Review: Customize and tweak your Windows 7 experience with Sunrise Seven
At a Glance
There are things in Windows the vast majority of us never touch. Look at your system, and then look at your friends' PCs. Do you all have the same Start Menu button? The same items in the desktop context menu? Do you all have the same logon screen and taskbar thumbnail size? I'm betting the answer to all of these questions is "yes." The reason for this uniformity is not lack of personal preferences, but the way Windows is built, certain things are not meant to be changed, so most of us don't change them. But would you want to personalize your system in this were it an easy task? Meet a small utility called Sunrise Seven.
Before diving in, there are a few important things to know about this program: Sunrise Seven is Polish, and while it's mostly translated into acceptable English, Polish terms pop up here and there. In addition, Sunrise Seven has not seen a new version in quite some time, and might not see one ever again. Despite these facts, the program is surprisingly effective, and not as hard to use as you might expect.
Sunrise Seven is divided into nine different sections, each dealing with slightly different aspects of your system. Before doing anything, I recommend that you use the provided option to create a system restore point from within the program. You can find the button at the bottom of the program's main screen, and by doing this you're protecting yourself from anything bad that can happen while playing with important settings. Note that some of the changes made by Sunrise Seven require explrer.exe to reload, and that some are only activated after you log off and log back on again.
In the Quick Adjustment tab, you'll find several of the most popular tweaks. From here, you can add items such as "Copy to Folder," "Move to Folder," "Encrypt," "Decrypt," "Search," and more to your context menu. You can disable system notifications, remove the word "Shortcut" and arrow icon from new shortcuts, disable the UAC prompt, and make some changes to your taskbar appearance. In the Performance tab, you can control the reaction time for menus, taskbar thumbnail appearance, and other actions. You can also turn off certain services, or recover the original state of your services, if something goes wrong.
The Security Settings tab lets you block access to certain aspects of your system. This is especially useful if other people use your computer often, and you want to prevent them from accessing places like the control panel, registry editor, task manager, and other sensitive areas. You can also disable Windows Update, or just disable the automatic restart after update. The Security tab also lets you hide items from the control panel, but I couldn't get this option to work on my system, and could not get a response from the developers regarding this issue.
It gets really interesting and fun in the next two tabs: More Adjusting Options and Explorer and Start menu. Here you can really start customizing the appearance of your system, from window transparency, taskbar thumbnail size and logon screen wallpaper, to the desktop context menu, Start Menu items, Start Menu size, and even the Start Menu button itself. In fact, there are 70 different Start orbs of all shapes and sizes built into the program, just waiting for you to choose one.
The last interesting option is the MiniStart menu, which appears in a tab by itself. The MiniStart menu appears upon right clicking the Sunrise Seven icon in the taskbar. If you choose to pin the program to the taskbar so it's always there, you can use this menu to quickly access programs you use often, without cluttering your taskbar with too many icons. Adding and removing programs from the MiniStart menu is very easy: All you need to do is locate the program on your computer and give it a name.
There are many more options in Sunrise Seven than those I've mentioned here. If you're an experienced PC tweaker, you can play with more UAC settings, performance options, and even run a built-in cleaning and maintenance tool. But even for those who don't usually get deep into their PCs , Sunrise Seven provides an easy way to tweak and customize many of Windows 7's features. Bear in mind that the program doesn't come with any sort of readme file or manual, so the only way to figure out what everything does is to try it. Also keep in mind that many of the settings don't come with a "restore to default" option, but you can always restore to your system restore point if you get in over your head.
Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software. The site is written in Polish, so you may want to run the site text through your favorite translation engine.