We delve under the surface of Microsoft’s brand new operating system – and discover there’s a whole lot more features and benefits than you might see at first glance.
Windows 7 is almost here. A lot has been written about the most popular features, such as the HomeGroup file sharing, Jump Lists that enable you to access your files faster and the smarter desktop. But what about the features behind the headlines? The clever additions you might not have heard about but, once you know about them, you’ll wonder how you did without? We delve deeper.
1 Eliminate annoying folder crashes
Reliability is something we all fret about, and often we only come across a PC problem when needing to get something done quickly. If you’re having a problem with your computer being unstable, one of the options open to you is to open folders in a new process. By default, and as you’d expect, Windows 7 opens new folders within the same process. If you have a crashing folder, this isn’t that helpful, especially if you need to get something done rapidly. So in Computer, hold down Shift, right-click on the drive you want to open, and select Open in new process. This folder will then open within the new process and will be unaffected by any other problems your system is experiencing.
2 Reduce your sound while making a call
Windows 7 introduces some smart volume-adjusting technology. Your computer can automatically reduce the volume of your PC’s sound when you receive a call to your computer over a service such as Skype or Windows Live Call. You can get your system to reduce the volume by 80 per cent, 50 per cent or even to mute all other sounds. The latter setting could be useful if you’re listening to music, for example. To change this setting, right click on your speaker icon in the taskbar or go to Sound and click on the Communications tab. You can of course switch this feature off if you just want your PC to do nothing when you receive a call.
PEACE AND QUIET If you’re normally left scrabbling for the volume control when you get a Skype call, then this is for you
3 Powerful new calculator
The Windows 7 calculator might initially seem nothing special, but it has hidden depths. It includes plenty of unit conversions such as length and weight, while you can also do date-related calculations such as working out the number of days before a certain date. In addition, there are ready-to-go Worksheets for vehicle economy, leasing costs and mortgage calculations.
The main menu also gives you powerful new Statistics and Programmer modes. The treatment of the calculator is typical of how many standard Windows applications have been given new life.
4 Bring fonts to life
Ever been frustrated by not being able to see what fonts look like? Now you can banish that irritation forever. In Windows 7 previewing Fonts is easy. The new Fonts applet in Control Panel gives you a preview for each font on your system, so you’ll be to see all your fonts at a glance. Handily, Windows 7 also groups together font families, so when you can still see the different fonts within a family, the window makes things simple with just a single entry for each family. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, Windows 7 also introduces a new open type script font called Gabriola.
NOT YOUR TYPE? Check out all your installed fonts in a single glance – plus a new font for free!
5 Be the PC problem solver
The Problem Steps Recorder enables you to get to the bottom of those PC problems that friends and family come to you with. Like many of us, you probably get asked by friends and relatives about their own PC problems. But without actually seeing the problem firsthand, it can be difficult to troubleshoot. The Problem Steps Recorder enables them to let you know exactly what’s going on with their Windows 7 PC. If they have an issue, they can simply launch the Problem Steps Recorder by going to Start, typing PSR and hitting Return. They then click Start record. The Problem Steps Recorder takes over and notes mouse clicks and keypresses as well as taking screen grabs. Everything is put into a single file which can then be emailed to you. If you often get asked about problems, it could save you a lot of time.
6 Change your display
If you want to change the display currently selected, just press the Windows key and P to flip between the displays plugged into your system. This works similarly to Alt and Tab for open programs. To make the most of your display, Windows 7 also provides a Display Colour Calibration Wizard. This helps you to set up your flat screen or other display perfectly by adjusting brightness, contrast and colour settings. Type DCCW into Start Search, then hit Return to launch it.
7 Lock down your apps
AppLocker is a completely new feature for Windows 7 that enables you to lock down certain applications for users that you specify, using rules and properties to provide access control for applications. Meant primarily for businesses, it’s available in Windows 7 Ultimate, while you can also create rules in Windows 7 Professional. You can configure numerous rules including restricting applications by publisher, for example, so you could restrict certain games or simply applications you use for work. AppLocker is hidden away though, in the Local Group Policy Editor. To launch this, run GPEDIT.MSC and go to Computer Configuration > Windows Settings. Then highlight Security Settings and look for Application Control Policies. AppLocker is within this group.
SECURITY CONSCIOUS Lock down your programs with a variety of rules using AppLocker
8 Shake your mouse for clarity
One of our favourite little enhancements to Windows 7 is the shake to minimise feature. If your desktop is cluttered with windows, it can be a time-consuming process to minimise them all to your taskbar. Now you don’t need to. Just grab hold of the title bar of the window you still want to use with your mouse, and shake it around a little. All the windows will minimise to the taskbar, except for the one you’re using. Cool eh? Oh, and should you want to clear the entire desktop, then just click on the area next to the clock in the bottom right-hand corner.
9 Power up defragmentation
Defragmenting your drives is a more powerful function than ever in Windows 7, and the command line defragmenter also has some interesting new skills. Click Start, then type CMD and hit Return. Now type defrag followed by any combination of /c /h /u or /r – new tools for more powerful defragmentation. /r is the most useful, enabling you to defrag multiple drives at the same time – providing they are physically separate and not just partitions of the same drive. /u keeps you up-to-date with constant information about what’s going on throughout the process. View the new options by entering defrag /?
10 Search for anything
The Windows 7 search tool is more than just a way to find a file you’ve misplaced. It can be easily extended to search online resources as well as your own computer. It does this by using search connectors that you can easily download online. You can add search connectors for various services including YouTube, Amazon and eBay from http://snipurl.com/paz8e. To add Flickr support, go to www.istartedsomething.com/flickrsearch. When you download the connector, select Open when offered and it’ll install immediately. Search connectors are very small and will download in a matter of seconds.
Source: WIndows Magazine