6 useful Windows tricks

Posted by Junaid July 19, 2010

You know that feeling you get when your friends or  family see you do something on your computer that they've never seen  before? If you’ve had this experience, you know that “world's coolest  power-user” feeling. But if you haven’t, start here. Knowledge is power!

Read these six tips for Windows 7, Windows Vista,  and Windows XP that will keep you schoolin' your friends and family.

1. Don't just maximize your windows—go full screen


When  you need a really big window for viewing photos and videos, don't just  maximize it: go full screen! This tip works great for viewing photos and  videos at maximum size in Windows Explorer or Windows Media Player,  utilizing screen space usually occupied by the header at the top of the  screen and the taskbar at the bottom. Here’s how:
Open any photo  in Windows Explorer, or open a photo or video clip in Windows Media  Player. Do one of the following:

  • In Windows 7 and Windows  XP, click the F11 key at the top of your keyboard. 

    The  photo or video image enlarges to its maximum size and the title bar and  taskbar are hidden.

    Viewing a photo in Windows Explorer standard view

    Viewing  a photo in Windows Explorer standard view

    To undue  full-screen mode and restore the window to its normal view, press the Esc  (Escape) key at the top of your keyboard

    2. Customize the Navigation pane


    You can use  the navigation pane (the left pane) to find files and folders and  display links to frequently used folders and other items. You can also  move or copy items to a destination in the navigation pane.
    If  you don't see the navigation pane on the left side of an open folder  window, click Organize, point to Layout,  and then click Navigation pane to display it.

    To  customize the navigation pane in Windows 7


    1. In an open  folder or library window, click Organize, and then  click Folder and search options.
    2. In the Folder  Options dialog box, click the General tab,  and then do one or both of the following:

      • To show all the  folders on your computer in the navigation pane, including your personal  folder, select the Show all folders check box, click Apply  to see the change, and then click OK.
      • To  automatically expand the navigation pane to the folder that's selected  in the folder window, select the Automatically expand to current  folder check box, and then click OK.

    Customizing the navigation pane in Windows 7

    Customizing  the navigation pane in Windows 7

    More ways to  customize your favorites in Windows 7


    • To add a folder, a  saved search, a library, or even a drive as a favorite, drag it to the Favorites  section in the navigation pane.  Note: You can’t add  individual file to Favorites, but you can add them to any folder in  Favorites.
    • To change the order of favorites, drag a  favorite to a new position in the list.
    • To restore the  default favorites in the navigation pane, right-click Favorites,  and then click Restore Favorite Links.
    • To  view the folder where your favorites are stored, click Favorites  in the navigation pane. Favorites are stored as shortcuts.
    • To  remove a favorite, right-click the favorite, and then click Remove.  This removes the favorite from the navigation pane—it doesn't delete  the files or folders that the shortcut points to.

      The Favorites area of the navigation pane in Windows 7

       The Favorites area of the navigation pane in Windows 7

      Add  folders and files in Windows Vista


      In Windows Vista, you can add  folders to Favorite Links in the navigation pane so that you can open  them from any folder window at any time. To do this, first open the  folder that contains the subfolder  you want to add. Then simply drag  its icon from the original folder to where you want it in the navigation  pane. You can also click Folders at the bottom of the  pane and drag a folder from the folder list up into the Favorite Links  section of the pane. Note: You can’t add individual  files to Favorite Links, but you can add them to any folder in Favorite  Links.

      Pictures folder in Windows

      Pictures folder in Windows


      3. Pin a program or items to  the Windows 7 taskbar


      You know what would make a great taskbar?  One where you could pin your favorite applications or files so that you  could open them quickly from any window at any time. Guess what? You  can.

      In Windows 7, you can also pin shortcuts for favorite or  frequently used files, folders, and websites to the Jump Lists for each  of those programs to the taskbar. Learn  more about Jump Lists.

      Pin a program to the taskbar

      To  pin a program shortcut to the taskbar, do one of the following:
      • If  the program is already running, right-click the program's button on the  taskbar (or drag the button toward the desktop) to open the program’s  Jump List, and then click Pin this program to taskbar.
      • Or  if the program isn't running, click Start, find the  program’s icon, right-click the icon, and then click Pin to  Taskbar.
      • You can also pin a program by dragging  the program's shortcut from the desktop or Start menu  to the taskbar.

        Pinning a program to the taskbar

        Pinning a program to the  taskbar

        Using Jump Lists in Windows 7


        Jump Lists on the taskbar give  you quick access to the things you use most often. You can drag a file,  folder, or website icon or a shortcut from the Start  menu or the desktop to the taskbar. This pins the item to the Jump List  and also pins the associated program to the taskbar. If you drag the  shortcut to the taskbar and the associated program isn't already pinned  there, then that program is pinned to the taskbar and the item is pinned  to the program’s Jump List.

        Pinning an item to a Jump List on the taskbar

        Pinning  an item to a Jump List on the taskbar

        To view the Jump  List for a program, right-click the program's button on the taskbar. To  open an item from a Jump List, open the program's Jump List, and then  click the item.


