Windows 7 - The Missing Manual (Notes)
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> Start->Shut down(Sleep, Restart, Log Off...)
What should you do with your PC when you're finished using it for the moment?
Millions of people shut their PCs off, but they shouldn't; it's a colossal waste of time on both ends. When you shut down, you have to wait for all your programs to close--and then the next morning, you have to reopen everything, reposition your windows, and get everything back the way you had it.
You shouldn't just leave your computer on all the time, either. That's massive waste of electricity, a security risk, and a black mark for the environment.
What you should do is put your PC to sleep. The Sleep command, along with Shut down, Restart, and other relevant options, appears in the "Shut down" pop-up menu at the lower-right corner of the Start menu.
Click the > to see these commands. These are the options for
finishing your work session:
* "Switch user."
This command refers to Windows's accounts feature, in which each persion who uses this PC gets to see her own desktop picture, email account, files, and so on.
When you choose "Switch user," somebody else can log into the computer with her own name and password--to do a quick calendar or email check, for example. But whatever you had running remains open behind the scense. After the interloper is finished, you can log in again to find all your open programs and documents exactly as you left them.
Note: In Windows XP, there was a Fast User Switching on/off switch. Nowadays, there's no off switch; Fast User Switching is in effect full time.
* "Log off."
If you click "Log off," Windows closes all your open programs and documents (giving you an opportunity to save any unsaved documents first). It then presents a new Welcome screen so that the next person can sign in.
This command locks your computer--in essence, it throws a sheet of inch-thick steel over everything you were doing, hiding your screen from view. This is an ideal way to protect your PC from nosy people who happen to wander by your desk while you're away getting coffee or lunch.
All they'll find on your monitor is the standard Logon screen. They (and even you) will have to enter your account password to get pass it.
This command quits all open programs, and then quits and restarts Windows again automatically. The computer doesn't actually turns off. (You might do this to "refresh" your computer when you notice that it's responding sluggishly, for example.)
In the olden days, Windows offered a command called Standby. This special state of PC consciousness reduced the amount of electricity the computer used, putting it in suspended animation until you used the mouse or keyboard to begin working again. Whatever programs or documents you were working on remained in memory.
When using a laptop on battery power, Standby was a real boon. When the flight attendant handed over your microwaved chicken teriyaki, you could take a break without closing all your programs or shutting down the computer.
Unfortunately, there were two big problems with Standby, especially for laptops. First, the PC still drew a trickle of power this way. If you didn't use your laptop for a few days, the battery would silently go dead--and everything you had open and unsaved would be lost forever. Second, drivers or programs sometimes interfered with Standby, so your laptop remained on even though it was closed inside your carrying case. Your plane would land on the opposite coast, you'd pull out the laptop for the big meeting, and you'd discover that (a) the thing was roasting hot, and (b) the battery was dead.
The command is now called Sleep, and it doesn't present those problems anymore. First, drivers and applications are no longer allowed to interrupt the Sleep process. No more Hot Laptop Syndrome.
Second, the instant you put the computer to sleep, Windows quietly transfers a copy of everything in memory into an invisible file on the hard drive. But it still keeps everything alive in memory--the battery provides a tiny trickle of power--in case you return to the laptop (or desktop) and want to dive back into work.
If you do return soon, the next startup is lightning-fast. Everything reappears on the screen faster than you can say, "Redmond, Washington."
If you don't return shortly, then Windows eventually cuts power, abandoning what it had memorized in RAM. (You control when this happens using the advanced power plan settings) Now your computer is using no power at all; it's in hibernate mode.
Fortunately, Windows still has the hard drive copy of your work environment. So now when you tap a key to wake the computer, you may have to wait 30 seconds or so--not as fast as 2 seconds, but certainly better than the 5 minutes it would take to start up, reopen all your programs, reposition your document windows, and so on.
The bottom line: When you're done working for the moment--or for the day--put your computer to Sleep instead of shutting it down. You save power, you save time, and you risk no data loss.
You can send a laptop to Sleep just by closing the lid. On any kind of computer, you can trigger Sleep by choosing Start->Sleep or by pushing the PC's power button, if you've set it up that way.
Hibernate mode is a lot like Sleep, except that it doesn't offer a period during which the computer will wake up instantly. Hibernate equals the second phase of Sleep mode, in which your working world is saved to the hard drive. Waking the computer from Hibernate takes about 30 seconds.
Tip: You can configure your computer to sleep or hibernate automatically after a period of inactivity, or to require a password to bring it out of hibernation.
* Shut down.
This is what most people would call "really, really off." When you shut down your PC, Windows quits all open programs, offers you the opportunity to save any unsaved documents, exits Windows, and turns off the computer.
Truth is, there's almost no reason to shut down your PC anymore. Sleep is almost always better all the way around.
The only exceptions have to do with hardware installation. Anytime you have to open up the PC to make a change (installing memory, hard drivers, sound or video cards), or connect something external that doesn't just use a USB or FireWire (1394) port, you should shut the thing down first.
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> The Master Explorer--Window Keyboard--Shortcut List
Alt+Up opens the parent window of whatever you're looking at now. For example, if you've drilled down into the USA->Texas->Houston folder, you could hit Alt+Up to pop "upward" to the Texas folder, again for the USA folder, and so on. If you hit Alt+Up enough times, you wind up at your Desktop.
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Tip: You can enlarge or shrink all the icons in a window, quick as a wink, by turning your mouse's scroll wheel while you press the Ctrl key. This trick even works on desktop icons.
(If you didn't have that trick, the only way to adjust icon size on the desktop would be to right-click a blank spot and choose from the View command in the shortcut menu.)
Tip: If you have a multitouch screen, you can use the two-finger spreading gesture to enlarge icons, or the pinching gesture to shrink them, right on the glass.
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> Immortalizing Your Tweaks
Once you've twiddled and tweaked an Explorer window into a perfectly efficient configuration of columns and views, you needn't go through the same exercises for each folder. Windows can immortalize your changes as the standard setting for all your windows.
Choose Organize->"Folder and search options"; click the View tab. Click "Apply to Folders," and confirm your decision by clicking Yes.
At this point, all your disk and folder windows open up with the same view, sorting method, and so on. You're still free to override those standard settings on a window-by-window basis, however. (And if you change your mind again and want to make all your maverick folder windows snap back to the standard settings, repeat the process, but click Reset Folders instead.)
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> The "Folder Options" Options
* Always show icons, never thumbnails.
Windows takes great pride in displaying your document icons as documents. That is, each icon appears as a miniature of the document itself--a feature that's especially useful in folders full of photos.
On a slowish PC, this feature can make your processor gasp for death. If you notice that the icons are taking forever to appear, consider turning this checkbox on.
* Always show menus.
This checkbox forces the traditional Windows menu bar (File, Edit, View, and so on) to appear in every Explorer window, without your having to tap the Alt key.
* Display file icon on thumbnails.
Ordinarily, you can identify documents (think Word, Excel, PowerPoint) because their icons display the corresponding logo (a big W for Word, and so on). But in Windows's icon views (Medium and larger), you see the actual document on the icon--an image of the document's first page. So does that mean you can no longer tell at a glance what kind of documents it is?
Don't be silly. This option superimposes, on each thumbnail icon, a tiny "badage," a sub-icon, that identifies what kind of file it is. (It works on only some kinds of documents, however.)
* Hide empty drivers in the Computer folder.
For years, the Computer window has displayed icons for your removable-disk drivers (floopy, CD, DVD, memory-card slots, whatever) even if nothing was in them. In Windows 7, though, that's changed. Now you see icons only when you insert a disk into these drivers. (It now works like the Mac, if that's any help.)
* Hide extensions for known file types.
Windows normally hides the filename extension on standard files and documents (.doc, .jpg, and so on), in an effort to make Windows seem less technical and intimidating. Your files wind up named "Groceries" and "Frank" instead of "Groceries.doc" and "Frank.jpg."
There are some excellent resons, though, why you should turn off this option. (...)
* Hide protected operating system files.
This option is similar to "Show hidden files and folders," above-except that it refers to even more important files, system files that may not be invisible, but are nontheless so important that moving or deleting them might turn your PC into a $2,000 paperweight. Turning this off, in face, produces a warning message that's meant to frighten away everybody but power geeks.
* Launch folder windows in a separate process.
This geekily worded setting opens each folder into a different chunk of memory (RAM). In certain rare situations, this largely obsolete arrangement is more stable--but it slows down your machine slightly and unnecessarily uses memory.
* Show preview handlers in preview pane.
This is the on/off switch for on of Windows's best features: seeing a preview of a selected document icon in the Preview pane. Turn it off only if your PC is grinding to a halt under the strain of all this graphics-intensive goodness.
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> The Taskbar as App Launcher
Each time you open a program, its icon appears on the taskbar. That's the way it's always been. And when you exit that program, its icon disappears from the taskbar.
In Windows 7, however, there's a twist. Now you can pin a program's icon to the taskbar so that it's always there, even when it's not open. One quick click opens that app.
The idea, of course, is to put frequently used programs front and center, always on the screen, so you don't have to burrow into the Start menu to find them.
To pin a program to the taskbar in this way, use one of these two tricks:
* Drag a program's icon directly to any spot on the taskbar.
You can drag them from any Explorer window, from the desktop, from the left side of the Start menu, or (most conveniently) from the Start menu's All Programs list.
* Right-click a program's icon (or its shortcut icon), wherever it happens to be.
From the shortcut menu, choose "Pin to Taskbar." The icon appears instantly at the right end of the taskbar. This technique requires less mousing, of course, but it also deprives you of the chance to specify where the new icon goes.
Once an icon is on the taskbar, you can open it with a single click. By all means, stick your favorites there; over the years, you'll save yourself thousands of unnecessary Start-menu clicks.
Tip: If you Shift+click a taskbar icon, you open another window for that program--for example, a new Web-browser window, a new Microsoft Word document, and so on. (Clicking with your mouse's scroll wheel, or middle mouse button, does the same thing.) Add the Ctrl key to open the program as an administrator.
And if you Shift+right-click a taskbar icon, you see the same menu of window-management commands (Cascade, Restore, and so on) that you get when you right-click a blank spot on the taskbar.
If you change your mind about a program icon you've parked on the taskbar, it's easy to move an icon to a new place--just drag it with your mouse.
You can also remove one altogether. Right-click the program's icon--in the taskbar or anywhere on your PC--and, from the shortcut menu, choose "Unpin this program from taskbar."
Note: The taskbar is really intended to display the icons of programs. If you try to drag a file or folder, you'll succeed only in adding it to a program's jump list. If you want quick, one-click access to files, folders, and disks, you can have it--by using the Links toolbar.
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Tip: You can drag system-tray icons around to rearrange them--not just these starter icons, but any that you install. A vertical insertion-point line appears to show you where the icon will go when you release the mouse.
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Note: Windows is constantly updating its invisible index in real time. You can prove it to yourself like this: Open a text document (in WordPad, for example). Type an unusual word, like wombat. Save the document using a different name--say , "Fun Pets." Now immediately do a search. Hit the WINDOWS key and type wom, for example. You'll see that Windows finds "Fun Pets" even though it's only moments old. That's a far cry from, for example, the old Windows Indexing Service, which updated its index only once a day, in the middle of the night!
Press WINDOWS key, or click the Start-menu icon, to see the Search box. As you type, Windows builds the list of every match it can find, neatly arranged in categories: Programs, Documents, and so on.
