Windows 7 Tips
20 Essential Windows 7 Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks

If you have just got your hands on Windows 7 and want to bend it to your skills, then read our complete article to know about Windows 7 tips, tricks, and tweaks, including automatically opening Windows Explorer to a folder of your choice, finding hidden desktop themes, speeding up taskbar thumbnails, forcing UAC to act the way you’d like, keeping Explorer searches secret from others, and more. One of the most significant changes to the Windows 7 UI is its new taskbar, which acts more like the Mac OS dock than the old Windows taskbar. Our list of Windows 7 tips, tricks, and tweaks will make your desktop more interesting and boost your system’s efficiency. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Useful Windows 7 Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks

  1. Use Hidden International Wallpapers and Themes

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks - Use Hidden International Wallpapers and Themes

The first tip among our list of best Windows 7 tips, tricks, and tweaks is how to use hidden wallpapers and themes. Once you install Windows 7 on your PC, it will ask for your system language, time, and currency. Based on your responses, it will install a set of wallpapers along with some themes. If you select English (United States) for time and currency format, let’s say, the available desktop themes and backgrounds will add a United States section with scenery from many beautiful locations.

There is a simple way you can install and use different backgrounds or themes. For this, you need to type C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT into the search box and press Enter. Please note that in case Windows 7 is installed in a drive other than C:, use that letter instead. Windows Explorer will open and show you a list of subfolders under C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT: MCT-CA, MCT-AU, MCT-US, and MCT-GB. Each subfolder has wallpapers for a specific country: CA for Canada, AU for Australia, US for the United States, and GB for Great Britain.

For any of the countries whose wallpaper along with themes you want to use, head over to its Theme folder, let’s say, C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT\MCT-CA\Theme. You need to double-click on the theme you’d like to have. It will install a shortcut to the theme and wallpapers within the Personalization section of Control Panel. You can now use them by right-clicking on the desktop, selecting Personalize, and then choosing a background or theme. No doubt, it is one of the best Windows 7 tips you can try.

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  1. Set a New Windows Explorer Launch Folder

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks - Set a New Windows Explorer Launch Folder

Among our list of Windows 7 tips and tricks, the next one is how to set a new Windows Explorer launch folder. While running Windows Explorer, it always opens to the Libraries folder. It’s fine if you’re using Microsoft’s default file organization designating Libraries as the overall platform for your folders. But if you don’t then you may prefer to have Windows Explorer open to Computer or any other folder you select. Follow the steps below to know how to do so.

  • First of all, right-click on the Windows Explorer icon on the taskbar and then right-click on the Windows Explorer icon from the context menu that appears and select Properties. The Windows Explorer Properties dialog box will appear
  • Next, edit the Target field on the Shortcut tab of the dialog box to change the default location at which Explorer opens
  • If you want Explorer to open to a specific folder, then type the folder name and substitute your folder name for Folder like %windir%\explorer.exe c:\Folder

Note: If you want Explorer to open to preset locations like Computer, you’ll need to enter special syntax into the Target field.

There are basically three common locations and the syntax to use, followed by the syntax for the Libraries folder in case you want to revert to the default. They are:

  • Computer: %windir%\explorer.exe ::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}
  • Network: %windir%\explorer.exe ::{208D2C60-3AEA-1069-A2D7-08002B30309D}
  • My Documents: %windir%\explorer.exe ::{450D8FBA-AD25-11D0-98A8-0800361B1103}
  • Libraries: %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe

Once you’ve changed the Target field, click on the OK button. So, next time when you open Windows Explorer, it will open to the new location you’ve mentioned.

  1. Get a Power Efficiency Report

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks - Get a Power Efficiency Report

The next tip among our list of Windows 7 tips and tricks is how to get a power efficiency report. If you have a laptop and want to get more battery life out of it then Windows 7 has a hidden built-in tool that will examine your laptop’s battery use and make suggestions on how to improve it.

In order to use it, run a command prompt as an administrator. Just type cmd into the search box and when the cmd icon occurs, you can right-click on it and select Run as administrator. On the command line, type powercfg -energy -output \Folder\Energy_Report.html, where \Folder shows the folder where you want to place the report. Consequently, Windows 7 will examine the behavior of your laptop. It will then analyze it and craft a report into an HTML format in the folder you’ve mentioned. Just double-click on the file and you’ll get a report follow its recommendations for ways to improve the overall performance. Try these Windows 7 tips!

  1. Search the Internet from the Start Menu

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks - Search the Internet from the Start Menu

The search box of the Start menu is a great way to search through your PC but you can also have it to perform Internet searches as well. Great! In order to enable this feature, just type GPEDIT.MSC into the search box and then press Enter to run the Group Policy Editor. Next, navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar. You can then double-click on Add Search Internet link to Start Menu and from the screen that appears, select Enabled. Once you’re done, you can click on the OK button and close the Group Policy Editor.

From now onwards, when you type a search term into the search box, a link will appear called Search the Internet. Just click on that link in order to launch the search in your default browser with your default search engine. This is also one of the best Windows 7 tips you can try.

