All editions of Vista except Starter are 64 bit. The Home Basic edition has a memory limit of 8GB RAM, the Home Premium a limit of 16GB RAM, and Ultimate/Business/Enterise a limit of 128GB+.

Running DOS Commands

You can get to the 'Run' line like XP's Start>Run where you can type in DOS commands by hitting the Windows key and 'r' at the same time. This also works in XP. Alternately you can also just type the commands straight into the 'Start Search' bar, beneath All Programs.

Below, when it says to Run a command, you can do it either of these ways.

Safe Mode

To start Vista in Safe Mode, either hit F8 before boot, or prior to rebooting:

  • Run 'msconfig' to open up the System Configuration.
  • Under Boot>Boot options, check 'Safe boot' (and select 'Network' so you can retain internet functionality)
  • Restart

After starting Vista in Safe Mode, the next time you boot normally your taskbar color scheme may have changed to the grey Standard look. To change it back, right-click on your desktop and choose Personalize>Window Color and Appearance. If you are already in a Vista theme, you can select 'Open classic appearance properties for more color options' for a full list of color schemes. The default color scheme in Vista is Windows Aero.

Disabling User Account Control (UAC)

User Account Control (UAC) in Vista is a security feature that forces users that are part of the local administrators group to run like they were regular users with no administrative privileges. It results in a lot of extra confirmation clicks. It is recommended that users leave it on, but it can be disabled by going to Control Panel>User Accounts>'Turn User Account Control on or off' and unchecking 'Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer'. A reboot will be necessary.

Disabling Automatic Restarts

Vista will by default enable automatic restarts after updates, which you may find undesirable. To disable:

  • Run 'gpedit.msc'
  • Go to Local Computer Policy>Computer Configuration>Administrative Templates>Windows Components>Windows Update
  • Double-click on 'No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Update installation', changing it from 'Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations'
  • Enable it
  • Reboot the computer

Windows Explorer

There are two ways to open Folder Options - in an open file explorer window, click Organize>Folder and Search Options. You can also go to Control Panel>Folder Options.

To display hidden folders in Vista, open Folder Options>View and select 'Show hidden files and folders'.

File extensions can be displayed in Windows Explorer by going to Folder Options>View, and unchecking 'Hide extensions for known file types'.

Connecting to a Wireless Network

To connect to a wireless network in Windows Vista:

  • Go to Network and Sharing Center>Manage Wireless Networks
  • 'Add' a profile. Make sure it has the exact same name (case sensitive) as the network you want to connect to.
  • Pick the encryption type (e.g. WEP) and enter the security key.
  • Edit the profile and select the security type.

If you don't add the profile, the diagnostic box that comes up after trying to connect might have a link to editing settings that won't work.


Some miscellaneous notes about Vista:

  • In Vista, the 'Documents and Settings\USER' folders from XP are now located at 'Users\USER'. And the 'Local Settings' and 'Application Data' folders have been replaced by the 'Users\USER\AppData' folder. AppData is a hidden folder.
  • Logs of warnings, errors, and crashes can be viewed by going to Control Panel>Classic View>Administrative Tools>Event Viewer. To view application issues, expand 'Windows Logs' on the left, and click 'Filter Current Log...' on the right (or go to Action>Filter Current Log...) and check the Event Levels you want, e.g. Critical and Error.
  • You can pin a program to the Start Menu by right-clicking on the program and select 'Pin to Start Menu', or by dragging it over the Start button. To pin a shortcut to the Start Menu, you have to drag the shortcut over the Start button, since the right-click option is not present.