Windows Tips http://www.maximumpc.com/taxonomy/term/16334/ en Contest Winners: The 10 Best Windows Application Tips http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/contest_winners_10_best_windows_application_tips <!--paging_filter--><h3>10 Great Readers, 10 Great Tips</h3> <p>In our <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/pdf_archives/march_2011_power_your_windows_apps">March issue’s</a> cover story, we threw out a challenge: Send us your favorite application tips, and we’d grant the five best submissions Maximum PC coins. We got so many tips it’s taken us some time to go through them all. And so many of them were interesting, we decided to up the number of winners from 5 to 10. Hey, that’s a nice problem to have right. </p> <p>So here are the winners, in all their glory.</p> <h3>1. Alexander Mentis: MS WORD EXTEND MODE</h3> <p>This tip is on MS Word’s “extend mode,” which can save you a lot of editing time. While not as powerful as &lt;a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vi&gt;VI’s&lt;/a&gt; command mode, VI users stuck using MS Word will probably appreciate some of this tip. Even people who are familiar with extend mode may not know all of the capabilities below, as I have found them to be rather poorly documented and have pulled this knowledge from experimentation and multiple web sources. This tip works in Word 97, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2010.</p> <p>Enter extended selection mode: F8</p> <p>While in extended selection mode, select from cursor to:</p> <p>- next letter forward/back: [Right Arrow]/[Left Arrow]<br />multiple arrow presses will continue selecting/deselecting individual letters in the chosen direction</p> <p>- end/beginning of current word: Ctrl-[Right Arrow]/Ctrl-[Left Arrow] <br />multiple Ctrl-[Arrow] presses will continue selecting/deselecting whole words in the chosen direction</p> <p>- next occurrence of [character]: [character] <br />In the command above, [character] is some character on the keyboard and is case sensitive. It can also be applied repeatedly. So, for example, if the cursor was at the beginning of the sentence “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dOg”</p> <p>F8 o</p> <p>would select everything up to and including the ‘o’ in “brown”</p> <p>F8 o o o</p> <p>would select everything up to and including the ‘o’ in “over”</p> <p>F8 O</p> <p>would select everything up to and including the ‘O’ in “dOg”</p> <p>Note that this is effectively cumulative, so if you typed:</p> <p>F8 over</p> <p>the end result would be that everything from the cursor position through the entire word “over” is highlighted.</p> <p>- end/beginning of line: End/Home</p> <p>- next line down/up: [Down Arrow]/[Up Arrow]<br />multiple arrow presses continue selecting/deselecting lines in the chosen direction</p> <p>- end/beginning of paragraph: Ctrl-[Down Arrow]/Ctrl-[Up Arrow]<br />multiple arrow presses continue selecting/deselecting paragraphs in the chosen direction</p> <p>- one page up/down: Page Up/Page Down<br />multiple page presses continue selecting/deselecting “pages” in the chosen direction (note, this does not go to page breaks – page size [the amount that will be highlighted] isn’t exactly clear)</p> <p>- beginning/end of document: Ctrl-Home/Ctrl-End</p> <p>- location of [mouse click]: [mouse click]</p> <p>Exit extended selection mode: Esc or some other commands such as Ctrl-C, Ctrl-X, Delete</p> <p>You can also just cycle through “magnitudes” of selection through repeated pressing of the F8 key:<br />one press: enter extend mode<br />two presses: select current word<br />three presses: select current line<br />four presses: select current paragraph<br />five presses: select entire document</p> <p>Shift-F8 cycles through the magnitudes in reverse.</p> <h3>2. John Cimbaro: PHOTOSHOP SHADOWS</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u127998/photoshop-shadows-highlights_small.jpg" width="600" height="155" /></p> <p>Here’s my new fave for Photoshop, which I now use on a daily basis: Image→Adjustments→Shadows/Highlights.</p> <p>This tool conveniently brightens dark areas only, while leaving the lighter areas of the image intact and thus avoiding the washing-out that occurs when simply adjusting brightness. I’ve attached an example, and if you look in particular at the trees in the background, you can see how much of a difference this handy tool can make. In this series, I’ve adjusted the original image with Shadows/Highlights (second panel), and then I’ll usually also adjust the brightness and contrast a bit (third panel; Image→Adjustments→Brightness/Contrast, and I prefer Legacy mode). A slider in the Shadows/Highlights panel lets you adjust the level of brightening to the desired intensity. And if you do happen to have washed-out areas in the original image, the same panel allows you to darken only those areas to increase contrast and help your images “pop”. When I’m cleaning up photos, this is the tool I use most, and I have to credit my graphic-designing wife, the Fantastic Sandy, for clueing me in on this one. I hope my fellow readers will find it as helpful as I have.</p> <h3>3. Martin Marquez: EXCEL HYPERLINK SHORTCUT</h3> <p>I have started using Excel a good bit for budgeting and planning, and I hate the tabs at the bottom. If you have too many then you end up having to scroll – it’s annoying.</p> <p>So what I started doing on big projects is on the first sheet, highlight column A, give it a color, and then freeze it. Label it the Index or Table of Contents on row 1, and then below that on row 2 or 3, I type out the title related to a tab or group of tabs, then below that I type out the subtitle which would be the actual tab and then continue with each additional tab related to a specific topic. An example would be Title: Baby, Subtitle: Diapers, Bottles, Wipes. Then I hyperlink each subtitle to its corresponding tab. Once this is complete in the first sheet, just copy and paste to the other sheets as needed.</p> <h3>4. Dan The Card Man: EXCEL INSERT DATE/TIME</h3> <p>I do a lot of data entry in Excel and how found that if you want to insert the date into a cell, here is what you press: CTRL combined with semicolon; so "CTRL"&nbsp; +&nbsp; ";" </p> <p>If you need to enter the current time: "CTRL" + "SHIFT" + ";"</p> <h3>5. Ben LaRochelle: EXCEL QUICK DATA SELECTION</h3> <p>MS Excel is a great tool for generating .xml or SQL scripts, but can be a real pain when trying to quickly select sections of data in a row or column from one spot to the end of that particular field.&nbsp; That's why I click on the first cell I want to copy and then press Shift + Ctrl + Down or Up key to select just the data to the top or bottom of that column.&nbsp; Or Shift + Ctrl + Left or Right key to select just the data in the row.&nbsp; Then I'm ready to easily copy and paste it into Notepad to save as an .xml or .sql file.</p> <h3>6. Jeff Wiles: iTUNES CENTRALIZATION</h3> <p>A couple of things I do to the settings on iTunes makes it a lot easier to make back-up copies of everything if you have a lot of music in your library. Also, it makes it easier to back up and share music between multiple users on the same computer.</p> <p>Create a folder on a drive that is accessible to all users, name it iTunes, and then create a sub-folder named iTunes 1 Step 2: Go to Edit-&gt; Preferences-&gt; Advanced Tab, and in the iTunes Media Folder Location, browse to the drive and folder you just created and click OK. Now, any music you purchase or import will go to that folder. </p> <p>Once that folder gets to 4 Gigs, or 8 Gigs in size (whichever you prefer), burn a DVD for back-up.</p> <p>Once you have the DVD back-up made, create another sub-folder, iTunes 2. Then repeat Step 2, but browse to your new folder. Once that folder gets to 4 Gigs, or 8 Gigs in size (whichever you prefer), burn a DVD.</p> <p>If you walk other users through these settings on iTunes, all music imported from all users goes to this central location.</p> <p>Also, if one user adds music, it's easy to add that music to another users library without winding up with duplicate files all over your computer...</p> <p>Simply go to File-&gt; Add folder to Library, and browse to the current iTunes folder being used for storage (i.e. iTunes 2), and click Select Folder. iTunes will add all music not previously added.</p> <p>I have a huge library of CDs, tapes and records I am working on digitizing/converting to MP3, and the above system is something I've found works really well for me in managing and backing up our music library. If you have a home server or computer that is always on and acts as a hub for your home, this system would work also.</p> <h3>7. James Gledhill: PHOTOSHOP SKIN TONES</h3> <p>To get really good skin tones quickly I use Levels with the ALT key. Pressing and holding the ALT key while you drag the little white/black sliders will show you where you are losing detail ( aka clipping) by turning the photo black (temporarily) and showing the clipping with colored pixels. By dragging the sliders just until you start to lose a tiny amount of detail in the skin, you can get a great skin tone in a matter of seconds, as well as helping the rest of the picture.</p> <h3>8. Ken Arnold: EXCEL POTPOURRI</h3> <p><strong>Paste Special – Values</strong>: When you have many rows data that is no longer dependent on a formula (you ran the formula and you got the result you needed), highlight the column that contains the results of the formula, right click Copy, right click Paste Special - Values. This takes the formula out and pastes only the result, which is a time saver if you are still manipulating the data. Formulas recalculate when moving data around and if you have a few hundred thousand lines, that can be frustrating.</p> <p><strong>VLOOKUP:&nbsp;</strong>I know this is only a formula that has been in Excel forever, but so many people do not use it or even know that it exists. When you need to merge data on two sheets and there are common data among them, VLOOKUP can pull in data from one sheet to the other using the common identifier (customer ID, order ID, etc). You need 4 things to make VLOOKUP work: a column of data to search off of, an array of data to search (your matching data must be the first column in this array), what column of values you want to return in the unified sheet, and whether you want an exact of fuzzy match. I have seen so many people print out the other sheet and manually reconcile the data.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>ASAP Utilities:&nbsp;</strong>This is a free add-in at <a href="http://www.asap-utilities.com/" target="_blank">http://www.asap-utilities.com/</a>. There is a paid version for businesses. This beast has 21 different categories of things to make your life in Excel easier. Text to number, number padding, number to text, row selection, import data, export data, the list goes on. You have to see it to grasp how you can use it. Anyone who is in Excel a lot needs this. I'm not the developer, just a long-time user.</p> <h3>9. Michael Toellner: Excel Conversion</h3> <p>I read the excel tip “Why not numbers” and I appreciated the tip however I very frequently have the issue where I have a column of numbers and need them to be text, typically to use in a vlookup or “if” formula. The method I use to convert a column of numbers to text (or text to numbers) is the Text to Columns function. To do this, highlight the column, choose Data – Text to Columns, Delimited by nothing and then choose Text to convert to text or General to convert to numbers.</p> <h3>10. Richard Schonegg: Windows 7 God Mode</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u127998/windows-7-admin.jpg" width="600" height="449" /></p> <p>Having all the Admin capabilities in one window is great.&nbsp; I ran across this searching for ways to automate Administration in Windows 7</p> <p>It is called God Mode by some. Create a new folder and rename the folder to the following exactly as shown below:</p> <p>GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}</p> <p>Be sure to rename the folder as shown above from the G to the }</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/contest_winners_10_best_windows_application_tips#comments applications contest contests readers tips Windows Windows Tips Features How-Tos Tue, 12 Apr 2011 21:30:16 +0000 The Maximum PC Staff 18100 at http://www.maximumpc.com 14 Ways to Make Skype Rock http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/14_ways_make_skype_rock <!--paging_filter--><p>Oh, Skype. We have you to thank for transforming thousands, of not hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people into cheapskates. I say that lovingly, for I, too, dream of a day when I can forever free myself from the confines of a monthly cell phone plan and run into the loving, warm embrace of no-monthly-cost, Skype-based chatting…</p> <p>Okay, so maybe that’s a bit overdramatic. But it would be silly to think that Skype hasn’t radically transformed the way a lot of people go about their daily lives. In fact, some people do indeed subsist on this service, and this service alone, for all of their phone-based needs. And many more people use Skype to conduct business; to make podcasts; to call loved ones from afar, as is the case with Maximum PC dream date winner Magali and her French family.</p> <p>In short, Skype is kind of a big deal. You know it, I know it, but… the one thing that you likely don’t know off the top of your head is all the different ways you can maximize your VoIP-chatting experience through the use of third-party Skype add-ons, software tweaks, and more! That’s what we’ll be covering in this comprehensive tips guide: Making Skype awesome.</p> <p>Let’s get started!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Use Your Minutes, Stupid!</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_1.jpg" width="332" height="249" /></p> <p>It seems obvious, but we’ll get the most important tip out of the way up-front: Do not ignore Skype. Don’t ignore the client after you’ve just plunked down your credit card for the service’s Skype Credits (which, of course, allow one to make phone calls from PC to phone). And don’t ignore emails that Skype sends you.