Five Things You Didn't Know Windows 7 Could Do
Windows 7 is still fairly new. It's full of little differences from earlier Windows versions, and surprises buried deeply in its complex features. Here are a few things you can do with Windows 7 that many people don't know about...
Five Windows 7 Tips For You
Have you recently upgraded to Windows 7? Perhaps you're missing a feature that was familiar in XP or Vista. Or you're looking to explore the Win7 interface and take advantage of some features that are new. Try these five Windows 7 tips and then share them with a friend:
Shake desktop windows closed or open
If you have too many open windows cluttering up your desktop, try this cute trick:
Click-and-hold on the title bar of the window you want to keep open. Still holding the window by its title bar, move your mouse (or other pointing device) back and forth rapidly a few times to "shake" the open window. All other open windows will minimize to the superbar. To restore them, "shake" the open window again.
Also, check out my companion article Windows 7 Desktop Customization to learn more about using and tweaking the Windows 7 desktop.
You did what? And then what happened??
Have you ever heard someone say something like this: "I clicked the little square and then that thing popped up. So I moved it out of the way and now I can't print anything. And everything looks funny on the emails... can you help?"
If you're the official tech support guy for your friends and family, you'll love a new diagnostic tool that's built into Windows 7. The Problem Steps Recorder (PSR) will allow your friend with computer troubles to reproduce the exact steps that cause a problem. The PSR can be started by opening the Control Panel and then clicking on "Record steps to reproduce a problem". The recorder will capture keystrokes, mouse actions and screenshots until the user tells it to stop. It then saves the whole scenario as a slide show in a ZIP file which your friend can email to you.
Another technique which I like even better is using remote desktop access. The ability to see your friend's screen and take control of their mouse and keyboard lets you easily diagnose and fix computer problems without having to be there. These Free Remote Access Tools are not specific to Windows 7, but still very handy when trying to help someone who is not in the same room.
Get the Quick Launch bar back
You can launch applications right from the Windows 7 "superbar," its new jazzed-up taskbar. But many users miss the familiar Quick Launch section of the earlier taskbar. To get the Quick Launch feature back,
- Right-click the superbar and select Toolbars, then New Toolbar.
- When asked to specify a folder, in the Folder text box enter this text exactly as shown: %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch
- Click on Select Folder, and a link to the Quick Launch folder will now appear on the superbar. But it needs a bit of tweaking to work like the old Quick Launch bar.
- Right-click on the superbar and uncheck "Lock the Taskbar" if necessary.
- Now right-click on Quick Launch and uncheck "Show Text" and "Show Title".
Now Quick Launch will behave like it did in earlier versions of Windows. You can drag application icons or shortcuts to Quick Launch and they'll appear there, ready to launch. You can delete icons without deleting the applications to which they are linked.
Get a power efficiency report
Windows 7 has a command-line utility that will analyze a laptop's power usage behavior and tell you how to improve it to extend battery life. Here's how to use it. Click Start, then Run, and enter cmd in the Run command box to open a command-line window. Enter the following on the command line and hit Enter:
powercfg -energy -output C:\Energy_Report.html (you can change the output filename as desired)
Windows 7 will spend the next minute or so monitoring your laptop's power consumption patterns and writing a report that you can view in a Web browser. Follow the report's recommendations to improve battery life.
Search the Internet from the Start menu
Most users quickly figure out that they can search their local machine for files, applications, and key words within documents by typing a few words into the "search programs and files" box at the bottom of the Start menu. But with a group policy tweak, you can extend this search to include the entire Internet. (Unfortunately, this trick won't work unless you have the Professional or Ultimate version Windows 7, since it relies on the Group Policy Editor module that is not present in the Starter or Home Premium versions.)
- In the Start menu search box, type GPEDIT.MSC and press Enter.
- Navigate in the Group Policy Editor to User Configuration --> Administrative Templates --> Start Menu and Taskbar
- Double-click "Add Search Internet link to Start Menu," click Enabled when prompted, then click OK and close the Group Policy Editor.
Henceforth, when you enter words in the Start menu search box and click Enter, a link labeled "Search the Internet" will appear. Click on it to launch your default browser and search for the words using your browser's default search engine.
Do you have Windows 7 tips and tricks to share? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 15 Feb 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Five Things You Didn't Know Windows 7 Could Do (Posted: 15 Feb 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved