Windows 7, hidden features

It’s been over 6 months, and Windows 7 still surprises me, pleasantly. The last time I felt the same about Windows was in 1995. Let me share a few things I found, which are generally not discussed.

Note: I never used Vista, so if some of these were present in Vista, I wouldn’t know.

The Windows Explorer

I think the explorer has seen the most refinement, there are nice things in all corners. My favourite features:

Pin to Windows Explorer

You might have heard about ‘pin to task bar’, but did you know that you can pin to windows explorer, which adds a folder to the Windows Explorer task bar shortcuts jump list. Wow, those were too many words but still doesn’t explain it right, so here’s a picture instead.

Drag a folder to the task bar

Pin to Explorer

And the folder shows up in the jump list

(right click on the icon)

Jump List

Favourites

Although favourites were available in even WinXP, Win7 makes improves them.

To add something to favourites, just drag it into favourites

Add to Faourites

and it shows up in your favourites list.

image

Notice, the photos link in favourites? That brings me to the next feature:

Saved Search

This is a talked about feature, so I would not go in detail, just want to remind you that it exists, and please use it.

Libraries

This is by far my favourite feature. You can group a set of folders and call it a library. This make organising stuff so much easier. Out of box, Win 7 comes with 4 libraries, but it is trivial to add a new one.

Adding a library

Similarly, it is trivial to change a library, just right click -> properties and add/remove a folder to the library

image

Notice how Win 7 works with me instead of against me? Earlier it used to dump everything in My Documents\My Pictures, whereas I prefer my pics in a different drive. Now I get the best of both worlds.

Rename is smarter

You can rename multiple files at once, just select them, rename 1, rename them all. BTW, undo works as well.

image imageimage

And thankfully, only the filename is highlighted on rename, not the extension. Thus you just overwrite the name without needing to retype the extension. Win 7 seems to be catching up with Linux 🙂

One more thing, if you into the rename area, all junk characters will be stripped and the remaining will be used as the new file name.

Other refinements

Explorer lets you view stuff the way you want to:

image image

image

Window Manager

Everyone who used Win7 would have soon discovered that dragging a window to the left or right edge of the screen resize the window to take up half screen, or that dragging it to the top makes it a full screen window. But there are a few difficult to discover shortcuts:

Action Mouse shortcut Keyboard shortcut
Resize to fill left half of screen drag window to left edge Win + left arrow
Resize to fill right half of screen drag window to right edge Win + right arrow
Maximise drag window to top edge Win + up arrow
Make window as tall as the screen double click top / bottom border
Minimize window click the minimize button 😉 Win + down arror
Show desktop Click the bottom right corner Win + D

The clock

The clock seems to be another area which got a complete makeover. People were used to double clicking the clock to check the calendar. But this needed admin privileges since the calendar was for setting date, not getting it. Now the clock supports this use case really well. Some additional features:

Additional clocks

Finally Windows has entered the inter-connected world.

You can add more clock by going to the Date and Time settings.

image

Now a mouse over the clock will reveal the additional times as well:

image

A click is even better

image

Zoom in / out

Clicking the month (February, 2010 in above screenshot) will zoom out to this year then decade and finally the century:

image image image

Clicking on any of the ‘table cells’ will zoom you back in.

Desktop Zoom

Talking about zoom, did you know that turning the mouse wheel while holding the ‘control’ key will make the icons on the desktop smaller / bigger?

Other Applications

Win 7 has some good new apps and some refinement in older apps. A few applications worth a mention

Snipping Tool: Finally a screen capture tool

Paint: Although still lacking, it is at least not as bad as earlier. Some decent brushes and ability to save in multiple formats.

Media Player: Finally ships with decent codecs

Games: A few new games and improvements to the earlier ones.

Notepad: nothing to see here, move on 🙂

And finally

What started out as a short post grew quite large. If you have some tips, please leave a comment below.

10 comments

  1. LOL @ Notepad 🙂

    I really like the Win + P shortcut that now offers the easiest way to cycle between duplicating or extending the desktop across multiple displays.

  2. Hitesh, one can now drag an image from the browser to the desktop to save it, like in Mac.

    You forgot to mention that we can customize hiding of the icons in system tray. And, searching in your music folder is a breeze. Search by Album, Genre, etc…

    1. Thought the drag to save was old hat. Definitely agree about the tray, or should I say, notification area.
      Not too much of a music fan… so no comments 🙂

  3. type

    “record steps to reproduce a problem”
    in start menu search and there is a very good tool for recording the screen is waiting for you.
    you can record and see the the recorded steps written in words like “user right clicked on sub menu”
    as well as you can add comments.
    once done file will be saved as zip file .mth file inside it.
    try it cool feature

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *