Tweak Windows XP with Pitaschio

Originally developed in Japanese, a new version of the free utility Pitaschio lets English-speaking users customize the behavior and appearance of their windows, desktops, and taskbars in Windows XP or Windows 2000.

Pitaschio (Credit: CNET Networks)

No, that's not a typo. The software is spelled Pitaschio, and it's not the only odd bit of English you'll find in the freeware utility. Initially developed in Japanese by a programmer known as ARA, Pitaschio was only recently released in English.

Pitaschio lets you tweak Windows XP or Windows 2000 in a variety of different ways to eliminate certain annoying functions, add keyboard or mouse shortcuts, customize your windows, and perform other similar system tricks.

Once you download the tiny 55K software and run it, a small "Pi" icon will appear in your Windows taskbar. To access Pitaschio's features, right-click on the icon to bring up a contextual menu. The features are split up rather randomly, with separate selections for managing your open windows, defining mouse shortcuts, accessing mouse and keyboard statistics, and using the generic "Tools" and "Settings" menus.

Managing your open windows is a neat exercise, especially if you have a lot of hidden windows in applications, but it's not very practical. You can resize, maximize, minimize, bring to foreground, and reposition your windows, but you can also do that without Pitaschio by dragging and dropping.

Pitaschio mouse shortcuts

It's easy to set mouse shortcuts for the desktop, taskbar, or application title bars.

(Credit: CNET Networks)

Much more useful are the mouse shortcuts and the Tools menu. The mouse shortcuts let you specify system behavior when double-, right-, or wheel-clicking on the desktop, taskbar, or application title bars. Used in conjunction with Ctrl and Shift buttons, mouse shortcuts provide 24 customizable actions that can be saved.

The Tools menu is brief but useful. You can quickly lock either your keyboard or your mouse for cleaning purposes, or generate a random password of any length.

Confusing the interface a bit is the Settings menu, which also includes links back to the mouse shortcuts and open-window options. In the Settings menu, you can define the general display and behavior of your windows, taskbar, and desktop. It's composed mostly of a set of check boxes that you can select if you desire. You can disable keys that you don't use or tend to accidentally type, such as the Windows button, Caps Lock, or Insert. Windows can be restricted to appear only on screen and can be aligned automatically with other windows. Two other nice little features enhance the power of your mouse wheel by letting you adjust volume directly from your desktop or make windows transparent by scrolling over their title bars.

To be fair, the English is better than you'll find from many native-speaking developers, and there aren't any weird characters that you might expect when porting from Japanese. Although some of the terms and settings might not make perfect sense immediately, a helpful manual on the Pitaschio Web site explains more about each of the program options.

While I admit that there aren't many Pitaschio functions that I'll actually use regularly, I'm going to keep it installed on my main machine for now, if only for the ability to quickly lock my keyboard and mouse whenever I decide to clean them. As a bonus, I get to say good-bye to Caps Lock forever!

CNET Top 5
Companies Apple could buy with their billions
Apple's sitting on a massive pile of cash. Here are five interesting ways they could spend it.
Play Video
 

Member Comments