        4. Customize  the Quick Launch Bar in Windows XP


        In Windows XP, the  customizable Quick Launch Bar also gives you convenient shortcuts to  your favorite programs, folders, and files. The Quick Launch Bar remains  accessible from most windows, so it’s a handy way to open the  applications and files you use frequently.

        If the Quick Launch  Bar isn’t already visible to the right of the Start button Start button,  you’ll need to turn it on. To do that, right-click an open area of the  taskbar. Hover your mouse pointer over Toolbars, then  click Quick Launch. The Quick Launch Bar appears on  your taskbar.

        The Quick Launch Bar on the Windows XP taskbar

        The  Quick Launch Bar on the Windows XP taskbar

        To add a  program shortcut to the Quick Launch Bar, click the Start buttonStart button,  click All Programs, then click and drag the application  you want to the Quick Launch Bar. Release the mouse button and the  application’s icon appears in the Quick Launch Bar.

        To add a  folder or file shortcut to the Quick Launch Bar, open Windows Explorer,  navigate to the folder, subfolder, or individual file you want, click  and drag the folder or file you want to the Quick Launch Bar. Release  the mouse button and the icon for the folder or file appears in the  Quick Launch Bar.

        To remove a shortcut from the Quick Launch Bar,  right-click on the icon in the Quick Launch Bar of the application,  folder, or file you want to remove and right-click it, click  Delete, and then click Yes when asked if  you’re sure you want to  delete the shortcut. Note:  Although the shortcut is removed from the Quick Launch Bar, the actual  application, folder, or file has not been deleted from your computer.


        5. Arrange windows on your  desktop


        In Windows, you can arrange windows side by side, which  can be especially helpful when comparing two documents or when moving  files from one place to another. Note: If you’re using a  nonstandard setup (such as dual monitors), the tricks below may not  work as expected.

        Windows 7


        1. Drag the title bar of a  window to the left or right side of the screen until an outline of the  expanded window appears.
        2. Release the mouse to expand the  window.
        3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with another window to  arrange the windows side by side.

        To return a window to  its original size click the Maximize button in the  window’s title bar and the window expands to full size.

        The Maximize button

        he Maximize button

        Learn more about managing  multiple windows in Windows 7.

        Tip: To snap  an active window to the side of the desktop by using the keyboard, press  Windows logo key Windows logo key +Left Arrow or Windows logo key Windows logo key +Right Arrow.

        Viewing windows side by side in Windows

        Viewing  windows side by side in Windows

        Windows Vista and  Windows XP 


        In Windows Vista and Windows XP, it’s easy to display  any two (or more) windows side by side on the desktop, all equally  sized. Press and hold the Ctrl key and click two or more of the window  buttons on the taskbar that you want to open. Release the Ctrl key,  right-click, and then do one of the following:
        • Windows  Vista users, click Show Windows Side by Side

          Windows Vista, Show Windows Side by Side command.

          Windows  Vista, Show Windows Side by Side command.

          Windows XP, Tile Vertically command.

          Windows XP, Tile  Vertically command.

          6.  Organize your files into groups


          Windows offers a variety of  options for organizing folders and files in the ways that work best for  you.

          Windows 7


          The easiest and most effective way to  organize your stuff in Windows 7 is to use file arrangements in your  libraries.

          You can arrange files in the Documents library by  author, for example, or you can arrange the Music library by artist  if you're looking for an album or song by a particular band.

          To  arrange a library

          1. In the taskbar, click the Windows  Explorer button Windows Explorer button.
          2. In the navigation pane (the  left pane), click a library (such as Music).
          3. In  the library pane (above the file list), click the Arrange by  menu, and then choose a property. For example, in the Music library,  you can choose Artist to quickly arrange your music  collection by artist.

          4. The 'Arrange by' menu

            The "Arrange by" menu
          5. When  you arrange your files, Windows doesn't just put your files in a  different order. Instead, they are presented in a completely different  way. The arrangements work differently depending on which one you  choose. For example, arranging your pictures by month puts your pictures  into stacks, like this:

            Files arranged in 'stacks'

            Files arranged in "stacks"

            Arranging  by day puts them into groups, like this:

            Files arranged in 'groups'

            Files arranged in "groups"

            There  are four default libraries in Windows 7, each with its own specific  arrangements. You can also create new libraries and choose which  arrangements are available for them.
            For more information about  libraries, see Working  with libraries.

          Windows Vista


          Open a folder  that contains several different subfolders and file types. Right-click  any empty space on the window's contents pane, point to Group By,  and then click your grouping choice.

          Windows Vista Group by command.

          Windows Vista Group by  command.

          Windows XP


          Open a folder that contains  several different subfolders and file types. Right-click any empty  space on the window's contents pane, point to Arrange Icons By,  and then click Show in Groups. To arrange the window's  contents, right-click again in any empty space on the window's contents  pane, point to Arrange Icons By, and click NameSize, Type, or Modified  (the choices may vary depending on the contents).

          Windows XP Arrange icons by command.

          Windows XP Arrange  icons by command.

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