</p> <p>Skype isn’t just going to let you keep your paid-for time in perpetuity. No, after 180 days of non-use, the company will invalidate any Credits you’ve purchased on your account. Stinks, huh? Make sure you heed Skype’s warning messages and place a call—any duration of a call—when asked to do so, and you won’t lose your cash, credits, or temper.</p> <p>[beginner]</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Set Up Sound Selections</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_2.jpg" width="415" height="353" /></p> <p>Skype isn’t that complicated to use—at least, not nearly as complicated as your average soundboard or, perhaps, even the Windows volume controls themselves. However, it’s worth your while to test out your call and microphone volumes before you blow someone’s ears out with a cacophony of sound.</p> <p>First off, place a test call using the lovely link likely located right in your Skype contacts window (or just dial up user name: echo123). How’s it sound? If you want to make changes, fire up Skype’s options panel via the Tools menu, then select Audio Settings on the left. Uncheck the options to allow Skype to automatically adjust your volume settings and, instead, pick something that’s more to <em>your</em> liking.</p> <p>And a side bonus: If you have more than one pair of speakers attached to your computer for whatever reason (or, say, headphones), you can use the “Ringing” drop-down menu to select where incoming Skype rings should play.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Stop Bugging Me</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_3.jpg" width="415" height="261" /></p> <p>As you begin your travels through Skype, you might notice little notifications popping up in the lower-right corner of your desktop. That’s normal—you can tweak the reasons why Skype needs to tell you something within the “Notifications” section of the options window.</p> <p>One thing you might not know about, however—the annoying advertisements and information boxes that Skype slaps onto the bottom of its main window can be eliminated in a similar fashion as well. Click on the “Alerts &amp; Messages” sub-menu below the “Notifications” section on your options panel, then uncheck both “Help and Skype Tips” and “Promotions.” I hate promotions, don’t you?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Let Your Fingers Do the Walking</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_4.jpg" /></p> <p>Did you know that you can perform a few Skype functions—like answering a call—without even having to move your hand to your system’s mouse or trackpad? Yes, Virginia, Skype has built-in hotkey functionality buried within its options panel as well. And unfortunately for novice users, these helpful timesavers aren’t enabled by default within the program.</p> <p>Hit up the “Advanced” menu in your options panel and select the “Hotkeys” submenu. Clicking on the appropriate box to turn said hotkeys on will allow you to now answer calls, ignore calls, and hang up—amongst other tasks—by mashing a configurable combination of keys on your keyboard.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Control Your Contacts</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_5.jpg" width="415" height="279" /></p> <p>Alright, Mr. or Miss popular. If you’ve just spent the last 10 minutes adding all of your friends as Skype contacts (hint: Contacts Menu &gt; Import Contacts), you’re going to rip your hair out at your person-packed list of people you can call via the main Skype screen.</p> <p>Thankfully, someone at good ol’ Skype HQ decided to build categories into the program, which you can use to segment your “buddy list,” as it were, into whatever classifications you want. Click on the drop-down arrow of the “All Contacts” menu on your main Skype screen, then select “Create New Category.” Give it a witty name, then drag-and-drop your friends into this new listing. You can pull it up the same way you created it—via the handy drop-down menu above your contacts list.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><a href="http://voipcallrecording.com/">Record Thyself</a></h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_6.jpg" width="415" height="169" /></p> <p>If you’re decently familiar with Skype, then surely you’ve heard of Pamela—a paid-for application that allows you to record your Skype calls as easy as it is to click a button. If you’re an interviewer, or just plain devious, it’s one of the best solutions we’ve found for transforming a chit-chat into an editable MP3.</p> <p>But… it costs money. So, barring that, check out MP3 Skype Recorder instead. As the name implies, this free app allows you to record Skype calls of any length—either automatically or manually—and output said conversations as compressed MP3 files. Take that, spending money.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><a href="https://extras.skype.com/">Pack In Some Add-Ons</a></h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_7.jpg" width="415" height="380" /></p> <p>Did you know that Skype comes with its own repository of add-ons, analogous to the browser extensions you can install in an app like Mozilla’s Firefox or Google’s Chrome? Yep. They’re called “Skype Extras,” and it would take us another article and a half to describe all of the cool-slash-useful stuff you can find within Skype’s official repository of plugins.</p> <p>Just point your browser over to good ol’ extras.skype.com and get surfing. The extras are not only sorted by category but, if you’re really lazy, you can also arrange them by upload date and popularity—the latter’s perfect if you just want the best-in-class add-ons as chosen by your peers <em>right now</em>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><a href="http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-make-skype-work-on-a-portable-usb-stick/">Go Portable</a></h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_8.jpg" /></p> <p>So you have Skype installed on your system. Great. Now what if you want to try and call one of your friends from your locked-down work PC? Or, for that matter, any system you have physical access too? What if, for whatever reason, you can’t install Skype?</p> <p>Simple—grab a thumbdrive and bring it with you. The steps are a bit complicated, but <a href="http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-make-skype-work-on-a-portable-usb-stick/">MakeUseOf</a> has an excellent write-up of how you can transform your normal Skype executable into a portable program. Who needs a cell phone when you can have Skype on a stick?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><a href="http://www.ring2skype.com/">One Free Skype Number, Coming Up!</a></h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_9.jpg" /></p> <p>Provided it still works once you read this, the Web service <a href="http://www.ring2skype.com/">Ring2Skype</a> is an excellent way to essentially bypass the fees that Skype would normally charge you to have a dedicated phone number. In a nutshell, a dedicated Skype number—otherwise known as an Online Number—allows anyone in the world to dial you up directly to your PC. Their call goes through on their phones; you receive the rings on your Skype client.</p> <p>Ring2Skype essentially gives you a number with a unique extension—when your friends dial that up, the service will route the call to your normal Skype user ID. Simple as that.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><a href="http://eion.robbmob.com/">Pidgin Integration</a></h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_10.jpg" width="415" height="301" /></p> <p>If you’re a fan of Pidgin—and who isn’t—then know that you can indeed integrate this multipurpose desktop instant messaging client with your existing Skype client. I warn you—it’s not a seamless method by any means. You’ll still have to have Skype actually open and running on your system in order to have your friends show up in your Pidgin list. You can thank the closed-source Skype for that.</p> <p>However, the Skype API Plugin presents small prices to pay if you’re the kind of person who likes mashing his or her contacts into a single, unified list. We do.</p> <h2><a href="https://imo.im/">A Web-Based Skype?</a></h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_11.jpg" width="415" height="165" /></p> <p>Remember that tip we gave you about making Skype portable using a USB key? What if you don’t have (or don’t want to use) a USB key? Okay. Check out the service <a href="https://imo.im/">imo.im</a>, which presents you a super-awesome collection of messaging services that you can sign into via one unified web portal.</p> <p>Seriously. The service integrates perfectly with Skype, in that you can still access all the contacts on your account, send them messages and, most importantly, pull up video and voice chats at the touch of a button. We didn’t believe it ourselves at first, but imo.im truly is the go-to solution for when you need to make a call on the run! Er, with your PC, that is.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><a href="http://code.google.com/p/skypeautoanswer/">Automatic Answering</a></h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_12.jpg" /></p> <p>Hello! Your friend calling! Nobody likes the monotonous task of actually having to answer the phone, be it physical or digital. But, thankfully, we have a solution for the latter when it comes to Skype. Using the useful plugin Skypeautoanswer, you can set up lists of friends with which you’d like to grant the awesome functionality present in this plugin’s name.</p> <p>Add a buddy to your auto-answer list, and Skype will do just that: Pick up the phone or, if you prefer, initiate a video chat with a person as soon as the app detects that said person is ringing you up. Clever users take note: This is the perfect add-on if you just want to dial up your home PC and check out what’s happening via your webcam! It’s also a great way to show your friends just how much you care.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><a href="http://industrydynamics.ca/skype_plugins.php">Super-Specific Friend Notifications</a></h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_13.jpg" /></p> <p>Oh, shoot, your boss just put his or her Skype status to “away.” Time to fire up Reddit, eh? The handy add-on VoiceGear Contact Alerter does just that—it will pop up a notification whenever any friends you’ve targeted changes their online status to any, well, status you want to configure the app for.</p> <p>Confused? It’s as easy as my not-so-funny explanation. The second a contact changes to, say, “away,” or “N/A,” or “offline,” the add-on will immediately let you know of the switch via a sound and/or a custom message that you can set for each individual contact. You can also send messages to said friends the moment their status changes to a particular item—as soon as Nathan logs on, let him know that he still owes you $10 for that pizza.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><a href="http://www.skype.com/intl/en/get-skype/on-your-computer/click-and-call/?cm_mmc=Skype-_-Dynamic_Content-_-ClickToCall">Skype Up Firefox, Chrome, and IE</a></h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/skype_1210_14.jpg" /></p> <p>Integrating Skype into your Web browser isn’t that difficult. However, if you try to look for a specific Skype extension within the standard Google or Firefox add-on repositories, you’ll be sorely disappointed. That’s because Skype’s shuffled away its one-plugin-fits-all add-on onto its own site, and the name of said tool is, “Click and Call.”</p> <p>Install it, and you’ll be able to instantly click on any discernable phone number you find on the Web and call it via your Skype account. The add-on will even notify you if a particular number requires actual Skype credits or subscriptions to dial up. Simple, easy, efficient—just hard to find at first!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.twitter.com/acererak">David Murphy</a> used to never use Skype; He's a complete and total convert now.&nbsp; All Hail our New Skype Overlords.</strong></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/14_ways_make_skype_rock#comments add-on app call guide hack list number phone program Skype Software tips tweak Windows Tips Features Web Exclusive Fri, 10 Dec 2010 20:03:09 +0000 David Murphy 16018 at http://www.maximumpc.com 14 Windows Media Player Power Tips http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/14_windows_media_player_power_tips <!--paging_filter--><p>Windows Media Player: The end-all, be-all software for displaying most multimedia on your system. It’s an inescapable part of the Windows experience. While, sure, it seems as if there are as many alternative song library apps, video playing utilities, and music-blasting programs as there are pages on the Internet, it’s hard to resist the urge to turn to the simple, no-fuss attraction of good ol’ WMP. It works; it’s there; it’s quick to load and it plays your files without hassle.</p> <p>Sort-of.</p> <p>With any multimedia application, there are always going to be ways to tweak your experience. Some are inherent to the program itself, some require a modification or a tweak to unlock, and others can be seen as a kind-of total converstion: a third-party application that works in tandem with your multimedia app to bring forth some kind of awesome new functionality.</p> <p>We’re fans of all three scenarios at Maximum PC. And let’s face it: Windows Media Player might be entrenched inside of your operating system worse than a camper in Call of Duty: Black Ops, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t build it up into the Greatest Media Player Ever with a few (or more) helpful tips. We’ve split our list into sections based on the difficulty of the tweak—let’s get started!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>In celebration of Windows' 25th Anniversary, check out our other Windows articles: <a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/future_windows_what_we_want_win_8" target="_blank">The Future of Windows </a>and<a href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/11_oses_tried_and_failed_take_down_windows?page=0,1" target="_blank"> 11 OSes that Tried</a>!</em></strong></p> <h2>Install Zune</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips1.png" width="415" height="287" /></p> <p>No, we’re not trolling you. It’s important that we mention, right off the bat, that Microsoft’s other multimedia player is really a stronger selection when it comes to playing music. It’s prettier, the interface is light-years beyond Windows Media Player in terms of raw elegance, and it effortlessly connects up to the Zune Marketplace for your music-grabbing needs. Or video-grabbing needs. Or podcast-grabbing needs.