Thursday, 22 January 2009

Top Tips – The Windows 7 Top Five

windows_7 In this article I have created a list of my five favourite Windows 7 features.

This is a list that I have compiled through using Windows 7 since the preview Build 6801 through to the current Beta on my netbook computer, an Acer Aspire One.

This list is in no particular order, so please don’t think that I consider number 1 to be the absolute best feature of Windows 7, it is just one of the 10!

Lets get things rolling…

1. Window Management Enhancements

Windows 7 gives users new and rather innovative ways to manage program and folder windows.  Users can now snap windows to either the left or right hand side of the screen, simply by dragging a window to either edge.  Doing so will make the window take position, and resized to fill that half of the screen. 

Dragging the window to the top edge of the screen maximises it to fill the screen, while double-clicking either the top or bottom edge of the border will maximise the window vertically while keeping the same horizontal width.

Here are some handy window shortcuts:

  • Win+Left Arrow or Win+Right Arrow – dock the screen to either left or right of screen
  • Win+Up Arrow or Win+Down Arrow – Maximise or restore/minimise
  • Win+Shift+Up Arrow or Win+Shift+Down Arrow – maximises or restores the vertical height

Additionally Windows 7 supports multi-monitor set up’s much more efficiently than ever before.  You can now transfer an active window from left to right hand monitors (and back again) with another handy keyboard shortcut.

  • Win+Shift+Right Arrow – transfers an active window from the left screen to the right
  • Win+Shift+Left Arrow – transfers it back again

You will notice when using these shortcuts that the window is transferred to relatively the same position on the opposite monitor, which makes the transfer easier to track.

2. Hide Non Active Windows

Sometimes it can get annoying when you have several windows open, layered one upon the other, so Windows 7 makes it easier and quicker to get rid of all but the active window.

  • Win+Home – hide all but the active window

Using this key combination will minimise all the windows on you desktop, except the one you are working with at the time.  This negates the need to find the minimise button on each window one at a time.

3.  Install From USB

If, like me, you have a netbook computer (such as the Acer Aspire One or the Lenovo IdeaPad) you will occasionally find yourself wishing you had purchased an USB connected external DVD drive, which would make installation of new operating systems such as Windows 7 much easier.

However, it is really simple to get Windows 7 installed via a USB memory stick.  Follow this guide:

  1. Insert your Windows 7 DVD into the drive of another PC.
  2. Plug in your 4GB USB flash drive
  3. Open up a command prompt (XP: Start>Runcmd” / Vista: Startcmd”)
  4. Type “xcopy e:\ f:\ /e /f” without the “quotes” (assuming e: is your DVD drive and f: is your flash drive)

Now all you have to do is boot your computer from the USB drive for a super fast Windows 7 install on your netbook computer.

4.  Aero Peek

You’ve probably heard a few things about Windows 7 before reading this article, and one of those things is likely to be Aero Peek.

Aero Peek hides all windows giving you a clear view of all your desktop gadgets and icons – it’s also a quick method to hide what you’re up to from your boss when your work is infringing on your leisure time.

Simply drag your mouse down to the far right of the taskbar where a thin rectangle is located, doing this will instantly hide of you current windows, revealing the desktop wallpaper, gadgets and shortcut icons.  Move the mouse away and all the active windows will fade back in to view again.

You can also use a keyboard shortcut for Aero Peek:

  • Win+Space

5. Run As Administrator

It’s easy to run an application with administrator rights in Windows 7.

  • Ctrl+Shift+Click (on the application icon)

Use the above combination and the program will launch with full administrator privileges.

Well there you go.  that was my top five based on my actual use of Windows 7 Beta (and preview Build 6801).  Its a far cry from being a comprehensive list of features, if you want more then check out Tim Sneath’s “The Bumper List Of Windows 7 Secrets”.

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