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85 Windows 7 tips, tricks and secrets

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1. Problem Steps Recorder

As the local PC guru
you’re probably very used to friends and family asking for help with
their computer problems, yet having no idea how to clearly describe
what’s going on. It’s frustrating, but Microsoft feels your pain, and
Windows 7 will include an excellent new solution in the Problem Steps
Recorder.

When any app starts misbehaving under Windows 7 then all
your friends need do is click Start, type PSR and press Enter, then
click Start Record. If they then work through whatever they’re doing
then the Problem Steps Recorder will record every click and keypress,
take screen grabs, and package everything up into a single zipped MHTML
file when they’re finished, ready for emailing to you. It’s quick, easy
and effective, and will save you hours of troubleshooting time.

2. Burn images

Windows
7 finally introduces a feature that other operating systems have had
for years – the ability to burn ISO images to CDs or DVDs. And it
couldn’t be much easier to use. Just double-click the ISO image, choose
the drive with the blank disc, click Burn and watch as your disc is
created.

3. Create and mount VHD files

Microsoft’s
Virtual PC creates its virtual machine hard drives in VHD files, and
Windows 7 can now mount these directly so you can access them in the
host system. Click Start, type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter, then click
Action > Attach VHD and choose the file you’d like to mount. It will
then appear as a virtual drive in Explorer and can be accessed, copied
or written just like any other drive.

Click Action > Create VHD
and you can now create a new virtual drive of your own (right-click it,
select Initialise Disk, and after it’s set up right-click the
unallocated space and select New Simple Volume to set this up). Again,
you’ll be left with a virtual drive that behaves just like any other,
where you can drag and drop files, install programs, test partitioning
software or do whatever you like. But it’s actually just this VHD file
on your real hard drive which you can easily back up or share with
others. Right-click the disk (that’s the left-hand label that says “Disk
2″ or whatever) and select Detach VHD to remove it.

The command
line DISKPART utility has also been upgraded with tools to detach a VHD
file, and an EXPAND command to increase a virtual disk’s maximum size.
Don’t play around with this unless you know what you’re doing, though -
it’s all too easy to trash your system.

4. Troubleshoot problems

If
some part of Windows 7 is behaving strangely, and you don’t know why,
then click Control Panel > Find and fix problems (or
‘Troubleshooting’) to access the new troubleshooting packs. These are
simple wizards that will resolve common problems, check your settings,
clean up your system and more.

5. Startup repair

If
you’ve downloaded Windows 7 (and even if you haven’t) it’s a good idea
to create a system repair disc straight away in case you run into
problems booting the OS later on. Click Start > Maintenance >
Create a System Repair Disc, and let Windows 7 build a bootable
emergency disc. If the worst does happen then it could be the only way
to get your PC running again.

6. Take control

Tired
of the kids installing dubious software or running applications you’d
rather they left alone? AppLocker is a new Windows 7 feature that
ensures users can only run the programs you specify. Don’t worry, that’s
easier to set up than it sounds: you can create a rule to allow
everything signed by a particular publisher, so choose Microsoft, say,
and that one rule will let you run all signed Microsoft applications.
Launch GPEDIT.MSC and go to Computer Configuration > Windows Settings
> Security Settings > Application Control Policies > AppLocker
to get a feel for how this works.

7. Calculate more

At
first glance the Windows 7 calculator looks just like Vista’s version,
but explore the Mode menu and you’ll see powerful new Statistics and
Programmer views. And if you’re clueless about bitwise manipulation,
then try the Options menu instead. This offers many different unit
conversions (length, weight, volume and more), date calculations (how
many days between two dates?), and spreadsheet-type templates to help
you calculate vehicle mileage, mortgage rates and more.

Don’t
take any Windows 7 applet at face value, then – there are some very
powerful new features hidden in the background. Be sure to explore every
option in all Windows applets to ensure you don’t miss anything
important.

Windows 7 calculator

CALCULATE MORE: The new Calculator is packed with useful features and functionality

8. Switch to a projector

Windows
7 now provides a standard way to switch your display from one monitor
to another, or a projector – just press Win+P or run DisplaySwitch.exe
and choose your preferred display. (This will have no effect if you’ve
only one display connected.)

9. Get a power efficiency report

If
you have a laptop, you can use the efficiency calculator to get Windows
7 to generate loads of useful information about its power consumption.
Used in the right way, this can help you make huge gains in terms of
battery life and performance. To do this you must open a command prompt
as an administrator by typing ‘cmd’ in Start Search, and when the cmd
icon appears, right-click it and choose Run as administrator.

Then
at the command line, just type in ‘powercfg -energy’ (without quotes)
and hit Return, and Windows 7 will scan your system looking for ways to
improve power efficiency. It will then publish the results in an HTML
file, usually in the System32 folder. Just follow the path it gives you
to find your report.

