A Few Windows 7 Tips

Windows 7 offers a  lot of features that may not be well known to the average user. A couple of hours’ work searching various blog sites will tell you more than you probably want to know, but I thought I’d try to include some of the most useful features for both average users and power users here.

  1. Taskbar: The taskbar in Windows 7 is a combination of the quicklaunch and taskbar from Windows Vista and XP. You can “pin” programs to it to create permanent shortcuts to open programs. When that program is open, the shortcut has additional functionality (you can hover your mouse over it to view a thumbnail of all windows for that program, view the status of downloads or file transfers, etc.). You can open multiple instances of a program by holding the shift key and left-clicking its icon. If a program is not pinned, its icon will appear to the right of the pinned programs when it is open.
  2. Jump lists: When you pin a program to the taskbar, Windows 7 creates a jump list for that program. You can view the jump list by right-clicking on the program’s icon or by holding down the left mouse button and dragging up from the icon. Jumplists can include frequently or most recently accessed files, playback controls, and more depending on the program. Jump lists can save you time when you need to perform the same tasks often.
  3. Godmode: You can create a one-stop-shop for accessing almost all settings in Windows 7 by creating a folder and naming it “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}”
  4. Resize desktop icons: With today’s high resolution, widescreen monitors, desktop icons can seem tiny. You can easily resize the icons by holding the CTRL button and scrolling your mouse wheel, or by right-clicking on the desktop, selecting “View,” and the selecting either “Large Icons,” “Medium Icons,” or “Small Icons.” The icons in Windows 7 are very detailed and look quite nice when viewed at a large size.
  5. Snap, Peek, and Shake: You can manage application windows several ways in Windows 7 using the mouse or keyboard shortcuts.
    • Maximize/restore/minimize: Simply drag the title bar of an application to the top of the screen to maximize it, and drag it down to restore it (Windows key + up or down arrow).
    • View side-by-side: Drag an application to the left or right side of the screen to make it resize to fill half of the screen. (Windows key + left or right arrow).
    • View the desktop: Hover the mouse cursor over the bottom right corner of your monitor to make all windows transparent.
    • View a single application: Hover the mouse cursor over the thumbnail of an application from the taskbar to make all other application transparent.
    • Minimize all but the current application: Grab the application’s title bar and “shake” it with your mouse.
  6. Windows Flip: Switching quickly between applications is easy in Windows 7. Use Alt + Tab to switch between the two most recently used applications. Hold the Alt key down and hit Tab repeatedly to switch between all open applications. As you switch, the other applications will become transparent so you can focus on the currently selected application. Release the Alt key to begin using the selected application.
  7. Windows Flip 3D: The 3D perspective application switching feature from Vista is carried over into Windows 7. Windows key + Tab will launch Flip 3D; use the mouse wheel or arrow keys to switch between applications, or hit the Tab key repeatedly to switch. Release the Windows key to begin using the selected application.

Read about more Windows 7 features at Microsoft’s website.