Seven Amazing Windows 7 Tips to get More Done

window 7 Tips

If you haven’t yet upgraded to Windows 7, you’re missing out. It’s designed to help everyone in business save real time and therefore real money. If you think Windows is just what runs in the background while Office software does the actual work, you’re very much mistaken. Every time you move files, open programs or connect to the Internet, Windows is doing something useful. And Windows 7 has been overhauled to simplify these tasks and many more.

Not got Windows 7?

Implement all of the tips below and you should buy back many productive hours each year. Want to get more done? Read on!

  1. Checkboxes in Windows Explorer

    This is an extraordinary feature… which nobody seems to talk about! Instead of holding down the Ctrl key to select multiple files, you can have checkboxes appear next to files and folders. Open Windows Explorer (or My Documents or any other file window), and then select Organise > Folder and Search Options and then the View tab. Down the list, check “Use Check boxes to select items”. Hover your mouse over any file or folder, and a checkbox will now appear in the corner of the file icon. Hey presto! Mouse-only selection of files!

  2. Make friends with the Notification Area

    The Notification Area is the bit of your screen at the bottom right with the clock and lots of other notification icons in it. It also used to be called the System Tray. Previously (for example in Windows XP), you had to click an arrow to see many of the icons (as space is restricted down there). In Vista and Windows 7, there’s an “Up Arrow” button which shows hidden icons. But in Windows 7, you can totally customise the Notification Area to show you just the things you need, when you need them. Hit the Up Arrow and then Customise. You can now select, for each program or function, whether to show nothing, important notifications, or both icons and notifications. Your Notification Area now prioritises only the facts that matter to you.

  3. Instant Search Programs

    The Start Menu is where all your programs have lived since back with Windows 95. However, it soon gets clogged up, especially if you use countless programs, forget to uninstall old ones, or find that they get installed with unfamiliar names (many software manufacturers by default create a folder with the manufacturer’s name, which makes finding installed software frustratingly difficult). Well, Windows 7’s supercharged Search really does search everything, and that includes programs. By the time you’ve typed in ‘PowerPoint’, the program will be there on the list.

  4. Edit side by side

    This is a tip which will save you literally hours of work with documents. Suppose you have two versions of a Word document open. Maybe one is a new version and one is an old version. Maybe one has comments and edits in view, whereas the other is the final document as you would wish it to be viewed by the reader. Either way, you’ll want to see them both side-by-side for comparison; which up until now was a laborious case of dragging windows pixel-by-pixel around the screen. Instead, with Windows 7, you can snap to halves of the screen in a second. Drag your first window to the left hand edge of the screen. A shadow highlight will appear on the left half of the screen. Release the mouse button, and the window auto-snaps to the left half. Repeat the process for the right window. Job done! Win-LeftArrow and Win-RightArrow will do the same.

  5. A raft of keyboard shortcuts

    We’ve covered keyboard shortcuts before; here is another special selection.

    • In Windows Explorer, hit Ctrl-Shift-N to create a new folder (and highlight it, ready for renaming).
    • In Windows Explorer, you’re used to right-clicking the mouse for extra options. Try Shift-right-click for even more options (like ‘Pin to Taskbar’ to name just one).
    • In Windows Explorer, Alt-P switches file previewing on and off. Go for ‘off’ for speed; ‘on’ for previews so you always open the right file.
    • Win-L locks your computer. Ideal when you’re nipping out for a well-deserved sandwich.
    • Win-+ and Win– (win-minus) will zoom your screen in or out, no matter what program you’re using.
  6. Be the Administrator

    If you’ve used Windows XP or Windows Vista you’ll know that you couldn’t make certain changes to a program unless you had logged in as an Administrator. This is all pretty sensible security stuff, but led to some shouting at the screen by one-man businesses, asking… “If I’m not the Administrator, well, who is?!” In Windows 7, you can run programs in Administrator mode easily:

    • Either click the Start button, right-click a program, and select Run as Administrator
    • Or in Windows Explorer, hold down Ctrl and Shift while clicking a program
  7. Be even bigger than the Administrator

    OK, this one is for geeks. There was a management tool in pre-launch versions of Windows 7 designed to pull together a whole load of advanced functions; called the Advanced Control Panel. It’s so chock-full of stuff that it’s been nicknamed ‘God mode’ (oh, those geeks…) You too can have it! Create a new folder on your desktop. Then rename it to: Advanced Control Panel.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} The icon will change to a Control Panel style icon. Open it to be dazzled by over 250 configuration options and other tweaks to customise your computing experience to perfection.