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6 Windows 7 tips, tricks and secrets

Windows 7 performance and productivity tips

Windows 7 performance and productivity tips

1. 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.

resmon

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

2. 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

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

Filed in: Computer Tips

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