Five Things You Didn't Know Windows 7 Could Do

Category: Windows-7

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...

Windows 7 Tips

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...

Ask Your Computer or Internet Question

  (Enter your question in the box above.)

It's Guaranteed to Make You Smarter...

AskBob Updates: Boost your Internet IQ & solve computer problems.
Get your FREE Subscription!


Check out other articles in this category:

Link to this article from your site or blog. Just copy and paste from this box:

This article was posted by on 15 Feb 2010

For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.

Prev Article:
More Than One Antivirus Program?

The Top Twenty
Next Article:
Update Your Device Drivers

Most recent comments on "Five Things You Didn't Know Windows 7 Could Do"

Posted by:

15 Feb 2010

One of the features that seems to be missing from Win 7 is the Classic View in control panel. I found two possible tips that might make it easier to navigate the various control panel options. First, change the default category view to either large icons or small icons. This will bring up a more detailed menu of control panel items.

The second tip is to open control panel and type the letter "a" (without quotes) in the search box at the upper right corner. This gives a very detailed menu of most, if not all, control panel items.

Posted by:

Jerry K
16 Feb 2010

This article was very informative, particularly the section on power efficiency. However once the report is created how do you use it to improve your system?

Posted by:

17 Feb 2010

Wish it had virtual desktops. But, I guess that would confuse most people.

Posted by:

18 Feb 2010

@Jerry K:
"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."

Posted by:

22 Feb 2010

hello bob..i had a problem my update link and my ie link to the web ..but i can use to fix ie and how to manage or repair link for update my window 7..?

Posted by:

Ken Laninga
25 Feb 2010

Hi, Bob; I got a new Asus lappy when my 3-year-old Acer died for good. This one comes without email so I got Windows Live Mail. I hate it. Being too stubborn to move to Thunderbird, I'm still struggling with WLM. In case you would like to address the problems with it, here is my list so far:

It was impossible to import my email addresses from my Vista machine with Windows Mail without
garbling it.

Sync should not require a DOUBLE click to show the progress box; single is better.

For multiple email accounts there should be an option for ONE "inbox" and ONE "deleted" etc for ALL
of the email accounts.

I dragged some contacts from the "All contacts" to a different list of contacts, and then deleted it
from the "All contacts, it is deleted from BOTH lists and is GONE forever! The
instructions I saw indicated contacts could be MOVED but they are NOT moved; they are COPIED.

I held down the Ctrl key and selected many of my "All contacts" and then tried to drag them to a new
folder for contacts; only a few of them were copied. I had to do it one-by-one. Even that did not
work well; sometimes I had to drag/drop a contact several times to copy it. On top of all that, it froze
so many times in the copying process that it became virtually impossible to do the job and then a message
told me that "Windows Live Mail has stopped working and needs to be shut down."

I can make new category of contacts, but there is no way to use ONLY that list of contacts when I
am composing a message. I have 800+ contacts and now have to go through that whole list to pick the
contacts whose addies I want on the new email. This is incredibly bad. I need a "Default contact list" for
the contacts who I use daily as opposed to those I seldom use.

When I try to delete emails from the "Deleted" items folder, it asks me if I am sure. This is
a nuisance.

There is no "SEND ALL" nor "Receive all" emails now; this is bad.

"Sync" should read "Send & Receive."

If I drag a contact from a new folder back to the original "All contacts" folder, it will not go.

Posted by:

25 Feb 2010

Windows 7 (plus XP and Vista) work fine with the Sysinternals Desktops utility (and other utilities such as Autoruns and Process Explorer).
These utilities are free and very useful.

Posted by:

John V.
09 Jun 2010

Hi Bob,
In your list of stuff that Windows 7 can do you should include how to customize the desktop with your own pictures. Here is a site that shows how to do it:

How about doing an article on this for all your readers.

And my other comment about buying Windows 7 for $35.

Keep up the great informative work.

Posted by:

23 Jul 2010

Bob you can great work to explore these Free Windows 7 Tips

Posted by:

Frank Starr
29 Mar 2012

Anyone who has bought Windows 7 from this vendor:
cheap softwares
about a year ago. Are you still getting Windows updates with no problems, and is the software still working flawlessly?

Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions

*     *     (* = Required field)

    (Your email address will not be published)
(you may use HTML tags for style)

YES... spelling, punctuation, grammar and proper use of UPPER/lower case are important! Comments of a political nature are discouraged. Please limit your remarks to 3-4 paragraphs. If you want to see your comment posted, pay attention to these items.

All comments are reviewed, and may be edited or removed at the discretion of the moderator.

NOTE: Please, post comments on this article ONLY.
If you want to ask a question click here.

Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter

Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
About Us     Privacy Policy     RSS/XML

Article information: AskBobRankin -- Five Things You Didn't Know Windows 7 Could Do (Posted: 15 Feb 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved