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Windows 7 tricks: 20 top tips and tweaks

Windows 7 tricks: 20 top tips and tweaks

A few pointers for the upgrade

Customize the Shut down button

The default action of the Start Menu's Shut down button is to turn off your PC. If you want to use the button for another action, such as restarting your PC, you click the arrow to the right of the Shut down button and select an action from the drop-down menu.

What if you rarely shut your PC down completely but frequently restart it? You can change the Shut down button's default action to be Restart -- or Switch user, Log off, Lock, Sleep or Hibernate.

To change your default, right-click the Start button and select Properties. On the Start Menu tab, click the "Power button action" drop-down menu and select which action you want to be the default. Then click OK, and OK again.

Add a Videos link to the Start Menu

The Windows 7 Start Menu includes links to your Pictures and Music folders, but not to your Videos folder. If you watch a lot of videos and want a link to them on your Start Menu, here's what you can do:

1. Right-click the Start button and select Properties.

2. On the screen that appears, go to the Start Menu tab and click Customize.

3. In the dialog box that appears, scroll to the bottom, look for the Videos section, select "Display as a link," and click OK and then OK again.

If you'd prefer that Videos display as a menu, with links to files and submenus, instead select "Display as a menu."

Windows Explorer tips

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Windows Explorer is the heart and soul of the Windows interface, and overall it works quite well. But you can make it better.

Use check boxes to select multiple files

In order to select multiple files for an operation such as copying, moving or deleting in Windows Explorer, you generally use the keyboard and the mouse, Ctrl-clicking every file you want to select. But if you're mouse-centric, there's a way to select multiple files in Windows 7 using only your mouse, via check boxes. To do it:

1. In Windows Explorer, click Organize, and then select "Folder and search options."

2. Click the View tab.

3. In Advanced Settings, scroll down and check the box next to "Use check boxes to select items." Click OK.

4. From now on, when you hover your mouse over a file in Windows Explorer, a check box will appear next to it; click it to select the file. Once a file is selected, the checked box remains next to it; if you uncheck it, the box will disappear when you move your mouse away.

Open a command prompt at any folder

Command prompt fans will welcome this tip. With it, when you're in Windows Explorer, you can open a command prompt to any folder. This tip does exactly what the Windows XP PowerToy "Open Command Window Here" does.

To use it, hold down the Shift key and right-click a folder, then choose "Open command window here" from the context menu that appears. (Note that this tip doesn't work in the Documents folder.)

Protect the privacy of your Explorer searches

When you search through your PC from Windows Explorer, you can see the most recent searches that have been performed. If you share a PC and don't want others to see what you've searched for, you can turn off the recent searches feature:

1. In the Start menu's Search box, type GPEDIT.MSC and press Enter to launch the Group Policy Editor.

2. Go to User Configuration --> Administrative Templates --> Windows Components --> Windows Explorer.

3. Double-click "Turn off display of recent search entries in the Windows Explorer search box" and select Enabled from the screen that appears. Then click OK. The recent searches feature will now be turned off.

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