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Microsoft Windows Tricks

By Editorial Staff

tricksContributed by Info Guru Paul Seaburn

That computer on your desktop or lap is pretty powerful and has a sophisticated Windows operating system installed, but experts say most users stick with the same few tasks every day and rarely tap into the many powerful and slick resources available to them.

These Microsoft Windows tricks will introduce you to some of the many features of Windows 7 (and a few for Windows XP) that are often right under your nose or mouse pointer.

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10. Create A Shortcut Key

Create A Shortcut Key

To cut down on desktop clutter and quickly load a favorite program, give it a Windows shortcut key. Open the folder or directory that contains the program, right-click on the program and click Create Shortcut. This will create a shortcut named “Shortcut to ‘program-name’” which you can rename. Right-click on it, click Properties, then Shortcut tab, then the Shortcut key box. Enter the letter for your program (‘Q’ for example) and it will run when you press Ctrl + Alt + Q.

9. Shake Your Desktop Clean

 Shake Your Desktop Clean

If you like to run a lot of programs at once, your Windows 7 desktop can get pretty crowded. To minimize the windows of all but the program you’re currently using, click and hold the title bar of that window, then shake it back and forth until all of the other windows minimize to the taskbar. To maximize them, shake the title bar again.

8. Remember What You’ve Been Working On

Remember What You’ve Been Working On

I create and edit a lot of documents and am terrible at giving them and their folders names I can recall easily. To help, I use Saved Search in Windows 7. In Windows Explorer, select the folder or library containing your files, then click Search, Date Modified. Click on a date or date range, then click on Save Search and save the search in a shortcut with a good name, like Stuff From 100712 to 101412.

7. Find New Programs Quickly

Find New Programs Quickly

To see what programs you (or another user) has installed most recently on your Windows 7 PC, click on Control Panel, Programs and Features. Then check Installed On, pick the current date on the calendar and select the range of dates to search. The programs will be listed to the left.

6. Remember Registry Edits

 Remember Registry Edits

Some problem fixes (such as disabling browser features) require using REGEDIT to make changes to registry keys – a dangerous task for knowledgeable users only since it requires a lot of searching and changing of obscure characters. If you’re one of those users and would like to remember what you did in case you need to do it again or change the key back, save the key by clicking Favorites, Add to Favorites on the top of the REGEDIT wndow.

5. Side-by-Side Windows

 Side-by-Side Windows

Windows 7 has a nice tool called Smart Window or Snap for working on two windows side-by-side on the monitor without manually re-sizing either one. Click and drag on the top title bar of the first window so your mouse pointer hits either the left or right side of your screen, then let go when the window resizes to half screen. Click and drag the second window to the other side and do the same. To reset to regular size, click and drag the window so the pointer touches the top of the screen and let go.

4. Less Noise

Less Noise

Windows is constantly beeping and making all kinds of other sounds come out of your speakers. To quickly tone them down, right-click the speaker icon in the bottom right hand corner, then click Open Volume Mixer on Windows 7 or Adjust Audio Properties/Sounds on Windows XP. Windows 7 will give you a set of volume sliders to adjust open programs sounds while Windows XP lets you change them with a drop-down box.

3. Get A Power Efficiency Report For Your Notebook

power efficiency

Get more out of your notebook battery with this Windows 7 trick. As administrator, bring up a command prompt and type powercfg -energy -output \Folder\Energy_Report.html where ‘folder’ is the location where you want the report file in HTML format. After about a minute, Windows 7 will create a report with recommendations to improve your notebook’s battery performance.

2. What’s Your BIOS

 What’s Your BIOS

If you’re having a PC problem, help desks always ask if you have the latest BIOS version. Since most users never update the BIOS chip, they generally don’t know the answer. Click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Information. You’ll find your BIOS version plus other useful info like your version of Windows, amount of memory, type of CPU you have and more. Check your PC manufacturer’s website for your latest BIOS.

1. Problem Steps Recorder

Problem Steps Recorder

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This is a great troubleshooting aid when helping someone diagnose a problem in Windows 7. Click Start, type PSR and press Enter, then click Start Record. Have them go through the steps leading up to the problem and the Problem Steps Recorder will record every keystroke and screen grabs and put them all in a zipped MHTML file, ready to help track down the problem.


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