</p> <p>Simply put, Zune is the closest Microsoft has to its own iTunes. You just aren’t going to find this kind of functionality within Windows Media Player, nor will you really find any kind of social or recommendation-based tips for music management (or acquisitions). Windows Media Player—as the name implies—plays media. That’s it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Enable Streaming</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips2.png" width="415" height="305" /></p> <p>Just because you’ve gone and made it through Windows Media Player’s default configuration screens (upon first launch of the app) doesn’t mean that you’ve scratched the surface of this app’s powerful capabilities. Case in point: Media Streaming.</p> <p>Not only is it in your best interests to make sure that your system is set up for Homegroup sharing (click “Stream” and the “Turn on media streaming…” option), but you’ll also want to enable the back-and-forth connections that allow WMP to automatically see other devices on your network (and vice versa). Hit up the Network and Sharing Center via your Control Panel and click on “Advanced Sharing Settings” on the left side of the window. Turn on Network Discovery and Media Streaming.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Play to… Who?</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips3.png" width="357" height="216" /></p> <p>If you’ve successfully set up WMP to find and share its contents within your home network, it’s worth your while to go back and perform those same series of steps on all the other applicable devices attached to your home router. With one addition, of course: Click on the Stream button within WMP and select the “Allow remote access…” option. In the case of consoles like the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, be sure to enable whatever their versions of media streaming happen to be.</p> <p>Why’s that? Within WMP, you can right-click on a given file and select the “play to” option (provided the software can see other sharing-friendly products on your network). And when you do that, you’ll be blasting your song on over to whatever device you’ve selected—music to your ears, indeed!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Visualize Your Rock</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips4.png" width="415" height="341" /></p> <p>The default WMP screen doesn’t lend itself to much eye candy. When you start to jam a song, click on the tiny icon in the bottom-right of WMP’s library screen (hovering over it will cause “Switch to Now Playing” to appear. Do that, and you’ve just fired up WMP’s built-in visualizations engine. Right click on the miniature player window to select new effects via the “Visualizations” submenu.</p> <p>You can download new visualizations (and plugins—their more data- and effects-related counterparts) by using the CTRL+1 hotkey to jump back to your library, then mashing CTRL+T to access your Tools menu. From there, select the “Download” submenu to hunt down more cool things to mash into your player!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Friends Don’t Let Friends See Viewing Habits</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips5.png" /></p> <p>Nothing is more embarrassing than chugging on over to your friend’s house, hopping on his or her computer to jam the latest Maximum PC podcast, and finding that the “most frequently played” or “recent files” listing accidentally lists a ton of videos of an unsavory nature that, perhaps, your friend would not like you to know about.</p> <p>Don’t be that friend.</p> <p>To keep WMP from archiving a list of your most frequently played media—whatever that media happens to be—be sure to hit up its options window (under the Tools menu). When you’re in there, click to the privacy tab and uncheck all four options at the very bottom of the screen—music, video, pictures, and playlists!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>You Ripping Robot You</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips6.png" /></p> <p>Transferring media to and from a CD couldn’t be easier in Windows Media Player. Or could it? Instead of having to toss a disc in, click on over to the disc, and select the “rip music” option, you can easily transform WMP into an auto-ripping machine. Just click on the Options link under the “Tools” menu and navigate on over to the “Rip Music” tab. Make sure your settings are exactly how you want them to be, then check the “Rip CD automatically” box.</p> <p>Now, the second you slap a fresh piece of musical media into your optical drive, WMP will go about the enjoyable process of stealing its contents down to your hard drive. Rinse, wash, and repeat for as many discs as you want Windows to deal with. And if you want to get really speedy, check the “Eject CD After Ripping” option as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Sandal Says: Enchantments?</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips7.png" width="415" height="346" /></p> <p>If your only experience with Windows Media Player is via its Library screen, you’re missing out. Jam CTRL+3 to jump into the “Now Playing” window and, from there, right-click anywhere within the screen and select the “Enchantments” submenu. Click on any of the listed tweaks to get started.</p> <p>In short, this series of screens (which you can navigate through using the right- and left-facing arrow buttons at the top) is where you enable and disable the various auditory effects built into WMP. Toggle auto-volume-leveling and cross-fading on and off, tweak equalizer bands, adjust playback speed, and set up the integrated SRS WOW effects for maximum, software-created bass and field-expansion effects… amongst other features, of course!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Giving Windows Media Player One Big Plus</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips8.png" width="415" height="306" /></p> <p>Sometimes, you need to turn to a third-party developer to really unlock the best combinations of productive hacks for a particular piece of software. That’s not quite the case with the add-on package Windows Media Player Plus—even though it sounds like its own piece of software, if not a downright unlock, it’s actually just a really helpful amalgam of add-ons designed to maximize your WMP experience.</p> <p>How? It builds a new tag editor, instant search capabilities, and automatic playlist-loading on startup right into WMP, amongst other useful features. Give it a shot!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>What the Heck is a Codec?</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips9.png" width="415" height="329" /></p> <p>Good question. If you go to play a movie file on your hard drive, only to find that Windows Media Player is giving you the soundtrack instead of the visual picture to go with it, then odds are pretty good that you lack the appropriate digital resources to decode your file into an actual video. In short, you’re missing the right codec.</p> <p>Rather than get trapped in the big, “should you install them or not?” argument when it comes to codecs, we will leave you with this: the Combined Community Codec Pack is easy to install, simple to set up, and comes with no external trappings, obtrusive toolbars, or annoying clutter. If you want to watch every video under the sun, install it!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Streaming Across the Web</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips10.png" width="415" height="301" /></p> <p>And here you thought we were done with the file-sharing chit-chat. Nope! A lesser-known feature of Windows Media Player 12 is its ability to allow you to share your music library with approved systems across the Web. That’s right. You can jam to your personal collection at work all the way up until your boss signs the pink slip.</p> <p>Click on the Stream button within WMP’s Library view and select, “Allow Internet Access to Home Media.” You’ll have to sign up for (and download) a file from Microsoft in order to link your Windows Live ID to your actual desktop system. But once you’ve done so (on two different computers, that is), your personal radio station of-sorts will be good to do.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Lock Your PC, Lazy</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips11.png" width="415" height="234" /></p> <p>Let’s face it. Life is short. One doesn’t always have time to pause a sound file or otherwise stop one’s jam session when more important issues beckon for whatever reason. That’s where the third-party app MonitorES comes into the picture. If you have to jet away for a period of time, just lock your PC (with the handy Windows Key+L shortcut combination, to note). MonitorES will not only pause your music in Windows Media Player, but it’ll also flip your monitor off and set the status of your instant messaging clients to whatever you’d like. Easy as pie.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Hotkey it Up</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips12.png" /></p> <p>It’s not that difficult to use Windows Media Player’s built-in hotkeys to control elements like song playback, rewinding, looping, et cetera. So what’s the problem? You have to actually switch over to the application in order to use said shortcuts—you can’t just jam CTRL+P inside any window to pause or play a particular song in question.</p> <p>WMPKeys fixes that by giving you new, global hotkeys for a few of WMP’s more commonly used features. Mash the correct combination and you’ll be able to skip tracks, play music, and even rate songs no matter what window or application you’re staring at.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>I Want To Play More</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips13.png" width="415" height="314" /></p> <p>BM Productions is two-for-two in this little Windows Media Player tome of knowledge. The creators of the aforementioned Windows Media Player Plus! Application are at it again, armed this time with a plug-in that gives your common application access to even more file formats than it could previously support!</p> <p>Yes, that’s right. Their plug-in called WMP Tag Plus will unlock the ability to add MPEG-4, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, and WavPack files into your WMP library. You won’t be able to play them, however—check out some of the “additional packages” that BM Productions recommends if you really want WMP to be your default audio gateway for your massive FLAC collection. Shoot, we were happy enough to be able to edit FLAC metadata within WMP.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Say What?</h2> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u16580/1110_wmptips14.png" /></p> <p>If you’re a fan of subtitles within movies, then you are likely not a fan of Windows Media Player 12’s less than stellar support for printed text you want to arranged overtop movies. That’s fine. Grab the add-on DirectVobSub to open up access to a bevy of popular subtitle formats. So long as the plug-in is working and enabled, all you have to do is make sure that the corresponding subtitle file follows two rules: It’s named exactly the same filename (minus the extension, obviously) as the file of the video you’re trying to watch, and it’s located in the same folder as said video. That’s it!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Maximum PC's <a href="http://www.twitter.com/acererak">David Murphy</a> is a total multimedia junkie.&nbsp; He's probably watching a movie right now, in fact.</strong></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/14_windows_media_player_power_tips#comments how-tos Windows Windows How-Tos Windows Tips Features Web Exclusive Tue, 16 Nov 2010 23:16:15 +0000 David Murphy 15641 at http://www.maximumpc.com 20 Windows 7 Tweaks & Tips – Every Secret Uncovered to Date http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/20_windows_7_tweaks_tips_%E2%80%93_every_secret_uncovered_date <!--paging_filter--><table border="0" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td>  <script type="text/javascript"> digg_url = 'http://maximumpc.com/article/features/20_windows_7_tweaks_tips_%E2%80%93_every_secret_uncovered_date'; </script><script src="http://digg.com/tools/diggthis.js" type="text/javascript"></script></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>It's been <a href="/article/news/how_get_windows_7_public_beta">over a week</a> since the Windows 7 Beta was released to the public. You've read our <a href="/article/features/handson_with_windows_7">initial impressions</a> and even <a href="/article/howtos/how_to_install_windows_7_beta_a_usb_key">followed our guide</a> to installing the OS using a USB key. So what now? Microsoft's post-Vista Windows experience is more than the obvious Taskbar and user interface updates; there are plenty of hidden features and shortcuts that haven't been advertised. But fear not: we've compiled a list of every known Windows 7 tweak and secret. Follow these 20 tricks to make the most out of this beta and become a Windows 7 power user.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts</h2> <p>Let's kick off with keyboard shortcuts – the first thing every power user must memorize with working with a new operating system. In Windows 7, we’ve uncovered several new sets of essential time-saving shortcuts that will make your mouse jealous with neglect. </p> <h3>Alt + P</h3> <p align="center"> <a href="/files/u17625/shortcut1.