You don't have to type an entir word. Typing kumq will find documents containing the word "kumquat." However, it's worth noting that Windows recognizes only the beginnings of words. Typing umquat won't find a document
containing--or even named--"Kumquat."
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> The Search Index
You might think that typing something into the Search box triggers a seach. But to be technically correct, Windows has already done its searching. In the first 15 to 30 minutes after you install Windows 7--or in the minutes after you attach a new hard drive--it invisibly collects information about everything on your hard drive. Like a kid cramming for an exam, it reads, takes notes on, and memorizes the contents of all your files.
And not just the names of your files. That would be so 2004!
No, Windows actually looks inside the files. It can read and search the contents of text files, email, Windows Contacts, Windows Calendar, RTF and PDF documents, and documents from Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint).
In fact, Windows searches over 115 bits of text associated with your files--a staggering collection of tidbits, including the names of the layers in a Photoshop document, the tempo of an MP3 file, the shutter speed of a digital-camera photo, a movie's copyright holder, a document's page size, and on and on. (Technically, this sort of secondary information is called metadata, It's usually invisible, although a lot of it shows up in
the Details pane.)
Windows stores all this information in an invisible, multimegabyte file called, creatively enough, the index. (If your primary hard drive is creaking full, you can specify that you want the index stored on some other drive.)
Once it's indexed your hard drive in this way, Windows can produce search results in seconds. It doesn't have to search your entire hard drive--only that single card-catalog index file.
After the initial indexing process, Windows continues to monitor what's on your hard drive, indexing new and changed files in the background, in the microseconds between your keystrokes and clicks.
> Where Windows Looks
Windows doesn't actually scrounge through every file on your computer. Searching inside Windows's own operating-system files and all your programs, for example, would be pointless to anyone but programmers. All that useless data would slowdown searches and bulk up the invisible index file.
What Windows does index is everything in your Personal folder: email,
pictures, music, videos, program names, entries in your Address Book and Calendar, Office documents, and so on. It also searches all your libraries, even if they contain folders from other computers on your network.
Similarly, it searches offline files that belong to you, even though they're stored somewhere else on the network. Finally, it indexes everything in the Start menu.
Note: Windows indexes all the drives connected to your PC, but not other hard drives on the network. You can, if you wish, add other folders to the list of the indexed locations manually.
Windows does index the Personal folders of everyone else with an account on your machine, but you're not allowed to search them from the Start menu.
So if you were hoping to search your spouse's email for phrases like "meet you at midnight," forget it.
> The Older, Slower Kind of Search
If you try to search anything Windows hasn't incorporated into its index--in a Windows system folder, for example, or a hard drive elsewhere on the network--a message appears. It lets you know that because you're working beyond the index's wisdom, the search is going to be slow, and the search will include filenames only--not file contents or metadata.
Furthermore, this kind of outside-the-box searhing doesn't find things as you
type. This time, you have to press Enter after typing the name (or partial name) of what you want to find.
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> Customizing Search
You've just read about how Search works fresh out of the box. But you can tailor its behavior, both for security reasons and to customize it to the kind of work you do.
Unfortunately for you, Microsoft has stashed the various controls that govern searching into three different places. Here they are, one area at a time:
> Folder Options
The first source is in the Folder Options->Search dialog box. To open it, choose Organize->"Folder and search options" in any Explorer window. In the resulting dialog box, click the Search tab.
* What to search.
As the previous pages make clear, the Windows search mechanism relies on an index--an invisible database that tracks the location, contents, and metadata of every file. If you attach a new hard drive, or attempt to search another computer on the network that hasn't been indexed. Windows ordinarily just searches its file's names. After all, it has no index to search for that drive.
If Windows did attempt to index those other drivers, you'd sometimes have to wait awhile, at least the first time, because index-building isn't instantaneous. That's why the factory setting here is: "In indexed locations, search file names and contents. In non-indexed locations, search file names only."
But if you really want Windows to search the text inside the other drives' files, even without an index--which can be painfully slow--turn on "Always search file names and contents" instead.
* Include subfolders in search results when searching in file folders.
When you use the Search box at the top of an Explorer window, Windows ordinarily searches the currently open window and the folders inside it. Turn off this option if you want to search only what you see in the window before you.
* Find partial matches.
Turn this off if you want Windows to find only whole-word matches, meaning that you'll no longer be able to type waff to find Mom's Best Waffle Recipes of the Eighties.doc.
* Use natual language search.
* Don't use the Index when searching in file folders for system files.
If you turn this item on, Windows won't use its internal Dewey Decimal System for searching Windows itself. It will, instead, perform the names-only, slower type of search.
So who on earth would want this turned on? You, if you're a programmer or system administrator and you're worried that the indexed version of the system files might be out of date. (That happens, since system files change often, and the index may take some time to catch up.)
* Include system directories.
When you're searching a disk that hasn't been indexed, do you want Windows to look inside the folders that contain Windows itself (as opposed to just the documents people have created)? If yes, turn this on.
* Include compressed files (.zip, .cab...).
When you're searching a disk that hasn't been indexed, do you want Windows to search for files inside compressed archives, like .zip and .cab files? If yes, turn on this checkbox. (Windows doesn't ordinarily search archives, even on an indexed hard drive.)
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> What's in the Local Disk (C:) Window
If you double-click the Local Disk (C:) icon in Computer--that is, your primary hard
drive--you'll find, at least, these standard folders:
Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor is one of those hidden maintenance apps, that knowledgeable tech gurus can use to measure your PC's health and speed. This folder is where it dumps its logs, or reports.
This folder contains all your applications--Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, your games, and so on.
Of course, a Windows program isn't a single, self-contained icon. Instead, it's usually a folder, housing both the program and its phalanx of support files and folders. The actual application icon itself generally can't even run if it's separated from its support group.
If you've installed a 64-bit version of Windows 7, this folder is where Windows puts all your older 32-bit programs.