10. Understanding System Restore

Using
System Restore in previous versions of Windows has been something of a
gamble. There’s no way of telling which applications or drivers it might
affect – you just have to try it and see.

Windows 7 is different.
Right-click Computer, select Properties > System Protection >
System Restore > Next, and choose the restore point you’d like to
use. Click the new button to ‘Scan for affected programs’ and Windows
will tell you which (if any) programs and drivers will be deleted or
recovered by selecting this restore point. (Read our full Windows 7 System Restore tutorial.)

11. Set the time zone

System
administrators will appreciate the new command line tzutil.exe utility,
which lets you set a PC’s time zone from scripts. If you wanted to set a
PC to Greenwich Mean Time, for instance, you’d use the command

tzutil /s “gmt standard time”

The
command “tzutil /g” displays the current time zone, “tzutil /l” lists
all possible time zones, and “tzutil /?” displays details on how the
command works.

12. Calibrate your screen

The
colours you see on your screen will vary depending on your monitor,
graphics cards settings, lighting and more, yet most people use the same
default Windows colour profile. And that means a digital photo you
think looks perfect might appear very poor to everybody else.
Fortunately Windows 7 now provides a Display Colour Calibration Wizard
that helps you properly set up your brightness, contrast and colour
settings, and a ClearType tuner to ensure text is crisp and sharp. Click
Start, type DCCW and press Enter to give it a try.

13. Clean up Live Essentials

Installing
Windows Live Essentials will get you the new versions of Mail, Movie
Maker, Photo Gallery and others – great. Unfortunately it also includes
other components that may be unnecessary, but if you like to keep a
clean system then these can be quickly removed.

If you left the
default “Set your search provider” option selected during installation,
for instance, Windows Live will install Choice Guard, a tool to set your
browser home page and search engine, and prevent other programs from
changing them. If this causes problems later, or you just decide you
don’t need it, then Choice Guard may be removed by clicking Start,
typing msiexec /x  and pressing [Enter].

Windows Live Essentials
also adds an ActiveX Control to help upload your files to Windows Live
SkyDrive, as well as the Windows Live Sign-in Assistant, which makes it
easier to manage and switch between multiple Windows Live accounts. If
you’re sure you’ll never need either then remove them with the Control
Panel “Uninstall a Program” applet.

14. Add network support

By
default Windows Live MovieMaker won’t let you import files over a
network, but a quick Registry tweak will change this. Run REGEDIT,
browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live\Movie Maker,
add a DWORD value called AllowNetworkFiles and set it to 1 to add
network support.

15. Activate XP mode

If you’ve old but important software that no longer runs under Windows 7, then you could try using XP Mode,
a virtual copy of XP that runs in a window on your Windows 7 desktop.
But there’s a big potential problem, as XP Mode only works with systems
that have hardware virtualisation (AMD-V or Intel  VT) built-in and
turned on. If you’ve a compatible CPU then this may just be a matter of
enabling the option in your BIOS set-up program, however some high
profile brands, including Sony Vaio, disable the setting for “security
reasons”. And that blocks XP Mode from working, too.

One solution
has emerged, but it’s a little risky, as essentially you’ll have to
alter a byte in your laptop firmware and hope this doesn’t have any
unexpected side-effects. Gulp. If you’re feeling brave then take a look
at the Feature Enable Blog for the details, but don’t blame us if it goes wrong.

A safer approach might be to use VirtualBox,
a virtualisation tool that doesn’t insist on hardware support, but then
you will need to find a licensed copy of XP (or whatever other Windows
version your software requires) for its virtual machine.

16. Enable virtual Wi-Fi

Windows
7 includes a little-known new feature called Virtual Wi-Fi, which
effectively turns your PC or laptop into a software-based router. Any
other Wi-Fi-enabled devices within range – a desktop, laptop, an iPod
perhaps – will “see” you as a new network and, once logged on,
immediately be able to share your internet connection.

This will
only work if your wireless adapter driver supports it, though, and not
all do. Check with your adapter manufacturer and make sure you’ve
installed the very latest drivers to give you the best chance.

Once you have driver support then the easiest approach is to get a network tool that can set up virtual Wi-Fi for you. Virtual Router (below) is free, easy to use and should have you sharing your internet connection very quickly.

Virtual router

If
you don’t mind working with the command line, though, maybe setting up
some batch files or scripts, then it’s not that difficult to set this up
manually. See Turn your Windows 7 laptop into a wireless hotspot for more.

17. Recover locked-up apps

If
an application locks up under a previous version of Windows then there
was nothing you could do about it. A new Windows 7 option, however, can
not only explain the problem, but may get your program working again
without any loss of data.

