Microsoft XP has been called the Fisher Price operating system for more than just its bright colors and rounded edges. This is an OS for everyone, clear and easy to use. If you are ever lost, balloon tips appear to tell you where a new program is hiding, among other "helpful" messages.

While these tips can be convenient for mom and pop, they are far from necessary for the power user. Some of these tips, like the balloon urging you to sign up for a Passport account, give up after a while and stop coming out to play. Others, like the balloon reminding you to download and install the latest and greatest from Windows Update, never leave you.

You can get rid of them all in one fell swoop, and this was the first thing I did when I installed XP on my home computer. I had enough settings and tweaks to worry about without Windows telling me that it put the Photoshop icon in the Programs menu.

Just be careful to check Windows Update often, because your friendly animated reminder will not pop up to help you out. Another thing you will miss is Windows' reminder that hard-drive space has run low. You will still get a little picture of a hard drive in your task bar, but you won't be accosted by a big yellow balloon that won't go away.

There are two ways to do this little operation. One, you can go here and download Microsoft's PowerToys. This is a set of essential applications offered free from Microsoft. They are unsupported, but the ever-popular Tweak UI has never caused us any undue problems. XP PowerToys is easier to install than previous versions and resides in the program menu, rather than the control panel.

Once you have it installed, go to Taskbar and uncheck "Enable Balloon Tips." This is the easy way to do it, but you're looking at about a 1MB download. If your Internet connection is really slow, your time is limited, or you just hate downloading things, I bring you a second, more risky way as a public service.

You can perform a registry tweak to the same end. If you aren't familiar with hacking your registry, go to Related Articles at the end of this story and read up on opening your registry, backing it up, and restoring certain keys in case something goes wrong. Registry hacks take place immediately and can cause damage to your system.

The Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\
Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

Create a new DWORD value, name it EnableBalloonTips, and set it equal to 0. If EnableBalloonTips is already there and equal to 1, set it equal to 0. Quit the registry editor, log off, and log back on. Voila! Your computer will stop talking down to you.

Bonus:

You want to know the coolest new thing about the Windows XP registry? It's the ultimate convenience for power users. Windows XP registry comes with a favorites menu. Now you can tweak and nudge and bump without having to keep a list of keys stashed around.


Please note that the above article was taken from TechTV.
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