Windows's accounts feature is ideal for situations where different family members, students, or workers use the same machine at different times. Each account holder will turn on the machine to find her own separate, secure set of files, folders, desktop pictures, Web bookmarks, font collections, and preference settings.
In any case, now you should see the importance of the Users folder. Inside is one folder--one Personal folder--for each person who has an account on this PC. In general, standard account holders aren't allowed to open anybody else's folder.
Here's a folder that Microsoft hopes you'll just ignore. This most hallowed folder contains Windows itself, the thousands of little files that make Windows, well, Windows. Most of these folders and files have cryptic names that appeal to cryptic people.
In general, the healthiest PC is one whose Windows folder has been left alone.
Your Personal Folder
Everything that makes your Windows experience your own sits inside the Local Disk(C:)->Users->[your name] folder. This is your Personal folder, where Windows stores your preferences, documents, email, pictures, music, Web favorites, cookies, and so on. You can get to it more directly by choosing your name from the top right of the Start menu.
Inside your Personal folder, you'll find folders like these:
An address-book program called Windows Contacts came with Windows Vista, but Microsoft gave it the ol' pink slip for Windows 7. All that's left is this folder, where it used to stash the information about your social circle. The toolbar still has some buttons like New Contact and New Contact Group, but no other programs tap into whatever "cards" you make here. (Some other companies' address-book programs can use this folder, too.)
When you drag an icon out of a folder or disk window and onto your desktop, it may appear to show up on the desktop. But that's just an optical illusion--a visual convenience. In truth, nothing in Windows is ever really on the desktop; it's just in this Desktop folder, and mirrored on the desktop.
Remember that everyone who shares your machine will, upon logging in, see his own stuff sitting out on the desktop. Now you know how Windows does it; there's a separate Desktop folder in every person's Personal folder.
You can entertain yourself for hours trying to prove this. If you drag something out of your Desktop folder, it also disappears from the actual desktop. And vice versa.
When you download anything from the Web, Internet Explorer suggest storing it on your computer in this Downloads folder. The idea is to save you the frustration of downloading stuff and then not being able to find it later.
This folder stores shortcuts of the files, folders, and other items you've designated as favorites (that is, Web bookmarks). This can be handy if you want to delete a bunch of your favorites all at once, rename them, or whatever.
This folder's icons correspond exactly to the easy-access links in the Favorite Links list at the left side of your Explorer windows. Knowing this little tidbit can be handy if you want to delete these links, rename them, or add to them.
* My Documents.
Microsoft suggests that you keep your actual work files in this folder. Sure enough, whenever you save a new document (when you're working in Word or Photoshop Elements, for example), the Save As box proposes storing the new file in this folder.
Tip: You can move the My Documents folder, if you like. For example, you can move it to a removable drive, like a pocket hard drive or USB flash drive, so that you can take it back and forth to work with you and always have your latest files at hand.
To do so, open your My Documents folder. Right-click a blank spot in the window; from the shortcut menu, choose Properties. Click the Location tab, click Move, navigate to the new location, and click Select Folder.
What's cool is that the Documents link in every Explorer window's Navigation pane still opens your My Documents folder. What's more, your programs still propose storing new documents there--even though it's not where Microsoft originally put it.
* My Music, My Pictures, My Videos.
You guessed it: These are Microsoft's proposed homes for your multimedia files. These are where song files from ripped CDs, photos from digital cameras, and videos from camcorders go.
* Saved Games.
When you save a computer game that's already in progress, it should propose storing it here, so you can find it again later. (Needless to say, it may take some time before all the world's games are updated to know about this folder.)
This folder stores shortcuts that correspond to any search folders you create and lists the starter set that Microsoft provides. Its contents show up in the Favorites list of the Navigation pane.
Note: Your Personal folder also stores a few hidden items reserved for use by Windows itself. One of them is AppData, a very important folder that stores all kinds of support files for your programs (it was called Application Data in Windows XP). For example, it stores word-processor dictionaries, Web cookies, your Media Center recordings, Internet Explorer security certificates, changes you've made to your Start menu, and so on.
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> Checkbox Selection
It's great that you can select icons by holding down a key and clicking--if you can remember which key must be pressed.
Turns out novices were befuddled by the requirement to Ctrl+click icons when they wanted to choose more than one. So Microsoft did something in Windows that nobody's ever done before--it created a checkbox mode. In this mode, any icon you point to temporarily sprouts a little checkbox that you can click to select.
To turn this feature on, open any Explorer window, and then choose Organize->Folder and search options. Click the View tab, scroll down in the list of settings, and then turn on "Use check boxes to select items." Click OK.
Now, anytime you point to an icon, an on/off checkbox appears. No secret keystrokes are necessary now for selecting icons; it's painfully obvious how you're supposed to choose only a few icons out of a gaggle.
Each time you point to an icon, a clickable checkbox appears. Once you turn it on, the checkbox remains visible, making it easy to select several icons at once. What's cool about the checkboxes feature is that it doesn't preclude your using the old click-to-select method; if you click an icon's name, you deselect all check-boxes except that one.
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> Secrets of the "Send to" Command
If you find yourself copying or moving certain icons to certain folders or disks with regularity, it's time to exploit the "Send to" command that lurks in the shortcut menu for almost every icon. (If you press the Alt key to make the menu bar appear, the "Send to" command is also in the File
menu of every Explorer window.)
This command offers a quick way to copy and move highlighted icons to popular destinations. For example, you can teleport a copy of a highlighted file directly to your CD burner by choosing Send to->DVD-RW Drive, or to the desktop background by choosing Send to->Desktop (create shortcut).
Then there's the Send to->Mail recipient, which bundles the highlighted icon as an email attachment that's ready to send. You can also zip up a folder by choosing Send to->Compressed (zipped) Folder.
