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Windows Startup / Shutdown Tips, Tricks and Tweaks

Below, you will find Windows XP Startup / Shutdown Tips, Tricks and Tweaks to help you understand your Windows XP operating system and to help you make it work more smoothly and safely. If you are unable to understand any of the instructions outlined below, please use our free service listed below for help:
Disable XP's splash screen Break out of a continuous reboot loop
Display a message on Startup Stop Windows Messenger
Disable Net Send Messenger Service Create an XP Start Disk
Disabling Hibernation Disabling Startup Programs
Creating a Shutdown/Reboot Icon Power Off at Shutdown
Shutdown Desktop Icon Win XP Won't Completely Shutdown
Create a Standby desktop Shortcut Add Safe Mode to Boot Menu
Increase Windows Shutdown Time Auto Logon to Windows XP
Remove the OEM link from the Start Menu Display Administrative Tools folder in Start menu
Delete invalid entries in MSCONFIG Startup Change the command prompt startup directory

Windows XP Tip Categories


Use the Information below at your own risk.  See "Terms of Use"

Disable XP's splash screen

The Windows XP splash screen is designed to hide all of the behind the scenes boot information that is ordinarily never needed to view. However, if you need to troubleshoot a startup problem, it may be necessary to view this information to determine the trouble. To find out, you can disable the splash screen by making a small change to the Boot.ini file. Follow the steps below:
  1. Press [Windows][Break] to open the System Properties dialog box.
  2. On the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Startup And Recovery section.
  3. In the Startup And Recovery dialog box, select the Edit button in the System Startup section.
  4. The Boot.ini file will open in Notepad; locate the line that ends with the /fastdetect switch.
  5. Position your cursor right after the parameter, press the spacebar, and add the /SOS switch.
  6. Save the Boot.ini file, and close Notepad.
  7. Click Cancel to close both the Startup And Recovery dialog box and the System Properties dialog box.
  8. Restart the system.

When the system restarts, the splash screen will no longer appear. You can observe some of the operations that Windows XP performs during the startup stage.

To revive the splash screen, simply repeat the above steps to edit the Boot.ini file and remove the /SOS switch.


Display message at Startup

If you would like to display any message in a popup window when Windows is started, here's how:
  1. Go to Start> Run, then type in: regedit
  2. Hit [Enter] on your keyboard
  3. Follow this path:  HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogo
  4. Modify the key LegalNoticeCaption with your text of choice.
  5. Modify the key LegalNoticeText with your text of choice.
  6. Restart Windows for this to take affect.

Disable Net Send Messenger Service

To disable the "net send" Messenger service on Windows XP, follow these steps:
  1. Go to the Start menu in the lower left corner of your screen. Select Programs: Administrative Tools: Services. A Services window will appear.
  2. Select the Messenger service in the right-hand list of local services by double-clicking on it. A Messenger Properties window will appear.
  3. In the General tab, set the Messenger service's Start Type to Disabled using the pull-down list of Start Types.
  4. Also in the General tab, click the Stop button in the Service Status section. Your computer will stop the service if it is currently running.
  5. Click OK. The Messenger Properties window will disappear.
  6. Click the File: Exit tab in the Services window, and it will disappear.


Disabling Hibernation

If you don't want to use up the disk space taken by Hibernation, or don't need to use it at all, you can easily disable it.
  1. Open up the Control Panel
  2. Power Options icon 
  3. Click on the Hibernation tab
  4. Uncheck Enable Hibernation 


Break out of a continuous reboot loop

Below are instruction on troubleshooting an XP system that is stuck in a continuous reboot loop. This tip assumes you can start the system and are able to log on. As soon as you log on, the system reboots itself.  In many cases, it may not even wait until you are logged on before rebooting itself. By default, Windows XP is configured to deal with a system failure by rebooting and in doing so, should repair the failure. But, in some cases, the system failure is serious enough to cause a continuous reboot loop.

If your system is stuck on a continuous reboot, you can disable the automatic restart behavior. Follow these steps:

  1. Press [Windows][Break] to open the System Properties dialog box.
  2. On the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Startup And Recovery section.
  3. In the System Failure section, deselect the Automatically Restart check box, and click OK.
  4. To enable the changes, click OK in the System Properties dialog box.

