October 2003 Reader Challenge

The Problem:

Some companies like to make sure that all their users maintain the same desktop display settings as a way of ensuring that screen resolution and other settings are optimized for company applications. In addition, many companies just like to make sure that all corporate client desktops look the same. As a writer who specializes in computer subjects, I need to worry about settings and color schemes when I choose figures and illustrations for my books and articles. Each publishing company I work with has its own set of configuration options for graphics files and another set of configuration options for display settings on computers that supply screen shots and other illustrations. No two book publishers use the same combination of settings, so if you write for multiple publishers, you need to keep track of which publisher wants what. Some publishers send authors lengthy instructions for configuring the display settings on a computer used to supply figures. These instructions specify the color of individual entities such as application windows, active title bars, inactive title bars, and tooltips. After spending half an hour setting up the individual elements on a computer and naming the finished configuration (using the publisher's name), I have to repeat the process on one or more additional computers (e.g., to compare server and client tasks). I'm very lazy, so I want to configure only one Windows XP machine and one Windows 2000 machine. I then want to copy those settings to all the computers on my network. Tell me how to copy my configured and saved settings to other computers in both XP and Win2K.

The Solution:

In Windows XP, the system saves your settings in a theme file that you can copy to any XP or Windows Server 2003 computer. In Windows 2000, the system saves the settings, under the name you specify, in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Appearance\Schemes. You can export this subkey, then import it to other Win2K computers. To export, select the subkey and choose Registry, Export Registry File. Name the file appropriately (the file extension is .reg) and copy it to the other computers on which you want to load the saved settings. On the target computer, double-click the .reg file to import the data into the registry. Thereafter, the name of the saved configuration file is available in the Scheme drop-down list on the Appearance tab of the Control Panel Display applet. However, because importing a registry file overwrites any existing data in the subkey, make sure that you perform all your configuration changes and registry exports on the same computer.

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