More Windows 7 Tricks You Might Not Know

Every now and then an internal email thread pops up here at the Moose that’s a variant on, “Hey, check this out…” Recently there have been a couple of these threads that were related to Windows 7 tips and tricks. You may know about some of these already, or you may have read about them somewhere else, but I thought it might be useful to gather them into a single post.

So here’s my list of interesting tweaks, stuff that might be helpful to a handful of you, or just stuff that I think is cool. (Cool does not always mean useful – but who doesn’t like cool stuff?)

  1. Most of you have probably seen “Peek” (at least if you have a system that’s “Aero” display capable), but it’s still cool – and if you haven’t seen it, maybe this will be what it takes to get you to splurge on that new video card! If you hover above an application icon on the taskbar, a thumbnail of the app will pop up. If you hover over that thumbnail, you’ll get a “peek” at the full-sized app. And hovering over the “show desktop” icon in the lower right corner (oh, you didn’t know that the unlabeled button at the bottom right would show your desktop?) will temporarily display your desktop.
  2. And have you heard of “shake?” If you have 20 windows cluttering up your screen but only want to focus on one, just click the window’s title bar and hold the mouse button down.  Now, shake the mouse from side to side.  All other windows will disappear, leaving just the one that you selected.  (Yes, you could also click “show desktop” and then select the one window you want to focus on, but that’s not as much fun.)
  3. To open a new instance of a program from your task bar (say you want an entirely separate IE window) you can right click the icon on your task bar and select the app from there, or just hold down shift and left-click the icon.
  4. Toggle between application instances: Ctrl + Click a taskbar icon. Let’s say you have five open Word documents. If you hold down the Ctrl key, you can cycle through them by repeatedly left-clicking on the taskbar icon.
  5. Multitask with multiple monitors: Various combinations of Ctrl, Windows logo key, Shift, and Arrow keys. Do you use more than one monitor at a time? Now you can shift an open window to your other monitor in less than a second by pressing Shift + Windows logo key + left or right arrow. Here are some other combinations that might be handy:
    • Ctrl + Windows logo key + arrow will move the window to whatever half of the screen you want. (Up arrow sends the window to the top half, right to the right half, etc.)
    • Windows logo key  + Up Arrow maximizes the window, Down Arrow “un-maximizes” it again.
  6. Windows 7 “God Mode” (use with caution): Right-click on the desktop, and choose “New Folder.” Then re-name that folder:
    “GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}” The icon will change. When you double-click it, you’ll get a window with direct links to just about every configuration option imaginable. Yes, they’re all available elsewhere, but it’s kinda cool to have them all in one place.
  7. Finally, if you’re missing the old Windows “Quick Launch” area (which Sid prefers over pinning icons to the task bar, because it takes up less space):
    1. Make sure you’ve got Explorer configured to show hidden files and folders
    2. Right-click an empty space on the taskbar, and select Toolbars -> New Toolbar
    3. Browse to C:Users%username%AppDataRoamingMicrosoftInternet
      Explorer  (Why would this setting be under Internet Explorer?  It’s just one of life’s great mysteries.)
    4. Highlight the Quick Launch folder and click the Select Folder button.
    5. To get rid of the title and text associated with your Quick Launch icons, unlock the task bar, right-click your new Quick Launch toolbar, and uncheck Show Text and Show Title.  You can also choose View -> Large Icons if you prefer.

    Note that Win7 will put the Quick Launch toolbar on the right end of the taskbar (next to the System Tray) rather than on the left.

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