Use your Windows 7 computer, the Windows 7 way!

The Windows 7 operating system was designed in response to user feedback, so it features improvements that make it faster, more reliable, and easier for you to use computer. This article is for my non-techie friends, many of who are still using Windows 7, like Windows XP or Windows 98; and watching this really bother’s me.

I am again reviewing some of the most common new features introduced in Windows 7 to do some common tasks easily and in lesser steps.

Those who are still not aware of these features and using Windows 7, here are some common tips & tricks for using new features of Windows 7 which are available by default:

1. Desktop and UI Enhancements: There were several new features and enhancements introduced in Windows 7. The list of most common is here.

  • Shuffle Desktop backgrounds: Set up your Windows 7 desktop background to shuffle through your favorite images. Right-click your desktop, click Personalize, and then click Desktop Background. Select the Shuffle check box, and then select the images you want to shuffle through.
  • Aero Shake: Windows 7 Aero Shake clears the inactive windows from your desktop. Rest your mouse pointer over the window title bar, click, and shake the window from side to side. Repeat the procedure to shake everything back into view.
  • Windows 7 Aero Peek: Click the small rectangle in the lower-right corner near time in notification area (or Windows logo key + SpaceBar) to peek at the icons and gadgets on your desktop.
  • Get Gadgets: With Windows 7, gadgets are easier to manage and use. Position them anywhere on the desktop, and resize them to your heart’s content. They’ll snap in place at the edge of the screen. To change gadget options, right-click on the desktop and select Gadgets.
  • Favorite pin-ups: Pin the folders you use most onto your taskbar. Simply hold your mouse over the folder, right-click, and drag the folder onto the taskbar for easy access.
  • Clean up your taskbar: Just right-click any icon on the taskbar, and click Unpin this program from the taskbar.
  • Come to order: To auto-arrange your desktop icons according to your default settings, press and hold the F5 key. Windows 7 immediately restores order.
  • Sticky easy notes: Put your Sticky Notes right on your Windows 7 desktop. On the Start menu, click All Programs, then Accessories, then Sticky Notes. Right-click the note to change its color or click the PLUS SIGN to create another note.
  • Easy open windows management: Press Windows logo key + HOME to minimize all inactive windows. Press Windows logo key + HOME again to restore the windows when you want them.

2. Get Organized:

  • Drive time: To see drives that aren’t currently in use, on the Start menu, click Computer. Press ALT to display the Computer folder menus. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options, and then click the View tab. Clear the Hide empty drives check boxes in the Computer folder to see the available drives.
  • Prepare to launch: Use the Windows logo key + T to scroll through the icons pinned to the taskbar. Then press ENTER to start the active program. Press ESC to exit this trick.
  • Access icons from the taskbar: Drag your icons to the taskbar in the order you like and you can open the first five icons by pressing the Windows logo key + 1, + 2, and so on.
  • Dock windows: To dock your window on half the screen, drag the window to the left or right. When the cursor reaches the edge of the screen, the window will snap to half the size of the screen or press Windows logo key + LEFT ARROW or Windows logo key + RIGHT ARROW.

3. Take charge of hardware and devices:

  • Printer, paper and print: Set up several default printers in multiple locations. Windows 7 will figure out where you are with location-aware printing.
  • Using multiple monitor: When you work with more than one monitor, use the keyboard shortcuts, Windows logo key + SHIFT + LEFT ARROW, or Windows logo key + SHIFT + RIGHT ARROW to move windows from one monitor to another.
  • Connect to a projector easily: Simply press Windows logo key + P, and tab through the display options to switch between displays.
  • The power to change: Change your power button in Windows 7 to switch users, log off, lock, restart, or sleep. Right-click the Start button and click Properties, and then, on the Start menu tab, select the power button action that suits you best.
  • Burn images to a CD or DVD: Copy an ISO (disc) image of an entire data CD or DVD in a flash. Just double-click the DVD or CD ISO image to open Windows Disc Image Burner, make your selections, and click Burn. Your disc is ready to use in no time.
  • Bright idea: Windows 7 saves your laptop battery by reducing display brightness after a period of inactivity—but if you immediately interact with the computer to restore brightness, Windows 7 waits longer before reducing brightness the next time.
  • Write to disk faster: With ReadyBoost, you can use multiple flash drives for caches larger than 4 gigabytes (GB), add accessible memory, and reduce the time it takes to write to disk.
  • Well-adjusted: Fine-tune your display settings easily to adjust to the various places where you work with ClearType Text Tuner and Display Color Calibration. To fine tune, on the Start menu, click Run, and then type cttune.exe or dccw.exe.

