Windows Upgrade Advisor

Log in as Administrator

Click Start, type cmd, Enter. Type net user administrator /active:yes and log off. The Administrator account now shows up on the welcome screen.

Administrator Tools found in the Control Panel can provide further system information such as which folders are being shared, services and Task Scheduler.

Run Command If you're looking for the Run command on the Start menu and don't find it, Right-click the Start button - Properties - Start Menu Tab - Customize - check Display Run.

AutoPlay

When you insert media or plug in devices, Vista presents an Autoplay dialog box. You can set the default autoplay action from the Control Panel. Choose Autoplay if your Control Panel is in Classic View or Hardware and Sound then Autoplay if you are using the Vista view of the Control Panel. Here you can establish any default actions you wish. For example, change the settings for your camera to Import pictures using Windows.

File Management

How big is that folder?  Select, press Alt-Enter. Or. Right-click Properties on a folder.

Password Protect a Folder. Right-click the folder, properties. Advance button.

General

Shortcut Icons, where do they point to? Right-click properties on a shortcut to see the path

Indexing

Stop Windows Search Indexing. My Computer, Right-click C drive, Properties. General tab, Remove Index this drive for faster searching. The process may take up to 15 minutes but will speed up your computer. Searching for files may become slower.

Maintenance

Defrag is still around and a good idea, particularly after you have cleaned up your files or deleted software.  Choose Computer then right-click the C drive. Choose Properties. Do a Disk Cleanup while you're here.

Since I don't search my computer often, I uncheck Index this drive for faster searching. This can take up to 15 minutes but speeds up your computer. Defrag is on the Tools tab. 

Notice Scandisk is now called Error-Checking. Error-Checking looks for files that have been corrupted and removes them. Poor performance when running error-checking would indicate a likely harddrive failure.

Reliability Monitor

Right-click Computer and choose Manage.  Reliability and Performance - Reliability Monitor. The chart shows software installs/uninstalls, hardware failures, application failures, etc.

Performance

Control Panel (Classic View) System icon.  Click the Performance link in the lower-left. Here you can manage startup programs, visual effect, indexing options an more.
   

Power Management

Standby - shuts down energy-consuming components (CPU & Harddrive) but leaves information in RAM so you're back in business when you return to normal operations. Tap the power button, press a key on the keyboard or reposition your mouse to return to normal state.

Hibernation - different in XP and Vista. Your active programs are saved to the harddrive and the computer shuts down completely.

Sleep - combination of Standby and Hibernation. Monitor is black. All programs saved in their current state so when you "wake up" you can start where you left off. Press key or move mouse to wake up.

Turn off Hibernate

Control Panel - System and Maintenance (Home View) Power Options (Classic View). Click Change plan settings under the currently selected plan. Then, Change Advanced Power Settings. Use the plus in front of Sleep. Use the plus in front of Hibernate After. Click the current setting and change to 0.

Search

While you can access Search from the titlebar of any folder in addition to the old Start - Search - For Files or Folders you will get better results with a tweak. Control Panel - Folder Options. Use the Search tab at the top to set your default search preferences and safe time.  The typical user searches for file names and can turn off content searching. Chances are you don't need to include system directories.

Security

User Access Control is that annoying extra security that asks "are you sure you want to continue." If you've had to hit "continue" one too many times, go to User Accounts in the Control Panel. Just click Turn User Account Control on or off.

Firewall settings can be modified through the Control Panel, Windows Firewall then Change Settings.

Services

Services are computer programs or process that runs in the background and provide support to other programs. Setting a Restore Point and backing up the registry are suggested in the event that turning off a service causes a problem.

Open the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl - Alt - Delete. Click the Services tab. The Services button at the bottom provides more useful information. You can right-click to make changes.

An online catalog of processes can be found at http://www.processlibrary.com/directory/  More sophisticated diagnose software can be found at Microsoft's Windows Sysinternals

Shortcut Keys

Windows E Windows Explorer
Windows T Cycle through Taskbar Applications
Windows M Minimize all Windows
Windows D Desktop
Windows Pause System Properties
Windows R Run Command

Sidebar

If you don't see the Sidebar, turn it on by clicking the Start button and typing "sidebar."

Properties to select your preferences for Sidebar startup, or always on top.

Add Gadgets. Try them all because they're so easy to turn back off.

Get more gadgets online is a great resource. Vista Shutdown Control under Top downloads is a favorite. Typically when prompted just choose Open, then Install. They are all unverified.

Search for gadgets when browsing the online selection. Dictionary, news, quotes, tips, etc.

Each Gadget has a little x and wrench available when you hover over the Gadget. Click the x to close the gadget or the wrench to customize it.

Start Menu

Start - Run (or just type in the Start Search box)  "regedit"  HKEY_CURRENT_USER\CONTROL PANEL\DESKTOP.  Modify the subkey for MenuShowDelay to 0

Snipping Tool

Look under Accessories for the new Snipping Tool. This great tool makes it easy to capture screenshoots.

Switch Between Application

ALT-Tab provides live previews of open applications or use the Switch Between Application button located on the Quick Launch (Right-click the Taskbar and select Toolbars - Quick Launch) for a three dimensional view of open windows.

Upgrade Your Windows Version

All versons are on the CD but the license key determines which edition is activated and installed. You can upgrade your version through the Control Panel Windows Anytime Upgrade icon.

Vista Home Basic
  The Aero interface is absent. Security is good. Parental Controls. No HDTV recording, not for tablet PCs.
Vista Home Premium $239.00  Offers Aero interface. DVD creation included. Extra games and digital photo management tool
Vista Business $299.00  geared toward corporate file-sharing, collaboration, capability to send and receive faxes.
Vista Ultimate $399.00 entitles you to premium customer support and exclusive downloadable content. Feature BitLocker to safely encrypt files and maximized the performance of 3D games.


 

Microsoft Mail

Repair a corrupt mailstore. Start - Run - CMD 
esentutl /p C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\windowsmail.msmessagestore
To Defrag 
esentutl /d C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\windowsmail.msmessagestore
Check Integrity
esentutl /g C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\windowsmail.msmessagestore