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20 great Windows 7 tips and tricks

Our favourite tweaks for Microsoft's latest OS

Getting to know Windows 7? Here are 20 ways to get around the interface and make it act the way you want.

Start Menu tips

Many people overlook the Start Menu, rarely using it except as a jumping off point to run an application or get to the Control Panel. But there's actually plenty you can do with it.

New: Search the internet from the Start Menu
The Start Menu's search box is a convenient way to search through your PC - but you can also have it do double-duty and perform internet searches as well.

To enable this feature:

  1. In the Start Menu search box, type GPEDIT.MSC and press Enter to run the Group Policy Editor.
  2. Go to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar.
  3. Double-click 'Add search internet link to Start Menu' and from the screen that appears, select Enabled. Then click ok and close the Group Policy Editor.

From now on, when you type a search term in the Search box on the Start Menu, a 'Search the internet' link will appear. Click the link to launch the search in your default browser with your default search engine.

New: Customise the shut down button
The default action of the Start Menu's Shut down button is to turn off your PC.

If you want to use the button for another action, such as restarting your PC, you click the arrow to the right of the Shut down button and select an action from the drop-down menu.

What if you rarely shut your PC down completely but frequently restart it? You can change the Shut down button's default action to be Restart. Switch user, Log off, Lock, Sleep or Hibernate.

To change your default, right-click the Start button and select Properties.

On the Start Menu tab, click the 'Power button action' drop-down menu and select which action you want to be the default. Then click OK, and OK again.

New: Add a videos link to the Start Menu
The Windows 7 Start Menu includes links to your Pictures and Music folders, but not to your Videos folder.

If you watch a lot of videos and want a link to them on your Start Menu, here's what you can do:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Properties.
  2. On the screen that appears, go to the Start Menu tab and click Customise.
  3. In the dialog box that appears, scroll to the bottom, look for the Videos section, select ‘Display as a link', and click ok and then ok again.

If you'd prefer that Videos display as a menu, with links to files and submenus, instead select 'Display as a menu'.

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NEXT PAGE: Windows Explorer tips

  1. Our favourite tweaks for Microsoft's latest OS
  2. Shake your desktop free of clutter
  3. Modify UAC
  4. Start Menu tips
  5. Windows Explorer tips
  6. More Windows Explorer tips
  7. Build your own internet search connector
  8. Taskbar tips
  9. See taskbar thumbnails without a mouse
  10. Get back the Quick Launch bar


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