4. Work more efficiently with these tips and tricks:

  • Calculate as you want: Use Windows 7 Calculator to calculate in Standard, Scientific, Programmer, and Statistics modes. You can even convert temperature, weight, area, time, and more.
  • Open a window: To open another window of the same program (if more than one instance of the program can be run), hold SHIFT and click the taskbar icon, or click the middle button on your mouse.
  • Get a sneak peak: Rest your mouse pointer on a taskbar program icon to peek at documents. For a large-scale view of a document, rest the pointer over the file’s thumbnail preview.
  • Take a closer look: The Windows 7 magnifier lets you zoom in on any area of your desktop and define a scale factor of magnification. On the Start menu, type Magnifier in the search box, click Magnifier under Programs, and dock the magnifying glass to a particular area of your screen.  Move your mouse to magnify different sections of the screen.
  • Traveling made easy: In Control Panel, click Clock, Language and Region, and change the default location. You’ll be on time for your appointments, and location-dependent Internet programs, such as those that help you find local attractions or download files, will adjust for your location.
  • Blue-ribbon shortcuts: Use the Windows Ribbon to work more efficiently in Paint, WordPad and Calculator.
  • The right (click) stuff: In Windows 7, right-clicking can simplify your computing experience in many ways. For example, right-click any empty spot in your desktop, and you can change the screen resolution.
  • Access frequently used folders. Right-click the Windows Explorer icon on the Windows 7 taskbar to access your most frequently used folders.
  • The Switcher: Switch through multiple documents in a program with ease—simply press CTRL while you repeatedly click the program icon on the taskbar.
  • Typecasting: In Windows 7, fonts are now sorted by font family, with a handy new preview next to each font name. In Control Panel, click Appearance and Personalization and then click Fonts or type fonts in the search box on the Start menu.

5. Take the pain out of compatibility and maintenance:

  • Notifications—when you want them: The new Windows 7 Action Center consolidates tasks and notifications associated with keeping your computer running smoothly, so you see fewer notifications on your desktop. You’ll find Action Center icon on the lower-right of your monitor.
  • Backwards-compatibility: Business users can run many older Windows XP programs on a Windows 7–based PC with Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC, which may be pre-installed by your PC manufacturer or you can download them at no cost.
  • Windows 7 helps you help yourself: Try Windows Troubleshooting Platform before you call the help desk by typing fix or Troubleshoot in the search box on the Start menu.
  • Document problems accurately: Use Windows 7 Problem Steps Recorder, a screen-capture tool, to create step-by-step recordings of any problems you have. Just open Windows Explorer and type psr.exe in the Address bar.

These are some fast features and tips which I remember on my finger tips, there are lot more, so keep exploring and using them.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Nitin Agarwal is an MVP alumni and a Pro Blogger. He was awarded as Most Valuable Professional for 3 times by Microsoft in Windows Expert - Consumer category. He is immensely inspired by Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and APJ Abdul Kalam.

8 Comments

  1. Lee@TWC

    Nice article Nitin. I’m saving this to give to several people I know who just haven’t been able to bring themselves away from the old operating system thinking.

  2. Very nice article, very usefull…
    I use win7 and xp both, and this article is a must read for all windows 7 users even if you are a beginner or advance users.
    (sometimes we need some reminders) 😀

  3. NitinA@TWC

    Thanks guys! 🙂

  4. Madison

    Some mighty good beginners tips there too!

  5. itconcerned

    “…many of who are still using Windows 7, like Windows XP or Windows 98; and watching this really bother’s me.”

    XP behavior, so it does me also. Nice shot. Thanks.

  6. Grr

    Thanks a lot Nitin.
    Very useful as I just bought a laptop with W7….
    looking forward for similar posts..

    Thanks,
    Grr

  7. Tom

    Thank you so much Nitin. This is very helpful.

  8. NitinA@TWC

    thanks guys! more tips to come, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter or RSS.

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