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Revenge of More Windows Vista Tips

It's back! Here's the fifth collection of tips for Windows Vista. Thanks, as always, to everyone that's written in with tips. If you don't see your tip here, fear not: I'm still stockpiling tips for future tips articles.

Living la vida Vista ... wallpaper

If you're in the mood for some Vista-inspired wallpaper, Microsoft recently provided two high-quality Windows Vista Ultimate wallpaper designs, in various aspect ratios and resolutions, to its Windows Vista Ultimate blog. The wallpaper designs, "Start" and "Strands," emulate the design style seen on the Vista Ultimate packaging, and might be of interest to those of prefer dark, stylistic background images.

Classic shutdown dialog

If you miss the classic Windows shutdown dialog, fear not, as there's a way to display it in Vista too. A number of readers wrote in to tell me that you can make this dialog pop-up by clicking an empty area of the desktop and then tapping ALT+F4. From this classic dialog, you can choose between various options, depending on your system type, including Switch User, Log off, Restart, Sleep, Hibernate, and Shut Down.

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Awesome photo slideshows

Christopher Rudman reports that Windows Vista offers a surprisingly fun set of photo slideshow themes from within the Windows shell. Here's how it works: Navigate to a folder full of photos (like the Pictures folder) and you'll see a Slide Show button on the default toolbar. When you click this, the contents of the folder will be displayed in a nice full-screen slideshow. There are navigational controls and some configurable settings, as you'd expect. But the best part is the Themes button, which lets you choose between several professional-looking themes and transition types.

CTRL+scrolling through folder views

In a previous article in this series, we discussed how it's possible to change the icon view styles on the desktop by holding down the CTRL key and scrolling with your mouse's scroll wheel. A number of readers pointed out that this works in any Windows Explorer window as well. (Though as Matt Stimson notes, it doesn't work in Control Panel, for some reason.) An added bonus is that you can use this method to access Extra Large Icon view, which isn't available, for some reason, via the Views button.

Quick launch your applications

David Leary says that touch typists should know that you can use the Start Menu's new integrated search feature to quickly launch favorite applications without having to mouse around a lot. Here's how it works: Just tap WINKEY and type the name of the application you want. For example, WINKEY+"excel" (no quotes) will launch Microsoft Excel (if Office is installed). Experiment with your favorite apps to discover how little of each app's name you really need to type. Bonus tip: You can still use the old WINKEY+F keyboard shortcut to search for files and folders on your PC, but in Vista it pops up the new instant search utility.

Document previews are no Filmstrip view, but...

I get asked a lot if Windows Vista has an Explorer view style that's like XP's neat Filmstrip view. The truth is, it doesn't. But Vista does include a new Preview pane in the shell that is somewhat similar and could be useful if you want to preview documents, pictures, and other data files without opening them first. But first, you need to enable it: Open any Windows Explorer window and click Organize then Layout then Preview Pane. Then, select different data files to see how the preview works.

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Windows Mobile device synchronization gets better

If you use a Windows Mobile-based smart phone or PDA, one of the best things about Windows Vista is that Microsoft's antiquated and idiosyncratic ActiveSync application isn't compatible with the new system. But David Leary notes that's a good thing, because Microsoft has created a new Vista-compatible device synchronization application called Windows Mobile Device Center that is better looking and simpler to use than ActiveSync. And if you're an x64 fan, there's even better news: You can get a 64-bit version of the application as well.

Use Flip 3D ... from your mouse

This one is just neat: David tells me you can trigger the new Windows Flip 3D task switcher (typically triggered via the WINKEY+TAB keyboard shortcut or the "Switch between windows" shortcut in the Quick Launch toolbar) ... with your mouse, assuming you have a mouse button configuration utility. (For example, Microsoft supplies the IntelliPoint utility for its mice.) To do so, select the mouse button you'd like to use (I'm using this with the scroll wheel button) and change its button assignment to "C:\Windows\System32\rundll32.exe dwmapi #105" (no quotes). Voila!

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Got more? Send any tips my way and I'll get them posted in a future follow-up. Thanks!

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