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Clean Alt-Tab for Win8: desktop item and thumbnails removed


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Here's a version for 8.1.1 (sorry, "8.1 update" is a stupid name). I've added a WSH-based installer/uninstaller. Finicky thing WSH is, see if that works well enough. Tell me if you see anything unusual with the modified DLL or the WSH.

uqnrkzjt: It does last. It will need to be updated if future Windows updates change AltTab.dll, but that's true anyway.

Noel, bphlpt: Are there any automatic scenarios in which Windows reverts system files, or complains?

CleanAltTab_win811_x64.zip

Edited by shae
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The readme.htm instructions page - nice touch.

 

From an objective testing perspective, when I double-clicked setup.wsf the first time it popped this up.  Some folks may not know to choose the first item at this point.  It might be something to mention in the instructions...

 

WSFMessage.png

 

That "dismembered duck head popping out of a jack-in-the-box" or whatever it is icon is pretty weird (I know that's not your doing).

 

 

After installing it, it asked if I wanted to restart Explorer, I chose to do so, saw a couple of dialogs. 

 

CleanAltTabConfirm.png

 

CleanAltTabRestart.png

 

Notably one time out of 4 test installs it mentioned that Explorer had restarted elevated (which is to be expected as I have UAC completely disabled).  I was not able to reproduce the message, nor did I think to get a screen grab.

 

 

Now CleanAltTab works just as advertised:

 

CleanAltTabWorking.png

 

I ran an SFC /VERIFYONLY on the system after installing the above.  Unfortunately, it emitted this result:

 

CleanAltTabSFCResult.png

 

I believe the above implies that Windows will revert the DLL to the standard, protected version upon the automatic runs of SFC /SCANNOW that it does during regular maintenance, though I haven't seen it happen with CleanAltTab specifically.

 

After removal of CleanAltTab it showed this:

 

TypicalSFCResult.png

 

Out of curiosity, are you anticipating adding an option (e.g., a command line switch, registry entry, etc.) that will have CleanAltTab remove the Desktop item but retain the graphic icons?  That would make it useful for me.

 

-Noel

Edited by NoelC
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If someone has WSF associated with Visual Studio I'm pretty sure they'll know what to do? :)

And the duck is a nice touch, no doubt. ;)

(I find it interesting that the VS2010 icon is okay while VS2013's has aliasing around the white shape. Ironically telling. Does 2013 fix the stupid UI design/colors of 2012 without requiring extensions and manual configuration?)

Re the "elevated" warning, I changed the WSF now. It was probably a timing issue because I changed a delay in one place but not another. The message is not due to a direct check of elevation, just an inference; part of a "good enough" solution to the problem of synchronizing two WSH instances. The message shouldn't show in most normal cases.

Do you know specifically of a scheduled SFC scan that runs by default, and with /SCANNOW? It's difficult to tell what are the stock Scheduler tasks, but on Win8 at least I haven't encountered files changing automatically. I'm not sure about Win8.1 as I don't yet use it regularly.

The memory patcher util I mentioned will be configurable, when I get to it. In the meantime, if you're interested in a modified DLL variant I could upload one.

Edited by shae
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Don't go to the effort on my account now, but I will be more interested when you do the run-time hook work.

 

I don't know offhand about automatic SFC restorals any more.  I've been involved with so many versions of Windows and seen stuff just revert by itself that I became allergic to things that cause SFC to report integrity violations.  Looking through the Task Scheduler I don't see anything obvious, but there are quite a number of subheadings that could harbor an auto-restoral process.  I know that there is an "Automatic Maintenance" heading in the Action Center, and it shows "Run maintenance tasks daily at 11:00 PM" on my system. 

 

ActionCenterMaintenance.png

 

Without spending more time reading through all those Task Scheduler headings, I haven't yet spotted something started at 11:00 pm.  I'll let you know if I find it.

 

-Noel

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To expand on the above a bit...

 

There are things that are scheduled and are getting run from time to time that aren't specifically set to run on a given time.  Example:  In the "\Microsoft\Windows\Diagnosis" section, there's a task called "Scheduled" that really isn't (scheduled).  It ran for me on the 5th successfully at 11:41:31 pm, but isn't set to run again on a time schedule.

 

And there's a "Data Integrity Scan" in the "\Microsoft\Windows\Data Integrity Scan" section that's scheduled to run on 6/17/2014 at 10:32:58 AM and it's Disabled.  I didn't disable it, and somehow I expect it will actually run.

 

There's altogether too much magic and hidden crap shipped in these systems any more.  :thumbdown

 

-Noel

Edited by NoelC
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I've found a "Regular Maintenance" task in the "\Microsoft\Windows\TaskScheduler" section which has a "Custom Handler" as an action that can't actually be seen / edited in the Task Scheduler.  Lovely.  This one may be the parent of many of the others.  It's set to run every night at 11pm.

 

-Noel

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Thanks for the research. Yeah, I recall the Scheduler was full of opaque Custom Handlers. I wonder if there's a utility somewhere to show more meaningful information.

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  • 2 months later...

For some reason this recently stopped working for me. I went through the installation again and it didn't work. Is there another AltTab.dll hiding somewhere? When I rename it to something else, with no AltTab.dll file, it goes back to icons with extra stuff like Search Pane, I think there's a registry setting somwhere that flipped to Classic View or something. When I put the new AltTab.dll in system32, it goes back to thumbnails. Any ideas? I'm on Win 8.1 Pro.

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Are you still on the 32-bit version of Windows? (And why, actually?) If so, maybe the Windows 8.0 DLL just isn't compatible and gets reverted automatically to the stock one. AltTab.dll changed both in 8.1 and then in 8.1.1. Did it ever work for you on 8.1/8.1.1 using the 8.0 DLL?

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Nope, 64-bit 8.1, I'm not entirely sure how to tell if I'm running 8.1.1 but my computer tells me it's 8.1. I've tried the 8.1 and the 8.1.1 DLL. I'm pretty sure it worked a couple months ago when I installed it, but now it doesn't.

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Nope, 64-bit 8.1, I'm not entirely sure how to tell if I'm running 8.1.1 but my computer tells me it's 8.1. I've tried the 8.1 and the 8.1.1 DLL. I'm pretty sure it worked a couple months ago when I installed it, but now it doesn't.

You can go to your "Programs and Features" then "View installed updates" and look for the following:

Spring

KB2919442 – Windows 8.1 Update prerequisite

KB2919355 – Windows 8.1 Update

Summer

Windows8.1-KB2975719 August patch

Windows8.1-KB2990532

or just print list to your desktop with wmic

wmic qfe list full /format:htable > hotfixes.htm

~DP

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Did you use setup.wsf in the version for 8.1.1? It checks that the existing AltTab.dll is the 8.1.1 version, and it can both install and uninstall so you can use that to know if the AltTab.dll you currently have is the original or modified.

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