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="/files/u17625/shortcut1_sm.jpg" width="415" height="313" /></a></p> <p>In Windows Explorer, activate an additional file preview pane to the right side of the window with this new shortcut. This panel is great for previewing images in your photos directory. </p> <h3>Windows + + (plus key)</h3> <h3>Windows + - (minus key)</h3> <p align="center"> <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/magnifier1_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/magnifier1_sm.jpg" width="415" height="259" /></a></p> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/magnifier.jpg" width="352" height="302" /></p> <p>Pressing the Windows and plus or minus keys activates the Magnifier, which lets you zoom in on the entire desktop or open a rectangular magnifying lens to zoom in and out of parts of your screen. You can customize the Magnifier options to follow your mouse pointer or keyboard cursor. Keep in mind that so far, the Magnifier only works when Aero desktop is enabled. </p> <h3>Windows + Up </h3> <h3>Windows + Down</h3> <p> If a window is not maximized, pressing Windows + Up will fill it to your screen. Windows + Down will minimize that active window. Unfortunately, pressing Windows + Up again while a window is minimized won’t return it to its former state. </p> <h3>Windows + Shift + Up</h3> <p align="center"> <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/shiftup_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/shiftup_sm.jpg" width="415" height="259" /></a></p> <p>Similar to the shortcut above, hitting these three keys while a window is active will stretch it vertically to the maximum desktop height. The width of the window will however stay the same. Pressing Windows + Down will restore it to its previous size. </p> <h3>Windows + Left</h3> <h3>Windows + Right</h3> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/winleft.jpg" width="415" height="259" /></p> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/winright.jpg" width="415" height="259" /></p> <p>One of the new features of Windows 7 is the ability to automatically make a window fill up half of your screen by dragging to the left or right. This pair of shortcuts performs the same function without your mouse. Once a window is fixed to one side of the screen, you can repeat the shortcut to flip it to the other side. This is useful if you’re extending a desktop across multiple monitors, which prevents you from executing this trick with a mouse. </p> <h3>Windows + Home</h3> <p>This shortcut performs a similar function to hovering over a window’s peek menu thumbnail in the Taskbar. The active window will stay on your desktop while every other open application is minimized. Pressing this shortcut again will restore all the other windows. </p> <h3>Windows + E</h3> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/wine.jpg" width="415" height="259" /></p> <p>Automatically opens up a new Explorer window to show your Libraries folder. </p> <h3>Windows + P</h3> <p align="center"> <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/winp_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/winp_sm.jpg" width="415" height="259" /></a></p> <p>Manage your multiple-monitor more efficiently with this handy shortcut. Windows + P opens up a small overlay that lets you configure a second display or projector. You can switch from a single monitor to dual-display in either mirror or extend desktop mode. </p> <h3>Windows + Shift + Left </h3> <h3>Windows + Shift + Right</h3> <p>If you are using two or more displays (and who isn’t, these days?), memorize this shortcut to easily move a window from one screen to the other. The window retains its size and relative position on the new screen, which his useful when working with multiple documents. Utilize that real estate!</p> <h3>Windows + [Number]</h3> <p>Programs (and new instances) pinned to your Taskbar can be launched by hitting Windows and the number corresponding to its placement on the Taskbar. Windows + 1, for example, launches the first application, while Windows + 4 will launch the fourth. We realize that this is actually one key-press more than just clicking the icon with your mouse, but it saves your hand the trouble of leaving the comfort of the keyboard. </p> <h3>Windows + T</h3> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/wint.jpg" width="415" height="207" /></p> <p>Like Alt + Tab (still our all time favorite Windows specific shortcut), Windows + T cycles through your open programs via the Taskbar’s peek menu. </p> <h3>Windows + Space</h3> <p align="center"> <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/winspace_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/winspace_sm.jpg" width="415" height="259" /></a></p> <p>This combo performs the same function as moving your mouse to the bottom right of the Taskbar. It makes every active window transparent so you can view your desktop. The windows only remain transparent as long as you’re holding down the Windows key. </p> <h3>Ctrl + Shift + Click</h3> <p>Hold down Ctrl and Shift while launching an application from the Taskbar or start menu to launch it with full administrative rights.</p> <h3>Ctrl + Click</h3> <p>Hold down Ctrl while repeatedly clicking a program icon in the Taskbar will toggle between the instances of that application, like multiple Firefox windows (though not browser tabs). </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <h2>Calibrate Text Rendering and Color</h2> <p>The first thing you need to do after a clean install of Windows 7 on a laptop is to tune and calibrate CleartType text and Display Color. Windows 7 includes two built-in wizards that run you through the entire process, pain free. </p> <p>Launch ClearType Text Tuning by typing “cttune” in the Start Menu search field and opening the search result. You’ll go through a brief series of steps that asks you to identify the best-looking text rendering method. </p> <div align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/calibratetext_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/calibratetext_sm.jpg" width="415" height="337" /></a></div> <p>For Display Color Calibration – very useful if you’re using Windows 7 with a projector or large-screen LCD – search and launch “dccw” from the Start Menu. It’ll run you through a series of pages where you can adjust the gamma, brightness, contrast, and color of the screen to make images look their best. </p> <p align="center"> <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/calibratecolor_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/calibratecolor_sm.jpg" width="415" height="250" /></a></p> <h2>Better Font Management and a New Graceful Font</h2> <p>Font management is much improved in Windows 7. Gone is the “Add Fonts” dialog , replaced with additional functionality in the Fonts folder. First, the folder shows font previews in each font file’s icon (viewed with Large or Extra Large icons). Fonts from a single set will no longer show up as different fonts and are now combined as a single family (which can be expanded by double clicking the icon). You can also toggle fonts on and off by right clicking a font icon and selected the “hide” option. This will prevent applications from loading the font (and therefore save memory), but keep the file retained in the Font folder. </p> <div align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/fontfolder_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/fontfolder_sm.jpg" width="415" height="347" /></a></div> <p>A new font called Gabriola also comes bundled with Windows 7, which takes advantage of the new OpenType and DirectWrite (Direct2D) rendering. </p> <h2>The Gaming Grotto is a Less Ghetto</h2> <p>One of our biggest pet peeves of Windows Vista is the Games Folder, which we not-so-affectionately refer to as the Gaming Grotto. Games for Windows titles and other game shortcuts would automatically install to this directory, which we could only access with a Start Menu shortcut. The concept wasn’t bad except for the fact that it prevented us from starting a game up from the Start Menu search bar. We could call up any other program by typing its name in the Start Menu field except the games installed to the Games Folder. Fortunately, this oversight is fixed in Windows 7. </p> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/gamingghetto.jpg" width="261" height="396" /></p> <h2>Become More Worldly with Hidden Wallpapers</h2> <p>Windows 7 Beta comes with the Betta fish as its default desktop wallpaper, but it also includes six desktop backgrounds catered to your region (as identified when you first installed the OS). US users, for example, get six 1900x1200 images showing off famous National Parks and beaches. The available wallpapers for other regions are still included in a hidden folder. </p> <div align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/globalmct_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/globalmct_sm.jpg" width="415" height="363" /></a></div> <p>To access these international wallpapers, bring up the Start Menu search bar and type “Globalization”. The only result should be a folder located in the main Windows directory. You should only be able to see “ELS and “Sorting” folders here so far. Next, search for “MCT” in the top right search bar. This will display five new unindexed folders, each corresponding to a different global region. Browse these folders for extra themes and wallpapers!</p> <p align="center"> <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/globalwall_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/globalwall_sm.jpg" width="415" height="252" /></a></p> <h2>Take Control of UAC</h2> <p>Despite good intentions, User Account Control pop-ups were one of the most annoying aspects of Vista, and a feature that most of us immediately disabled after a clean install. UAC in Windows 7 displays fewer warnings, but you can also fine-tune its notification habits by launching the UAC Settings from the start menu. Just type “UAC” in the Start Menu search field and click the result. We find that setting just above “Never notify” gives a comfortable balance between mindful security and incessant nagging. </p> <p align="center"><a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/uac_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/uac_sm.jpg" width="415" height="277" /></a> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <h2>Calculate your Mortgage and Other <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drE5cHe6c3s">Maths</a> Tricks</h2> <p>Wordpad and Paint aren’t the only upgraded programs in Windows 7. The reliable Calculator applet has been beefed up to do more than just basic arithmetic. In Vista, the Calculator had Standard and Scientific modes. Now, you can toggle between Standard, Scientific, Programmer, and even Statistics modes. </p> <p align="center"> <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/calc1_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/calc1_sm.jpg" width="415" height="249" /></a></p> <p>In addition, the Options menu lets you pull out many new automated conversation tools, such has Unit Conversion (ie. Angles, Temperature, Velocity, or Volume) and Date Calculation (calculate the difference between two dates). More templates give you the ability to crunch Gas Mileage, Lease, and even Mortgage estimates based on any variables you input. </p> <p align="center"> <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/calc2_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/calc2_sm.jpg" width="415" height="220" /></a></p> <h2>Track Your Actions with Problem Steps Recorder</h2> <p>The primary reason for releasing the Windows 7 Beta was for Microsoft’s developers to get feedback from users. (Notice the glaring Send Feedback link at the top of every window?) In addition, the devs have built in a diagnostic tool called Problem Steps Recorder that combines screen captures with mouse tracking to record your actions. You can launch this program from the Start Menu by typing “psr.exe” in the search field. </p> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/recorder.jpg" width="415" height="65" /></p> <p>Hit the Record button and Problem Steps Recorder starts tracking your mouse and keyboard input while taking screenshots that correspond with each new action. Stop recording and your session is saved to an HTML slide show recreating your steps, in which you can add comments and annotations. It’s particularly useful if you need to create a tutorial for a computer-illiterate relative. </p> <h2>Explore from “My Computer”</h2> <p>Windows Explorer’s default landing folder is the Libraries directory, but some of us are more comfortable with using “My Computer” as the default node, especially if we use multiple hard drives and external storage devices. </p> <p>To change the default node, find Windows Explorer in the Start Menu by typing “explorer” in the Start Menu search field and right click the first result. Select “Properties”. Under the Shortcut tab, the Target location should read: %SystemRoot% and the Target should be: %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe</p> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/explorernode1.jpg" width="377" height="533" /></p> <p>Paste the following in the Target field: %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /root,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/explorernode1.jpg" width="377" height="533" /> </p> <p>New instances of Explorer will open up to “My Computer”. You’ll need to unpin and replace the existing Explorer shortcut from the Taskbar to complete the transition. Just right-click the icon, hit, “Unpin this program from the taskbar” to remove it, and then drag Explorer from the Start Menu back into place. </p> <h2>Burn, Baby, Burn</h2> <p>No more messing around with malware-infected free burning software – Windows 7 comes loaded with DVD and CD ISO burning software. Double-click your image file and Windows will start a tiny program window to help burn your disc. It’s a barebones app, but it works!</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/isoburn.jpg" width="363" height="340" /> </p> <h2>Reveal All of Your Drives</h2> <p>If you use built-in memory card readers in a 3.5” drive bay or on your Dell Monitor, empty memory card slots will not show up as drives in My Computer. But that doesn’t mean they’re not still there! To reveal hidden memory card slots, open up My Computer. Press Alt to show the toolbar at the top of the screen, and go to Folder Options under Tools. Hit the View tab and uncheck the “Hide empty drives in the Computer folder” option.