When the lockup occurs, click Start, type RESMON and click the RESMON.EXE link to launch the Resource Monitor.

Find your frozen process in the CPU pane (it should be highlighted in red), right-click it and select Analyze Wait Chain.

If
you see at least two processes in the list, then the lowest, at the end
of the tree, is the one holding up your program. If it’s not a vital
Windows component, or anything else critical, then save any work in
other open applications, check the box next to this process, click End
Process, and your locked-up program will often spring back to life.

Waitchain

18. Fault-Tolerant Help

Windows
7 includes a new feature called the Fault Tolerant Help (FTH), a clever
technology that looks out for unstable processes, detects those that
may be crashing due to memory issues, and applies several real-time
fixes to try and help. If these work, that’s fine – if not, the fixes
will be undone and they won’t be applied to that process again.

While
this is very good in theory, it can leave you confused as some
applications crash, then start working (sometimes) for no apparent
reason. So if you’d like to check if the FTH is running on your PC,
launch REGEDIT, and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\FTH -
any program currently being protected by the FTH will be listed in the
State key.

Experienced users may also try tweaking the FTH
settings to catch more problems, and perhaps improve system stability. A
post on Microsoft’s Ask The Performance Team blog (bit.ly/d1JStu)
explains what the various FTH Registry keys mean.

19. Automatically switch your default printer

Windows
7′s location-aware printing allows the operating system to
automatically switch your default printer as you move from one network
to another.

To set this up, first click Start, type Devices, and click the Devices and Printers link.

Select
a printer and click Manage Default Printers (this is only visible on a
mobile device, like a laptop – you won’t see it on a PC).

Choose
the “Change my default printer when I change networks” option, select a
network, the default printer you’d like to use, and click Add.

Repeat the process for other networks available, and pick a default printer for each one.

And
now, as you connect to a new network, Windows 7 will check this list
and set the default printer to the one that you’ve defined.

20. Explore God Mode

Windows 7 has
changed Control Panel a little, but it’s still too difficult to locate
all the applets and options that you might need. God Mode, however,
while not being particularly godlike, does offer an easier way to access
everything you could want from a single folder.

To try this out, create a new folder and rename it to:

Windows 7 god mode

The
first part, “Everything” will be the folder name, and can be whatever
you want: “Super Control Panel”, “Advanced”, “God Mode” if you prefer.

The
extension, ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C, must be entered
exactly as it is here, though, including the curly brackets. When you
press [Enter] this part of the name will disappear, and double-clicking
the new folder will display shortcuts to functions in the Action Centre,
the Network and Sharing Centre, Power options, troubleshooting tools,
user accounts and others – more than 260 options in total.

Windows 7 god mode

21. Right-click everything

At
first glance Windows 7 bears a striking resemblance to Vista, but
there’s an easy way to begin spotting the differences – just right-click
things.

Right-click an empty part of the desktop, for instance,
and you’ll find a menu entry to set your screen resolution. No need to
go browsing through the display settings any more.

Right-click the
Explorer icon on the taskbar for speedy access to common system
folders: Documents, Pictures, the Windows folder, and more.

And if
you don’t plan on using Internet Explorer then you probably won’t want
its icon permanently displayed on the taskbar. Right-click the icon,
select ‘Unpin this program from the taskbar’, then go install Firefox,
instead.

22. Display the old taskbar button context menu

Right-click
a taskbar button, though, and you’ll now see its jumplist menu. That’s a
useful new feature, but not much help if you want to access the
minimize, maximize, or move options that used to be available.
Fortunately there’s an easy way to get the old context menu back – just
hold down Ctrl and Shift as you right-click the taskbar button.

23. Desktop slideshow

Windows
7 comes with some very attractive new wallpapers, and it’s not always
easy to decide which one you like the best. So why not let choose a few,
and let Windows display them all in a desktop slideshow? Right-click an
empty part of the desktop, select Personalise > Desktop Background,
then hold down Ctrl as you click on the images you like. Choose how
often you’d like the images to be changed (anything from daily to once
every 10 seconds), select Shuffle if you’d like the backgrounds to
appear in a random order, then click Save Changes and enjoy the show.

Windows 7 desktop slideshow

DESKTOP SLIDESHOW: Select multiple background images and Windows will cycle through them

24. RSS-powered wallpaper

And
if a slideshow based on your standard wallpaper isn’t enough, then you
can always create a theme that extracts images from an RSS feed. For
example, Long Zheng has created a few sample themes to illustrate how it works. Jamie Thompson takes this even further, with a theme that always displays the latest BBC news and weather on your desktop. And MakeUseOf
have a quick and easy tutorial showing how RSS can get you those
gorgeous Bing photographs as your wallpaper. Or you can watch our custom theme video tutorial.