If you start getting into "Send to"--and you should--check this out. If you press shift while you right-click, you get a much longer list of "Send to" options, including all the essential folders (Downloads, Desktop, Favorites, Links, Searches, and so on). Cool.
But if the folder you want isn't there, it's easy enough to make the "Send to" command accommodate your own favorite or frequently used folders. Lurking in your Personal folder is a folder called SendTo. Any shortcut icon you place here shows up instantly in the "Send to" menus within your
desktop folders and shortcut menus.
Alas, this folder is among those Microsoft considers inappropriate for inspection by novices. As a result, the SentTo folder is hidden.
You can still get to it, though. In the address bar of any Explorer window, type shell:sendto, and then press Enter. (That's a quick way of getting to the C:\Users\[your name]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo folder.)
Most people create shortcuts here for folders and disks (such as your favorite backup disk). When you highlight an icon and then choose "Send to"->Backup Disk, for example, Windows copies the icon to that disk (Or, if you simultaneously press Shift, you move the icon to the other disk or folder.) You can even add shortcuts of applications (program files) to the SendTo folder. By adding WinZip to this "Send to" menu, for example, you can drop-kick a highlighted icon onto the WinZip icon (for decompressing) just by choosing Send to->WinZip. Or add a Web server to this menu, so you can upload a file with a quick right-click. You can even create shortcuts for your printer or fax modem so you can print or fax a document just by highlighting its icon and choosing File->"Send to"->[printer or fax modem's name].
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Note: All these methods put icons from your hard drive into the Recycle Bin. But deleting an icon from a removable drive (flash drivers, for example), from other computers on the network, or from a .zip file, does
not involve the Recycle Bin. Those files go straight to heaven, giving you no opportunity to retrieve them. (Deleting anything with the Command Prompt commands del or erase bypasses the Recycle Bin, too.)
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> Restoring Deleted Files and Folders
If you change your mind about sending something to the software graveyard, simply open the Recycle Bin by double-clicking.
To restore a selected file or a folder--or a bunch of them--click the "Restore this item" link on the task toolbar. Or right-click any one of the selected icons and choose Restore from the shortcut menu.
Restored means returned to the folder from whence it came--wherever it was on your hard drive when deleted. If you restore an icon whose original folder has been deleted in the meantime, Windows even recreates that folder to hold the restored file(s). (If nothing is selected, the toolbar button says "Restore all items," but be careful: If there are week's worth of icons in there, and Windows puts them all back where they came from, recreating original folders as it goes, you might wind up with a real mess.)
Tip: You don't have to put icons back into their original folders. By dragging them out of the Recycle Bin window, you can put them back into any folder you like.
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> Working with zipped folders
In many respects, a zipped folder behaves just like any ordinary folder. Double-click it to see what's inside.
If you double-click one of the files you find inside, however, Windows opens up a read-only copy of it--that is, a copy you can view, but not edit. To make changes to a read-only copy, you must use the File->Save As command and save it to somewhere else on your hard drive first.
Note: Be sure to navigate to the desktop or Documents folder, for example, before you save your edited document. Otherwise, Windows will save it into an invisible temporary folder, where you many never see it again.
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> A Tale of Two Formats
Turns out Windows can burn blank CDs and DVDs using your choice of two formats:
* Mastered (ISO).
This is what most of the world is used to. It's what everybody burned before Windows Vista and Windows 7 came along. The primary virtue of discs burned this way is compatibility; they play in just about any computer, including Macs, PCs, and CD or DVD players that play MP3 CDs and digital video.
To make one, insert the blank disc and then drag files and folders into its window. The PC duplicates the items, parking them in an invisible, temporary holding area until you're ready to burn. You burn all the files and folders at once.
Truble is, you're therefore doubling the space requirement of the files you intended to burn. If you're burning a DVD to get older files off your hard drive because you're running low on space, you could wind up in a Catch-22. You can't free up drive space without burning a DVD--but you don't have enough drive space to burn a DVD!
Tip: To be fair, you can change the location of the temporary holding folder--if you have another hard drive. In your Computer window, right-click your burner's icon; from the shortcut menu, choose Properties. Click the Recording tab; from the drive menu, choose the hard drive you prefer, authenticating when you're asked.
* Live File System (UDF).
This newer, more modern format--Windows 7's factory setting--is light-years more convenient. It lets you use a blank CD or DVD exactly as though it's a USB flash drive. You can drag files and folders onto it, move icons around on it, rename them, and so on. There's no momentous Moment of Burn; files are copied to the CD in real time, whenever you put them there. You can leave a disc in your drive, dragging stuff onto it throughout the week as it's convenient--without ever having to click a Burn button.
What's more, you can eject the CD, store it, or share it--and then, later, put it back into your PC and burn more stuff onto it. That's right--you can burn a single CD as many times as you like. And we're talking regular, cheapie CD-R discs, not CD-RW (rewritable).
What Windows creates, in other words, is a multisession disc.
Of course, the downside is that discs you burn this way play back only on relatively recent Macs and PCs. And you can record more stuff onto them only on a PC running Windows XP or later.
# Page 178
Note: The High Contrast themes in the list are designed to help out people with limited vision, who require greater differences in color between window elements. High-contrast themes do not use any of the Aero features and more closely resemble the squared-off windows and dialog boxes of Windows 2000.
# Page 190
> Preserving Your Tweaks for Posterity
The previous pages describe six ways to modify one of Windows 7's canned themes. You can change the desktop picture, the window color schemes, the sound scheme, the screen saver, the desktop icons, and the mouse-pointer shapes. The basic concept is simple: You choose one of Microsoft's canned themes as a starting point and then adjust these six aspects of it as suits you mood.
When that's all over, though, you return to the Personalization box, where all the modifications you've made are represented at the top of the screen--as an icon called Unsaved Theme.
