Even More Perks Make Windows 7 Fun
Last week, we talked about a few of the little perks that come with Windows 7, but there are even more.
Taskbar: Windows 7 features a Taskbar at the bottom of the screen that is a bit different than the one you see in Windows XP or Vista. First, the icons are larger. Second, you are able to easily "pin" icons to this Taskbar.
Right-click any application and choose to "pin" it to the Taskbar. (You can also choose to pin it to the Start menu.) Pinning an application to the Taskbar places the icon right there at the bottom of the screen where you can easily click to launch the program. You can simply drag and drop the icons on the Taskbar to rearrange the programs.
Another cool feature is that when you mouse over program icons on the Taskbar, you'll see thumbnail previews of each open program. So if you have four Word documents open at the same time, you can just hold your mouse over the Word icon on the Taskbar and see the first page of each document. If you hold your mouse over one of these thumbnails, you will get a full-screen preview.
Jump Lists: And there's more - right-click on an icon on the Taskbar and you get certain options, depending on the program. This is called the Jump List because it lets you jump quickly to any place you like.
For instance, if you right-click the Word icon, you will see a list of recently used Word documents. Click on any of them to open that document.
It gets even better for some programs. For instance, if you right-click on the iTunes icon on the Taskbar, you can play music without even bringing iTunes up on the screen. With Skype and other Instant Message-type programs, you can change your status and perform other related functions right from the Taskbar.
Magnify Screen: For those of us with aging eyes, this feature may be the best one in this new operating system. Windows 7 lets you enlarge the type, everywhere, in all programs, without affecting the rest of the screen.
Just click on Start and choose Control Panel. Then, on the right upper side, choose to view by large icons. Then choose Display, where you will see a simple window where you can choose to increase the size of the text quickly and easily.
Customize: The customization options in Windows 7 are really great. Just right-click on any blank area of the Windows desktop and choose Personalize. Click on Choose Your Desktop Background, and you will be able to choose any or all of the pictures on your computer to use as a desktop background. You can also change the window color, the basic sounds that the computer plays and the screen saver.
Many of these options were available in previous versions of Windows, but Windows 7 makes them easy to change and to play with. The included themes, backgrounds and screen savers are also much more fun than ever before.
My desktop background consists of a few chosen pictures of my family that change every few minutes. I love the Bubbles screen saver that floats glistening colored bubbles over the screen.
The ease of customizing Windows 7 makes computing just a little more fun.
Shake: Windows 7 has a lot to make computing a little easier and a little more fun. Want to focus on one window? Just place your mouse on the Title Bar at the top of the window, hold down the mouse button and shake the Title Bar. All the other open windows on your desktop will be hidden. Shake again, and they will all come back.
Show Desktop: When you get in front of a Windows 7 computer, look for a small rectangular bar in the lower right corner at the right side of the taskbar. This small bar is a bit difficult to see, but it is always in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
Just put your mouse over it and all the windows will be hidden so you can see the computer desktop. Move your mouse off that bar and the windows will reappear.
Click on the bar to get to the desktop quickly. Click on it again to make your windows reappear. It is a great, often-overlooked Windows 7 feature.
Other Features: Windows 7 also has what they call a HomeGroup that makes file and printer sharing between home computers much easier. And it has a better included backup program that is actually quite useable.
There are also many Windows 7 features that you won't necessarily see. These include a better built-in firewall, improved memory use, better power management and support for speech and handwriting recognition.
All in all, Windows 7 has some great new features. It just takes a little time and experimentation to find them. Be sure you take the time because the effort is sure to be worth your while.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your questions and comments on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compukiss.com/happycomputing.
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