Power-up your workday with Windows 7

Here's a cool collection of 7 Windows 7 Productivity Tips - we bet there’s something here you didn’t know your computer could do!

NB: In this article ‘Win-X’ means holding down the Windows key (ÿ) and then X at the same time.

Give your screen some stick

Sticky Notes applications have been around for years (sometimes from Microsoft, sometimes from third-party providers); but in Windows 7 they’ve got it just right by making it simple rather than over-functional. To access Sticky Notes, hit the Windows Start Menu, type ‘sticky’ in the search box and select the Sticky Notes program which pops up.

Start typing... and that’s it. There isn’t even a Save button – it’s all automatic. Your Sticky Notes will be there next time you start up; and if you have different user profiles on your computer, everyone can have their own Sticky Notes, too. Right-click a Sticky Note and you can even select from a range of traditional pastel colours.

Perfect Projections

If you’ve ever had the embarrassment of trying to get a presentation to display properly on an unfamiliar screen in a client’s office, you’ll know that it can be a real pain. Nobody likes tweaking the technology with the client looking on, bored and dazed, into their coffee.

We can’t make all projectors perfect, but we can make changing display settings ridiculously easy; in fact the following tip will take you less than three seconds. Instead of rooting about in ‘Display Settings’, Hit Win-P and scroll through (using Win-P again) until you reach the display output you want. Reward yourself with the choccy biscuits any self-respecting client would obviously lay on.

Get connected in no time

Discovering wireless networks happens constantly in the background with Windows 7, and you don’t need to delve deep into any menus to switch on or swap networks either. Simply click the wireless icon (shown) in the Windows System Tray (usually bottom-right of your screen) and click an available network to activate it. Enter a password if required, and you’ll be hooked up straight away.

Jump straight to recent documents

You’ve probably discovered already that both active and some inactive programs appear on the Taskbar (usually located at the bottom of the screen). You can click on Taskbar programs to open them or move between programs which are already open.

However, if you right-click on a Taskbar program, its Jump List pops up. Jump Lists contain useful functions appropriate to that program, and in most cases that includes instant access to recent documents you’ve opened with that program – even if the program is closed. All of which means you can open a recent document from start-up in just two clicks.

 If you’re a Recent Documents fan, you can increase the number of recent items shown on Jump Lists by right-clicking the Windows Start Menu, then Properties > Start Menu > Customize. The final entry on this screen is the number of recent items to display. 

Have an appointment with the optician

Everyone working in an office should feel comfortable at their computer. Owners of smaller businesses are particularly liable to fall victim to posture and eyesight problems because many work from home at the kitchen table and on chairs which were never designed for prolonged screen-time.

Your Windows 7 PC can’t sort out your furniture, but it can reduce eye-strain. There’s a little-known program called “Text Tuner” which will subtly alter your display settings to match screen text to your own personal eyesight.

Open the Windows Start Menu and type “cctune” into the search box. The Text Tuner works rather like a visit to the optician; in which, through a series of questions, you simply select which of a selection of lines of text is easiest for you to read. In a couple of minutes, your display is optimised for easiest reading.

Son of Alt-TAB

Once upon a time, Alt-TAB was the easiest way to switch between open programs – and there’s nothing wrong with it! But Alt-TAB is sequential, and of course, there’s now a Taskbar with open programs at the bottom of the screen. So, you can now use the Ctrl key and click on a Taskbar icon to switch to programs too.

 Super Shortcuts

Windows 7 has more keyboard shortcuts than any previous version of Windows. You don’t need to know them all, but some of them will turn out to be invaluable. Here are just a few of the most useful.

  • Win-T                                  Cycles through each program on the Taskbar
  • Win-Up Arrow                     Maximise the current window (down arrow to restore down)
  • Win-Space                          Glimpses the desktop (use Win-D to switch between desktop and programs)
  • Win-E                                  Open Windows Explorer
  • Win-L                                  Lock the computer
  • Win-Right Arrow-Enter           Shuts Down

And if you want more - browse keyboard shortcuts here.

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