Well, you wouldn't want all that effort to go to waste, would you? So click "Save theme," type a name of your new, improved theme, and click Save.
From now on, the theme you've created (well, OK, modified) shows up in a new row of the Personalization dialog box called My Themes. From now on, you can recall the emotional tenor of your edited look with a single click on that icon.
If you make further changes to that theme (or any other theme), another Unsaved Theme icon appears, once again ready for you to save and name. You can keep going forever, adding to your gallery of experimentation.
You can also delete a less-inspired theme (right-click its icon; from the shortcut menu, choose Delete Theme). On the other hand, when you strike create gold, you can package up your theme and share it with other computers--your own, or other people's online. To do that, right-click the theme's icon; from the shortcut menu, choose "Save theme for sharing." Windows asks you to name and save the new .themepak file, which you can distribute to the masses. (Just double-clicking a .themepak file installs it in the Personalize dialog box.)
Note: If your theme uses sounds and graphics that aren't on other people's PCs, they won't see those elements when they install your theme.
# Page. 195
> Some Clear Talk About ClearType
ClearType is Microsoft's word for a sneaky technology that makes type look sharper on your screen than it really is.
Imagine a lowercase at a very small point size. It looks great on this page, because this book was printed at 1,200 dots per inch. But your monitor's resolution is far lower--maybe 96 dots per inch--so text doesn't
look nearly as good. If you were to really get up close, you'd see that the curves on the letters are actually a little jagged.
Each dot on an LCD screen is actually composed of three subpixels (mini-dots): red, green and blue. What ClearType does it simulate smaller pixels in the nooks and crannies of letters by turning on only some of those subpixels. In the curve of that tiny s, for example, maybe only the blue subpixel is turned on, which to your eye looks like a slightly darker area, a fraction of a pixel; as a result, the type looks finer than it really is.
In Windows 7, ClearType's behavior is adjustable. To see the options, open the Start menu. In the Search box, type enough of the work cleartype until "Adjust ClearType text" appears in the results list; click it.
On the first screen, you have an on/off checkbox for ClearType. It's there for the sake of completeness, because text on an LCD screen really does look worse without it.
If you click Next, Windows walks you through a series of "Which type sample looks better to you?" screens, where all you have to do is click the "Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog" example that you find easiest to read. Behind the scenes, of course, you're adjusting ClearType's technical parameters without even having to know what they are. When it's all over, you'll have the best-looking small type possible.
# Page. 196
> Multiple Monitors
If your computer has a jack for an external monitor (most do these days--including the video-output jacks on laptops), then you can hook up a second monitor or a projector. You can either display the same picture on both screens (which is what you'd want if your laptop were projecting slides for an audience), or you can create a gigantic virtual desktop, moving icons or toolbars from one monitor to another. The latter setup also lets you keep an eye on Web activity on one monitor while you edit data on another. It's a glorious arrangement, even if it does make the occasional family member think you've gone off the deep end with your PC obsession.
What's especially great is that Windows 7 has a wicked-cool keystroke just for setups like this (two monitors, or laptop+projector): WINDOWS+P.
You can also adjust the monitor settings independently for your two screens. To do that, right-click the desktop. From the shortcut menu, choose "Screen resolution."
In the resulting dialog box, you see icons for both screens (or even more, if you have them, you lucky thing). It's like a map. Click the screen whose settings (like resolution) you want to change. If Windows seems to be displaying these miniatures out of sequence--if your external monitor is really to the left of your main screen, and Windows is showing it to the right--you can actually drag their thumbnails around until they match reality. (Click Identify if you get confused; that makes an enormous digit fill each real screen, which helps you match it to the digits on the miniatures.)
To bring about that extended-desktop scenario, use the "Multiple displays" pop-up menu. It offers commands like "Duplicate these displays" and "Extend these displays."
# Page. 222
> Why You See Document Names in the Save Dialog Box
In the Save dialog box, Windows displays a list of both folders and documents (documents that match the kind you're about to save, that is).
It's easy to understand why folders appear here: so you can double-click one if you want to save your document inside it. But why do documents appear here? After all, you can't very well save a document into another document.
Documents are listed here so you can perform one fairly obscure stunt: If you click a document's name, Windows copies its name into the "File name" text box at the bottom of the window. That's useful shortcut if you want to replace an existing document with the new one you're saving. By saving a new file with the same name as the existing one, you force Windows to overwrite it (after asking your permission, of course).
This trick also reduces the amount of typing needed to save a document to which you've assigned a different version number. For example, if you click the Thesis Draft 3.1 document in the list, Windows copies that name into the "File name" text box; doing so keeps it separate from earlier drafts. To save your new document as Thesis Draft 3.2, you need to change only one character (change the 1 to 2) before clicking the Save button.
# Page. 223
As useful and popular as it is, the Copy/Paste routine doesn't win any awards for speed; after all, it requires four steps. In many cases, you can replace that routine with the far more direct (and enjoyable) drag-and-drop method.
Drag-and-drop is ideal for transferring material between windows or between programs. It's especially useful when you're already copied something valuable to your Clipboard, since drag-and-drop doesn't involve (and doesn't erase) the Clipboard.
Its most popular use, however, is rearranging the text in a single document. In, say, Word or WordPad, you can rearrange entire sections, paragraphs, sentences, or even individual letters, just by dragging them--a terrific editing technique.
Tip: Using drag-and-drop to move highlighted text within a document also deletes the text from its original location. By pressing Ctrl as you drag, however, you make a copy of the highlighted text.
# Page. 224
> When Formatting Is Lost
How come pasted text doesn't always look the same as what I copied?
When you copy text from Internet Explorer, for example, and then paste it into another program, such as Word, you may be alarmed to note that the formatting of that text (bold, italic, font size, font color, and so on) doesn't reappear intact. In fact, the pasted material may not even inherit the current font settings in the word processor. There could be several reasons for this problem.
