How This Book Is Organized

This book is not a mere tips-and-tricks compendium that tells you where to click, where to drag, and what commands to type. It takes advantage of XP's flexibility and new features, recognizes that there are specific tasks you want to accomplish with the operating system, and offers you bite-sized pieces of functionality that you can put to use in a few minutes. It also shows how you can expand on their usefulness yourself. To give you this kind of help, the book is organized into 12 chapters:

Chapter 1, Startup and Shutdown

With XP, startup and shutdown can mean much more than turning on your PC or selecting "Shut Down" form the start menu. With hacks in this chapter, you can change the picture that appears on the startup screen, speed up the sometimes endless startup and shutdown processes, hack the Registry to control many different aspects of startup and shutdown, customize multiboot options, and much more.

Chapter 2, The User Interface

XP lets you change the way it looks and works more than any other version of Windows, and this chapter shows how to do it. Want a speedy, stripped-down version of the OS? It's in here. Want to build your own themes and find thousands more online? It's in here as well. So are hacks for controlling the Control Panel, Start Menu, and Taskbar; creating transparent windows; and building your own cursors and icons. The hacks don't stop there, so interface hackers may want to head here first.

Chapter 3, Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer provides a basic window into XP and lets you manage files and folders, among other tasks. When hacked, it does much more as well. This chapter shows how to customize folder icons and balloon tips, improve the context menu, find files fast by mastering the indexing service's query language, get more disk space by using NTFS compression, keep your PC secure with encryption, and more.

Chapter 4, The Web

You probably spend a significant portion of your computing life on the Web, so why not make the most of it? Want to find information fast, straight from your browser, without having to head off to sites like Google? This chapter teaches you how to do it. You can also kill popups, stop spyware, surf anonymously without a trace, and speed up file downloads. If you host your own web site, you'll find out secrets of using the built-in Internet Information Services (IIS) web server. There are many more hacks here as well.

Chapter 5, Networking

XP was built for networking, and this chapter shows you how to take full advantage of it. Tweak your DNS settings for faster Internet access, go "war driving" to find WiFi wireless networks to which you want to connect, extend the reach of your own WiFi network, use commandline tools for trouble-free network operations, or build firewalls and punch holes through them. This chapter helps you get the most out of XP's powerful, built-in ability to connect.

Chapter 6, Email

Email is both the greatest productivity-booster and time-waster known to humankind. This chapter ensures that you'll stop wasting time, and get more out of email. Slam spam, open blocked file attachments in Outlook and Outlook Express, get better email software, and retrieve Web-based email using a normal email client. There's all that and more here.

Chapter 7, The Registry

If you're going to hack XP, you'll need to use the Registry. It's that simple. This chapter goes beyond merely teaching you how to use the Registry and how it's organized (although it covers that in detail as well). It also shows you how to hack the Registry itself?for example, by offering hacks on how to use .reg files to edit the Registry safely, and how to track and restore Registry changes.

Chapter 8, Basic Utilities

XP comes with a basic suite of built-in utilities, with the emphasis on basic. But you can hack these basic utilities so that they're much more useful powerhouses. Store multiple clips on the Clipboard, extend your real estate with virtual desktops, build a better backup strategy, take better screenshots, or use a universal instant messenger. As you'll see in this chapter, there's a lot more you can do with XP's utilities than you ever thought you could.

Chapter 9, Applications

An operating system needs applications in order to do much of its work. In this chapter, you'll see how to hack XP applications. Have older Windows applications that have a hard time running under XP? This chapter shows you how to make sure they run. You can also use command-line shortcuts to customize how each application runs, open and create Microsoft documents without Microsoft Office, and more.

Chapter 10, Graphics and Multimedia

In XP, Windows gets serious about multimedia and graphics for the first time. In this chapter, you'll see how to get the most out of them, with hacks for saving streaming audio to your PC, making videos with Movie Maker, sharing music without the spyware, and easy image conversion.

Chapter 11, System Performance

No matter how fast your PC is, it's not fast enough. This chapter show you ways to hack XP to juice up its performance. Get the most out of your RAM, use the Performance Console to speed up system performance, use a variety of Registry hacks to make XP run faster, and more.

Chapter 12, Hardware

By itself, an operating system can't do a thing; it needs hardware to run on. In this chapter, you'll see how to use XP to hack your hardware. Remap your keyboard, set up a direct cable connection between PCs for a quick-and-dirty network, uncover "hidden hardware" with the Device Manager, and get better resolution on your laptop and your LCD screen. And yes, there are more hacks here as well.