Out of the 30 secrets, some of my favourites are:
1. Windows Management. By now, you’ve probably seen that Windows 7 does a lot to make window management easier: you can “dock” a window to the left or right half of the screen by simply dragging it to the edge; similarly, you can drag the window to the top of the screen to maximize it, and double-click the window top / bottom border to maximize it vertically with the same horizontal width. What you might not know is that all these actions are also available with keyboard shortcuts:
- Win+Left Arrow and Win+Right Arrow dock;
- Win+Up Arrow and Win+Down Arrow maximizes and restores / minimizes;
- Win+Shift+Up Arrow and Win+Shift+Down Arrow maximizes and restores the vertical size.
This side-by-side docking feature is particularly invaluable on widescreen monitors – it makes the old Windows way of shift-clicking on two items in the taskbar and then using the context menu to arrange them feel really painful.
2. Display Projection. Had enough of messing around with weird and wonderful OEM display driver utilities to get your notebook display onto an external projector? In that case, you’ll be pleased to know that projection is really quick and simple with Windows 7. Just hit Win+P, and you’ll be rewarded by the following pop-up window:
Use the arrow keys (or keep hitting Win+P) to switch to “clone”, “extend” or “external only” display settings. You can also access the application as displayswitch.exe.
7. The Black Box Recorder. Every developer wishes there was a way that an end-users could quickly and simply record a repro for the problem that they’re running into that is unique to their machine. Windows 7 comes to the rescue! Part of the in-built diagnostic tools that we use internally to send feedback on the product, the Problem Steps Recorder provides a simple screen capture tool that enables you to record a series of actions. Once you hit “record”, it tracks your mouse and keyboard and captures screenshots with any comments you choose to associate alongside them. Once you stop recording, it saves the whole thing to a ZIP file, containing an HTML-based “slide show” of the steps. It’s a really neat little tool and I can’t wait for it to become ubiquitous on every desktop! The program is called psr.exe; you can also search for it from Control Panel under “Record steps to reproduce a problem”.
15. Standards Support. Every review of Windows 7 that I’ve seen has noted the revamped WordPad and Paint applets that add an Office-like ribbon to expose their functionality. Few, however, have noticed one small but hopefully appreciated feature: WordPad can now read and write both the Word 2007-compatible Office Open XML file format but also the OpenDocument specification that IBM and Sun have been advocating:
26. ISO Burning. Easy to miss if you’re not looking for it: you can double-click on any DVD or CD .ISO image and you’ll see a helpful little applet that will enable you to burn the image to a blank disc. No more grappling for shareware utilities of questionable parentage!