25. Customise the log-on screen

Changing
the Windows log-on screen used to involve some complicated and
potentially dangerous hacks, but not any more – Windows 7 makes it easy.

First, browse to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background
in REGEDIT, double-click the DWORD key called OEMBackground (not there?
Create it) and set its value to 1.

Now find a background image
you’d like to use. Make sure it’s less than 256KB in size, and matches
the aspect ratio of your screen as it’ll be stretched to fit.

Next,
copy that image into the %windir%\system32\oobe\info\backgrounds folder
(create the info\backgrounds folders if they don’t exist). Rename the
image to backgroundDefault.jpg, reboot, and you should now have a custom
log-on image.

Alternatively, use a free tweaking tool to handle everything for you. Logon Changer displays a preview so you can see how the log-on screen will look without rebooting, while the Logon Screen Rotator accepts multiple images and will display a different one every time you log on.

26. Recover screen space

The
new Windows 7 taskbar acts as one big quick launch toolbar that can
hold whatever program shortcuts you like (just right-click one and
select Pin To Taskbar). And that’s fine, except it does consume a little
more screen real estate than we’d like. Shrink it to a more manageable
size by right-clicking the Start orb, then Properties > Taskbar >
Use small icons > OK.

27. Enjoy a retro taskbar

Windows
7 now combines taskbar buttons in a way that saves space, but also
makes it more difficult to tell at a glance whether an icon represents a
running application or a shortcut. If you prefer a more traditional
approach, then right-click the taskbar, select Properties, and set
Taskbar Buttons to “Combine when taskbar is full”. You’ll now get a
clear and separate button for each running application, making them much
easier to identify.

28. Remove taskbar buttons

One
problem with the previous tip is the buttons will gobble up valuable
taskbar real estate, but you can reduce the impact of this by removing
their text captions. Launch REGEDIT, browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control
Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics, add a string called MinWidth, set it to
54, and reboot to see the results.

29. Restore the Quick Launch Toolbar

If
you’re unhappy with the new taskbar, even after shrinking it, then it
only takes a moment to restore the old Quick Launch Toolbar.

Right-click
the taskbar, choose Toolbars > New Toolbar, type
“%UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch”
(less the quotes) into the Folder box and click Select Folder.

Now
right-click the taskbar, clear ‘Lock the taskbar’, and you should see
the Quick Launch toolbar, probably to the right. Right-click its
divider, clear Show Text and Show Title to minimise the space it takes
up. Complete the job by right-clicking the bar and selecting View >
Small Icons for the true retro look.

30. Custom power switch

By
default, Windows 7 displays a plain text ‘Shut down’ button on the
Start menu, but it only takes a moment to change this action to
something else. If you reboot your PC a few times every day then that
might make more sense as a default action: right-click the Start orb,
select Properties and set the ‘Power boot action’ to ‘Restart’ to make
it happen.

31. Auto arrange your desktop

If
your Windows 7 desktop has icons scattered everywhere then you could
right-click it and select View > Auto arrange, just as in Vista. But a
simpler solution is just to press and hold down F5, and Windows will
automatically arrange its icons for you.

32. Disable smart window arrangement

Windows
7 features interesting new ways to intelligently arrange your windows,
so that (for example) if you drag a window to the top of the screen then
it will maximise. We like the new system, but if you find it
distracting then it’s easily disabled. Run REGEDIT, go to
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop, set WindowArrangementActive to
0, reboot, and your windows will behave just as they always did.

33. Browse your tasks

If
you prefer the keyboard over the mouse, you will love browsing the
taskbar using this nifty shortcut. Press Windows and T, and you move the
focus to the left-most icon on the taskbar. Then use your arrow keys to
change the focus to other icons, and you get a live preview of every
window.

34. Display your drives

Click
Computer in Windows 7 and you might see a strange lack of drives, but
don’t panic, it’s just Microsoft trying to be helpful: drives like
memory card readers are no longer displayed if they’re empty. We think
it’s an improvement, but if you disagree then it’s easy to get your
empty drives back. Launch Explorer, click Tools > Folder Options >
View and clear ‘Hide empty drives in the computer folder’.

35. See more detail

The
new and improved Windows 7 magnifier offers a much easier way to zoom
in on any area of the screen. Launch it and you can now define a scale
factor and docking position, and once activated it can track your
keyboard focus around the screen. Press Tab as you move around a dialog
box, say, and it’ll automatically zoom in on the currently active
control.

36. Extend your jumplists

By
default a jumplist will display up to 10 items, but it can often be
useful to extend this and add a few more. Right-click Start, select
Properties > Customize and set “Number of recent items to display in
Jump Lists” to the figure you need.

