In Windows 7, Microsoft added a variety of features that make users more efficient and productive than with previous versions of Windows, but there can be a small learning curve for some of them. If your job is supporting the growing number of Windows 7 users, pass along these seven tips to help them work faster and get more done -- or use them yourself to boost your own Windows 7 efficiency.
1. Get the most out of Jump Lists
Jump Lists are one of Windows 7's secret efficiency weapons. With previous versions of Windows, the Start Menu displayed a list of recently used files that users navigated to with one click. But this list linked to only certain file types, and it showed only the last 10 files, quickly cycling items off the list.
The Jump Lists in Windows 7 take the Recent Items concept and apply it on an application-by-application basis to give you fast, one-click access to the files you've used most recently. A little arrow to the right of the application name in the Start Menu indicates the presence of a Jump List. You hover over the application to expand the Jump List and see a list of the recently opened files for that program; click the one you want to open it instantly.
The number of items maintained in each Jump List defaults to 10, but you can expand it to up to 60 in the Start Menu settings: Right-click on the Windows taskbar and select Properties, then click on the Start Menu tab in the Properties window and select the Customize button. At the bottom of the Start Menu customization area, you can set the number of items to display in the Jump List. Whatever you set it for, though, will be the setting for all Jump Lists. There is no way to customize it on an individual program basis.
More important, you can pin items to the Jump List so you don't have to worry about them cycling off. For example, if you have a file that you access on a regular basis, you can click the pushpin icon that appears next to the file name when you hover over it in the Jump List to pin it to the list permanently. Pinned files appear above the dynamic Jump List and do not cycle off. To unpin an item from a Jump List, select it in the list, click its pushpin icon, and select "Unpin from this list."
Jump Lists don't stop with the Start Menu; they also appear when you right-click an application's icon in the Windows 7 taskbar. In addition to the same list of pinned and recently used files that appears in the Start Menu Jump List for that application, you'll see a few tasks, such as "Pin this program to taskbar."
2. Beef up context menus
You are most likely familiar with the concept of the context menu. If you right-click on the Windows 7 desktop or in an application, a menu of options appears that varies based on your context -- what application you're in and what you're doing.