First, not every program offers text formatting--Notepad among them. And the Copy command in some programs (such as Web browsers) doesn't pick up the formatting along with the text. So when you copy something from Internet Explorer and paste it into Word or WordPad, you may get plain, unformatted text.
Finally, a note on text wrapping. Thank to limitations built into the architecture of the Internet, email messages aren't like word processor documents. The text doesn't flow continuously from one line of a paragraph to the next, reflowing as you adjust the window size. Instead, email programs insert a press of the Enter key at the end of each line within a paragraph.
Most of the time, you don't even notice that your messages consist of dozens of one-line "paragraphs." When you see them in the email program, you can't tell the difference. But if you paste an email message into a word processor, the difference becomes painfully apparent--especially if you then attempt to adjust the margins.
To fix the text, delete the invisible carriage return at the end of each line. (Veteran PC users sometimes use the word processor's search-and-replace function for this purpose.) Or, if you just need a quick look, reduce the point size (or widen the margin) until the text no longer breaks oddly.
# Page. 244
> Hooking Up a File Extension to a Different Program
Windows comes with several programs that can open text files with the extension .txt--Notepad and WordPad, for example. There are also at least two Windows apps (Paint and Photo Gallery) that can open picture files with the extension .jpg. So how does it decide which program to open when you double-click a .txt or .jpg file?
Easy--it refers to its internal database of preferred default programs for various file types. But at any time, you can reassign a particular file type (file extension) to a different application. If you've just bought Photoshop, for example, you might want it to open up your JPEG files, rather than Photo Gallery.
This sort of surgery has always confused beginners. Yet it was important for Microsoft to provide an easy way of reprogramming document's mother programs; almost everyone ran into programs like RealPlayer that, once installed, "stole" every file association they could. The masses needed a simple way to switch documents back to their preferred programs.
So in Vista (and Windows 7), Microsoft ripped up its File Types dialog boxes and started from scratch. Whether or not the three new file-association mechanisms are actually superior to the one old one from XP--well. you be the judge.
Tip: The File Types tab of the Folder Options dialog box, once the headquarters of document-to-program relationships, no longer exists in Windows 7.
Method 1: Start with the document
Often, you'll discover a misaligned file-type association the hard way. You double-click a document and the wrong program opens it.
For that reason, Microsoft has added a new way to reprogramming a document--one that starts right in Explorer, with the document itself.
Right-click the icon of the file that needs a new parent program. From the shortcut menu, choose Open With.
If you're just trying to open this document into a new program this once, you may be able to choose the new program's name from the Open With submenu. Windows doesn't always offer this submenu, however.
If you choose Choose Default Program from the submenu, or if there's no submenu at all, then the new Open With dialog box appears. It's supposed to list every program on your machine that's capable of opening the document.
And now, a critical decision: Are you trying to make this document only open in different program? Or all documents of this type?
If it's just this one, click OK and stop reading. If it's all files of this type (all JPEGs, all MP3s, all .doc files...), then also turn on "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file," and click OK.
You should now be able to double-click the original document--and smile as it opens in the program you requested.
Note: If the program isn't listed, click the Browse button and go find it yourself. And if you don't seem to have any program on your PC that will open the document, click "look for the appropriate program on the Web." You go online to a File Associations Web page, which lists programs that Microsoft knows can open the file.
Method 2: Start with the program
If you'd prefer to edit the master database of file associations directly, a special control panel awaits. You can approach the problem from either direction:
* Choose a program and then choose which file types you want it to take over; or
* Choose a filename extension (like .aif or .ico) and then choose a new default program for it.
Here's how to perform the first technique:
1. Open the Start menu. Start typing default until you see "See your default programs" in the results list; click it.
The Default Programs control panel opens.
2. Click "Set your default programs."
A curious dialog box appears. It's a list of every program on your machine that's capable of opening multiple file types.
3. Click the name of a program.
For example, suppose a program named FakePlayer 3.0 has performed the dreaded Windows Power Grab, claiming a particular file type for itself without asking you. In fact, suppose it has elected itself King of All Audio files. But you want Windows Media Player to play everything except FakePlayer (.fkpl) files.
In this step, then, you'd click Windows Media Player.
If you want Media Player to become the default player for every kind of music and video files, you'd click "Set this program as default." But if you want it to open only some kind of files, proceed like this:
4. Click "Choose defaults for this program."
Now yet another dialog box opens. It lists every file type the selected program knows about.
5. Turn on the checkboxes of the file types for which you want this program to be the default opener.
Of course, this step requires a certain amount of knowledge that comes from experience--how the heck would the average person know what, say, a .wvx file is?--but it's here for the power user's benefit.
6. Click Save, and then OK.
Method 3: Start with the file type
Finally, you can approach the file-association problem a third way: by working through a massive alphabetical list of filename extensions (.aca, .acf, .acs, .aif, and so on) and hooking each one up to a program of your choice.
1. Open the Start menu. Start typing defaults until you see Default Programs in the result list; click it.
The Default Programs control panel opens.
2. Click "Associate a file type or protocol with a program."
After a moment, a massive filename extensions list opens.
3. Select the filename extension you want, and then click "Change program."
Now the Open With dialog box appears.
4. Click the name of the new default program.
Once again, if you don't see it listed here, you can click Browse to find it yourself.
5. Click OK and then Close.
# Page. 251
> Who Gets the Software?
As you're probably becoming increasingly aware, Microsoft designed Windows to be a multiuser operating system, in which each person who logs in enjoys a independent environment--from the desktop pattern to the email in Windows Mail. The question thus arises: When someone installs a new program, does every account holder have equal access to it?
In general, the answer is yes. If an administrator installs a new program, it usually shows up on the Start->All Programs menu of every account holder.
Occasionally, a program's installer may offer you a choice: Install the new software so that it's available either to everybody or only to you, the currently logged-in account holder.