  1. Shake Your Desktop Free of Clutter

If you’re running multiple programs at the same time then your desktop can get cluttered. It can be a little disturbing if you’re working on one program and would like to minimize all the other windows. Using Windows 7’s Shake feature, you can minimize every window except the one in which you’re currently working. You can click and hold the title bar of the window you have to keep on the desktop; while still holding the title bar, just shake it back and forth until all other windows minimize to the taskbar. This is also a useful tip among our list of Windows 7 tips and tricks.

  1. Show all Your Drives in Windows Explorer

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks - Show all Your Drives in Windows Explorer

The next tip in our list of Windows 7 tips and tricks is how to show all your drives in Windows Explorer. Based on the system settings, when you navigate to Computer in Windows Explorer, you may not see all the drives such as memory card readers if those drives are empty. If this disconcerts you a bit, there’s a simple way for you to see them even if there’s nothing there. All you need to do is just open Windows Explorer and press the Alt button to unveil the top menu. You can then select Tools > Folder Options and then click on the View tab. Under Advanced settings, just uncheck the box next to Hide empty drives in the Computer folder and once done, click on the OK button. The drives will now always be visible. Amazing Windows 7 tips!

  1. Modify UAC (User Account Control)

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks - Modify UAC

One of the most significant changes to Windows Vista is the User Account Control security feature due to its constant warning messages asking for permission to continue further operations. UAC has been essentially improved in Windows 7 so that it’s not as intrusive as in Vista, but you can still tweak it if you like. Read on to know how to turn UAC on/off.

  • First of all, head over to the Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety
  • Next, click on User Accounts and then navigate to Change User Account Control settings.

From the screen that appears, you can use the slider to choose the level of protection you want. There are four levels:

  • Always notify me: It works like Vista’s UAC. Once you make changes to your system when software is installed or when a program tries to make a change to your system, an annoying prompt appears.
  • Notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer (do not dim my desktop): This level is analogous to the default setting but it won’t dim your desktop so that you can only see the UAC prompt asking you to take action. It presents a slightly elevated security risk over the default setting because theoretically a program allows a malicious program to interfere with the UAC prompt.
  • Default – Notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer: When a program makes a change, a prompt appears and your desktop goes dark, just like it does in Vista.
  • Never notify me when: Here, UAC is completely turned off. This is an insecure option and not recommended for users.

Once you make the selection, click on the OK button. You may need to restart your system for it to take effect depending on your selection you made. This is also one of the best Windows 7 tips you can try.

  1. Add Video Links to the Start Menu

The next tip among our list of Windows 7 tips and tricks is how to add a videos link to the start menu. Windows 7’s start menu adds links to your Pictures and Music folders, but not to your Videos folder. If you are the one who watches many videos and needs a link to them on your start Menu, you can right-click on the Start button and select Properties. On the screen that appears, head over to the Start Menu tab and then click on Customize. You’ll get a dialog box. Just scroll to the bottom, look for the Videos section, select Display as a link, and then click on the OK button. Great Windows 7 tips!

  1. Launch a Command Prompt at Any Folder

When you’re in Windows Explorer, you can open a command prompt to any folder. This tip does exactly what the Windows XP PowerToy Open Command Window Here does. To use it, you need to hold down the Shift key and right-click on a folder. Then, you can choose Open command window here from the context menu that appears. Please note that this tip doesn’t work in the Documents folder.

  1. Use Checkboxes to Select Multiple Files

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks - Use check boxes to select multiple files

In order to select multiple files for operations like copying, moving, or deleting in Windows Explorer, you generally use the keyboard and the mouse, Ctrl-clicking on every file you want to select. However, if you’re mouse-centric, you can select multiple files in Windows 7 using mouse via checkboxes. To do so, you can click on Organize inside Windows Explorer and then select Folder and search options. Next, you can click on the View tab. Under Advanced Settings, scroll down and check the box next to Use check boxes to select items and then click on the OK button.

From now onwards, when you hover your mouse over a file in Windows Explorer, a checkbox will appear next to it; just click on it to select the file.

  1. Customize the Shutdown Button

Using Windows 7 tips, you can also customize the shutdown button. We all know that the default action of the shutdown button is to turn off your computer system. If you’d like to use the button for some other action like to restart your PC, you need to click on the arrow to the right of the shutdown button and then select an action from the drop-down window. You can change the shutdown button’s default action to be Restart or Switch user, Log off, Lock, Sleep or Hibernate.

In order to change your default action, just right-click on the Start button and select Properties. On the Start Menu tab, click on the Power button action drop-down window and choose which action you would like to be the default. Once done, you can click on the OK button.

  1. Protect the Privacy of Your Explorer Searches

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks - Protect the privacy of your Explorer searches

When you search through your computer from Windows Explorer, you can see the most recent searches that have already been performed. If you share your system and don’t want others to see what you’ve searched for, you can turn off the recent searches feature. All you need to do is just go to the Search box, type GPEDIT.MSC and then press Enter to open the Group Policy Editor. Next, you need to go to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Explorer. You can double-click on Turn off display of recent search entries in the Windows Explorer search box and select Enabled from the screen that appears. Once done, you can click on the OK button. The recent searches feature will now be turned off.

