20 Windows 7 quick tips and tricks for IT admins

Make working in Windows 7 even easier with these easy-to-miss tricks

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.

[ Get all the details you need on deploying and using Windows 7 in the InfoWorld editors' 21-page Windows 7 Deep Dive PDF special report. ]

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.)

5. You can have more than one clock on your notification area. For those of us who work with people in other time zones, you can display clocks for each of those regions. Click the clock in the notification area and choose Change Date and Time Settings. Select the Additional Clocks tab to display as many as two other clocks and to set their time zones. (This feature actually came with Vista, but few people know about it.)

6. There's a fast way to run a program using administrator privileges. To open an application with administrator permissions, you usually locate it through the Start menu, right-click the application, and choose Run as Administrator from the contextual menu. However, you can also simply type the name in the Instant Search bar at the base of the Start menu and press Ctrl-Shift-Enter.

7. There is a replacement to the Security Center called the Action Center. Located in the Control Panel, it provides both security and maintenance information for your system. It also provides links to many other features such as backup settings.

8. There is a new UAC (User Account Control) slider to set the desired prompt level. You can reach it quickly by typing uac in the Instant Search bar. This slider is set by default to a less annoying setting than what Vista had, but you can bring the settings back to Vista mode, leave it in Windows 7 mode (which prompts you only if an action is attempted beyond your input), or lower the settings to the bottom and turn off the UAC security altogether to what I like to call "Mac mode" (yes, I know the Mac's UAC equivalent prompts users for the same kinds of actions as UAC's Windows 7 mode). Note that the slider is also available in the Action Center.

9. You can quickly turn on and off certain Windows apps. To turn on and off built-in apps such as Internet Explorer, DVD Maker, and Media Player, type features in the Instant Search bar and select the Turn Windows Features On or Off link under Control Panel; then locate the feature you want to hide or display.

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