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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.

Build your own internet search connector
Windows 7 has a very useful new feature called a Search Connector that lets you search through a website from right inside Windows Explorer.

With it, you type in a search term and select the Search Connector for the site you want to search; Explorer searches the website without having to open Internet Explorer, and the results appear inside Windows Explorer.

Click any of the results to head there using your default web browser.

Normally, you'll need to get each Search Connector from the website through which you want to search, and very few Connectors are available.

Sites normally need to adhere to OpenSearch standards in order for their Connectors to work.

However, there's a work-around that will let you easily build your own search connector for any site, using Windows Live Search as a kind of go-between.

Don't worry, you don't need to know any code to write a Connector. Just follow these steps:

Copy the following text and paste it into Notepad. The all-caps text is the sections you'll need to change to suit you:

  1. In place of NAME YOUR SEARCH, type in the name of the search as you want it to appear. In our case, we're going to build a Search Connector for PC Advisor, so we'll just type in PCadvisor.
  2. In place of DESCRIPTION OF SEARCH, type in a longer description of the search. In our instance, it will be Search through PC Advisor.
  3. In the two SITENAME.COM entries, enter the website's domain. Don't use the http:// or www- just the domain name. In our instance it will be pcadvisor.co.uk.
  4. To the right of "count=", type in the number or results you want to appear. In our instance, we'll keep it at 50.

In our example, here's what the code should look like:

Save the file in Notepad, choose UTF-8 from the Encoding drop-down box near the bottom of the Save As screen, and give it an .osdx extension. In our instance, we'll call the file Computerworld.osdx.

In Windows Explorer, right-click the .osdx file and select Create Search Connector. The search connector will be created.
You can now use the Search Connector. To get to it, in Windows Explorer go to YourName > Searches > Connector, where YourName is your account name, and Connector is the name of the Connector.

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NEXT PAGE: Taskbar 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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