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25 essential Windows 7 tips

Plus performance-enhancing tweaks for Vista and XP


Windows 7 is a brilliant OS and offers us loads of long-overdue improvement and upgrades. However, like any OS it can benefit from a few tweaks. We've rounded up 25 essential tips to make your PC run faster.

Make it easier

When is an operating system easy to use? When it works the way you want it to work. Here's how to make your Windows life simpler and more productive.

Close all your apps in a Flash
Works in: XP, Vista, 7

Done working for the day? Don't try to close all your open programs individually. Instead, close them all in one fell swoop with a click of the Close All Windows icon.

Unlike the Show Desktop function, which merely minimises all open windows, Close All Windows terminates each running program.

Don't worry about losing your work. If an open document needs saving, the program will prompt you - the same as if you had clicked the red Close button up in the corner.

To make the best use of Close All Windows, pin it to your taskbar. (Windows XP and Vista users can add it to the Quick Launch toolbar.)

Move the Taskbar
Works in: Vista, 7

Widescreen monitors are great for watching movies and organizing windows side by side, but much of the time all that screen space goes to waste.

Why not move the Windows taskbar to the side of the screen? This may sound crazy at first (and you'll need a few days to get used to the results). But since web pages, Word documents, and the like run top-to-bottom, the more vertical space you can give them, the better.

By relocating the taskbar to the left side (or the right, if you prefer), you're freeing up vertical space for the stuff you use every day while making smarter use of wasted horizontal space.

To give this a whirl, right-click an empty area of the taskbar and clear the check mark next to Lock the taskbar.

Next, left-click and hold on an empty area of the taskbar, and then drag it to the left (or right) side of the screen. Once you get close, you'll see it lock in, at which point you can release the mouse button.

Vista users may want to extend the width of the taskbar (by clicking and dragging the right edge) to better see the labels for currently running programs.

But Windows 7 users can keep the taskbar narrow, as the new OS doesn't use taskbar labels anyway.

Tweak the Taskbar
Works in
: 7

Jump Lists, program pinning, rich thumbnail previews - the Windows 7 taskbar definitely offers some nice amenities. However, since it's 'your' Windows (at least according to Microsoft's recent adverts), you should be able to make the taskbar work exactly the way you want it to.

Enter 7 Taskbar Tweaker, a free program that... well, the name pretty much says it all.

This little utility offers six taskbar adjustments, including one that replaces the Jump List with the old-fashioned window menu when you right-click a running program.

Other options include disabling thumbnail previews, turning off window grouping, opening (rather than pinning) a file that you've dragged to a taskbar program, and cycling through windows when you left-click a grouped button.

Our favourite tweak reassigns the middle mouse button to close or focus a window instead of opening a new instance of the program.

NEXT PAGE: Reload all your apps after a reboot

  1. These tricks will make your PC even faster
  2. Switch to Chrome
  3. Remove Shovelware
  4. Make it safer
  5. More tips to make Windows safer
  6. Make it easier
  7. Reload all your apps after a reboot
  8. Make Windows more fun
  9. Watch tuner-free TV in Media Center
  10. More expert tips


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