Using ShellEnhancer to improve Windows

ShellEnhancer is a great little (free) program that significantly improves (if nothing else) the Windows user interface. Continue reading for an overview of some of its features…

Though the ShellEnhancer home page is currently down, you can download a copy from MajorGeeks.

  1. The first time you launch ShellEnhancer, you’ll be greeted with a Welcome screen. Review the info, then click Close.
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  3. Lets just jump right in and start trying out a few of the features. Right-click the title bar of an open program and select the Transparency option. Set the transparency to 30 or 40%.
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  5. You may get a Reduce Flickering When Changing Transparency option window. Select Yes.
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  7. And the window/program you selected will now appear transparent.
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  9. To access all of the options and settings for ShellEnhancer, right-click its system tray icon, select Settings and then Settings…
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  11. Scroll down to the Minimize To Tray section and make sure it’s enabled. The default HotKey should be set to ALT. Click Apply if you made any changes, and then OK to close the ShellEnhancer settings.
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  13. Hold down the ALT key on your keyboard and click the minimize button for one of your open windows or programs. (Or, as illustrated below, right-click the menu bar of the program you want to minimize and select Minimize To Tray)
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  15. That program will now minimize to your system tray, instead of the Windows Task bar. To restore a program/window, just click on its icon in the system tray.
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  17. Another neat ShellEnhancer feature is to make your Windows Start button, task bar and system tray all transparent. To do so, return to the ShellEnhancer settings (right-click system tray icon, select Settings and then Settings…). Scroll down to the Taskbar entry and make sure there’s a check in the box labeled Make Windows Taskbar transparent.
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  19. You can set the level of transparency by clicking the Taskbar-transparency: setting, and then using the up and down arrows to increase or decrease the level.
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  21. Click Apply and your Windows taskbar will become semi-transparent.
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  23. Roll-Up Windows is another excellent part of ShellEnhancer. In the settings, make sure that Roll-Up Windows is enabled. If you select Roll-up on double click, windows (most, not all) will “scroll-up” when you double click them.
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  25. Below you can see two windows that have been scrolled up.
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  27. If you selected Auto roll-down window when hovering titlebar all you need to do is move the cursor over the title bar, and the entire window will expand.
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  29. ShellEnhancer also includes several ‘alternatives’ to the default Windows Task Switcher (alt + tab). Enable the Enhanced TaskSwitcher in the settings, and click Apply.
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  31. Now when you use alt+tab to switch tasks, a new ‘switcher’ replaces the default.
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  33. By trying out various options in the TaskSwitcher settings, you can change the display (the screenshot below shows Task Switcher with titles listed).
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  35. Titles and large icons.
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  37. You may prefer the Mosaic TaskSwitcher – give it a try.
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  39. The resulting Task Switcher is a ‘full-screen’ view of your open programs/windows.
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  41. There are also a lot of advanced features that you may be interested in. Check the included Help file for assistance enabling and using them.
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