This change configures the system to halt after encountering a system failure error, which allows you to investigate the problem error in more detail. You'll then have to manually restart the system.

Keep in mind that you'll have to work fast in order to make the change before the system reboots. You may have better luck making the change if you launch the system in Safe Mode.


Stop Windows Messenger

If you do not want Windows Messenger to load automatically on Startup, simply delete the following Registry Key:
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\MSMSGS

Create an XP Start Disk

To create an XP Start Disk:
  1. Place a blank floppy diskette into your floppy drive.
  2. Open Windows Explorer.
  3. Right click on the floppy drive icon.
  4. Select "Format..." from the resulting menu options.
  5. Tick the box that states "Create an MS-DOS Startup Disk".
  6. Select "Start".

Windows will start creating your disk.  This should only take a minute or so. Be sure to label it before putting it away.  


Disabling Startup Programs

Is the Notification area, on the left-hand side of your task bar cluttered with icons? Does it take ages to start up your PC? It might be caused by software programs you installed on your system. After the software is installed, a small icon is placed in the Notification area. The icon facilitates quick access to the software. If you do not use some of these icons, disable them and save precious physical memory. Decide which program icons you use regularly and whether you want to keep these in the Notification area. I recommend keeping virus scanners and printer/scanner icons.

Click on 'Start', 'Run', type 'msconfig' in the 'Open' field and click OK to open the System Configuration Utility window below. Click on the 'Startup' tab to get a list of all your system's startup programs. Tick the boxes of the programs you want to disable and click OK to continue. Reboot your system and check if everything is working fine. You can always re-enable the disabled startup programs by re-opening the System Configuration Utility and ticking the boxes of the disabled items. Reboot your system for the changes to take effect.


Creating a Shutdown/Reboot Icon 

WindowsXP has a program called SHUTDOWN.EXE which allows you to easily create icons to shutdown or restart your computer. 

To create a shutdown shortcut on the desktop: 
  1. Right click on an open area of the desktop 
  2. Select New / Shortcut 
  3. Enter in "shutdown -s -t 00" - (no quotes)
  4. Press the Next button 
  5. For the name, enter in anything you like. I just use shutdown. Click the Finish button. 
  6. For a reboot, enter "shutdown -r -t 00" 

Shutdown [{-l|-s|-r|-a}] [-f] [-m [\ComputerName]] [-t xx] [-c "message"] [-d[u][p]:xx:yy] 


  • -l - Logs off the current user, this is also the default. -m ComputerName takes precedence. 
  • -s - Shuts down the local computer. 
  • -r - Reboots after shutdown. 
  • -a - Aborts shutdown. Ignores other parameters, except -l and ComputerName. You can only use -a during the time-out period. 
  • -f - Forces running applications to close. 
  • -m [\ComputerName] - Specifies the computer that you want to shut down. 
  • -t xx - Sets the timer for system shutdown in xx seconds. The default is 20 seconds. 
  • -c "message" - Specifies a message to be displayed in the Message area of the System Shutdown window. You can use a maximum of 127 characters. You must enclose the message in quotation marks. 


Shutdown/Restart Button 

Want a quicker way to shut down, log off or reboot your computer, instead of going through the several clicks involved in doing it the normal way? Here's how you can create icons on the desktop that will allow you to perform any of these tasks with one click:
  1. Right click an empty spot on the desktop.
  2. In the context menu, select New>> Shortcut.
  3. In the Create Shortcut wizard, where it asks you to type the location of the item, type the following: shutdown -s -t 00 (for shutdown), shutdown -r -t 00 (for restart) or shutdown -l -t 00 (for logoff). You will now have the option of naming this icon.
  4. Click Next. 
  5. You can now change the icon to something other than the default. Just right click your new desktop icon and choose Properties. 
  6. Select the 'Change Icon...' button while inside the 'Shortcut' section. 
  7. Choose from any of the icons listed and apply the change.


