Once upon a time, the idea of a tweak utility led people to Microsoft's TweakUI PowerToy. That was fine during the days of Windows XP, but things have moved on since.

Type the word “tweak” into a search engine now and you’ll be bombarded with tools that promise to tweak the heck out of your computer, but many cost money.

Thankfully Ultimate Windows Tweaker is completely free to use, and better still, it’s been written by Windows enthusiasts for fellow devotees, which means you can be sure the dozens of tweaks on offer aren’t there purely for window dressing.

The program comes bundled in a zip file – download and extract its contents, then double-click the program file and click Continue when prompted. There’s no installation involved, so you can run it directly from your hard drive or add it to your collection of USB portable tools.

The program divides up its many tweaks into seven sections: Personalization, User Accounts & UAC, System Performance, Security Settings, Network Tweaks, Internet Explorer and Additional Tweaks. Select one of these and make sure you click Create Checkpoint before you start experimenting so you’ve got a System Restore point to roll back to if necessary.

Most of the tweaks make sense – just tick the box to enable one, select an option from the drop-down menu or use a slider to change timings. You can add useful shortcuts to right-click menus, tweak hidden parts of Windows and fine-tune your system for better performance.

Version 3.0 has been written specifically for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 machines (Vista and Windows 7 users can still download version 2.2 from here). It includes over 170 tweaks optimised for Windows 8/8.1 machines – new features include a dedicated Modern UI section under Customization, while IE11 tweaks are added to the Internet Explorer section.

Version brings:

1] Fixed: When user presses “Apply”, folder view in File Explorer resets.
2] Fixed the bug causing an error at startup
3] Minor UI refresh

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A good selection of tweaks for those unwilling – or unable – to enter the Registry or Group Policy Editor.