Windows 7: Five Tips Every User Should Know

By Fred Carter - 2016-07-26

Windows 7 has been out since 2009, so users have had plenty of time to discover tips and tricks that can make things easier. Some are obvious while some are not, so have a read through this post and see if there are any you didn’t already know. 

Tip #1:

Get back some common Windows apps by downloading Windows Live Essentials. If you used Windows XP and just upgraded to Windows 7, you’ll notice a few things missing, like Windows Movie Maker and Outlook Express. If you’ve switched over from Vista, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, and Windows Mail are missing.

These are now part of a downloadable package of apps Microsoft has called “Windows Live Essentials” rather than part of the operating system. If you don’t already have one, you will need to sign up for a free Windows Live account in order to download the apps. Of course, you might not need any of those apps, but some of the features are pretty cool, like the option to burn a DVD Video using Windows Movie Maker.

Tip #2:

Pin frequently used folders and files to taskbar program icons. The taskbar redesign means that a lot of the new tips and tricks involve the taskbar. You can set up shortcuts to folders and files you use frequently, just like always, but now you don’t have to minimize or move around windows to uncover them. Now you can “pin” folders or files onto relevant program icons in your taskbar, which means they are always above the desktop window. 

Say you work a lot on a spreadsheet called “RUNNINGLOG.XLS” in Excel. Launch the program, and find the file named “RUNNINGLOG.XLS” Left- or right-click on the file, then drag it onto the Excel taskbar program icon. You’ll see a message that says “Pin to Microsoft Excel” and when you do, let go of the mouse button. The file will get added to a Jump List, a list of frequently accessed actions, folders, and files that you can get to from the taskbar using the program’s icon.

Tip #3:

Pin frequently used apps to your taskbar. If you tend to use certain apps frequently, you can pin them to the taskbar, which also makes its Jump List available to you all the time. This really kills two birds with one stone in that you can easily launch the app with one click, or left-click on the app’s taskbar icon and sweep the cursor upward, which will make the Jump List pop up. Then you can click on whichever shortcut item you want.

It’s easy to pin a program: just right-click on a program’s icon on your desktop or Start menu, and select “Pin to taskbar.” Alternatively, you can drag the icon onto the taskbar where you want it.

Tip #4:

Allow Windows tweak your LCD to improve the text on your screen. This is called the ClearType Text Tuner, or CTTT. Access CTTT from the Windows Control Panel. Click on the “Display” item and then, in the resulting dialog, click on “Adjust ClearType text.” In the wizard, ensure the box next to “Turn on ClearType” is checked, and follow the instructions.

Tip #5:

Switch apps using Windows key + T. You're probably used to switching among apps using the keyboard shortcut Alt + Tab, and if you’ve used Vista, you’ll know that the Aero Flip function, which uses Windows key + Tab, allows you to cycle through 3D planar renderings of your open windows. Windows 7 takes these one step further and offers another way to switch tasks using Windows key + T. It allows you to cycle through all of your open apps and it also lets you see grouped windows within each app. 

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