Still More Windows Vista Tips

Here's a third collection of tips for Windows Vista, and thanks again to everyone that's written in with tips. If you don't see your tip here, fear not: I've saved a number of tips for the next tips article.

Resizing desktop icons with the mouse

This was probably the most popular tip, so thanks to the many people who wrote in about this one: In the last Tips article, I mentioned that Vista supports three default sizes for desktop icons, compared to just one in previous Windows versions. But it's actually quite a bit better than that if you know the secret: Using the scroll wheel on your mouse, it's possible in Vista to revolve through a whopping 28 icon sizes, some of which are quite large. So if you really want to customize your desktop, this is the way to go: Click the desktop, hold down the CTRL key and start scrolling with your mouse's scroll wheel. Amazing.


Click image for a larger version

Note: This works in Explorer windows as well. (Thanks to Richard Gregg for the reminder.)

Use the mouse with Flip3D too!

In the previous Tips article, we discussed using the mouse in Windows Flip, but Richard Gregg notes that it can be used in Flip3D too. Just tap WINKEY+TAB to bring up Flip3D, and then click on any of the windows in the 3D view to bring that window to the front.

More keyboard shortcuts

Manjit Cheema tells me that WINKEY+SPACE will bring Windows Sidebar to the forefront; this is especially useful if you've used Show Desktop and Sidebar is hidden. Also, holding down the CTRL key while you click the Maximize window button in Internet Explorer 7 causes that app to maximizee without any window chrome, just as if you'd tapped F11.

Better file renaming

While you've always been able to rename a file in the Windows Explorer shell by selecting the file and tapping F2, Windows Vista includes a cool new feature, says Heath Foley: If you've got file extensions displayed by default, the rename selection will no longer include the extension. So you no longer have to worry about blowing away file name extensions, like you did in previous Windows versions. (Note: This feature is also available if you use the mouse to rename files.)

Manage your games

While the new Games Explorer in Vista is quite useful and attractive, a number of older games don't automatically get added to this location when installed. No problem, says Jonathan Dunlap: Simply drag the shortcut for any game or entertainment application into Games Explorer to ensure you can access all of these titles from this handy interface.

Keep Windows Flip and Flip3D onscreen

Mike Cerminara has an interesting alternative to the normal Windows Flip (ALT+TAB) and Flip3D (WINKEY+TAB) keyboard shortcuts: Add CTRL to keep these task switchers onscreen (that is, type CTRL+ALT+TAB for Windows Flip and CTRL+WINKEY+TAB for Flip3D). Now, you can take your time and use the mouse or arrow keys to select the window you want, without having to hold down the ALT or WINKEY key. Nice!

More useful System Configuration utility

Roger Southgate tells me that the System Configuration utility (previously known by its file name, msconfig.exe) has been updated with a new Tools tab that includes links to numerous system tools, including About Windows, Even Viewer, Remote Assistance, and more.

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

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