It's Friday, and there's just one thing between you and that fabulous ski weekend you've got planned: an assignment due to the boss at 5:00 today. You are, however, on a plane—and will be for most of the day.
To meet the deadline and hit the slopes on time, you'll need your trusty laptop for a few hours. But will your battery last? Sure it will—because Windows 7 gives you all sorts of tools to help keep the juice flowing.
Here's how you'll do it:
1. Knowledge is power. Knowing where you are, power-wise, will help you conserve. Put a battery gadget on your desktop—learn how—or check the battery meter on your taskbar.
2. Say no to vampires. I don't mean to insult your USB devices (external hard drives, for example), but they do consume your laptop's lifeblood. When not using them, disconnect them.
3. Avoid the mouse trap. USB pointing devices use power too, so using your laptop's touch pad or your tablet PC's touch screen can help you eke out more computing time.
4. Look inward. Shut down any internal devices you don't need, such as wireless connections, modems, or PC cards.
5. Exploit a dim bulb. Reducing your screen brightness helps, too. You can also adjust the display brightness from Power Options in the Control Panel, and your laptop might offer other methods. Check the manufacturer's documentation.
6. Stay focused. Playing graphically intense games or watching videos generally eats up more power than word processing and spreadsheeting—and, unless your assignment is more fun than most of mine, they won't help you finish your work.
7. Harness the power of 40 winks. When your complimentary beverage and sixteen dry-roasted peanuts arrive and you want to savor them, put your laptop to sleep (here's how). Sleeping laptops have miniscule appetites for power.
8. Plan ahead. Windows 7 offers three power plans—Power Saver, Balanced, and High Performance. Balanced works most of the time, but today choosing Power Saver could get you over the hump (learn how). Remember: Make this choice early, when your battery is fully charged, to get the greatest benefit.
Yes, you can always upgrade to a bigger battery or just get a second one for times like these. But follow these tips today and you'll be hitting the slopes this weekend—while, presumably, your boss reads that assignment you'll have already turned in.