10 Great Windows 7 Tips

The faster you you get your hands on Windows 7, wean yourself off of XP, or rid yourself of Vista, the faster you will be able to get in on the great new productivity tools that Windows 7 offers. It has been a long time since the reasons to switch to a new Microsoft OS were compelling, but that time is here.

Here are 10 things that are going to make your computing experience in Windows 7 a lot better and I encourage you to give them a try!

1. Try out Windows XP mode.  We all have our favourite “old” programs that we don’t want to part with. It might be that great little utility that tracks your fitness routine or that neat little bridge building game. Honestly, most of these will work on Windows 7 using some form of the compatibility mode, but if they don’t – just install it in  virtual XP mode and it will be available from your Windows 7 start menu just as any installed program is. Check out Paul’s guide to setting this up here.

2. Open Command Prompt Here.  This used to be only available as a Windows XP Power Toy, but has been built-in to Windows 7.  Simply hold the the shift key and right click within a folder to get the option to open a command prompt at that location, shift and right click to add it to the properties menu, or type start into the command prompt window to open Explorer at that exact location – Slick!!!

3. Present Yourself!  Pushing the Windows key and P will bring up presentation mode, that will allow you to choose your screen setup and projector modes. This eliminates all of the vendor specific, inconsistent interfaces that we are all used to in Vista and Windows XP. Windows and the X key will open the mobility centre giving you further options.

4. Aero Snap Windows 7 offers a great way to quickly get windows out of the way. Selecting a window, pushing the Windows key and one of the four directional arrow keys will quickly snap the window to one side or the other to the top and bottom of the screen.

5. Burn ISOs.  I was sure that I would witness the parting of the dead sea before Windows actually included this feature, but I am now pleasantly surprised. Simply right clicking on an ISO file will give you the option to burn it to a cd with a simple, reliable interface. Gone are the days of having to hunt down a spyware-infected third party tool to work with ISO images.

6. Use search connectors. We have a great article on this feature here. This feature will allow you to search non-network resources from within your Windows 7 search box. Twitter, YouTube and many other sites are open search compatible and will allow you to do this.

7. Try the new calculator and paint.  These have been revamped in a big way and are now extremely versatile modern tools. One of the great features in the calculator is the ability to figure out the difference between two dates. Paint now saves files as a .png file by default which, for obvious reason, makes a lot of sense.

8. Make your VPN useful again. As documents such as PDFs started growing in size, the usefulness of the venerable VPN connection started to wane. While it is still the defacto tool of choice, no one can deny how slow and clogged up these connections inevitably become. The new BrancheCache feature should reduce the amount of WAN traffic significantly  through the use of intelligent caching of frequently used documents.  

9. Pin items to the taskbar.  Most items in Windows 7, including the control panel can be easily pinned to the taskbar. Simply open the control panel so that it’s icon sits in the taskbar and then right click on that icon and select pin to task bar to make this stick.

10. Record your problem and email it.  System administrators everywhere are going to love this feature. If a user is having trouble explaining an issue, and a screen shot just isn’t doing it any justice, simply fire up the Problem Steps Recorder.  This will allow the system administrator to see the steps that are needed to reproduce the problem and will allow for better analysis of software or hardware issues.  Simply search for PSR in the start menu to find this great little utility.

So there you have it folks… 10 ways to better leverage your computing experience into a productive experience.  Additional comments would be greatly appreciated.


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