Many of us use Microsoft Office on occasion. I also know that many of you have programs installed that add plug-ins to Microsoft Office – specifically Microsoft Word. I have found that most of the plug-ins work perfectly in Windows XP, but a few of them can create chaos on a Vista machine. I ran into issues with two plug-ins: SnagIt (major problems) and Contribute (minor issues). First, allow me to say that I use both of these programs on a regular basis – and I love them both (I use SnagIt to grab all of my screen images for blogging and office documentation).
I was experiencing the following issues:
As developers, I assume some of you have had issues with plug-ins – so I figured that I would share how I overcame these issues. First, I must tell you that my solution involves deactivating the “problem plug-ins” not fixing them.
All that is needed is a simple registry adjustment. Go to command and type “regedit” (this will bring up the UAC unless you have disabled it). Once in regedit – navigate to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\Word\Addins”. This folder should contain a folder for each “Addin” (plug-in) that is installed in Word (see below).
Inside each folder each plug-in has a key named “LoadBehavior”.
If you click on the “LoadBehavior” key and change the value to 0 – it will not be loaded at runtime by Word.
By doing this, you can experiment and see which plug-ins are causing the issue. Once discovered, you can leave them off. Restart Word, and you should be working properly.
I was initially frustrated to see that my powerhouse desktop at the office was running about as fast as an old laptop in “power save” mode. I was also equally frustrated to see that many tutorials on how to speed up Microsoft Vista involved turning off almost all of the features that make Vista visually appealing. At that point I started a quest to find a handful of items that could speed up my Vista installation, but that would still preserve most of the features I love.
I can’t claim that these tips will work for everyone, but they helped me. Also, there are some much more detailed tutorials if you want to dive into the registry for some performance boosts.
NOTE: I am working on Vista Enterprise 32-Bit. Most of these options should work on all other versions of Vista, but the visual tweaks will not be present on Vista Basic.
TIP 1: Turning off Indexing
One of the things that usually can slow down a Vista installation is the Indexing service. Why is it there? It allows Windows to keep an index of all of the files in your user directory (and a few other directories) so that you can search for a file quickly. If you don’t organize you files, and you would like to be able to search for items quickly, leave this on. However, I would be willing to wait a bit longer for a search result if I can have better performance most of the time.
First, open up your control panel and click on the “Programs and Features” button. You should see a similar window to the one below.
Click on the area highlighted above, “Turn Windows features on or off”. You should then see the window below:
If you wish to turn off the indexing service, uncheck the box next to “Indexing Service”. You may also want to investigate what other items to turn on or off. Personally, I usually check “Telnet Client” so that I can run telnet from the command line (to check ports on remote servers). I also turned off “Tablet PC Optional Components” and “Windows Fax and Scan” – because I do not use these features.
TIP 2: Turn off the Sidebar
Now, I was a bit reluctant to do this one, because generally I like the Sidebar. However, if you add some gadgets (a few in particular), the Sidebar’s memory usage will skyrocket over time. If you would like to keep the Sidebar, I would recommend only using gadgets that have a low memory usage.
To turn off the Sidebar, first, find the Sidebar icon on the taskbar (first icon shown below).
Right-click on the icon and select “Properties”. You should then see the window below.
Uncheck the box that says “Start Sidebar when Windows starts”. Upon restart, the Sidebar will not startup. If you wish to close the Sidebar immediately, you can right-click the taskbar icon and select close.
TIP 3: Turn off Transparency
I like the Aero interface, so I didn’t want to turn off all of the visual bells and whistles. However, there is minimal visual change when you disable transparency – but some pretty big performance gains.
To turn off transparency, right click on the Desktop and select “Personalize” and then click “Window Color and Appearance”. You should see the window below.
Uncheck the “Enable Transparency” box.
TIP 4: Enabling Disk Caching
WARNING: Only enable disk caching if you are using an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS). If you lose power – you could lose data with this option. If you are on a laptop – don’t use this tip.
If you do have a UPS, go to your Control Panel. Click on “System” and then on the left side click “Device Manager”. You should see the box below.
Click on the “Disk Drives” option and then click on your desktop’s internal hard drive(s). Right click and select properties. In the next window, select the “Policies” tab. You should see the window below.
Be sure the two highlighted boxes are checked to take full advantage of Drive Caching.
TIP 5: Updates
Microsoft recently released two updates for Vista.
These options will probably be included in SP1, but Microsoft has made them available right now. Some people have said that it has slowed down their systems, but it has sped mine up.
I would love to hear everyone’s comments on what sped up your Vista system.