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/hidedrives.jpg" width="396" height="481" /> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Arrange Your Taskbar (System Tray, Too)</h2> <p>The programs that you pin to your Taskbar can be moved around to any order you want, whether they’re just shortcut icons or actually active applications. We recommend moving frequently used programs and folders to the front of the stack, so it’ll be easily to launch them with the aforementioned Windows + [number] shortcut. The Taskbar, if unlocked, can also be dragged to latch to the left, right, or even top of your desktop. Windows 7 improves side-docked Taskbar support with better gradient rendering and shortcut support. It really works well if you’re using a widescreen monitor. </p> <div align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/systemtray.jpg" width="302" height="334" /></div> <p>Just as the Taskbar icons can be rearranged at will, the icons in the System Tray (actually called Notification Area) can be dragged and set to any order as well. Hidden Icons can be dragged back into view, and you can hide icons by dropping them into the Hidden Icon well – which is easier than working through the Notification Area Customization menu. </p> <h2>Bring Quick Launch Back from the Dead</h2> <p>The Quick Launch is superfluous with the presence of the updated Taskbar, but you can still bring it back with the following steps: </p> <p>•    Right-click the Taskbar, hover over Toolbars, and select New Toolbar.<br />•    In the Folder selection field at the bottom, enter the following string: <br />%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch <br />•    Turn off the “lock the Taskbar” setting, and right-click on the divider. Disable “Show Text” and “Show Title” and set the view option to “Small Icons”. <br />•    Drag the divider to rearrange the toolbar order to put Quick Launch where you want it, and then right-click the Taskbar to lock it again. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Cling to Vista’s Taskbar</h2> <p>Let’s start with the bad news: Windows 7 eliminates the option to use the classic grey Windows 2000-style Taskbar. You’re also committed to the modern version of the Start Menu. But the good news is that you can still tweak the Taskbar to make it run like it did in Windows Vista – replacing the program icons with full names of each open app.</p> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/vistataskbar1.jpg" width="414" height="461" /></p> <p>Right-click the Taskbar and hit properties. Check the “use small icons” box and select “combine when Taskbar is full” from the dropdown menu under Taskbar buttons. You still get the peekview thumbnail feature of the Taskbar, and inactive program remain as single icons, but opened programs will display their full names. Combine this with the old-school Quick Launch toolbar to complete the Vista illusion. </p> <p align="center"> <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/vistataskbar_full.jpg" class="thickbox"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/vistataskbar_sm.jpg" width="415" height="10" /></a></p> <h2>Banish Programs to the System Tray</h2> <p>All active programs show up as icons on the Taskbar, whether you want them to or not. While this is useful for web browsing or word processing, your taskbar can get cluttered up with icons you would normally expect to be hidden away, like for Steam or a chat client. You can keep active instances of these programs hidden away in the System Tray/Notification Area by right-clicking their shortcuts, navigating to the Compatibility tab, and selecting “Windows Vista” under the Compatibility Mode drop-down menu. This only works for programs that would previously hide away from the Taskbar in Vista.</p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/vistacompat1.jpg" width="415" height="341" /> </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/vistacompat.jpg" width="377" height="533" /> </p> <h2>Accelerate your Start Menu</h2> <p>The Start Menu hasn’t changed much from Vista, but there are some notable improvements. The default power button is thankfully changed to Shut Down the system, as opposed to Hibernation, as it was in Vista. This can be changed to do other actions from the Start Menu Properties menu. </p> <div align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/startmenupower.jpg" width="414" height="461" /></div> <p>Additional customization brings Videos and Recorded TV as links or menus to the right side of the Start Menu, next to your Documents, Music, and Games. Feel free to mess around the Customization options since you can always return to the default Start Menu settings by clicking the “default”  button at the bottom. </p> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/startmenucust.jpg" width="393" height="483" /> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Fix MP3 Bug</h2> <p>There’s a reason this Windows 7 release is a Beta. The versions of Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player that shipped with the OS have a nasty bug that may damage your MP3 files. By default, Windows Media Player 12 enables a feature that auto fills-in missing metadata on your imported music files, which includes large album art. But filling in this metadata on files that already have large headers will permanently cut away a few seconds of audio from the beginning of the track. Microsoft offers a hotfix on this page: <a href="http://support.microsoft.com/kb/961367">http://support.microsoft.com/kb/961367</a> in addition to a workaround if you don’t want to install the fix: </p> <h3>Workarounds for the MP3 file corruption issue</h3> <p>If you do not apply this update, the most effective workaround is to set the properties of all MP3 files to read-only on local hard disks, removable drives, and network shares that can be accessed by Windows 7 Beta computers. To do this, follow these steps:<br />1.    In Windows Explorer, select and right-click your MP3 files, and then click Properties.<br />2.    On the General tab, click to select the Read-only check box.<br />3.    We recommend that you back up all the MP3 files before you use Windows Media Player or Windows Media Center.<br />A simpler but less complete workaround is to disable metadata automatic updates in Windows Media Player by setting the Windows Media Player options. To do this, follow these steps:<br />1.    On the Tools menu, click Options.<br />2.    On the Library tab, click to clear the Retrieve additional information from the Internet check box and the Maintain my star ratings as global ratings in files check box.<br />3.    Click OK.</p> <h3>A possible solution to the MP3 file corruption issue</h3> <p>If some of your MP3 files have already been affected, you might be able to restore the corrupted MP3 files to their pre-edit status. To do this, follow these steps:<br />1.    In Windows Explorer, right-click a corrupted MP3 file, and then click Properties.<br />2.    On the Previous Version tab, select an earlier version in the File Versions list, and then click Restore. If multiple edits were performed, you may have to revert to the oldest version that is available. </p> <h2>A Welcome Gesture</h2> <p align="center"><img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/gesture.jpg" width="273" height="401" /> </p> <p>Windows 7 natively supports touchscreen devices and has incorporated a gesture-based system to navigate the desktop with a stylus. Lucky for you, one of these gestures also works with a mouse. Instead of right-clicking a Taskbar icon to access its Jump List (the new program-specific menu that replaces the right-click context menu), you can hold left-click and drag upwards to smoothly call it up. Clicking and dragging down in the Internet Explorer address bar will also unveil your browser history and related favorites bookmarks. Some of the staff here found this especially useful when running Windows 7 on their Macbook Pros (*cough* Will Smith *cough*). </p> <h2>Ctrl + N is so 1995</h2> <p>We’ve already shown you a new way to open new instances of applications on the Taskbar by using the Windows + [number] keyboard shortcut. There are two additional shortcuts to popping open a new window too. You can click the Taskbar icon with your middle mouse button (which also works to launch the app if it isn’t open already), or hold down Shift while clicking the icon with the left mouse button. </p> <p>Keep in mind that this only works with programs that allow multiple instances, like web browsers. It won’t work with the default Explorer shortcut, since you can only open another instance of Explorer when diving into a new folder (the Explorer shortcut always points to Libraries).  </p> <h2>Pin-Up Your Favorites</h2> <p align="center"> <img src="http://dl.maximumpc.com/galleries/win7tips/pinjumplist.jpg" width="292" height="435" /></p> <p>Explorer’s Jump List shows your seven most frequently visited folders, but you can manually bookmark some favorites to the top of the list by pinning folder locations. Just hold right-click on any folder, either on your desktop or from an open instance of Explorer, and drag that folder icon to the Explorer shortcut on the Taskbar. You’ll see a message that reads “Pin to Windows Explorer” before you release the mouse button. The folder will appear under a “Pinned” section of the Jump List, and you can remove it by clicking the “Unpin from this list” icon on the right side of the panel. </p> <h2>More Resources</h2> <p>Eager for more Windows 7 tricks? Microsoft offers several resources for Windows 7 Beta support. We recommend browsing through <a href="http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/dd361745.aspx">TechNet </a>for essential downloads and troubleshooting tips, as well as the official <a href="http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/category/w7itpro">Windows 7 discussion forums</a>. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/20_windows_7_tweaks_tips_%E2%80%93_every_secret_uncovered_date#comments features microsoft Software tips tricks tweaks Windows windows 7 windows 7 beta Windows Tips Features Thu, 22 Jan 2009 00:00:00 +0000 Norman Chan 4973 at http://www.maximumpc.com Microsoft Releases Springboard Series Newsletter - Vista Performance and Tuning Tips http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/microsoft_releases_springboard_series_newsletter_vista_performance_and_tuning_tips <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u46173/springboard.jpg" alt="Springboard" width="415" height="122" /></p> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:Wingdings; 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font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--></p> <p class="MsoNormal">When Vista launched over a year ago we had many compelling reasons <a href="/article/10_reasons_you_dont_need_vista_today">not to upgrade</a>. But as time progressed and Microsoft silently addressed our woes, it seems clear; the Vista of today could be <a href="/article/news/microsoft_gives_xp_owners_first_look_mojave">somewhat misjudged</a>. That doesn’t make it perfect however, and Microsoft has owned up to this by <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=ab377598-a637-432c-a3c8-1607ab629201&amp;DisplayLang=en">releasing a 14 page guide</a> with tried and tested tweaks that improve overall performance and boost notebook battery life. This free and easy to follow PDF guide walks you through native tools built into the OS which allow you to optimize Vista’s performance.<strong> </strong>The contents are especially helpful if you are new to Vista, having just come from XP, but even Vista veterans are bound to find a few things of note. If you manage to make your way through the Microsoft guide and are still looking for more, a host of other tweaks and tips can be found in both our <a href="/article/make_vista_liveable">online archives</a> and Maximum PCs <a href="/article/march_2008_windows_hacks_tips">March 2008</a> print issue.  </p> <h3>Improve Battery Life</h3> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal"> <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[if !supportLists]--></p><p><span>-<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">       </span></span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p>Looking for ways to improve your battery life? Microsoft suggests you start in the power options menu. Simply type power options into the start menu and select from either performance, balanced, or power saver modes. These presets will adjust sleep settings, LCD power down frequency, hard drive performance, etc.</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal"> <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[if !supportLists]--></p><p><span>-<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">       </span></span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p>Tweak your indexing options. By having Vista index your commonly accessed folders such as my documents you can improve the speed at which results are delivered to you, and keep the hard drive from spinning up too often for in depth scans of your entire drive.</p> <h3>Improve Performance</h3> <p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:Wingdings; 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mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-1153285818 1309831656 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l0:level1 {mso-level-start-at:0; mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:-; mso-level-tab-stop:.5in; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} ol {margin-bottom:0in;} ul {margin-bottom:0in;} --><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--></p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal"> <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[if !supportLists]--></p><p><span>-<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">         </span></span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p>Disable specific aero effects to improve responsiveness. The guide walks you through how to disable individual aero features to make systems with lower end graphics cards feel more responsive. </p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal"> <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[if !supportLists]--></p><p><span>-<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">         </span></span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p>Use Ready Boost on computers with limited amounts of RAM to improve performance using a compatible USB key. This is no substitute for adding ram, but it’s the next best thing if you can’t.