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Windows XP Hacks [Paperback]

by Preston Gralla
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Paperback, August 29, 2003 --  
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Book Description

August 29, 2003 0596005113 978-0596005115 1

Windows XP is the latest, most reliable, and best-looking version of the Windows operating system to emerge yet. As the result of the unification of Microsoft's corporate series (Windows NT and 200) with the home series (Windows 95, 98, and Me), Windows XP offers much that is pleasing to its users: rock-solid stability and a fresh new look. But power users who want to take command of their operating systems will find the same old frustrations: it's never been easy to get under the hood of a Windows system and Windows XP is no exception.

Now power users can rejoice! Windows XP Hacks offers tips, tools, and know-how to bend Windows XP to your will. The book delves into XP topics such as controlling the control panel, changing unchangeable icons, removing uninstallable XP components, stopping pop-up ads, taking a bite out of cookies, speeding up file downloads, protecting yourself with firewalls and proxy servers, and more. Users of both Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Pro Edition will find smart, timesaving, fun, and useful hacks for virtually every feature in their operating system. Even if you're not a power user yet, this book will have you well on your way.

Each Hack in the book can be read easily in a few minutes, saving countless hours of searching for the right answer. Windows XP Hacks provides direct, hands-on solutions that can be applied to the challenges facing both those meeting Windows XP for the first time as well as long-time users who know what they want from their operating system and just wants tips on how to get it.

Windows XP Hacks is the latest in O'Reilly's new Hacks Series which aims to begin reclaiming the term "hacking" for the good guys. In recent years, the term has come to be associated with those nefarious black hats who break into computers to snoop, steal information or disrupt Internet traffic. But the term originally had a more benign meaning, and you'll still hear it used this way whenever developers get together. Our new Hacks books are written in the spirit of the true hackers -- the people who drive innovation.

Editorial Reviews


" is an excellent way of learning more about Windows XP and how to make it work for you rather than the other way round. The instructions are easy to follow and don't leave anything out." - Tim Smith, PCW, March

About the Author

Preston Gralla, the author of more than 20 books, is also a freelance journalist and columnist. He has written for major national newspapers and magazines, including PC Magazine, Computerworld, the Los Angeles Times, the Dallas Morning News (where he was the technology columnist), USA Today and several others. A well-known technology expert, Preston has also appeared on many TV and radio programs and networks, including CNN, MSNBC and NPR. In addition, he's won a number of awards for his writing, including for "Best Feature in a Computer Magazine" from the Computer Press Association. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (August 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596005113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596005115
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,051,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
93 of 95 people found the following review helpful
Users of Microsoft Windows XP often want to push the OS to its limits. Unfortunately, out of the shrink-wrap XP doesn't offer much in the way of tweaks, nor does it fully expose the power that lays underneath its graphical interface. In this revised Windows XP Hacks book from O'Reilly, you will find a wealth of information on how to tune and trick-out Windows XP (with and without SP2) and take the OS to new levels of power and performance.

The book is organized by category, such as Networking and System Peformance, and then broken down into individual "hacks" as they are called that guide you through tweaking a specific component. Often, the hacks cross-reference each other so if you are interested in doing one thing, you can easily find related topics to that change or tweak. In traditional O'Reilly fashion, each hack is also prefaced with a difficulty ranking -- so you can start out tackling the easy stuff and move up the ladder as you feel more comfortable.

The author does a good job of covering the new features, and significant changes, to Windows XP Service Pack 2. Although some may think of SP2 as merely a minor release, there are many things that have changed since the first edition of this book and they are all covered in detailed throughout the book. In addition, the author also provides a good background on each topic covered -- so you know exactly what the hack does, and why you might want to apply it.