37. Disable Aero Peek

Hover
your mouse cursor over the bottom right hand corner of the screen and
Windows 7 will hide open windows, showing you the desktop. Seems like a
good idea to us, but if the feature gets in your way then it’s easy to
turn off. Simply right-click the Start orb, select Properties >
Taskbar and clear the “Use Aero Peek to preview the desktop” box.

38. Pin a drive to the taskbar

The taskbar isn’t just for apps and documents. With just a few seconds work you can pin drive icons there, too.

Right-click
an empty part of the desktop, select New > Text File, and rename the
file to drive.exe. Drag and drop this onto your taskbar, then delete
the original file.

Right-click your new “drive.exe” taskbar
button, then right-click its file name and select Properties. Change the
contents of both the Target and Start In boxes to point at the drive or
folder of your choice, perhaps click Change Icon to choose an
appropriate drive icon, and you’re done – that drive or folder is now
available at a click.

DriveC

39. Expand your taskbar previews

Move
your mouse cursor over a Windows 7 taskbar button and you’ll see a
small preview of the application window. To make this larger, launch
REGEDIT, browse to
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Taskband,
right-click in the right hand pane and create a new DWORD value called
MinThumbSizePx. Double-click this, choose the Decimal option, set the
value to 350 and reboot to see the results. Tweak the value again to
fine-tune the results, or delete it to return to the default thumbnail
size.

Preview

40. Hiding the Windows Live Messenger icon

If
you use Windows Live Messenger a lot, you’ll have noticed that the icon
now resides on the taskbar, where you can easily change status and
quickly send an IM to someone. If you prefer to keep Windows Live
Messenger in the system tray, where it’s been for previous releases,
just close Windows Live Messenger, edit the shortcut properties and set
the application to run in Windows Vista compatibility mode.

41. Customise UAC

Windows
Vista’s User Account Control was a good idea in practice, but poor
implementation put many people off – it raised far too many alerts.
Fortunately Windows 7 displays less warnings by default, and lets you
further fine-tune UAC to suit your preferred balance between security
and a pop-up free life (Start > Control Panel > Change User
Account Control Settings).

42. Use Sticky Notes

The
Sticky Notes app is both simpler and more useful in Windows 7. Launch
StikyNot.exe and you can type notes at the keyboard; right-click a note
to change its colour; click the + sign on the note title bar to add
another note; and click a note and press Alt + 4 to close the note
windows (your notes are automatically saved).

43. Open folder in new process

By
default Windows 7 opens folders in the same process. This saves system
resources, but means one folder crash can bring down the entire shell.
If your system seems unstable, or you’re doing something in Explorer
that regularly seems to causes crashes, then open Computer, hold down
Shift, right-click on your drive and select Open in New Process. The
folder will now be launched in a separate process, and so a crash is
less likely to affect anything else.

44. Watch more videos

Windows
Media Player 12 is a powerful program, but it still won’t play all the
audio and video files you’ll find online. Fortunately the first freeware
Windows 7 codecs package [shark007.net/win7codecs.html] has been
released, and installing it could get your troublesome multimedia files
playing again.

45. Preview fonts

Open the
Fonts window in Windows XP and Vista and you’ll see the font names,
probably with icons to tell you whether they’re TrueType or OpenType,
but that’s about it. Windows 7 sees some useful font-related
improvements.

Open the new fonts window and you’ll find a little
preview for every font, giving you a quick idea of how they’re going to
look.

The tedium of scrolling through multiple entries for each
family, like Times New Roman, Times New Roman Bold, Times New Roman Bold
Italic and so on, has finally ended. There’s now just a single entry
for each font (though you can still see all other members of the
family).

And there’s a new OpenType font, Gabriola, added to the
mix. It’s an attractive script font, well worth a try the next time you
need a stylish document that stands out from the crowd.

46. Restore your gadgets

Windows
7 has tightened up its security by refusing to run gadgets if UAC has
been turned off, so limiting the damage malicious unsigned gadgets can
do to your system. If you’ve disabled UAC, miss your gadgets and are
happy to accept the security risk, though, there’s an easy Registry way
to get everything back to normal. Run REGEDIT, go to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Sidebar\Settings,
create a new DWORD value called AllowElevatedProcess and set it to 1.
Your gadgets should start working again right away.

47. New WordPad formats

By
default WordPad will save documents in Rich Text Format, just as
before. But browse the Save As Format list and you’ll see you can also
save (or open, actually) files in the Office 2007 .docx or OpenDocument
.odt formats.

48. Protect your data

USB
flash drives are convenient, portable, and very easy to lose. Which is a
problem, especially if they’re carrying sensitive data. Fortunately
Windows 7 has the solution: encrypt your documents with an extension of
Microsoft’s BitLocker technology, and only someone with the password
will be able to access it. Right-click your USB flash drive, select Turn
on BitLocker and follow the instructions to protect your private files.

