Administrators are constantly learning these days. Server virtualization, desktop VDI, Exchange, SharePoint -- it's a never-ending barrage of new material to take in. With so many products, it's easy to fall behind on learning all the features of the "old" Windows 7, so let me bring you up to speed. Here are the top 20 tips and tricks that you should know for Windows 7; if you want to see my favorite three, just watch the video.
1. Taskbar icons have keyboard shortcuts. To open these applications through shortcut keys, simply hold down the Windows key and press the number on the keyboard that corresponds with the icon, working from the Start "orb" button to the right. For example, if Internet Explorer is the first icon, press Windows-1 to open IE.
2. You can move items on the taskbar. I know it feels like this was already possible in Windows XP and Vista, but this actually is a new Windows 7 feature.
3. Paint and WordPad use the new ribbon interface. In addition, Paint has new brushes, and both applications have new Save As options. However, you still can't open more than one document or picture at a time.
4. There is a great new tool for supporting family members and friends from afar. Click the Start button and type
psr to open the Problem Steps Recorder. This tool can capture step by step (even take screenshots) what a person is doing. When they stop the recording, the session is bundled as an MHTML file and compressed for easy emailing back to support, which in most cases is you. (An MHTML file is an IE-only HTML variant.)
10. You can run a private version of Internet Explorer. If you are at a conference or in a public location and want to run a private version of Internet Explorer, you can quickly jump to the InPrivate Browsing mode to do so. There are several methods. You can click and drag the IE icon up or right-click it to get a contextual menu in which you choose Start InPrivate Browsing. Or in IE itself, choose Safety > InPrivate Browsing or press Ctrl-Shift-P to open a new, private IE window. You can also set a desktop shortcut for IE that automatically launches in InPrivate Browsing mode; just append
-private after the application path, with a space before the hyphen. No matter how you launch that private session, IE won't retain any of the information you view or type during that session.
11. You can turn off auodetection of your location and other such browser information. Sometimes, when you go to a site, it locates your connection point and asks, for example, "Would you like to know the weather in [your location]?" That may freak you out a bit, but you can use a new IE feature called InPrivate Filtering, located in IE's Safety options, to choose what browser information you want to filter out from sites' access.
12. You can set up a quick home network. Use the new feature called HomeGroups to share documents, pictures, and printers easily with other members of your home network also running Windows 7.
13. Find out what's causing reliability issues. If your PC has issues every once in a while, such as crashes or application hangs, type
reliability in the Instant Search bar to open the Reliability Monitor; it will show your system's reliability history over a period of time and what seems to hit your reliability the most.
14. See a system diagnostic of your computer in 60 seconds with minimal effort. Rather than go to Administrative Tools, then to Performance Monitor, and finally to Data Collector Sets just to launch the System Diagnostic DCS, simply open up an administrator command prompt and type