Create a Standby Desktop Shortcut
To create a Standby mode desktop shortcut:
  1. Right-click an empty area of your desktop
  2. Select New>>Shortcut. This will invoke the Create Shortcut Wizard
  3. In the text box, copy and paste the following code: %windir%\System32\rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState
  4. Click Next, then rename your shortcut: Standby
  5. Click Finish.
That's it!


Power Off at Shutdown

Encourage Windows XP to Power Off at Shutdown

Do you want your computer's power to turn off when you shut it down, so you won't have to manually push the power button? Here's how: 
  1. Click Start, then click the Run command.
  2. Type REGEDIT in the Open text box and click OK. 
  3. Navigate to the following Registry key: HKEY CURRENT USER\Control Panel\Desktop
  4. Find the PowerOffActive entry in the right pane of the Registry Editor and double click on it. 
  5. In the Edit String dialog box, replace the 0 in the Value data text box with a 1, then click OK. 
  6. Restart the computer.

This does not work all the time as it depends on the type of hardware (motherboard) you have in your computer, but it won't hurt anything, so give it a try.


Win XP Won't Completely Shutdown

Having a problem getting Windows XP to shut completely down?  Try this:
  • Go to Control Panel, then go to Power Options.
  • Click on the APM Tab, then check the "Enable Advanced Power Management support". Click OK.
  • Shut down your PC. 

It should now successfully complete the Shut Down process.


Add Safe Mode to Boot Menu

Safe Mode is most commonly used for troubleshooting purposes.  If you find yourself booting to safe mode often. You may find it helpful to include the option for safe mode in your boot menu. Below, is a method you can use to save yourself from having to press F8 during startup to access Safe Mode:
  1. Right click My Computer and click Properties.
  2. Click the Advanced tab.
  3. Under Start Up and Recovery, click the Settings button.
  4. Click Edit. The boot.ini file will open in Notepad.
  5. Copy the line that reads as follows: multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /fastdetect.
  6. Paste the line you just copied after the original one.
  7. Change the copied line from "Microsoft Windows XP Professional" to "Windows XP Safe Mode" or something similar.
  8. At the end of this line add the following: /safeboot:minimal /sos /bootlog.
  9. Save the boot.ini file by clicking File then Save.
  10. Restart your computer and Safe Mode should be available at the boot menu.

Note: Your actual Boot.INI may vary to a small degree.  The above is an example only.  Be sure to copy your boot.ini file prior to making any changes to it.


Increase Windows Shutdown Time

If you have a program that needs additional time to shut itself off when shutting down your computer, you can increase the amount of time that Windows takes when it shuts down. 

Warning: Be sure that you make a backup copy of your registry prior to making any changes to it.

Go to Start>> Run. Type in: regedit  [Enter] 

Drill to the following registry key: 

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop 

Single click on the "Desktop" entry to empty its contents into the right pane. Now, find the following entry:


Double click the entry and increase the value. (10000=10 seconds)


Auto Logon to Windows XP

Windows XP has the ability to store your password and other pertinent information in the registry so that you can automate the logon process. Keep in mind though, while this is a very convenient method, it has its security risks. Anyone using your computer will have access to your account and your network. Only use this setting if the other people within your network are trusted.

Warning: This tweak involves editing the Windows registry. Mistakes made while editing can have serious effects on your Windows installation. Be sure that you have made a backup copy of the registry prior to making any changes.

Here is how to configure Windows XP to auto logon:
  1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: regedit [Enter] or click OK.
  2. Drill down to the following registry key:
  3. Click the Winlogon entry in the left pane once to empty its contents into the right pane.
  4. Find the DefaultUserName entry in the right pane and double click it.
  5. In the Value data test box, type in your user name. Click OK.
  6. Back in the right pane, locate the entry titled; DefaultPassword. Double click this entry and type in your password in the value data text box. Click OK.

Note: If the DefaultPassword entry does not exist. You will need to create this entry. Here's how:

a. Hold your mouse over the right pane and right click an empty area.
b. Click New>> String Value.
c. A new entry at the bottom of the right pane will now appear. Name it DefaultPassword. Press Enter.
d. Now, double click your new DefaultPassword entry and type in your password in the Value Data box.

