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Windows 7 : Tips and Tricks

Whenever you open a program, folder, or file, Windows creates a corresponding button on the task bar showing just an icon that represents the open program. With the new Progress Bar integrated into the task bar, you can monitor on-going tasks and processes performed by their applications without having to keep the programs’ window visible. The progress of functions including file copies, but also CD and DVD burning, downloads and installs is displayed dynamically via the Taskbar buttons, through the Progress Bar.

When you move your mouse pointer to a task bar button, a small thumbnail appears of the corresponding window. This along with Aero Peek, which makes every window on the desktop transparent except the one you’re highlighting at the moment, makes sure that you find any window nearly instantly, no matter how many windows your desktop is buried under. To switch to another window, just click on the miniature version that pops out from its task bar button. You can even close it by middle clicking; a feature which is common to most applications that used tabbed browsing.

You can use Aero Shake to quickly minimize every open window apart from the one you’re shaking. It is a useless but- neat feature that clears all the clutter for you without you having to minimize each and every window apart from the one you want to focus on. It is just a mouse gesture that lets you grab the title bar of the window you wish to keep open and give it a shake, and rejoice in a clear desktop area. Of course, you can use [Windows] + [Home] for the same functionality. It just adds that Zing to the new UI. You can even restore all of those windows by shaking the open window again.

If you highlight a small button on the bottom right corner of the task bar, all open windows will fade from view, for a quick peek at your desktop or gadgets, Windows 7’s free-floating widgets.

Jump lists and libraries

In applications coded to take advantage of the jump list, when you right-click an icon, you’ll get a pop-up menu which will give you quick access to recently opened items, frequently opened items, tasks, or web sites, in addition to any favorite items you’ve decided to pin. In Internet Explorer, it shows your recent browsing history; in Windows Media Player, it’ll let you play recent videos; and Windows Explorer will give you quick access to frequently used folders and files. You can also pin favorites to a Jump List, so you can quickly get to the items that you use frequently. Jump Lists on the task bar contain several menu commands that you can use to close an item or unpin the program from the task bar. You can even drag an item off of a Jump List to copy it to another location or folder.

Recent history in Jumplists

Windows Explorer has a great feature called ‘Favorites’, present in the left pane of the window. You can add your frequently accessed folders for quick access. Just left click the folder and drag it on the Favorites to create a link there.

In all previous versions of Windows, managing your files meant organizing them in different folders and sub folders. Comes Windows 7 with its concept of libraries, which makes it easier to find, access, work with and organize files scattered across your computer or even over the network regardless of where they are stored. A library gathers files that are stored in several locations without actually storing your items or moving your files from the original folder. Libraries monitor folders that contain your items, and let you access and arrange the items in different ways like ‘documents by type’, ‘pictures by date taken’ and ‘music by genre’.

Connect to the internet

Windows 7 makes it very simple to view and connect to networks on your laptop. Just click on the network icon in the task bar. View Available Networks displays all your wireless and wired networking options including Wi-Fi, mobile broadband, dial-up, LAN or corporate VPN. One more click on any of them, and you’re connected.

View Available Networks and connect to them

Old programs in Windows 7

Most programs written for Windows will work automatically in Windows 7, but there might be some issues with older programs and some might not even start. If a program written for Windows Vista, XP or even other older versions fails to run, Microsoft doesn’t leave you in the blue. Like Vista, Windows 7 comes with a Program Compatibility Mode that simulates the behavior of previous versions of Windows for that program. You can change the compatibility settings for a program either manually or by using the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter.

Right-click on a program and choose Troubleshoot Compatibility to launch the Program Compatibility Assistant. It detects known compatibility issues and notifies you if it finds anything and offers to fix it the next time your program is run. It does not make any changes to your program. It merely resolves conflicts with UAC giving elevated privileges to your program, or simulates an earlier version of Windows.

Manage your hardware

The new Devices and Printers folder available from the Start Menu shows you all the external devices connected to your PC. It is a handy way to check on a portable device which you carry with you and occasionally connect to your computer, such as mobile phones, portable music players, photo frames and digital cameras besides all the devices connected via USB, or paired via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth wireless interface including external USB hard drives, flash drives, web cams, keyboards, and mice. A multifunction printer now shows up as a single device in Devices and Printers, not as a collection of three or four components like it is displayed in the more conventional Device Manager.

The new taskbar

Besides letting you view information about your devices, such as make, model, and manufacturer, including detailed information about the sync capabilities of a mobile phone or other mobile device, Devices and Printers is also an excellent place to check if a specific device is working properly and then troubleshoot problems in case they arise.