MagicTweak v1.92

Reviewed by: Howard Carson
Published by: Efreesky Software
Requires: Any PC running Microsoft Windows 98 through Vista, 32MB RAM, 2MB available hard disk space
MSRP: $29.95

To satisfy the never-ending quest for customization, or at least the casual interest that all computer users display when it comes to personalizing their desktop or laptop PCs, lots of commercial software, shareware and freeware has been developed to attack all of the hidden (and not-so-hidden) settings in the complex and arcane Windows Registry file. MagicTweak v1.92 follows hot on the heels of the latest 'release' of the TweakUI freeware, the somewhat dated WinBoost 2001, Stardock's Object Desktop, 3B Software's TWEAKI Pro and a dozen others.

There are so many customization utilities out there that each author has to find a design which tries to ensure their software covers a distinctive approach. WinBoost always seemed to have a vast array of customizations to genuinely personalize Windows 95 through ME. TweakUI, Microsoft's own (unsupported) freeware, has always been a kind of happy combination of personalization and system control. TWEAKI focuses more on annoyance blocking and speed-up. Object Desktop is all about skinning, look and feel, and the operating environment. MagicTweak has carved out its niche in the area of security and access, with an additional tip of its hat to personalization.

We tried MagicTweak on four systems: an older Dell Latitude CPi laptop (Pentium II/433) running Windows 98SE, a P4 Celeron 1.7GHz running Windows XP Professional, and two other Pentium III/550s running Windows 2000 Professional. Installation was uneventful. XP-specific tweaks activated properly on the XP systems.

MagicTweak, like its brethren, is a small utility which presents you with a pleasant, skin-able user interface that displays categorized lists of customizations. Select a category by clicking an icon and a corresponding list appears. Configure the category simply by selecting or deselecting check boxes. It's easy. MagicTweak excels at hiding and disabling things: Control Panel Applets, folders, command prompt, menu items, desktop items, access to programs, anything in the right-click Context menu, Internet Explorer settings. MagicTweak also has a section on heating up your Internet connection settings including optimizing the size of Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) data packets and TCP/IP window (to compensate for the often poor default values in the operating system). We didn't try these because we hate monkeying around with a connection that already works just fine, but these types of connection settings adjustments usually work well on un-optimized systems.

Cons: MagicTweak runs in a dialog window which can't be resized. This is occasionally a pain because there are a few customization settings (in the System Folder category for example) which display long folder paths. What's weird is that you can actually drag a column divider beyond the physical dialog(!?), which then causes a horizontal slider to appear. It's a minor design boo-boo. The online help system contains only promotional info about MagicTweak; there's nothing explained about any of the settings in the software, something which will prevent many users from understanding and using many of the tweaks. MagicTweak is a reasonably good quality piece of software but there are equally good rivals out there for less money.

Pros: The software works accurately and cleanly and did not introduce any operating system or registry instabilities. If you're concerned about security, especially for a computer which has multiple users, this is the utility to get. A little bit of research online will help you understand some of the security tweaks and may help to make MagicTweak a favorite system utility. Give it a try. Recommended.




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