Bitlocker

PROTECT YOUR DATA: Your USB flash drives can easily be encrypted with BitLocker

49. Minimise quickly with shake

If
you have multiple windows open on your desktop and things are getting
too cluttered, it used to be a time-consuming process to close them all
down. In Windows 7 you can use the Aero Shake feature to minimise
everything in seconds, using a cool mouse gesture. Grab the title bar of
the window you wish to keep open and give it a shake, and rejoice in a
clear desktop area.

50. Configure your favourite music

The
Windows 7 Media Centre now comes with an option to play your favourite
music, which by default creates a changing list of songs based on your
ratings, how often you play them, and when they were added (it’s assumed
you’ll prefer songs you’ve added in the last 30 days). If this doesn’t
work then you can tweak how Media Centre decides what a “favourite” tune
is- click Tasks > Settings > Music > Favourite Music and
configure the program to suit your needs.

51. Customise System Restore

There
was very little you could do to configure System Restore in Vista, but
Windows 7 improves the situation with a couple of useful setup options.

Click
the Start orb, right-click Computer and select Properties > System
Protection > Configure, and set the Max Usage value to a size that
suits your needs (larger to hold more restore points, smaller to save
disk space).

And if you don’t need System Restore to save Windows
settings then choose the “Only restore previous versions of files”
option. Windows 7 won’t back up your Registry, which means you’ll
squeeze more restore points and file backups into the available disk
space. System Restore is much less likely to get an unbootable PC
working again, though, so use this trick at your own risk.

52. Run As

Hold
down Shift, right-click any program shortcut, and you’ll see an option
to run the program as a different user, handy if you’re logged in to the
kids’ limited account and need to run something with higher privileges.
This isn’t really a new feature – Windows XP had a Run As option that
did the same thing – but Microsoft stripped it out of Vista, so it’s
good to see it’s had a change of heart.

53. Search privacy

By
default Windows 7 will remember your PC search queries, and display the
most recent examples when searching in Windows Explorer. If you’re
sharing a PC and don’t want everyone to see your searches, then launch
GPEDIT.MSC, go to User Configuration > Administrative Templates >
Windows Components > Windows Explorer, double-click “Turn off display
of recent search entries…” and click Enabled > OK.

54. Tweak PC volume

By
default Windows 7 will now automatically reduce the volume of your PC’s
sounds whenever it detects you’re making or receiving PC-based phone
calls. If this proves annoying (or maybe you’d like it to turn off other
sounds altogether) then you can easily change the settings accordingly.
Just right-click the speaker icon in your taskbar, select Sounds >
Communications, and tell Windows what you’d like it to do.

55. Rearrange the system tray

With
Windows 7 we finally see system tray icons behave in a similar way to
everything else on the taskbar. So if you want to rearrange them, then
go right ahead, just drag and drop them into the order you like. You can
even move important icons outside of the tray, drop them onto the
desktop, then put them back when you no longer need to keep an eye on
them.

56. Extend your battery life

Windows 7
includes new power options that will help to improve your notebook’s
battery life. To see them, click Start, type Power Options and click the
Power Options link, then click Change Plan Settings for your current
plan and select Change Advanced Settings. Expand Multimedia Settings,
for instance, and you’ll see a new “playing video” setting that can be
set to optimise power savings rather than performance. Browse through
the other settings and ensure they’re set up to suit your needs.

57. Write crash dump files

Windows
7 won’t create memory.dmp crash files if you’ve less than 25GB of free
hard drive space, annoying if you’ve installed the Windows debugging
tools and want to diagnose your crashes. You can turn this feature off,
though: browse to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\CrashControl, create
a new DWORD value called AlwaysKeepMemoryDump, set it to 1, and the
crash dump file will now always be saved.

58. Protect your data

If
you have confidential files in a particular folder or two, and would
like to keep them away from other network users, then right-click the
folder, select Share With > Nobody, and they’ll be made private, for
your eyes only (or your user account, anyway).

59. Reorganise the taskbar

Windows
7 taskbar buttons are now movable – feel free to drag, drop and
otherwise reorganise them to suit your needs. And then remember that
each button can be launched by holding with the Windows key and pressing
1 to activate the first, 2 the second and so on, up to 0 for the tenth.

60. Repair your PC

If
Windows 7 won’t start, you may not need an installation or repair disc
any more, as the repair environment is now usually installed on your
hard drive. Press [F8] as your PC starts, and if you see a “Repair Your
Computer” option, choose that to see the full range of Windows 7
recovery tools.

Recovery

61. ReadyBoost revamped

If
you were unimpressed by ReadyBoost in Vista, it may be worth trying the
technology again under Windows 7. The operating system now allows you
to combine multiple USB drives, each with larger caches, to deliver an
extra speed boost.

