100 Ways To Speed Up Windows (Part 2)

11/28/2012 5:12:10 PM

When it comes to saving time, the taskbar is a very powerful tool

8.    Launch apps fast

To select a taskbar app from the keyboard, hold the Windows key and press one of the numbers across the top of your keyboard. Press 1 to launch the first icon, 2 for the second, 3 for the third, and soon up tool that represents 10, so you can have items open in seconds.

Description: Windows key

Windows key

9.    Fast task-switching

To quickly switch between windows of the same application, hold down the Ctrl key as you click the app's taskbar icon. This is great for when you have multiple instances of Internet Explorer with different websites, or when you're working with photos and images.

10.  Keyboard speedup #2

To switch to a taskbar application from the keyboard, hold down the Windows key and press T to select the taskbar, then use the left and right arrows to select an application and the Return key to launch it. This can be easier than remembering numbers.

11.  Relaunch with a click

If you've launched an application and then want to run another copy, don't go back to the Start menu-just hold down Shift, click the app's taskbar icon and Windows fires up another instance of the program. Again, this works especially well for browsing.

12.  Get a preview

If you work with multiple windows, such as several tabs in IE, finding them can be a drag. In Windows 7, just click the program icon on the taskbar to get live preview windows of every tab or window. This makes it easy to go straight to where you need to be.

Description: change settings for the plan: High performance

13.  Halt runaway programs

If a buggy program is grabbing all your processor time, slowing everything else down, and you can't close it, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to launch Task Manager. Click Processes, then select "Show processes from all users." Click the CPU column header and find the program using the most CPU time. Right-click the program, select Set Affinity, clear all but one of your processor core boxes to limit how much of your system resources it can use. Your PC will speed up.

14.  Customize the power button

If you find that you typically restart your PC more often than you shut down, you can save yourself the cumulative nanoseconds incurred every time you have to select Restart by making that the default button option. Right-click Start, choose Properties, and under the Start Menu tab, select the power button action that you use most frequently.

15.  Visualize your storage situation

There's no better way to see what you're storing on your hard drive and whether it's earning its keep than by using a visualizer. One of our favorites is WinDirStat (free, On startup it creates a rectangular tree map of all your folders and files, color-coded by file type. With the graphical evidence before you, you can easily determine what stays and what goes.

16.  Use high-performance mode

The Windows 7 Power Options can make a real difference to system speed. Go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options, and ensure you have High Performance selected. Alternatively, if your computer is being too demanding on your laptop's battery, then you can go into a low power mode, but this will slow Windows down.

17.  Set your pc to boot with greater speed

If you've installed multiple versions of Windows on your computer, you'll get a menu asking which version you'd like to launch. By default this waits up to 30 seconds before selecting the default choice, but if that's too long, launch msconfig from the Start menu, click the Boot tab, and set the Timeout figure to, say, 10 seconds instead.

Five programs for keeping your pc speedy

18.  CCIeaner

We mentioned the awesome cleaning power of CCleaner (see tip #2], but it has other powers, too. Try using the Registry Cleaner, which spring cleans the back end of Windows for faster performance.

19.  Glary Utilities

Another piece of cleaning software that gets rid of leftover files, Glary can also securely uninstall programs, which is a notoriously messy experience when done in Windows.

Description: Glary Utilities

20.  Startup Delayer

This free program will stagger your startup apps, which stops Windows from grinding to a halt. To learn more about how to put Startup Delayer to use, see our How To on page 56.

21.  Foxit Reader

if you regularly read PDFs, you probably get frustrated by Adobe Reader's lumbering lack of speed. Foxit Reader speeds things up, making viewing PDFs quick and easy. It also uses very little of your computer's memory.

Description: Foxit Reader

22.  Everything

Windows' native search functionality has improved greatly over the years, but if you want a truly speedy search of your PC's contents, you need the free file-indexing app Everything.

23.  Delete duplicate music in itunes

It's an unfortunate fact about iTunes on Windows that it will sometimes store duplicate tracks of the same song.

Luckily, iTunes includes a tool that finds, identifies, and removes duplicates, keeping your music collection trim and, more importantly, your computer lean.

In iTunes, go to File > Display Exact Duplicates and a list of all repeated songs will be displayed. It would be a lot easier if iTunes only showed the duplicate ones, but unfortunately it displays both, so you'll have to tick the second version and hit Delete.

24.  Remove old pictures

When you edit a photograph in Windows Live Photo Gallery, it keeps a copy of the original forever. That's great if you've actually made the new pic look awful or want to keep the original, but otherwise it's a waste of space. To tweak this, launch Photo Gallery, click File > Options > Originals, and under "Move originals to Recycle Bin after" select one month—or longer if you prefer.

Description: change the visuals and sounds

25.  Save resources

If you've installed an antivirus package, it's a waste of resources to have Windows Defender running as well, since you essentially have two programs doing the same tasks. To turn off Defender, click Start, type Defender and click Windows Defender to fire up the program. Click Tools > Options > Administrator, clear the Use This Program box, and then click Save.

26.  Spot hidden windows

Sometimes programs display a message asking you to do something, but that message is under another window and you don't see it. You're waiting for the program, it's waiting for you, so nothing happens. The window is made visible after 200 seconds, but you can shorten the delay. Launch regedit from the Start menu, go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\ Desktop, double-click ForegroundLock-Timeout and select Decimal. Change the value to 30,000 milliseconds (30 seconds) and see how this works.

Description: edit string

27.  Save a registry key

Sometimes a change to a registry key doesn't go as planned. It's quick and easy to return to the key you changed if you've saved it to Regedit's Favorites menu. It's at the top of Regedit's editing window. Click Add to Favorites, give it a descriptive name, and tweak away knowing that changes can be undone in seconds.

28.  Disable aero

If you're running Windows 7 on an underpowered computer, improve performance a little by turning off the Aero interface. Right-click an empty part of the desktop, select Personalize, scroll to Basic and High Contrast Themes and click Windows 7 Basic. If you miss the old look, return to the Personalize dialog and choose an Aero Theme.

Alternately, you can disable Aero for just a particular program say, something that could use a little extra RAM. Browse to the program's executable file or its shortcut, right-click it, select Properties> Compatibility and check "Disable desktop composition.” Run the program and Aero is turned off. It's restored when the program is shut down.

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