  1. Build Your Own Internet Search Connector

Windows 7 comes with a very useful feature dubbed Search Connector allowing you to search through a site from right inside Windows Explorer. Using it, you can type in a search term and select the Search Connector for the site you’d like to search; Explorer searches the website without having to open IE and the results appear inside Windows Explorer. You can click on any of the results to head over there using your default browser.

Normally, you’ll need to get each Search Connector from the site through which you want to search, and only a few Connectors are available. Sites normally need to adhere to OpenSearch standards in order for their Connectors to work. However, there’s a simple workaround that will allow you to create your own Search Connector for any site via Windows Live Search. To access it, in Windows Explorer navigate to YourName > Searches > Connector, where YourName is your account name, and Connector is the name of the Connector.

  1. Speed Up the Display of Thumbnails on the Taskbar

One of the best things about the taskbar is that when you hover your mouse over the icons in it, you’re able to see thumbnail previews of all open windows for each of those apps. While doing so, there is a delay before the thumbnail appears. However, you can make the thumbnails display more quickly by using a Registry hack. Please note that you should always create a Restore Point before editing the Windows Registry.

To speed up the display of thumbnails on the taskbar, you need to launch the Registry Editor by typing regedit into the search box and press Enter. Next, you need to go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Mouse. You can then double-click on MouseHoverTime. The default value you’ll see is 400 that means 400 ms. Type a new, smaller value, click on the OK button and exit the Registry Editor. You’ll have to log off or restart your PC for the change to take effect.

  1. Rearrange Taskbar Icons

You can easily rearrange icons across the bottom of your system’s screen. All you need to do is drag an icon to where you want it to present. You can also add icons to the taskbar by dragging them from an application and delete the icons by highlighting them and pressing the Delete key.

  1. Take Control of the Taskbar Notification Area

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks - Take Control of the Taskbar Notification Area

At the far right of the taskbar, the notification area displays system messages and alerts and also shows program icons that typically run in the background. In order to take control of the taskbar notification area, just right-click on the taskbar, select Properties, and click on Customize from the dialog box in the notification area section. You can also customize the system icons that appear there, including the volume, clock, network, power and Action Center icons. At the bottom of the same screen, click on Turn system icons on or off and from the screen that appears, choose whether to turn on/off the icon and notifications. Once done, you can click on the OK button.

  1. View Taskbar Thumbnails Without Using Mouse

If you’re using the keyboard rather than a mouse, you can move your cursor from icon to icon inside the taskbar without using a mouse and see thumbnail previews. You can press Windows key-T and you’ll move the focus to the leftmost icon on the taskbar. While pressing the Windows key, you need to press T again to change the focus to the next icon to the right. Just keep doing this as long as you like.

  1. Open Taskbar Apps Without a Mouse

You can launch any program on the taskbar without using a mouse. Just press the Windows key and the number corresponding to the position of the application on the taskbar.

  1. Get back the Quick Launch bar

The new taskbar of Windows 7 functions as a program launcher and task switcher. Consequently, the old Quick Launch bar, the area on the left side of the taskbar that had shortcuts for frequently used programs, has been removed. However, if you really miss the little applet, you can get it back. Just right-click on the taskbar and navigate to Toolbars > New Toolbar. You’ll be asked to choose a folder from where the new toolbar should be there. In the Folder text box at the bottom of the dialog box, enter %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch.

Once done, you can click on Select Folder. A link to the Quick Launch bar will be included in the taskbar. It’s not useful docked all the way to the right with no application icons showing, so here’s a bit of workaround to make it useful. Just right-click on the taskbar and then remove the check next to Lock the taskbar. Next, you can right-click on Quick Launch and remove the checks next to Show Text and Show Title.

Once done, simply drag the vertical three dotted line next to the Quick Launch bar to the left. To prevent further changes, just right-click on the taskbar and then check Lock the taskbar. You can now easily make use of the Quick Launch bar.

  1. Run Multiple Copies of Applications from the Taskbar

Windows 7 taskbar serves a dual purpose, which can get confusing at times. It’s used to open programs and also to switch between programs that are running. So launch a program by clicking on its icon. Once the program is running, it seems there’s no way to open the second instance, because when you click on its icon, you can only switch to the running instance.

There’s a simple workaround for this. If a program is already running and you would like to open a second instance from the taskbar, just hold down the Shift key and click on the icon. A second instance will launch. You can keep launching new instances this way. Great!

That’s all we have in our list of Windows 7 tips, tricks, and tweaks to make you more familiar with this operating system.

Read More at Windows 10 Creators Update: 11 Best New Features Coming in 2017

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20 Essential Windows 7 Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks
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20 Essential Windows 7 Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks
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Our list of Windows 7 tips, tricks, and tweaks will make your PC more interesting, making it easier to get around and increase your system's efficiency.
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SoftwareVilla
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