1. Custom power switch    

By default, Windows 7 displays a plain text ‘Shut down’ button on the Start menu, but it only takes a moment to change this action to something else. If you reboot your PC a few times every day then that might make more sense as a default action: right-click the Start orb, select Properties and set the ‘Power boot action’ to ‘Restart’ to make it happen.

2. Auto arrange your desktop

If your Windows 7 desktop has icons scattered everywhere then you could right-click it and select View > Auto arrange, just as in Vista. But a simpler solution is just to press and hold down F5, and Windows will automatically arrange its icons for you.

3. Disable Windows Features

Windows 7 enables you to remove many more Windows features than ever before: Internet Explorer, Media Player, Windows Search, its indexing service, Windows Gadgets and more. This is something that you need to do cautiously, if at all (since removing something like Media Player will break many programs which rely on it), but can be useful if you’re looking to create a very simple, slimmed-down system.

Click Start, type OptionalFeatures and press Enter to launch the Windows Features dialog. Clear the checkbox to the left of any features that are surplus to requirements, and click OK to remove them.

4. Disable Aero Peek

Hover your mouse cursor over the bottom right hand corner of the screen and Windows 7 will hide open windows, showing you the desktop. Seems like a good idea to us, but if the feature gets in your way then it’s easy to turn off. Simply right-click the Start orb, select Properties > Taskbar and clear the box marked Use Aero Peek to Preview the Desktop.

5. Repair your PC

If Windows 7 won’t start, you may not need an installation or repair disc any more, as the repair environment is now usually installed on your hard drive. Press [F8] as your PC starts, and if you see a Repair Your Computer option, choose that to see the full range of Windows 7 recovery tools.

                       

 

6. ReadyBoost revamped

If you were unimpressed by ReadyBoost in Vista, it may be worth trying the technology again under Windows 7. The operating system now allows you to combine multiple USB drives, each with larger caches, to deliver an extra speed boost.

7. Search Control Panel

Navigating the Control Panel has never been the easiest of processes, however Windows 7 has tried to improve the situation by equipping the Control Panel window with its own search box. And, just as you might think, if you enter part of an applet name – “Display”, say – then matching applets will be listed right away.

You don’t have to be quite so specific about what you type, though, because Search generally does a very good job of figuring out what’s relevant. Entering “hacker” displays the Firewall applet, for instance, while typing “virus” provides a link to Windows Defender. It’s all very helpful, but keep in mind that you don’t have to launch Control Panel to get these results: simply type your key words into the Start Menu search box and the same links will appear.

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