Windows 7 Tips

Make the most of Windows 7 with Aero Snap, BitLocker To Go, ISO burning, and more

If you're making the move to Windows 7, you'll want to get the most out of Microsoft's highly anticipated new OS. I've been using Windows 7 since the first beta, so here are my favorite tips for getting the most out of it. These tips can make you more productive and also help you take advantage of some of Windows 7's most important new features.

10. Protect your USB drives with BitLocker To Go—If you're anything like me, you have a number of USB flash drives and have lost several as well. Using BitLocker To Go, you can encrypt any data on such drives, minimizing your security exposure. You encrypt a USB drive by opening Computer, right-clicking the drive, then selecting the Turn on BitLocker option.

9. Use the Problem Steps Recorder—How many times have you had to endure lengthy phone conversions to understand a user's problems? The new Problem Steps Recorder lets users record their actions in a series of screen captures that can be easily emailed to support. To run the Problem Steps Recorder, enter psr in the Start menu Search box, then click the Start Record button.

8. Use Aero Snap side-by-side docking—Aero Snap side-by-side docking is a new UI feature that makes it easy to compare documents. To use it, you grab a window and drag it until the mouse arrow leaves the screen. Alternatively, select a window, then press Windows key (Win)+Left Arrow or Win+Right Arrow. You release docked windows by clicking the title bar and shaking.

7. Connect to a projector with a keyboard shortcut—If you use different computers to show PowerPoint presentations, you'll like Windows 7's new projector connection hot key. Instead of searching for each vendor's monitor management hot key, you can always use Win+P to bring up Windows 7's Switch Display dialog box.

6. Monitor your system performance with Resource Monitor—If you like Task Manager’s Performance tab, you'll love the more detailed information provided by Resource Monitor. It's multi-core aware, and in addition to showing CPU utilization and running tasks, it shows memory, disk, and network utilization levels. To run Resource Monitor, type resmon in the Start menu's Search box.

5. Make a shortcut to Manage Networks—In Windows 7, it's pretty easy to create a new desktop shortcut to Manage Networks. From the Start menu, click Network, Network and Sharing Center, Change adapter settings, then right-click in the address bar and select Copy Address. Finally, right click the desktop and select Paste Shortcut.

4. Mount VHD files—Mounting Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) files lets you read and write to VHDs as if they were standard disk volumes. To mount a VHD, run Disk Management by typing diskmgmt.msc into the Start menu Search box. Select the Action, Attach VHD menu option, then browse for your target VHD. You can also set up the system to boot from a VHD.

3. Launch programs with elevated rights—Windows 7 includes a friendlier, less chatty User Account Control (UAC). However, in many cases you still need to run programs as an administrator. Launching Command Prompt as administrator is pretty straightforward: Right-click the program and select Run as administrator. It's not so obvious that you can also launch programs with elevated rights through Windows Explorer and the taskbar by pressing Ctrl+Shift and clicking the program.

2. Burn ISO Images—Windows 7 has ISO burning support built-in to the Windows Explorer shell. To burn an ISO image, double-click any file ending in the .iso extension to open the Windows Disc Image Burner dialog box. Select the drive, then click Burn to write the ISO image to disk.

1. Create a system repair disk—A system repair disk can be a lifesaver if your system crashes. You can create a Windows 7 system repair disk be either using the Start, Maintenance, Create a System Repair Disc option or by typing system repair into the Start menu Search box. When the Create a system repair disc dialog box appears, insert a blank disk into your write-capable CD or DVD drive, then click Create disc.

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