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Controlling Windows XP Performance Settings/Visual Effects through Group Policy

Another thing I’ve been working on lately is creating a group policy that controls the performance settings and visual effects of Windows XP. I have most of the registry settings identified that I needed to tweak and I’m controlling the settings through Group Policy using Policymaker. Finding Policymaker these days is difficult from what I’ve seen. Policymaker allows you to control virtually any registry setting through Group Policy without having to create a custom adm template, which I hate doing. One thing to note is that these settings are user based, not computer based. Sadly. I will say that I’ve had some interesting results controlling these settings through a GPO, but it does seem to work, most of the time 🙂

Here are the majority of settings:

;0 = Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer
;1 = Adjust for best appearance
;2 = Adjust for best performance
;3 = Custom

;Use visual styles on windows and buttons (0=off 1=on)
;Use common tasks in folders (0=off 1=on)
;Show translucent selection rectangle (0=off 1=on)
;Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop (0=off 1=on)
;Use a background image for each folder type (0=off 1=on)
;Slide taskbar buttons (0=off 1=on)
[HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics]
;Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing (0=off 1=on)
[HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop]
;Show window contents while dragging (0=off 1=on)
;Smooth edges of screen fonts (0=off 2=on)
;Smooth scroll list boxes
;Slide open combo boxes
;Fade or slide menus into view
;Show shadows under mouse pointer
;Fade or slide tooltips into view
;Fade out menu items after clicking
;Show shadows under menus
;(All off = 90,12,01,80 All on = 9e,3e,05,80)

“UserPreferencesMask” Is tricky because it’s a combination of all the settings, depending on what you pick, you will create a different hex. I don’t have all the various hex’s identified and this is the one setting I’ve had the most trouble tweaking.

Here is a screenshot of PolicyMaker controlling the settings in the GPO:


Policymaker allows you to set how you want to handle the registry keys, which is nice. (Create, Replace, Update, Delete)


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I am a Microsoft MVP for System Center Configuration Manager and owner of Nackers Consulting Services, LLC. I focus primarily on System Center Configuration Manager and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. In addition to helping clients leverage the technologies they use, I enjoy spending a lot of time on the forums and email lists helping answer questions and just seeing what people are doing with the deployment technologies available to them. I have spoken at Microsoft Management Summit on ConfigMgr/MDT integration and I have spoken at user groups around the country. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, I am always willing to help.

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