The book is geared towards the more advanced user in mind; be warned upfront that in many places you will be asked to edit the system registry directly. However, as stated above, a difficult level will help guide novice users through some of the easier changes they can make.
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book September 10, 2003
By A Customer
I bought this book of the strength my positive experiences with the Google Hacks book and have been probably even happier with this one (if you haven't read Google hacks, go buy that one too).
To start with, even though this is an easy book to understand, if you are a new user to Windows XP or any of the newer MS OS's, go and buy another book first. If you have some experience with this OS, then go buy this. Its brilliant.
Many of the tweaks in this book are implemented by editing the registry, but that said, they are very easy to do. Some useful examples are those that speed up the booting of your PC, those that add useful commands to your right-click context menu and those that point you to some very useful 3rd party utilities.
The networking section has some very good tips and tools available, especially for those running wireless networks. There are also good tips on blocking spam, surfing with proxies and stopping popups and the like.
Its difficult to review a book that has 100 short (to the point) tips and the more I read what I have written, I am not doing this book justice. If you go to oreillys site and review the TOC I am sure you will make up your own mind.
My mind is already made up. As an experienced XP user, just a handful of the tips I have got from this book saves me a lot of time a day. I thoroughly recommend you taking a good look at this book. The tips in here will make your colleagues sit up and say 'how did you do that?'.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Save your money May 22, 2004
This book is a perfect example of an OK idea presented in a bad medium. Had the author chosen to make this a web site or a magazine article, I don't think anyone would object to the rudimentary information provided within. Instead, the author presents 100 "hacks" comprised entirely of overviews on quickly-dating shareware and freeware downloads, as well as step by step instructions on how to use the intrinsic Windows dialogs to change properties and settings. Little presented here could not be as easily discovered by Googling "Windows XP tips tricks", browsing popular computer magazines, or using the internal Help.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Advanced User Beware January 30, 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some hacks in this book are really basic:
Hack 20: Making Windows XP look like Windows 2000 again.
Hack 23: PowerDesk Shareware
Hack 86: Info on two Graphical Shareware
Hack 98: Keyboard remapping shareware
Hack 99: Using ClearType on Win XP
is this a book about "Customizing Windows XP and Shareware Info" or are they really hacks?
There is even some mis-information:
Hack 3: Claims that BootVis will speed up boot up time, while the official Microsoft website corrected the issue: boot speed up is built in and automatic and doesn't require BootVis.
Hack 92: Claims that removing DLL from RAM will let other program have access to the RAM and make the computer faster... not true: they will be removed automatically from RAM when other applications need the RAM. The "Least Recently Used" DLL will be unloaded automatically. On the other hand, if you listen to an mp3 file and close Windows Media Player, and then see another mp3 and run Windows Media Player again, it will be much faster because the DLLs are already in RAM.
This book should be more appropriately titled: Customizing, Shareware, and Hacks for Windows XP.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More general purpose, not XP specific September 24, 2004
The O'Reilly Hacks book format is to provide the reader with one hundred focused 'hacks' that provide a wide variety of tips for expert readers on the subject at hand. This book falls a little off that mark. The text of the book is not very focused, though it is more personable and easier to read than the other Hacks books.

What bothered me was that the hacks were not all particularly XP relevant. Picking a web browser and a hack on war driving seem off the mark to me. On the one hand, they could have called it 'Windows Hacks' and I would think that the book was dead on. Since they called it 'Windows XP Hacks' I expected to see more XP specific information.

That being said, the book has a lot going for it. There is a lot of cool and unique content in it. I particularly liked the sections on tweaking the UI and hacking the registry. I also appreciated the information on how to surf the Internet safely.

Before you buy you should have a look at the table of contents first to make sure that you are getting value for your dollar.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read!
This was a very good book in it's day. I wish XP would live forever, but we must move on.

Thank You
Published 7 months ago by St Catherine's Center
4.0 out of 5 stars good
Lot of usefull tricks I'm still enjoying it Good if you have two computers on a KVM so you can play a-round an see cause and effect
Published 8 months ago by BHorn
5.0 out of 5 stars What I paid for
I got what I ordered and in good shape. It took a while but I guess that is book rate
Published on July 28, 2011 by Busydad
3.0 out of 5 stars Windows Yes. Hacks No.
The first name we tend to think about books about doing things with computers is O'Reilly and Associates and their popular In A Nutshell, Learning, Programing, and Hacks series of... Read more
Published on March 13, 2010 by Mr. Hacks
4.0 out of 5 stars outdated but still very good
This book would be great for somebody that just wants too learn about windows xp. I only gave it four stars because it is outdated. Read more
Published on January 9, 2010 by Christopher R. Smith
2.0 out of 5 stars Expert only
You better have a high level of understanding the registry before buying this book. Also most of the book is geared to network administration
Published on February 28, 2009
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative
Well, Hacks is not the right title. How about Tips instead. Very helpful with home wireless router setup and security. I liked the remote desktop section too. Read more
Published on January 6, 2009 by Deity
3.0 out of 5 stars More like "Tweak your XP"
Professionals already knew the bulk of these tips (not hacks) and the jist of all of them is to modify your XP visually.

For real hacks go look up Irongeek
Published on November 12, 2008 by Hekkenschütze
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reference book
Some books about XP only tell a reader things he has probably figured out on his own, but this book will actually take you to the registry to fix problems. Read more
Published on March 8, 2008 by S. R. Schnur
5.0 out of 5 stars Great information
If you want some really good information on Windows XP and hacks, this is the book. You have to be really interested in doing this kind of thing as it is not for a user, but an... Read more
Published on December 6, 2007 by Nancy W
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