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30 quick fixes for Windows XP & Vista

Fast fixes for Windows users

Shut Down Instantly

Problem: When I want to shut off my computer, I want to do it now, without my having to point and click interminably

Fast Fix 1: With a few quick keystrokes, you can close shop much faster. Here are the fastest ways to exit, restart, and log off from Windows.

In XP, press Windows, U, U to shut down; Windows, U, R to restart; and Windows, L, L to log off.

In Vista, press Windows, Right Arrow three times, and finally the letter for the command you want: U to shut down, R to restart, or L to log off.

Fast Fix 2: An even speedier way to shut down your computer is simply to press its power button (hey, it works on your TV, right?). Of course, yanking the power away from Windows all of a sudden could cause you to lose data. The solution is to reprogram your system's power button to exit Windows, without any prompts (except to save unsaved work, as needed). In XP, open Control Panel. In the 'Performance and Maintenance' category, launch Power Options. Click the Advanced tab. Under 'When I press the power button on my computer', select Shut down. Then click OK.

In Vista, click the Start button, type power options, and press Enter. In the upper left, click Choose what the power button does. Next to 'When I press the power button', select Shut down. You could also leave the setting at the default Sleep option, which can save you time when you power the PC on. Finally, click Save Changes.

Living in a Dual OS World

Not everyone uses just XP or just Vista. Between work and home, lots of people must use both operating systems, experiencing no end of confusion as they cope with the two OSs' differences. These tips will help you switch from one to the other with ease.

Enhance Find: Perhaps the most obvious difference between XP and Vista is the Find box that appears on the Start menu. If you like the new Vista feature that lets you launch programs as well as search for files on your PC or the web, you can add this to XP by downloading and installing Microsoft's Windows Desktop Search for XP. The tool puts a search box in the taskbar, or you can open the program's main window by pressing Windows-F.

Make matching Start menus: If using two different Start-menu flavours is driving you mad, you can revert to the Windows 9x-style Start menu in both XP and Vista: in each OS, right-click the Start button and choose Properties. Select Classic Start menu and click OK. Organise icons and submenus in both systems to match so you don't waste time looking for what you need. For keyboard access, check out 'Add Custom Accelerator Keys to Your Start Menu'.

Hire a Defender: Vista comes with its own antispyware tool, Windows Defender. If you want to add the same tool to XP, you can grab the free Windows Defender for XP. Note that to install the program, you must run Microsoft's own Windows Genuine Advantage spyware (ironic, isn't it?).

Equalise account control: Vista's User Account Control may generate a lot of annoying pop-ups as you work, but it does keep your system more secure. To get comparable protection in XP, log in as a standard user or as a power user rather than as an administrator.

Bring back menu bars: If you find yourself stumbling over the missing menu bars in Vista's version of Explorer and Internet Explorer, one solution is to get in the habit of pressing the Alt key to reveal the menu bar and then using hot-keys to choose the command you need. Or bring the menus back for good by opening Explorer and choosing Organize, Layout, Menu Bar, or Tools, Menu Bar in Internet Explorer.

Stifle Shadow Copies' wastefulness

Use Windows’ speed tweakers

Sort out your internet connection

Automate disk cleaning

Manage files from your right-click menu

Analyse your PC's security

Automate your backup

Patch your apps & OS

Solve sluggish web surfing

Make Windows defrag for you

Turn off Auto play

Use keys to start Quick Launch items

Shut down instantly

Use dual operating systems

Our favourite fix-it freebies

Speed up your startups

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