62. Fixing Windows 7 N

If
you have Windows 7 N then this means you’ll be missing key multimedia
applications, like Media Player, Media Centre, DVD Maker and more. But
that’s not all. You also won’t have some of the subsystems required by
third-party apps like Nero MultiMedia Suite, which means that even if
they install, you could have problems getting them to work correctly.

Fortunately
there’s an easy fix, though, as the missing components are available in
the form of Microsoft’s Windows Media Pack. If you’re currently having
media-related issues on a Windows 7 N installation, grab your copy from support.microsoft.com/kb/968211.

63. Find bottlenecks

From what we’ve seen so
far Windows 7 is already performing better than Vista, but if your PC
seems sluggish then it’s now much easier to uncover the bottleneck.
Click Start, type RESMON and press Enter to launch the Resource Monitor,
then click the CPU, Memory, Disk or Network tabs. Windows 7 will
immediately show which processes are hogging the most system resources.

The
CPU view is particularly useful, and provides something like a more
powerful version of Task Manager. If a program has locked up, for
example, then right-click its name in the list and select Analyze
Process. Windows will then try to tell you why it’s hanging – the
program might be waiting for another process, perhaps – which could give
you the information you need to fix the problem.

Resource monitor

FIND BOTTLENECKS: Resource monitor keeps a careful eye on exactly how your PC is being used

64. Keyboard shortcuts

Windows 7 supports several useful new keyboard shortcuts.

Alt+P
Display/ hide the Explorer preview pane

Windows Logo+G
Display gadgets in front of other windows

Windows Logo++ (plus key)
Zoom in, where appropriate

Windows Logo+- (minus key)
Zoom out, where appropriate

Windows Logo+Up
Maximise the current window

Windows Logo+Down
Minimise the current window

Windows Logo+Left
Snap to the left hand side of the screen

Windows Logo+Right
Snap to the right hand side of the screen

Windows Logo+Home
Minimise/ restore everything except the current window

65. Drag and drop to the command line

When
working at the command line you’ll often need to access files, which
usually means typing lengthy paths and hoping you’ve got them right. But
Windows 7 offers an easier way. Simply drag and drop the file onto your
command window and the full path will appear, complete with quotes and
ready to be used.

This feature isn’t entirely new: you could do
this in Windows XP, too, but drag and drop support disappeared in Vista.
There does seem to be a new Windows 7 complication, though, in that it
only seems to work when you open the command prompt as a regular user.
Run cmd.exe as an administrator and, while it accepts dropped files, the
path doesn’t appear.

66. Customise your jumplists

Right-click
an icon on your taskbar, perhaps Notepad, and you’ll see a jumplist
menu that provides easy access to the documents you’ve been working on
recently. But maybe there’s another document that you’d like to be
always available? Then drag and drop it onto the taskbar icon, and it’ll
be pinned to the top of the jumplist for easier access. Click the pin
to the right of the file name, or right-click it and select “Unpin from
this list” when you need to remove it.

67. Faster program launches

If
you’ve launched one instance of a program but want to start another,
then don’t work your way back through the Start menu. It’s much quicker
to just hold down Shift and click on the program’s icon (or middle-click
it), and Windows 7 will start a new instance for you.

68. Speedy video access

Want
faster access to your Videos folder? Windows 7 now lets you add it to
the Start menu. Just right-click the Start orb, click Properties >
Start Menu > Customize, and set the Videos option to “Display as a
link”. If you’ve a TV tuner that works with Windows 7 then you’ll
appreciate the new option to display the Recorded TV folder on the Start
menu, too.

69. Run web searches

The
Windows 7 search tool can now be easily extended to search online
resources, just as long as someone creates an appropriate search
connector. To add Flickr support, say, visit I Started Something,
click Download the Connector, choose the Open option and watch as it’s
downloaded (the file is tiny, it’ll only take a moment). A “Flickr
Search” option will be added to your Searches folder, and you’ll be able
to search images from your desktop.

A multitude of other ready-made searches, such as Google and YouTube, can be downloaded from the windowsclub.com website.

70. Schedule Media Centre downloads

You
can now tell Windows Media Centre to download data at a specific time,
perhaps overnight, a useful way to prevent it sapping your bandwidth for
the rest of the day. Launch Media Centre, go to Tasks > Settings
> General > Automatic Download Options, and set the download start
and stop times that you’d like it to use.

71. Multi-threaded Robocopies

Anyone
who’s ever used the excellent command-line robocopy tool will
appreciate the new switches introduced with Windows 7. Our favourite,
/MT, can improve speed by carrying out multi-threaded copies with the
number of threads you specify (you can have up to 128, though that might
be going a little too far). Enter robocopy /? at a command line for the
full details.