</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal"> <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[if !supportLists]--></p><p><span>-<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">         </span></span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p>Use sleep mode rather then turning your computer off. While in sleep mode, some laptops draw as little as 1 watt, and can recover from sleep in as little as 5 seconds. This will help overcome the painfully slow boot times of modern OS’s. Just select sleep, instead of shut down from your start menu. </p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal"> <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[if !supportLists]--></p><p><span>-<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">         </span></span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p>Prevent programs from loading into the background after boot up by using msconfig or Windows Defender. Enter either of these two options into Vista’s start menu to begin. The Windows Defender interface is slightly more polished and is a better place to start if you don’t have any experience with msconfig.</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal"> <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[if !supportLists]--></p><p><span>-<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">         </span></span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p>Use control, alt, delete’s task manager to view background services that are running on your machine. Found unwanted services? Disable them! Not sure what each service is? Check the <a href="http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx">Microsoft TechNet</a> to see a list of known services and their function. </p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal"> <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[if !supportLists]--></p><p><span>-<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">         </span></span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p>Tweak user account control without disabling it, want to know how? <a href="http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsVista/en/library/00d04415-2b2f-422c-b70e-b18ff918c2811033.mspx?mfr=true">Microsoft’s TechNet</a> is a great place to look.</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal"> <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[if !supportLists]--></p><p><span>-<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">         </span></span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p>Learn to use the task scheduler to enable automatic disk cleanups, and tweak your defrag frequency. Try to setup automatic backups and anti virus scans to run while your away. </p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal"> <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[if !supportLists]--></p><p><span>-<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">         </span></span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p>Check your Windows experience index score by right clicking my computer then selecting properties. A 3 is considered average, but 4 or greater means your PC has the right stuff for Vista. Conversely, if your computer scores a 2 or lower, you’d probably be better off with XP (though they avoid telling you that specifically in this guide).</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal"> <!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[if !supportLists]--></p><p><span>-<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">         </span></span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p>Think your running out of RAM or CPU cycles? Use the performance tab under ctrl, alt, delete’s task manager to monitor your systems performance. For example, by leaving the task manager open, it will record how much memory your computer is using and document the maximum amount that has been asked for during your session. This allows you to identify if you are running low on resources during normal use. Want more info? Click the resource monitor to see what processes are banging away on each individual category such as CPU, RAM, Hard Drive, or Network. This will give you a clear idea of what services are causing bottlenecks with individual parts of your machine.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Got More Tips or tweaks that you havn’t seen in Maximum PC online or print?</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Share them here! </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/microsoft_releases_springboard_series_newsletter_vista_performance_and_tuning_tips#comments microsost operating system OS Software Software News tips tweaks vista Windows Windows Tips News Sun, 03 Aug 2008 14:30:06 +0000 Justin Kerr 3031 at http://www.maximumpc.com March 2008: Windows Hacks & Tips http://www.maximumpc.com/article/march_2008_windows_hacks_tips <!--paging_filter--><p> <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/Archives/MPC0308-web.pdf"><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/MPC0308cover.jpg" width="200" height="260" align="right" /></a>In the <a href="http://dl.maximumpc.com/Archives/MPC0308-web.pdf">PDF archive</a> of the March 2008 issue, you can find: </p> <ul> <li>51 Tips &amp; Hacks for Windows Vista and XP </li> <li>The 2007 Game of the Year Awards</li> <li>Overclocking your Videocard</li> <li>How To: Stream Media to Your Xbox 360 </li> <li>And Lots of Awesome Product Reviews!</li> <li>Ask the Doctor</li> <li>Rig of the Month</li> <li>The Watchdog</li> <li>And a whole lot more!</li> </ul> <p> Click the big giant cover image to the right to download the PDF archive today! </p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/march_2008_windows_hacks_tips#comments awards game of the year games hacks kindle overclock pdf pdf archive tips tricks vista Windows Windows Tips XP March 2008 2008 PDF Archives From the Magazine Mon, 31 Mar 2008 17:53:41 +0000 The Maximum PC Staff 2055 at http://www.maximumpc.com Reinvent the Windows Wheel http://www.maximumpc.com/article/reinvent_the_windows_wheel <!--paging_filter--><p> There’s an unwritten rule that states, “To be considered a power user, you must tweak every aspect of your PC and assert man’s dominance over machine.” That means not only choosing the right combination of hardware and software to do your bidding but also tailoring Windows to perform the way you want it to, not the other way around. After all, you built your computer, so why should you have the reins pulled from your hands the moment you hit the power button? The answer is you shouldn’t, and we’re going to show you how to fine-tune Windows—from the way it looks to the way it functions, and everything in between. </p> <p> We know what you’re thinking: What could we possibly show you that you haven’t already seen countless times before? Plenty. And if you think you’ve uncovered every secret there is to know about Windows, think again. These aren’t your garden-variety tweaks that litter every Windows guide on the web. We’ve dug deep to find tips that will surprise and delight even the most seasoned power user. It doesn’t matter whether you use XP or Vista; we cover both camps to bring you a smorgasbord of treats guaranteed to improve your OS experience. </p> <p> Keep reading this page for Windows XP tips, or skip ahead to <a href="/article/reinvent_the_windows_wheel?page=0%2C4"><strong>tips for XP <em>and</em> Vista users</strong></a> or <a href="/article/reinvent_the_windows_wheel?page=0%2C6"><strong>Vista-exclusive tips</strong></a>! </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1>Windows XP Tips<br /> </h1> <h4><img src="/files/u22018/spacer.gif" width="415" height="6" /></h4> <h4>Brand your PC with a custom logo<br /> </h4> <p> OEM vendors often dress up the System Properties screen with a custom logo and support information, giving prebuilt PCs an air of professionalism. Well guess what? You can add the same personal touch to your own machine in just a few easy steps. </p> <p> Open up any photo-editing program and create a 180x114-pixel image. Save the image as a bitmap and name it oemlogo.bmp, then place it in C:\Windows\System32. Next, create a Notepad file in the same folder and save it as oeminfo.ini. OEM resellers use this file to enter customer-support information, but you can write whatever you wish as long as you use the following format:<br /> <span style="font-family: courier new,courier"><br /> [General]<br /> Manufacturer=Maximum PC<br /> Model=Dream Machine</span></p> <p> [Support Information]<br /> line1=For even more great tips visit<br /> line2=www.maximumpc.com<br /> <br /> If you need more space, just create a new line. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Give Your Hard Drive a New Icon</h4> <p> Grab IconsExtract (free, <a href="http://tinyurl.com/2p7c7x">http://tinyurl.com/2p7c7x</a>) to extract existing icons from your system. When you find one you like, save it to the root of the drive you want to change (for example, C:\Cool_Icon.ico). Next, create a new file with Notepad and edit line one to read <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">[autorun]</span> and on line two write <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">icon=Cool_Icon.ico</span>. Save and name the file autorun.ini and reboot. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Alter the Scroll Bar’s Dimensions</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/4_ScrollBar.jpg" width="200" height="218" align="right" />A wider scroll bar can make navigation an easier affair on a touch-screen panel, and power users can benefit from the additional real estate afforded by narrowing the scroll bar. Whatever your objective, open Display Properties in the Control Panel, click the Appearance tab, click Advanced, select Scrollbar from the Items menu, and go hog wild! </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Install Google Desktop, then Hack It!</h4> <p> Google Desktop (free, <a href="http://desktop.google.com">http://desktop.google.com</a>) pounces all over Windows’s built-in search, but to truly kick your search groove into high gear, you need to tweak a couple of settings. Under the Options menu, make sure HTTPS is unchecked to prevent Google from indexing sensitive information. Then click “Add drive or folder to search” and add any networked PCs so you can search for files across your network without ever leaving your chair. Finally, install the TweakGDS plugin (free, <a href="http://tinyurl.com/2nwxb9">http://tinyurl.com/2nwxb9</a>), which will let you designate a different folder or hard drive to store Google’s indexing information. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Uncover ‘No to All’ Option</h4> <p> Whenever you copy multiple files from one location to another, Windows prompts you with an overwrite request if duplicate entries already exist. Selecting “Yes to All” can go a long way in preventing carpal tunnel, but where’s the “No to All” button? It doesn’t exist, but you can force Windows to act as though it does by holding down the Shift key the first time you press No. </p> <hr /> <h4>Delete an Undeletable File</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/7_Delete.jpg" hspace="5" width="302" height="146" align="left" />Windows won’t let you delete a file if it’s currently in use, which is usually a good thing, but that can spell bad news when trying to rid your system of a nasty malware strain. Luckily, there’s a workaround. Click the Start menu, select Run, and type CMD to bring up the Command Prompt. Now hit CTRL-ALT-DEL to open the Task Manager. Under the Processes tab, highlight explorer.exe and click End Process. ALT-Tab your way to the Command Prompt and then navigate to the directory of the file you’re trying to delete using the CD command (<span style="font-family: courier new,courier">cd C:\Program Files\3DSaver</span>). Next, use the delete command to delete the offending file (<span style="font-family: courier new,courier">del 3DSaver.exe</span>). ALT-Tab back to the Task Manager, select New Task under File, and type explorer.exe to bring back the Windows shell. Alternately, try Unlocker (free, <a href="http://ccollomb.free.fr/unlocker/">http://ccollomb.free.fr/unlocker/</a>) and delete stubborn files through a svelte GUI. </p> <h4><img src="/files/u22018/spacer.gif" width="415" height="6" /></h4> <h4>Create Restore Points on the Fly</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/8_Restore.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="280" height="128" align="right" />Uh oh! Did experimenting with beta software thrash your Windows install? Don’t fret—fire up System Restore and revert to the last known good configuration. That is, if you have one. Windows doesn’t always create restore points when it should, and who wants to go through the rigmarole of sifting through menus to manually create one? Now you don’t have to, thanks to a VB script (free, <a href="http://tinyurl.com/3rw0">http://tinyurl.com/3rw0</a>) that does the job with just a double-click of the mouse. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Uninstall Hidden Components</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/12_HiddenComponents.jpg" width="450" height="376" /> </p> <p> Find sysoc.inf in the C:\Windows\inf folder and edit it with Notepad. (If you don’t see the inf folder, click Tools, View, and select “Show hidden files and folders.”) Remove the word HIDE from any entries you wish to unhide, such as WordPad or Pinball, and then save the file. These will now show up in the Add/Remove Windows Components list. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Stay Prepared with a Password Restore Disk</h4> <p> Open User Accounts in the Control Panel and select your account. Click the “Prevent a forgotten password” link in the left-hand pane and follow the prompts. </p> <p> If you’re on a domain, press CTRL-ALT-DEL to bring up the Windows Security dialog box and then click Change Password. In the “Log on to” box, click the local computer, select Backup, and then follow the prompts. Both methods require a floppy disk. