Windows Upgrade Advisor
Download Windows Essential with Live Mail

Action Center

Turn off annoying messages and security alerts by using the Action Center located in the Control Panel. Under security, remove checkmarks to diminish unnecessary security/maintenance messages. I suggest leaving the Check for updates enabled. It would be worth your time to double-check the Windows Update settings while your here.

Administrator

Add the Run command to the Start Menu. Right-click the Start button, Properties. Start Menu tab. Customize. R Run command

Control Welcome Screen adding Administrator:  Start - Run - control userpasswords2 

Aero Peak

Hover your mouse over the little bar to the right of the system tray (right side of taskbar). This shows you your desktop and provides access to any gadgets you have installed. Drag a windows' Titlebar (top of window) to the top of your monitor to quickly maximize. Pull the Titlebar down to restore the window to its' previous size. Drag the Titlebar to the far left or right of your monitor and it snaps the windows to 50% of the monitor.

Shake

Shaking the Titlebar of a window will cause all other windows to minimize, removing clutter from your screen.

Desktop

The Show Desktop icon is now located at the far right of the taskbar. You can click the Show Desktop to return to the Desktop or just hover over it to see your Desktop and Gadgets.

   Desktop Icons

First thing, add an icon for Computer and User Files to your desktop. Right-click the Desktop and choose Personalization (also found in the Control Panel). Change desktop icons is a link on the left side of the screen. Place a check in front of Computer and User's Files.

Energy Saving

Standby - also called Sleep, powers down the display and harddrive after idle period leaving your current applications and work in memory.

Hibernation - deeper form of power conservation which saves the machine's current state to a file on the harddrive and then turns the system off. Standby restarts faster than Hibernation

Gadgets

Desktop gadgets can keep information and tools readily available for you. Right-click the Desktop and choose Gadgets. In addition to the every popular calendar and clock, Get more gadgets online has the good stuff.

HomeGroups

Want others on the HomeGroup to see a folder?  Right-click a library name in Windows Explorer, select Share with, and then choose Homegroup. If you add a new folder to a library that's being shared, a window will appear asking if you want to share the folder as well.

Jump Lists

You know to right-click for shortcut menus. Right-click on a taskbar icon to get a Jump List. The list differs depending on the application icon. 

Libraries

Libraries are user-defined collections of folders. They act as sort of a superfolder or metafolder, combining folders and files from multiple locations into one spot without actually moving the files from their original location. Instead, a library tracks the contents of a group of folders from different locations, allowing you to access them as if they were all within the same folder. Add folder locations to one of the four default libraries (Documents, Pictures, Music, Movies) or make your own new Library. 

To create a library, open Explorer, right-click the Libraries item, and choose New - Library. Now right-click your new Library and choose Properties.  Click the Include a Folder button.  After selecting a folder, you are prompted to determine which library to add the folder to.

Alternatively, when in Windows Explorer  highlight a folder and you'll notice the option to Include in Library at the top of the Explorer window. You can then designate which Library.

Additionally, and less important to the average user, Libraries are indexed (kept track of) so that searching can be faster. Users can perform searches and filter results by properties like date, type, rating or author in both Windows Explorer and the Common (save) Dialog box.

Libraries are a non–file system location and therefore can't be treated as regular folders. I foresee backup issues being complicated as users will be less likely to think about the original file locations. Also, My Documents is now another click away. I have to expand the Documents Library to see My Documents. A folder can ne part of more than one Library. Libraries can contain up to fifty folders.

 You can delete a library without deleting any of the files or folders it points to making it easy to experiment. 

Add/Remove a Folder to Your Library

Locate your stray folder. Right-click and choose Include in library. Choose from the list of your libraries available. Removing a folder from your library is also a right-click - Remove location from library.

Not all folders can be added to libraries. External USB drives formatted as NTFS or Fat32 can be added but not with consistency. Things get kind of weird when you're trying to add network and non-indexed locations. Libraries like computers that are on the same Homegroup. There's a Win 7 Library Tool that makes adding network and flashdrive locations a lot easier. Out of the box, folders from other computers are only available if they are on the Windows 7 Homegroup (other computers operating with Windows 7).

You can determine which locations are included in the library by clicking the locations link at the top of the library. The Documents Library Locations window opens up and from here you can add or remove locations.

Network

Determine your wireless password by going to the Control Panel, Network and Sharing Center, Manage Wireless Networks.
Right-clcik on your connections and choose Properties. Choose the second tab, Security then select show key.

Personalize

Download more themes, backgrounds, gadgets.

PhotoGallery

After downloading Windows Live you'll have access to the Windows Live Photo Gallery. This is the sequel to Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. It's at the bottom of your Programs on your Start Menu. More sophisticated navigation, publishing, tagging, viewing and image editing.

