This post was inspired by a recent article over at LifeHacker. But before I get into the tips, I’m going to bore you with a slight digression.
LifeHacker is one of the very few blogs that I actually check daily for new content. And I’m not talking about using an agregator, I will actually pop up a webbrowser to hit them up. I read their site so often it wasn’t until today that I realized my portal page didn’t1 link to them. As a general rule, the articles there are interesting and/or useful. I don’t have a Mac, so some articles don’t always help me, but overall they have a really good mix. I suppose given how much use I’ve gotten out of their site, I should be a bit nicer about this…. But the tip posted today was so shockingly lame that I feel the need to compile my own list of tips for windows users. Sorry, justrick but this one shouldn’t have made it past the editor’s desk!
Right that’s more than enough complaints, here’s my favorite Windows tips (in no particular order)
- Reformat your drives and load your favorite linux distro (I suggest either Kubuntu or OpenSuSE).2
- Use the Windows Key shortcuts:
- Win + E: Launches Windows Explorer
- Win + D: Pressed once, shows your desktop. Pressed twice, restores your windows to their prior positions. The same effect can be achieved with Win+M and Win+SHIFT-M, but Win+D takes less effort.
- Win + R: Launches the Windows Run Box. True, this isn’t as powerful as the Linux cli but you can do some good tricks with it (I’ll cover some of those later).
- Win + L: Locks your computer, good for corporate environments.
- Win + BREAK: Launches the System Properties window.
- Win + F: Launches the Windows Explorer Searach function, useful in locating files3. Of course, if what you’re really looking for are other computers on the network then you could use Crtl+Win+F.
- If you use the Windows Command Prompt frequently, then setting up some aliases for your most commonly used commands is helpful. the one I like to do on evey Windows machine I use is to create
C:\Windows\X.BAT. This batch file contains only one command and that’s EXIT. Since the batch file is in the Windows directory, it’s in the system path on a default configuration. When I’m ready to close any command prompt, I just hit “x” (minus the quotes) and I’m out.
- If you don’t have a fancy keyboard with extra keys for macros or launching other programs, you might want to use things like:
- Press Win+R
- Type in “notepad” (minus the quotes)
- Press enter or click ok. This will launch the Windows Notepad accessory, great for editing small text files or making quick notes to yourself. the other app I frequentally launch this way is the Windows Calculator (use “calc” instead of “notepad”).
- If your Quick Launch bar is overflowing but you still need quick access to more programs and you don’t have a fancy macroing keyboard, then you can setup shortcut keys for your programs by right-clicking on their icon/shortcut, selecting Properties, clicking in the Shortcut Key field and pressing the key combo you want to launch the program. For example…
- Go into Start -> Accessories.
- Right-click on Paint and select Properties.
- Click in the Shortcut Key field and press Crtl+Alt+P
- Now whenever you press Crtl+Alt+P Microsoft Paint will launch. Keep in mind that this can cause problems with other programs if you try overwriting a keyboard shortcut that the other program already uses (e.g. Ctrl+C).
Those are all of the Windows tips that immediately come to mind. If any of my readers have additional ones they like, please post them in the comments.
1 As soon as I realized this, I added the link.
2 If this tip offends, I’d apologize but you should know by now from reading this blog, that I vastly prefer Linux.
3 Though installing Google Desktop and using hitting Crtl twice is easier overall and GD does a better job searching.