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Turn Vista and XP into Windows 7

Get the main Windows 7 features now

Windows 7 won't be publicly available until October 22. However if you can't wait that long, we've got a few tips on how to make Vista and XP look a little bit more like Windows 7.

Window Shake

What it is: Want to minimise all but one of a group of windows on your desktop? In Windows 7, you can accomplish that feat by clicking and holding the title bar of any open window, and then shaking your mouse back and forth a few times.

All of the other open windows will funnel down to the taskbar. Shake the lone window again, and its counterparts will reappear.

How to get it: The free Aero Shake utility from Lifehacker brings Windows 7-style shake to Vista and XP. Though the feature isn't quite as smooth as the version built in to Windows 7, it's still a useful little amenity - and you certainly can't beat the price.

The Pinnable Taskbar

What it is: Arguably the most visually noticeable change in Windows 7 is its overhauled taskbar, which sports oversize program icons and lets you 'pin' favourite applications and documents (when you pin a document, it joins the corresponding application's Jump List, a context-sensitive pop-up menu of shortcuts to commonly used documents and/or tasks.)

If you like the idea, you can set up an almost identical taskbar in Vista (but not in XP, sorry), simply by introducing a few minor modifications.

How to get it: If your system doesn't already have a batch of program icons located just to the right of Vista's Start button, right-click the taskbar and click Toolbars, Quick Launch. Next, unlock the taskbar by right-clicking again and clearing the check mark next to Lock the Taskbar.

This operation adds a handle (which looks like three columns of tiny dots) to the right side of the Quick Launch toolbar.

Drag the handle to the right to make more room for icons. Finally, to make the icons larger and closer in form to the ones in Windows 7, right-click the taskbar a third time and choose View, Large Icons. (Make sure that you click in an open area of the taskbar, and not directly on an icon.)

Besides adding new icons for programs, you can attach icons for folders and even for documents to your newly improved taskbar. Just drag an icon down and drop it in. If you need extra space, you can always drag the toolbar handle farther to the right.

NEXT PAGE: The icons-only taskbar

  1. Get the main Windows 7 features on your current OS
  2. Window Shake and the Pinnable Taskbar
  3. The icons-only taskbar

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