Also occasionally, certain programs might just install software into your own account, so nobody else who logs in even knows the program exists.
In that case, you can proceed in either of two ways. First, you can simply log into each account, one after another, reinstalling the program.
Second, you may be able to get away with moving the program's shortcut from your Personal folder to the corresponding location in the All Users folder. Windows actually maintains two different types of Programs folders: one that's shared by everybody, and another for each individual account holder.
Here's where that information pays off. Open your Start->All Programs menu; right-click the name of the program you want everyone to be able to access, and then choose Copy from the shortcut menu. Now right-click the Start->All Programs menu (not the Start menu itself, as in previous Windows versions); from the shortcut menu, choose Open All Users. In the window that appears, right-click the Programs folder, and then choose Paste from the shortcut menu. The program now appears on the Start menu of everybody who uses the machine.
# Page. 263
> A Little Bit About 64 Bits
Every version of Windows 7 except Starter is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. (Both come in the same package.)
If you want your eyes to glaze over, you can read the details on 64-bit computing in Wikipedia. But the normal-person's version goes like this:
For decades, the roadways for memory and information passed through PCs were 32 "lanes" wide--they could manage 32 chunks of data at once. It seemed like plenty at the time. But as programs can even documents grew enormous, and computers came with the capacity to have more and more memory installed, engineers began to dream of 64-lane circuitry.
To reach 64-bit nirvana, however, you need a 64-bit computer running the 64-bit version of Windows.
Sometimes, you don't have a choice. For example, if your PC comes with at least 4 gigabytes of memory, it has 64-bit Windows, like it or not. And if you buy a netbook, it probably comes with the 32-bit version.
Otherwise, though, you probably have a choice. Which version should you go for?
In the short term, the most visible effect of having a 64-bit computer is that you can install a lot more memory. A top-of-the-line 32-bit PC, for example, is limited to 4 GB of RAM--and only about 3 GB is actually available to your programs. That once seemed like a lot, but it's suffocatingly small if you're a modem video editor, game designer, or number-crunchy engineer.
On a 64-bit PC with 64-bit Windows, though, you can install just a tad bit more memory: 192 GB. (In the Home Premium version of Windows 7, the cap is 16 GB).
Eventually, there may be other benefits to a 64-bit PC. Programs can be rewritten to run faster. Security can be better, too. For now, though, there are some downsides to going 64-bit.
For example, much of the world's software has yet to be rewritten as 64-bit apps. The older, 32-bit programs mostly run fine on a 64-bit machine. But some won't run at all, and 32-bit drivers for your older hardware (sound card, graphics card, printer, and so on) may give you particular headaches.
(That's why, for example, 64-bit Windows 7 actually runs the 32-bit version of Internet Explorer--because the world's Internet Explorer plug-ins are mostly 32-bit, and they wouldn't work with the 64-bit version of Internet Explorer.)
You can't run 16-bit programs at all in 64-bit Windows, either (at least not without an add-on program like DOSBox).
If you have taken the 64-bit plunge, you generally don't have to know whether your apps are running in 32- or 64-bit mode; every kind of program runs in the right mode automatically. If you ever want to see how many of your apps are actually 32-bitters, though, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Task Manager; then click the Processes tab. The 32-bit programs you have open are indicated by "*32" after their names.
# Page. 270
> Microsoft XPS = Adobe PDF
What, exactly, is Microsoft XPS?! I see an icon for it in my Print dialog box.
Well, you know how Microsoft always comes up with its own version of anything popular? PalmPilot, iPod, Web browser, whatever?
Its latest target is the PDF document, the brainchild of Adobe.
A PDF document, of course, is a file that opens up on any kind of computer--Mac, Windows, Unix, anything--looking exactly the way it did when it was created, complete with fonts, graphics, and other layout niceties. The recipient can't generally make changes to it, but can search it, copy text from it, print it, and so on. It's made life a lot easier for millions of people because it's easy, free, and automatic.
And now Microsoft wants a piece o' dat. Its new Microsoft XPS document format is pretty much the same idea as PDF, only it's Microsoft's instead of Adobe's.
To turn any Windows document into a XPS document, just choose File->Print. In the Print dialog box, choose Microsoft XPS Document Writer as the "printer," and then click Print. You're asked to name it and save it.
The result, when double-clicked, opens up in Internet Explorer. (Yes, Internet Explorer is the new Acrobat Reader.) You might not even notice the two tiny toolbars that appear above and below the main browser window, but they offer the usual PDF-type options: Save a copy, find a phrase, jump to a page, zoom in or out, switch to double-page view, and so on.
Microsoft plans to release XPS readers for other versions of Windows--and, eventually, other kinds of computers. Even so, Microsoft has a long battle ahead if it hopes to make the XPS format as commonplace as PDF.
But then again, long battles have never fazed it before.
# Page. 279
> May I Please See a Menu?
Snipping Tool, as you've already seen, is a heck of a lot better than the old PrtScr keystroke. But at first glance, you might assume that it still can't take a picture of a menu or a shortcut menu. After all, the instant you try to drag to highlight the menu, the menu closes!
Actually, you can capture menus--if you know the secret.
Open Snipping Tool, and then minimize it, which hides its window but keeps it running.
Now open the menu you want to capture, using the mouse or keyboard. Once the menu is open, press Ctrl+PrtScn.
That's all it takes; Snipping Tool is smart enough to know that you intend to capture just the menu.
That's workable, but still a bit complicated. That's why, if you're actually going to write a computer book or manual, you probably want a proper screen-capture program like Snagit (www.techsmith.com). It offers far more flexibility than any of Windows's own screenshot features. For example, you have a greater choice of file formats and capture options, you can dress up the results with arrows or captions, and (with its companion program Camtasia) you can even capture movies of screen activity.