Activate Vista's Snipping Tool (The screen capture utility)
If you have Vista Basic, you have the wrong edition all the way around. Vista Basic is essentially Windows XP with a pretty face, and not even the attractive Aero interface that comes with other Vista editions. Also missing are Vista's Shadow Copies feature, its scheduled backups, and the Snipping Tool.
If you have a version of Vista other than Home Basic, you already have the Snipping Tool screen capture utility: Choose Start, All Programs, Accessories, Snipping Tool. If you don't see it there, it may not be activated. Go to Control Panel and open Program and Features (you may have to click Programs first). In the task pane on the left, click Turn Windows features on or off. If necessary, click Continue when prompted by User Account Control. Scroll through the list of features, check the box next to Tablet PC Optional Components, and click OK. Turning on these features gives you not only the Snipping Tool, but also the Tablet PC Input Panel, Windows Journal, and other stylus-related features.
Unnecessary Vista Features You Can Disable Right Now
You pay a heavy performance price for the analog clock, thumbnail slide-show viewer, and Microsoft-centric RSS news feed that dock in the Windows Sidebar. Turning the whole thing off gives you a big speed boost, especially at boot time.
To remove the Sidebar, right-click anywhere on the Sidebar and select Close Sidebar. Uncheck Start Sidebar when Windows starts, and then click OK.
Internet Printing Client
Do you ever print documents over the Internet? Neither do I. Chances are, you won't miss out on anything by disabling Vista's Internet Printing Client.
Open the 'Programs and Features' control panel and click the Turn Windows features on or off link on the left; you'll get the Windows Features dialog box. Expand the Print Services section and uncheck Internet Printing Client.
Click OK at this point, and then wait several more minutes for the system to ask to reboot.
This one is a real trade-off. Turning off Vista's indexing will slow searches to a crawl--I'm talking minutes, not seconds. But ditching this convenient feature could very likely speed up your general PC use significantly.
In other words, turning off indexing will help your PC's performance only if you seldom search by file content, or if you use a third-party search tool such as Copernic Desktop or Google Desktop (in which case you probably have two indexing routines running at the same time, which is an even bigger waste).
If you match either of those descriptions, turn off indexing by clicking Start, typing services, and pressing Enter. Find and double-click Windows Search. In the 'Startup type' drop-down menu, select Disabled, and then click OK.
Make Vista's User Account Control Work for You
Without any question, the most annoying feature in Windows Vista--and that's saying something--is User Account Control (UAC). If the system gatekeeper just wanted my permission to install software, it would be easier to tolerate. But UAC doesn't stop there. Just try to add, remove, or rename any of your Start menu folders, or to set your system clock. Any such attempt involving various common, everyday, and relatively safe tasks will cause your screen to go dark, after which a scary confirmation prompt pops up, requiring an extra click.
One solution is to turn UAC completely off. To do that, choose Start, Control Panel, click User Accounts and Family Safety, and select User Accounts. Or just click Start, type User Accounts, and choose that option from the search results. Next, click Turn User Account Control on or off, and then click Continue when prompted by (what else?) UAC itself. Uncheck the box, and click OK. Choose a restart option when prompted to do so. After you restart, you'll no longer be bothered by UAC prompts.
Of course, this simple method puts your computer at much greater risk, especially if you routinely log on as an administrator. So use at your own risk!!! (I would)