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Tools
Here's some additional tools you might find useful when tweaking the interface, as described on these pages:
 
Tweaking programs
These programs are mostly frontends for some advanced registry editing. There's lots (too much) of these; we'll cover some that tend to be complete in this area and/or feature some unique settings.

 Which has to start with MS Powertoys, in particular TweakUI. Old version of the powertools for 95 (usable in 98/Me) is still downloadable here (direct download); mainly some items for the sendto menu, and there's better solutions these days (check here). Not included, but latest and greatest version of TweakUI (1.33) for 9x/2k is here. All-around useful tool! The powertoys version for Windows XP is here and features a new TweakUI, plus some new toys, mostly running as a "deskband" object in your taskbar: controls for the mediaplayer, a VWM, magnifying tool and more!

 When running 2k/XP (source: redline), have a look at the Group Policy Editor (enter "gpedit.msc" in the run box/address bar). Under User Configuration you can find a lot of advanced settings, like IE customization (/Windows Settings/IE Maintenance) and configuration of startmenu and desktop (/Administrative Templates/..). You can even set your shell replacement there (/Administrative Templates/System/Custom User Interface).

A perfect companion is X-Setup by Xteq (free, all versions). It does a lot TweakUI does and... well, much more. Best is, when you click "apply", only the setting you wanted changed gets changed... know what I mean (?)... very good!

Another general tweaker, with some focus on icons and other graphics, is Madonote (freeware, all versions). Japanese tool translated to English, very, very complete!
Graphic/skinning tools
Two options for people in need of a decent (meaning, capable of most of the actions the big commercial packages can do):
The *nix oriŽnted, fullfledged alternative has a Windows port. Check out the Gimp!

Another cool and developing project, from Japan (thanks Twanda), Pixia! Both are complete, advanced tools (don't believe anyone claiming you're only cool when seen with PhotoShop :).
Well, then get a color picker/converter :):
A great one is ColorPad (if link is down, try here (both are unstable, and there's being worked on :)) you can grab any color on your screen, check rgb and hex values, copy to clipboard etc. Skinnable.

Another skinnable color picker/converter is Vista, by em. Has a memory for up to 91 colors, fully skinnable.

"Switch is a color picker and adjuster. You can select the color of any pixel on the screen, and adjust the color through RGB, HSL, Hex and OLE color properties."
Neophile's qRool features two cursors. Distances, positions for one or two are showed, angle, relative sizes and much, much more - great tool, and skinnable! Find it at orphan section of Skinnables.org.

"CoordPad is a skinners utility. Open your base skin file in any paint program, open CoordPad, and you're ready to create the bulk of any standard INI file. CoordPad lets you name your coordinates, draw them visually, and export a list of them to a text file - ready to copy paste into any INI!"

"Tracker is a small program to help all of you skinners out there. It is basicly a coordinate gathering tool. (...) It also has a built in zooming and screen grabing tool in it. (...) also opens skin files directly so you don't need to open it in ps, psp or the gimp to get the coords...".

So, you're talented and can actually charge a bit for what you're doing ? Then there's XXlog, skinnable tool that calculates/tracks what you've earned and should put on the bill :).

Microsoft gif animator may not be the most advanced tool to create an animated .gif, it requires you to think about the frames and their weight (!). Prepare the frames yourself, use this tool to assemble the animation to your liking.

Carbon 6 Studios provides CarbonCap: "A Desktop or SystemTray based screenshot tool. The ultimate in low resource, no-hassle screenshot apps. CarbonCap boasts a complete freeform skinning support, complete hotkey customization and the performance even the most hardcore of gamers expect." Saves you the hassle of opening your gfx tool, pasting and saving the image (does .bmp and .jpg). Nice tool!
Conversion tools
[*toptool:] IrfanView is a great, free image viewer/converter, supporting a lot of formats and batch conversion!

[*toptool:] Another one is XnView, just as great, supporting a huge list too, and free; have these two installed and you can handle almost anything :)..

Let's not forget Iconshop. It's mainly an icon librarian/converter, but supports a lot of image formats, not native to Windows, too. So, it's sometimes the easy road to get them, for instance *nix icons, to Windows format.
Miscellaneous
You might encounter some system files (.dll/.ocx) that need to be registered to get a tool running. In general, you should place the files in your system directory (backup any old versions), that's \Windows\System (9x), \Winnt\System32 (NT,2k) or \Windows\System32 (XP). Choose start(button), "Run...", and in the runbox type:
regsvr32.exe example.dll

replacing example.dll with the name of the file.
A convenient, freeware shell extension is RegSvrExt, by Mike Lin (within miscellaneous software section). It adds the option to register/unregister in the rightclickmenu for these objects.
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