Advanced Visual Settings Reset After Logoff


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Mod Note: This was moved from the Discussion thread of Change Visual effects Settings.

My machine has two users, one is the admin account and the other is a standard user. For the admin account I can go to system properties > advanced systems settings and click on the settings button under the performance group and change the visual settings. These settings persist after logging off and back on.

For the standard user, Windows 7 has chosen some strange visual settings and if I attempt to change the settings I receive a message about providing admin credentials. After providing the admin credentials I can change the visual settings for the user, but they do not persist. What am I doing wrong?
 
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TrainableMan

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This is likely a glitch in the Windows Registry. When a user logs on their user specific settings from Computer\HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-#s are copied to Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER (where #s depend on the particular user). When changed it should be changing in both locations but apparently it is only changing under HKEY_CURRENT_USER, so every time they log back on it reverts to what is still stored in HKEY_USERS.

That particular visual settings window actually effects numerous registry keys so finding them all could be somewhat of a challenge but just for a basic example consider "Enable Aero Peek". This is stored at Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM\EnableAeroPeek and what is loaded there at logon for me is stored at Computer\HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-405555555-5555555555-5555555-1003\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM\EnableAeroPeek (I wasn't going to bother typing all my numbers since yours are likely different anyway so the 5555s are made up). So if I needed that setting to stick around after logon then I would find the value under HKEY_CURRENT_USERS\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ and duplicate it under Computer\HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-405555555-5555555555-5555555-1003\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ . Pay attention to whether TYPE is a String, Binary, DWORD, QWORD, etc as well as Name & Value because all 3 are critical for correct results.

I would recommend running a good registry cleaner such as CCleaner (note the registry cleaner is the second tab on the left, the first tab "cleaner" is to recover HD space). This can help resolve some broken links; I doubt it will resolve your issue but it may prevent even more in the future.

Another possibility is to create another brand new userid and copy all the user's data over and then completely delete the original ID. You can then rename the new ID to the old ID. This creates a brand new Computer\HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-#s based on the default settings for that type user.

NOTE: Even if you then rename this new ID to match the old ID, the computer internally never sees it as that name. For instance if you have User: JOHN and you create User: JOHN1, then delete JOHN and rename JOHN1 to JOHN, all of John's data will be stored under C:\USERS\JOHN1. For users who use Libraries this is not an issue but for backup programs etc where an administrator may point directly to C:\USERS\JOHN they will need to change the path. Also on the logon screen it will show him as John but if he ever logs in with networkID/pass it requires JOHN1/pass. This may be getting a little complicated and is hard for me to explain but suffice it to say, a new renamed userid is not as clean as a complete reinstall but it may be satisfactory for your needs.
 
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I use PC Tools Registry Mechanic to clean my registry once a week, so that didn't solve the problem. I also had thought about deleting and re-adding the user, which I have done but I haven't tested it to see if it solved the issue. I would have been nice if MS had put all the visual settings in a common key instead of scattering them to the winds.
 

TrainableMan

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Registry Mechanic may have caused your troubles in the first place if it deleted vital sections.
 
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Are you saying Registry Mechanic is not as good as CCleaner?
 
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TrainableMan

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From what I read Registry Mechanic has some aggressive settings that may take out more than may be healthy. I've never used it myself but one comment said something about if you set it to 100% performance or something like that, that it may wipe out important keys.

Even with CCleaner when I use the registry cleaner portion, I choose the option to back up the changes first, that way if something doesn't work right afterwords I can restore. Luckily I've never had to use the restores so I think CCleaner errs on the side of caution. To be honest, from what I have read, registry cleaners are not worth buying and some can even be dangerous. The free version of CCleaner does all I would ever want.
 

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