  1. Back in the right pane, locate the entry titled AutoAdminLogon. Double click this entry and change the value from 0 to 1. Click OK. The "1" entry turns the feature ON and the "0" turns the feature OFF.

Note: If the AutoAdminLogon entry does not exist, follow the instructions above and create this new string entry.

  1. Exit the Windows Registry and restart your computer.


Remove the OEM link from the Start Menu

In many cases, an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacture) machine will have a link in the start menu that will either open a folder, web page or launch an application. If you find this feature to be annoying and have no intensions of using this link, you can hide this link from the Start Menu. Here's how:

1. Click the Start button
2. Right click the top of the Start menu
3. A "Properties" button should appear. Click the Properties button.

Note: If more than a Properties button should appear, then you are right clicking a program within the Start Menu.

4. Click the Start Menu tab
5. Select the Customize button
6. Choose the Advanced tab
7. In the Start Menu items list, uncheck the entry titled: Manufacturer Link
8. Click OK, then OK again.

In some cases, I have seen that the Manufacturer Link does not appear in the Start Menu Items list. If this is your case, you will need to edit the Windows Registry to enable the Start Menu Items list option. Before editing the Registry, be sure to save a backup copy to a file.

How to backup the Windows Registry

Enable the Start Menu item list option:

1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: regedit [Enter] or click OK.
2. Navigate to following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft \Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\StartMenu\StartPanel\ShowOEMLink

3. Click the "ShowOEMLink" entry once to empty its contents in the right pane.
4. Double click the entry titled: NoOEMLinkINstalled
5. Change its value from "1" to "0"
6. Exit the Windows Registry Editor and restart Windows

The Manufacturer Link should now be viewable in the "Start Menu Items" dialog. Now you can uncheck this item to hide it from the Start Menu.


Display Administrative Tools folder in Start menu

If you do not see the Administrative Tools menu within the Start menu or the All Programs menu, you can enable this option by following the directions below:

1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> Taskbar and Start Menu>> Click the Start Menu tab>> Select the Customize button>> Click the Advanced tab.
2. Scroll the "Start menu items:" list and under the listing titled: System Administrative Tools, tick either of the two options listed below:
  • Display on the All Programs menu
  • Display on the All Programs menu and the Start menu

3. Click OK, then exit all open windows.


Delete invalid entries from MSCONFIG Startup Menu

MSCONFIG is a commonly used program used to manage the programs installed on your system. As you've probably noticed, you cannot delete entries from the list. Even if you have completely removed a program from your system, it still may show up in MSCONFIG's startup list. To delete invalid entries from here, you will need either a 3rd party program or edit the Windows Registry. Prior to deleting entries in the Windows Registry, please make a backup copy. Follow the instructions below to remove the invalid entries:

1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: regedit [Enter] or click OK.
2. Navigate to the following registry keys:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\Startupreg

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\Startupfolder

3. Expand the "Startupreg" entry by clicking the "+" symbol. You will now notice all of the disabled items below. Do the same for the "Startupfolder" entry.
4. Once you have located the invalid entry(s), right click and delete.


Change the command prompt startup directory

By default, when you open a command prompt window (Start>> Run. Type in: cmd [Enter]), it opens to the default user profile directory (see fig #1). Changing this setting requires a registry change. Be sure to make a backup copy before making any changes.

How to change the startup directory:
  1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: regedit [Enter] or click OK.
  2. Navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor
  3. Single click the entry titled: Command Processor to empty its contents in to the right pane.
  4. In the right pane, double click the entry titled: Autorun
  5. Double click the Autorun entry.
  6. Place the actual path that you would like the command prompt to start at in to the "Value data:" text box.
  7. Exit the Windows Registry.

Example: To set the Startup Directory at: C:\Windows, enter CD /d C:\Windows in the Value data text box.

Note: If the Autorun entry is not present, create a new string. Here's how:

  1. Right click an empty area of the right pane.
  2. Select New>> String value
  3. Name the new string value: Autorun
  4. Continue with Step #5 above.

Fig #1
Command prompt


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