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


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.


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

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.


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


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


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:

ActionMouse shortcutKeyboard shortcut
Resize to fill left half of screendrag window to left edgeWin + left arrow
Resize to fill right half of screendrag window to right edgeWin + right arrow
Maximisedrag window to top edgeWin + up arrow
Make window as tall as the screendouble click top / bottom border
Minimize windowclick the minimize button ;)Win + down arror
Show desktopClick the bottom right cornerWin + 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.


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


A click is even better


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.