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Scan System Files for Corruption</h4> <p> Malware infections and bad install routines are just two of the ways critical system files can become corrupt, but there’s an easy fix to undo damage done by third-party software. Click the Start menu, select Run, and type <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">sfc /scannow</span> to run XP’s System File Checker. Keep your Windows CD handy and insert it when prompted. </p> <hr /> <h4>Automatically Kill Processes and Shut Down Quicker </h4> <p> <img src="/files/u22018/15_KillTasks_0.jpg" width="415" height="279" /> </p> <p> Teach Windows how to shut down without nagging you about unresponsive processes. Open the registry and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop. Double-click AutoEndTasks and change the value from 0 to 1. Then double-click WaitToKillApp and change the value from 5000 to 1000. Finally, double-click HungAppTimeout and change the value from 20,000 to 3000. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Eliminate Lag and Speed up the Start Menu</h4> <p> A fully loaded rig pays dividends in everything from productivity apps to games, but no matter how fast your machine is, the Start menu still lags. To give the Start menu a much needed speed boost, click Start, select Run, and type <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">regedit</span>. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop, double-click MenuShowDelay in the right-hand pane, and change the value from 400 to 5. Reboot and watch your Start menu fly! </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Apply One Folder’s View to All Folders</h4> <p> XP allows you to view folders five different ways—thumbnails, tiles, icons, list, details—but what you select for one folder doesn’t apply to all of them. Sure, you can configure each folder individually, but that takes far too long. To apply the same view universally, Go to My Documents, click Tools, then Folder Options, then select the View tab, and click Apply to All Folders. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Install Support Tools for Advanced Diagnostics</h4> <p><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/11_SupportTools.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="200" height="199" align="right" />To be a true IT ninja, equip yourself with Windows Support Tools (free, <a href="http://tinyurl.com/yja7vw">http://tinyurl.com/yja7vw</a>), a set of more than 100 troubleshooting utilities aimed at advanced users (view a complete list at <a href="http://tinyurl.com/2k42ex">http://tinyurl.com/2k42ex</a>). Not all of them are gems, but a few notable standouts include pviewer, for gathering information about running processes on remote computers; msicuu, to remove installer information when a program’s uninstaller gets borked (power outage, for example); and windiff, to compare files and see which is more recent, along with line-by-line code comparisons.<br /> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>High Score! </h4> <table border="0" width="450"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/10_Pinball.jpg" width="450" height="348" /></td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong> Become the new champ at old games.</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </p><p> It’s tough enough getting through the workday unscathed, and to make matters worse, most workplaces aren’t going to let you install Counter-Strike to blow off some steam—oh the tyranny! That means you’re stuck playing Minesweeper or Pinball, only Bob in accounting holds the high score in both and is quick to let everyone know. Here’s how you can stick it to Bob. To freeze time in Minesweeper, minimize the app using the Windows Key + D combination and then restore the window. Then fire up Pinball and type <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">1max</span> at the start of a new game for additional balls or <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">bmax</span> for unlimited tries and an unbeatable score. </p> <hr /> <h4>Upgrade to Notepad++</h4> <p> <img src="/files/u22018/19_Notepad__.jpg" width="415" height="362" /> </p> <p> Jotting down notes with Notepad is only slightly more advanced than chiseling in stone, but we still find ourselves using the rudimentary editor for scrawling quick grocery lists and composing HTML code. With Notepad++ (free,<a href="http://tinyurl.com/552wn"> http://tinyurl.com/552wn</a>), we can do both at the same time! A tabbed interface is just one of the many features included, along with an almost endless array of coding options, drag and drop documents, multiview features, and much more. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Encrypt and Password Protect Your Files</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/18_MyPrivateFolder.jpg" width="450" height="393" /> </p> <p> No sooner was it released than Microsoft pulled the plug on a utility called My Private Folder. The password-protected folder sat on your desktop, encrypting any files you put inside it. So why doesn’t MS offer it anymore? With no backdoor access, IT professionals feared facing the wrath of users who had forgotten their passwords, and parents fretted over what files their kids might be hiding. If you’re OK with those risks, you can still download the utility from <a href="http://tinyurl.com/kxdxs">http://tinyurl.com/kxdxs</a>. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Enable Hibernate in the Shut-Down Dialog</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/17_Hibernate.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="314" height="200" align="left" />Putting your PC into Standby conserves power without shutting down your computer, but if there’s a power outage, any open programs and unsaved work will be lost. Using Hibernation tackles this issue by first taking a snapshot of your desktop and saving it to your hard drive before powering down, but Microsoft neglected to include a Hibernate button in the shut-down dialog box. To fix this, first make sure you’ve enabled hibernation under Power Options in the Control Panel. Next, go into the registry and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows and create a new key called System (right-click Windows and select New &gt; Key). Highlight System and create another key called Shutdown (you should now be in HKLM \SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System\Shutdown). Now create a DWORD value named ShowHibernationButton and change the Data from 0 to 1. You should now see the Hibernate button in the Shutdown dialog. If not, you’ll need to request a hotfix from Microsoft at <a href="http://tinyurl.com/ccbpw">http://tinyurl.com/ccbpw</a>. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Goodbye MS Paint, Hello Paint.NET</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/20_PaintNet.jpg" width="450" height="368" /> </p> <p> Capable photo-editing suites are often too expensive if all you’re interested in is the occasional doodle, and the learning curve requires a further time investment. Solve both problems with Paint.NET (free, <a href="/www.getpaint.net">www.getpaint.net</a>), which combines the ease of use found in MS Paint with enough functionality to release your inner Rembrandt! </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Make Your Own Icons<br /> </h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/25_CustomIcon.jpg" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="200" height="185" align="left" />Who wants boring old icons when you can make your own? Fire up any photo-editing program and create a new 48x48 pixel image, or resize an existing photo. Save the image as a bitmap and change the file extension to .ico (e.g., MPC.ico). </p> <p> To apply your custom icon, right-click a folder on your hard drive, select Properties, then Customize, then Change Icon. Or if you prefer to change system icons, open Display Properties and click Customize Desktop under the Desktop tab. You can change icons for all file types by opening My Computer, clicking Tools, Folder Options, File Types, Advanced, then Change Icon. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Use a Video Clip as Your Background </h4> <p> Dreamscene enables Vista Ultimate owners to set video clips as wallpaper, and with the help of VideoLAN (free, <a href="http://www.videolan.org/vlc">www.videolan.org/vlc</a>), you can get the same effect on XP. Select the video you want to display, right-click while it’s playing, and select Wallpaper. Create a playlist with multiple video clips and then configure VideoLAN to loop your selections by clicking Tools, Preferences, Playlist, and checking Repeat All. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Sync Your Backup Routine</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/21_SyncToy.jpg" width="450" height="364" /> </p> <p> If you don’t have a backup routine in place, then get one. Now. Then install Microsoft’s SyncToy v2.0 Beta (free, <a href="http://tinyurl.com/2cu9fh">http://tinyurl.com/2cu9fh</a>) to back up files from one folder to another on different hard drives, or across a network or an external device. SyncToy even keeps track of renamed files, so you won’t end up with duplicates. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Improve Video Viewing with a Codec Library</h4> <p> Life would be so much easier if all video clips adopted a unified standard, but instead we’re forced to hunt down codec after codec to play an assortment of videos. At least, that’s how we used to do it, until we found ffdshow tryouts (<a href="http://ffdshow-tryout.sourceforge.net/">http://ffdshow-tryout.sourceforge.net/</a>). Ffdshow sports an expansive codec library, several filters, and the ability to display pertinent details about the file it’s playing. CPU-utilization monitoring and the ability to grab screenshots add icing to the cake. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Customize XP’s Boot Logo</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/24_Bootskin.jpg" width="250" height="266" align="right" />Tired of the same old boot screen? Change it up! There are two methods for altering XP’s boot logo—one involves risky system-file edits that put your OS at risk, the other entails downloading BootSkin (free, <a href="http://tinyurl.com/358lj">http://tinyurl.com/358lj</a>). Play it safe with the latter and click your way to a new boot screen with one of the bundled logos. Don’t see one you like? Choose from hundreds more available for download or follow the tutorial at <a href="http://tinyurl.com/367khw">http://tinyurl.com/367khw</a> and make your own! </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Three 30-second changes to improve XP</h4> <ol> <li>The first thing we do with every new XP install is turn on ClearType to clean up those unsightly fonts. Go to Display Properties and select the Appearance tab, then click Effects. Choose ClearType in the second pull-down menu and make sure the box above it is checked.</li> <li>Often, we need access to hidden files and folders to apply power-user tweaks, and the second thing we do on every XP machine is make these visible. Under My Computer, click Tools, Folder Options, View, and then click the “Show hidden files and folders” radio button.</li> <li>We don’t anticipate any BSODs on a new XP install, but if it does happen, we want to be prepared. By default, Windows will automatically restart if it encounters an error, but those blue screens contain key information that helps us decipher what went wrong. To stop XP from restarting, right-click My Computer and select Properties. In the Advanced tab, click Settings under Startup and Recovery, and then uncheck “Automatically restart.&quot; </li> </ol> <h4 align="right"><a href="/article/reinvent_the_windows_wheel?page=0%2C4">Next: Tips that Work in XP <em>and</em> Vista!</a><br /> </h4> <hr /> <br /> <h1>XP/Vista Tips</h1> <p> <em>The following tips don’t discriminate—they will improve your computing experience equally, whether you’re rocking Microsoft’s new or old OS.</em> </p> <h4><img src="/files/u22018/spacer.gif" width="415" height="6" /></h4> <h4>Make Your Own Control Panel</h4> <p> We’re willing to bet you never use half the items in the Control Panel, but did you know you can make a Control Panel that reflects your particular habits? Here’s how: Right-click the Start menu and select Explore. Create a new folder and give it a descriptive name, such as Custom Control Panel. Drag and drop only the tools you’ll actually use from the original Control Panel into your new one, renaming as you see fit. Change the icon so it stands out in the Start menu. </p> <h4><img src="/files/u22018/spacer.gif" width="415" height="6" /></h4> <h4>Disable Highlighting New Programs</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/31_NewPrograms.jpg" width="200" height="265" align="right" /> </p> <p> Every new program in XP and Vista gets highlighted in the Start menu as if to say, “Hey, remember when you installed me?” That’s great for those afflicted with extremely short attention spans, but not much use for the rest of us. To rid your Start menu of these unsightly reminders, right-click the Start button and select Properties, select the Start Menu tab, and click Customize. In Vista, scroll down and uncheck “Highlight newly installed programs.” You’ll find the same option in XP under the Advanced tab. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Add Entries to the Send To Menu</h4> <p> Moving files with the Send To command can save oodles of time, but it doesn’t do you any good if the destination you’re looking for doesn’t appear in the menu. To add your own destinations, select Run from the Start menu (type <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">Run</span> in the search box on Vista) and type <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">shell:sendto</span>. Create a shortcut of the folder or program you want to appear and move it to the Send To folder you just opened. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Minimize Windows and Drag Files with Ease</h4> <p> Ever grab a file on your desktop only to realize the destination folder’s sitting behind an open window? To get around this, drag the file to an empty space in the taskbar and all open windows will minimize, allowing you to move the file wherever you want. Using this method, you can hover files over minimized windows to restore them. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Monitor CPU and RAM Usage</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/30_CPUMon.jpg" width="250" height="105" /> </p> <p> We can already keep tabs on our CPU and RAM through the Task Manager, but there’s a better way. CPUMon (free, <a href="http://tinyurl.com/363k6f">http://tinyurl.com/363k6f</a>) displays the same information but ups the ante with an adjustable, unobtrusive transparent graph, CPU-speed monitoring, statistics that include the average CPU and memory usage, and a handful of other options. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Enhance the Clipboard with Ditto</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/32_Ditto.jpg" width="450" height="415" /> </p> <p> Download Ditto (<a href="http://sourceforge.net/projects/ditto-cp/">http://sourceforge.net/projects/ditto-cp/</a>) and take Windows’s clipboard to new heights. Ditto retains up to 500 copied entries, including images, and stores the information on your hard drive, so you won’t be thwarted by a power outage or system reboot. Stay productive by exporting saved entries and transferring them to another computer, paste HTML as plain text, perform keyword searches, and apply hotkey shortcuts to the first 10 items. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Build a Button (or Two)</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/35_ShutdownRestartIcon.jpg" width="250" height="184" /> </p><p> <em>Put your Restart and Shut Down buttons in plain sight—because you can</em></p> <p> Forget about mucking around in the Start menu and instead create desktop shortcuts for shutting down and restarting your system. Right-click your desktop and select New &gt; Shortcut. In the pop-up window, type <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">shutdown –s –t 00</span> to create a shutdown shortcut and <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">shutdown –r –t 00</span> to create one for restarting. Give your new shortcuts custom icons (see Windows XP tips) and then drag them to the Quick Launch bar for even easier access. </p> <hr /> <h4>Remove the OS Logo and Improve Boot Times</h4> <p> <img src="/files/u22018/33_NoGUIBoot.jpg" width="415" height="279" /> </p> <p> Until instant-on technology makes a breakthrough in home computing, we’re left to our own devices to reduce system boot times. One surefire way to save a few seconds is by disabling the boot logo. Open the Start menu, select Run, and type <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">msconfig</span>. Under the Boot.ini tab, check the /NoGuiBoot box and apply the change. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Resize Windows to Specific Dimensions</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/34_Sizer.jpg" width="450" height="333" /> </p> <p> Sizer (free, <a href="/www.brianapps.net/sizer.html">www.brianapps.net/sizer.html</a>) displays the dimensions of any open window while resizing, making it an invaluable tool for web developers and anyone interested in grabbing screen captures. Manually resize a window to any resolution, or right-click and select a preset dimension, including any custom dimensions you create. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Move Off-Screen Windows Back into View</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/36_Move.jpg" width="335" height="158" /> </p> <p> It’s a shame that SLI and CrossFire still don’t support gaming on multimonitor setups, and to add insult to injury, there’s always at least one open window that gets stuck out of view when in single-monitor mode. You might be tempted to reboot or even uninstall/reinstall the offending application, but you needn’t resort to such drastic measures. Instead, right-click the application in the taskbar, select Move, and then use your arrow keys to bring the window back into view. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Change the Logon Background</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/37_LogonBackground.jpg" width="450" height="339" /> </p> <p> Just like our clothes, our PCs are an extension of us, and we should dress them accordingly. Logon Studio (free, <a href="http://tinyurl.com/2kuys7">http://tinyurl.com/2kuys7</a>) helps in this endeavor. The program lets you choose from a wardrobe of more than 500 logon backgrounds (<a href="http://tinyurl.com/mh7eq">http://tinyurl.com/mh7eq</a>). Can’t find a style to suit your tastes? Make your own background from scratch or edit an existing background. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Change Dual-Boot Default to XP</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/38_DefaultBoot.jpg" width="200" height="237" align="right" /> </p> <p> Because of the way Vista’s boot loader works, you’ll have much better luck with your dual-boot setup by first installing XP and then installing Vista. By going this route, Vista loads as the default option, but you can change this without any adverse effects. In Vista, right-click My Computer and select Properties, then Advanced system settings, then the Advanced tab. Click Settings under Startup and Recovery and select Earlier Version of Windows from the pull-down menu. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Know Your Common Shortcuts</h4> <p> Many common Windows tasks come assigned with shortcuts; here are five guaranteed to increase productivity: </p> <ul> <li>Shift+Del: Bypass the recycle bin and permanently delete files</li> <li>ALT+Print Screen: Nab a screenshot of just the active window to the clipboard</li> <li>Windows Key+M: Minimize all open windows</li> <li>CTRL+ESC: Bring up the Start menu</li> <li>Shift+Tab: Tab backward through a form</li> </ul> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Assign Hotkeys to Common Tasks</h4> <p> Quick, try to open the Task Manager without lifting your hand from the mouse. Unless you have unusually long fingers or a third hand growing from your torso, you can’t hit the CTRL-ALT-DEL combination without contorting into an unnatural position. Luckily, there’s an easy workaround. Navigate to C:\Windows\System32 and create a shortcut for taskmgr.exe. Right-click the new shortcut, select Properties, and assign a new hotkey combination in the Shortcut tab. Use this trick for any commonly used application. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Add Locations to the Save In Sidebar</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/41_SendTo.jpg" width="200" height="225" align="left" />On the left-hand side of the Save As dialog box sits a Save In sidebar; in it are common locations where you might want to save a file. To add your own folders to this list, type <span style="font-family: courier new,courier">gpedit.msc</span> in the Run box (or search box in Vista), then navigate to User Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Windows Explorer, Common Open File Dialog; then, double-click Items Displayed in Places Bar. Here you can add up to five locations, including remote folders residing on your home network (e.g., \\MaxPC-Quad\Pictures). </p> <p align="right"> <a href="/article/reinvent_the_windows_wheel?page=0%2C6"><strong>Next: Tips for Vista users only!</strong></a> </p> <hr /> <p align="right">&nbsp;</p> <h1>Vista Tips</h1> <p> <em>Vista’s still brand-spanking new, but there are already some things you can do to make it perform better</em> </p> <h4><img src="/files/u22018/spacer.gif" width="415" height="6" /></h4> <h4>Generate Problem Reports and Look for Solutions</h4> <p> Vista keeps a meticulous record of every error that’s ever caused a program to stop working or presented a compatibility problem, but even better, you can make Windows check for solutions and save yourself a recurring headache. You’ll find the Problem Reports and Solutions Wizard under System and Maintenance in the Control Panel. In the left-hand pane under Tasks, click “See problems to check” to bring up a list of applications; put a check mark next to any or all of them and click “Check for solutions.” </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Access Advanced Options with Tweak VI</h4> <p> Optimize nearly every nook and cranny in Windows Vista through an intuitive GUI by installing Tweak VI (free, <a href="http://tinyurl.com/24yz6q">http://tinyurl.com/24yz6q</a>). Tweaks run the gamut from the strictly visual to performance boosts—and include everything in between. Setting up a PC for the kids? Configure Tweak VI to hide a bevy of configuration options to prevent them from accidentally mucking up a system, and then password protect Tweak VI to keep curious fingers from undoing changes. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Open Quick Launch Programs with the Windows Key</h4> <p> Using the Windows key in combination with the numbers 0 through 9 will open up the corresponding sequential programs in the Quick Launch toolbar. Make sure the Quick Launch toolbar is visible (if not, right-click the taskbar and select Quick Launch from the Toolbars menu) and then rearrange the first 10 programs however you see fit. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Take Better Screen Captures with the Snipping Tool</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/42_SnippingTool.jpg" width="450" height="358" /> </p> <p> Vista’s built-in Snipping Tool does for screen captures what Bruce Lee did for kung fu movies, but without the cheesy sound effects. Just type Snipping into the search box and start taking screenshots like you’ve never taken them before. Draw a perfect box around the area you want to capture or use the free-form tool, then highlight or draw over the capture before saving it as a JPEG, PNG, GIF, or MHT file. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Force the Sleep Button to Function as Shut Down</h4> <p> Vista’s Start menu marks a departure from the familiar theme found in XP, and one such change includes swapping the Shut Down button for a Sleep icon. With a little bit of digging, you can bring back the Shut Down button. Navigate to the Control Panel, then System and Maintenance, then Power Options. Under the selected power plan, click “Change plan settings,” and then click “Change advanced power settings.” Expand “Power buttons and lid” and then “Start menu power button.” Highlight Setting and choose Shut Down from the pull-down menu. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Enable DirectSound3D Hardware Acceleration</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/44_ALchemy.jpg" width="450" height="338" /> </p> <p> Vista giveth DirectX 10 and taketh away DirectSound3D, killing off hardware acceleration and EAX effects for the legacy format. But don’t despair, because Creative came up with a workaround for Audigy and X-Fi owners. Install Creative’s ALchemy software (free, <a href="http://tinyurl.com/29ghqj">http://tinyurl.com/29ghqj</a>), let it automatically detect any installed DS3D games, and then click the arrow to move them to the right-hand pane, so they’ll be translated into OpenAL. </p> <hr /> <h4>Enable Check Boxes for Selecting Multiple Files</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/48_Checkboxes.jpg" width="200" height="242" align="right" />It never fails: Just as we’ve almost finished highlighting several files while holding down the Control key, our finger slips, instantly deselecting every single file. We thought there had to be a better way, and it turns out there is. Open My Computer and select Folder and Search Options from the Organize pull-down menu. Under the View tab, put a check mark next to “Use check boxes to select items.” Now you can select multiple files by clicking on their check boxes. </p> <h4><img src="/files/u22018/spacer.gif" width="415" height="6" /></h4> <h4>Restore the Menu Bar</h4> <p> <img src="/files/u22018/49_MenuBar.jpg" width="415" height="343" /> </p> <p> In XP, we got accustomed to seeing File, Edit, View, Tools, and Help in the menu bar, but in Vista, Microsoft redesigned folders and windows so they resemble IE7’s less than intuitive interface. One way to bring the menu bar back is to click Organize, highlight Layout, and select Menu Bar, which makes the change permanent. For a temporary solution, press the Alt key, which can bring up menus for windows that don’t normally have them. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Holy Hotkeys!</h4> <table border="0" width="450"> <tbody> <tr> <td><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/52_Enso.jpg" width="450" height="344" /> </td> </tr> <tr> <td><strong> Access everything quicker with Enso.</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Think of Enso (free beta, <a href="http://www.humanized.com">www.humanized.com</a>) as the ultimate hotkey, because that’s essentially what it is. You unlock the magic behind Enso by holding the Caps Lock key (or designate a different key) and typing commands, which range from looking up highlighted words or phrases on Wikipedia to translating text. Load maps into emails, control your media player, check your Gmail, and much more without ever having to open the Start menu. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Quickly Copy a File’s Path to the Clipboard </h4> <p> In the pre-Vista days, copying a file or folder path to the clipboard meant you had to right-click, select Properties, highlight the path, right-click again, and select Copy. That’s more steps than are in a Broadway musical! To perform the same action in Vista, hold the Shift key when right-clicking and select Copy as Path. </p> <h4><img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/spacer.gif" width="450" height="7" /></h4> <h4>Save Search Results and Save Time</h4> <p> <img src="/sites/future.p2technology.com/files/imce-images/50_CopyAsPath.jpg" width="450" height="388" /> </p> <p> There was a time when hard-drive space was considered a hot commodity, but with 500GB and even 1TB drives now the norm, we find ourselves becoming digital pack rats. This also means we’ve developed a dependency on the Search function, but instead of repeating searches for the same sets of files, save the results to a virtual folder instead. After Windows finds the files you’re looking for, click Save Search. Windows will even keep track of any changes to the search results, so you’ll never receive outdated information.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/reinvent_the_windows_wheel#comments features from the magazine how-tos power user Software Software How-Tos tips tweaks vista Windows Windows How-Tos Windows Tips XP March 2008 2008 From the Magazine Features Tue, 19 Feb 2008 17:53:37 +0000 Paul Lilly 1920 at http://www.maximumpc.com