Download and install add-on programs and start doing even more from within Windows Live Photo Gallery. Photo Gallery also lets you add People Tags to photos.

PhotoSynth  Upload your panoramic pictures to this website for sharing. After you create an account the Install PhotoSynth button becomes available. PhotoSynth will be an add-on to Windows Live Photo Gallery allowing you to upload a set of overlapping photograph and stitch them together panoramic photo stitcher. ICE (below) is the engine for the process. 

ImageComposite Editor is a panoramic photo stitcher that is geared for creating High Dynamic Viewing. Download the HD viewer to see very cool "MOSI" like image presentation. The ability to zoom in with clarity of detail is appreciated. 

AutoCollage  This awesome tool has a free trial download. While in PhotoGallery, choose at least seven or more images and click Extras - Autocollage to have your images automatically combined and blended into a nice collage. To register your copy of AutoCollage, click the Options button. The cost of buying (necessary to remove substantial watermark) is $19.95.

Program Compatibility

Method One: Right-click the .exe file and choose Properties. Check R Run thsi program in compatibility more for and select the operating system the program best responds to.

Method Two: Run the Program Compatibility troubleshooter. Control Panel, search for "troubleshooter" and then click Troubleshooting. Under Programs, click Run programs made for previous versions of Windows. Walk through the Wizard and select the problem program. Go with Try recommended settings which tests the program and asks if you want to save the settings.

XP Mode

Available only for Win7 Professional and Ultimate editions, works with Virtual PC (free download) to run older XP applications.

Snipping and Sticky Notes

Take screenshots of your entire screen or just a single windows. The Snipping Tool is found under Accessories on your Start Menu. Copy, save or edit your screenshoots. A powerful little extra.

Sticky Notes also found under Accessories may be worth having on your desktop. (right-click the Sticky Notes icon on your menu and choose Sent To - Desktop). Never loose a stray thought again.

While you're in Accessories, the sleeked-up calculator is more powerful and even comes with a mortgage calculator.

Taskbar

Gone is the Quick Launch area of the taskbar. Welcome the new "Dock" where you "pin" your favorite applications. Pinning is a Windows 7 verb which means to make something (icons, favorites) stationary in a specified location. Drag and drop an icon from the Desktop or Start menu to the taskbar dock giving you one click access in launching your most often used applications. Drag and drop a folder location as well. Right-click an icon from anywhere on the Start Menu to pin it to the Taskbar. To remove or unpin, just right-click the icon and  choose unpin this program.

Once an application is open, it's icon changes roles and now allows you to multi-task and "windows-switch" to multiple open files. If more than one file is in use, the icon visually indicates a stacked look (grouped thumbnails). Hover over the icon to see thumbnails of open files. Hover over the thumbnail and the document is enlarged. Click to open the file. Useful eye candy thanks to Aero Peak. 

Jump Lists

Right-clicking on an taskbar icon opens the Jump List. By default the Jump List contains the ability to unpin the icon, the ability to close one or all windows, recently used files and Most Frequently Used locations. For example, right-clicking the the Internet Explorer icon will give you quick access to internet pages you frequent or have recently visited including those in tabbed windows. Very cool.  

Notification Area

The Notification Area is the portion of the taskbar that displays system icons that are either running in the background or providing notification information (balloons). Only select few system icons are shown by default in Windows 7.  Other hidden icons are accessible by clicking the arrow in the notification area arrow. The Control Panel also provides access to the Notification Area Icons.

Choose Customize to turn icons and notifications on/off or hide them. Suggestion, choose Windows Task Manager and set for Show icon and notifications.

Task Scheduler

Control Panel - Administrative Tools  - Action - Create Basic Task - Type a name and select schedule.

Schedule Disk Cleanup to run automatically:

Windows 7

Open Task Scheduler: Click the Start button, click Control Panel, click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Task Scheduler.
If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Click the Action menu, and then click Create Basic Task. This opens the Create Basic Task Wizard.
Type a name for the task and an optional description, and then click Next.
To select a schedule based on the calendar, click Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or One time, and then click Next.
Specify the schedule you want to use, and then click Next.
Click Start a program, and then click Next.
Click Browse, and, in the File name box, type cleanmgr.exe, click Open, and then click Next.
Click Finish.

 

Software Explorer

This popular feature used to disable Startup programs is not available in Windows 7.  Instead, you are encouraged to download Sysinternals Autoruns for Windows. The old Start - Run, msconfig may be a better choice for the average user.

Users

User Account Control can now be partially disabled eliminating the pesty "Continue" clicks. Type UAC into the start menu or Control Panel, User Accounts, Change User Control Settings. Change User Account Control settings by dragging the slider up or down depending on how often you want to be alerted. A reboot will be necessary.

 

top