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Tweak UI is a free user interface customization application first released by Microsoft in 1996 to aid end users in customizing the Microsoft Windows operating system. By itself, it does not do anything that would not otherwise be possible by editing the registry. However, it provides a simple graphical user interface for performing tweaks that otherwise would require editing the registry, which is considered by many a daunting and risky task for novice users. Tweak UI is a free download from Microsoft's website, and is one of many non-supported PowerToys released by Microsoft.
Tweak UI started as a control panel applet available for download on Microsoft's website, released shortly after the release of Windows 95. It was originally written by Raymond Chen and later included as part of Microsoft's Power Toys collection, a set of tools developed by Microsoft's Shell Development Team.
An updated version of Tweak UI was included on the install disc for Microsoft's Windows 98 operating system. This was deemed a "disaster" by Chen, as it resulted in additional work for Microsoft's product-support teams when diagnosing problems. Consequently, the applet was not included with Windows 98 Second Edition or later versions of Windows.
With the release of Windows XP, the Tweak UI applet was retooled and re-released on Microsoft's website as a separate application, "TweakUI.exe", (as opposed to the Control Panel applet for earlier versions). It was again updated to version 2.10 for Windows XP Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2003. Chen also wrote an updated Windows Vista version of the utility, but it wasn't released because it violated the policy of "no unsupported downloads."
An unofficial 64-bit version of Tweak UI was created by NeoSmart Technologies for Windows XP Professional x64 Edition. Versions of Tweak UI for Windows XP work on Windows Vista and Windows 7, including 64-bit, if run as administrator and Compatibility Mode set to Windows XP SP2/SP3 (for 32-bit Windows 7/Vista) or Windows Server 2003 SP1 (for 64-bit Windows 7/Vista) using Application Compatibility Toolkit for Windows 7/Vista.
Tweak UI allows the user to customise the user interface of the Windows operating system. The application has been heralded for enabling users with older, slower computers to turn off many aspects of the operating system's eye candy, such as fading menus, drop shadows, and cursor shadows. Tweak UI also includes numerous features to customise the way various base elements of the interface work, such as the taskbar and the desktop. The application also enables users to move the location of their Documents, Music and Pictures folders, as well as other system folders. It also includes various tools to repair elements of the operating system, such as icons, hot keys, the font folder, and file extension associations. It can be used to disable AutoPlay on one or more drives as well, which may be useful especially as external hard disk drives become popular.