72. Load IE faster

Some
Internet Explorer add-ons can take a while to start, dragging down the
browser’s performance, but at least IE8 can now point a finger at the
worst resource hogs. Click Tools > Manage Add-ons, check the Load
Time in the right-hand column, and you’ll immediately see which browser
extensions are slowing you down.

73. An Alt+Tab alternative

You
want to access one of the five Explorer windows you have open, but
there are so many other programs running that Alt+Tab makes it hard to
pick out what you need. The solution? Hold down the Ctrl key while you
click on the Explorer icon. Windows 7 will then cycle through the
Explorer windows only, a much quicker way to locate the right one. And
of course this works with any application that has multiple windows
open.

74. Block annoying alerts

Just like
Vista, Windows 7 will display a suitably stern warning if it thinks your
antivirus, firewall or other security settings are incorrect.

But
unlike Vista, if you disagree then you can now turn off alerts on
individual topics. If you no longer want to see warnings just because
you’ve dared to turn off the Windows firewall, say, then click Control
Panel > System and Security > Action Centre > Change Action
Centre settings, clear the Network Firewall box and click OK.

75. Parallel defrags

The
standard Windows 7 defragger offers a little more control than we saw
in Vista, and the command line version also has some interesting new
features. The /r switch will defrag multiple drives in parallel, for
instance (they’ll obviously need to be physically separate drives for
this to be useful). The /h switch runs the defrag at a higher than
normal priority, and the /u switch provides regular progress reports so
you can see exactly what’s going on. Enter the command

defrag /c /h /u /r

in a command window to speedily defrag a system with multiple drives, or enter defrag /? to view the new options for yourself.

76. Fix Explorer

The
Windows 7 Explorer has a couple of potential annoyances. Launching
Computer will no longer display system folders like Control Panel or
Recycle Bin, for instance. And if you’re drilling down through a
complicated folder structure in the right-hand pane of Explorer, the
left-hand tree won’t always expand to follow what you’re doing, which
can make it more difficult to see exactly where you are. Fortunately
there’s a quick fix: click Organize > Folder and Search Options,
check “Show all folders” and “Automatically expand to current folder”,
and click OK.

77. Faster file handing

If
you hold down Shift while right-clicking a file in Explorer, then you’ll
find the Send To file now includes all your main user folders:
Contacts, Documents, Downloads, Music and more. Choose any of these and
your file will be moved there immediately.

78. Create folder favourites

If
you’re regularly working on the same folder in Explorer then select it
in the right-hand page, right-click Favourites on the left-hand menu,
and select Add to Favourites. It’ll then appear at the bottom of the
favourites list for easy one-click access later.

79. Disable hibernation

By
default Windows 7 will permanently consume a chunk of your hard drive
with its hibernation file, but if you never use sleep, and always turn
your PC off, then this will never actually be used. To disable
hibernation and recover a little hard drive space, launch REGEDIT,
browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power,
then set both HibernateEnabled and HiberFileSizePerfect to zero.

80. Create a new folder shortcut

When
you need to create a new folder in Windows 7 Explorer, don’t reach for
the mouse. Just press Ctrl+Shift+N to create the folder in the active
Explorer window, then type its name as usual.

81. Open a jumplist

Most
people right-click a Windows taskbar icon to view its jumplist. You can
also hold the left mouse button over the icon, though, then drag
upwards to reveal the jumplist and choose the option you need, a more
natural action that should be just a little faster.

JumpList

82. Search quickly

If
you’d like to search for something in an Explorer window then there’s
no need to use the mouse. Simply press [F3] to move the focus to the
search box, enter your keyword and press [Enter] to run the search.

83. Search file contents

There’s
no obvious way in the Windows interface to search the contents of files
that haven’t been indexed, but all you need to do is start your search
with the “content:” search filter. So entering content:Microsoft , for
instance, will find all documents (whether they’re actually indexed or
not) that contain the word Microsoft.

84. Close in a click

Hover
your mouse cursor over a Windows taskbar button will display a preview
thumbnail of that application window. You don’t need that app any more?
Then middle-click the thumbnail to close it down.

85. Leave the Homegroup

Homegroups
are an easy way to network Windows 7 PCs, but if you don’t use the
feature then turning it off can save you a few system resources.

Click
Start, type Homegroup, and click “Choose homegroup and sharing
options”. Click Leave the Homegroup > Leave the Homegroup >
Finish.

Now click Start, type services.msc and press [Enter] to launch the Services Control Panel applet.

Find
and double-click both the HomeGroup Listener and HomeGroup Provider
service, clicking Stop and setting Startup Type to Disabled in each
case, and the services won’t be launched when you need reboot.

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  1. sreejith
    January 9th, 2012 at 14:51 | #1

    Awesome tricks ,I tried a lots of one

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