here you will find options to make changes to the Action Center, Internet Explorer, Modern UI (read: Metro), Performance, Security, User Account Controls, Windows Update, Windows Media Player and several other options as well.
There isn’t actually a whole lot of damage that can be done from here, but turning off some of these features, such as firewall notifications or User account Controls (UAC) can have a very negative outcome for your PC.
This part of Tweak Me allows you to clean up various system files to free up space and, perhaps, speed up your system just a bit. That’s the theory behind this anyway, but mostly I tend to think of these tricks as smoke and mirrors. Go ahead and use it, but don’t expect any real system performance gains from it.
There also isn’t any real danger here other than visiting a web site and not getting automatically logged in thanks to erasing the cookie that contained that handy bit of information.
This is one of the areas where Tweak Me really shines in my opinion. Startup in Windows can be one of the things that really slows down a computer. That’s because many of today’s apps are notorious for inserting themselves here and some of those can have a real impact on performance. Perhaps there is no better example of that than Adobe Reader (by the way, try Nitro or FoxIt instead).
This is where you can see what apps have given themselves permission to launch on boot and run without your knowledge. More importantly, this is where you can put an end to these nuisances with the simple unchecking of a box.
This is perhaps my other favorite area of Tweak Me. if you aren’t familiar with the “context menu” then let me give a very brief description — it is the menu that appears when you right-click on a file, folder or program.
Sometimes the “send to” part of that menu simply doesn’t show what you are looking for. This app provides a much easier way of fixing it than the usual registry “hacks” and stand-alone apps.
In Tweak Me users can simply check and uncheck boxes to decide what they would like included in that context menu. New apps installed on your computer will appear in the list — not all of them, but just those relevant as a “send to” destination.
Tweak Me is a control freak or computer geek’s dream app and even the casual Windows user will understand most of the functions included in the program. Now every new non-Apple computer purchase is coming with Windows 8 and, although many business IT departments will likely downgrade those devices to Windows 7, home users will more than likely consider themselves stuck with learning and making the most of the next-generation Microsoft operating system.
Tweak Me is a great way to take care of some customizations on your personal computer and if you are the guy or girl that friends and family call on for tech support then having access to this free tool will help you to make those users a bit more comfortable with their new computer.