100 Windows Speed-Up Tips (Part 2) : Streamline your PC, Set up SMART

4/27/2012 9:19:24 AM

Streamline your PC

PCs take a lot of abuse, and those who like to try new software will often leave lots of unwanted applications on their PCs. Removing these will speed up your PC and is a quick, easy fix.

To begin, click ‘Start > Control Panel’, then select ‘Uninstall a program’. If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7, then right-click the ‘Name” column header, click ‘More’ and choose the details you’d like to see about each program. We’d recommend checking the Name, Size, Installed On and Last Used On boxes.

Now choose to sort by ‘Date Last Used in Windows XP’, or click the ‘Last Used On’ column header in Windows Vista or Windows 7, and you’ll see your applications sorted by when they were last run.

Description: Click ‘Start > Control Panel’, then select ‘Uninstall a program’

Click ‘Start > Control Panel’, then select ‘Uninstall a program’

If you have programs that haven’t been used in months, then try getting rid of them, or switching to a free download that can be installed when and where you need it. Many programs are now available in the cloud. This means that there’s next to no footprint on your PC and the bulk of storage is contained online. There’s a cloud version of Photoshop, Office Word, Excel and OneNote, which offer stripped back functionality.

You can also click ‘Turn Windows features on or off’ or ‘Add/Remove Windows Computers’ to remove Windows applets you’re not using, but this generally has less effect. If you never run an applet then it won’t slow you down and turning a feature off won’t free up much, if any, disk space either.

Uninstall: Remove programs you no longer use.

Manage your services

Services are programs designed to work silently in the background on behalf of both Windows and some third-party applications. They’re loaded before the Welcome screen appear, so run regardless of which user is logged on.

Services cover a wide range of uses and, depending on your computer, not all will be needed. For example, the Windows Update service is essential because it monitors and downloads updates for Windows, but the Bluetooth Support service is only relevant if you have a Bluetooth adaptor installed in your PC.

Description: Services: There are a real drain, so manage them.

Services: There are a real drain, so manage them.

Having these services running can be a real drain on your PC’s performance, but with them under control. We’re used SMART, which is founded on this month’s cover disc, and takes a lot of the risk out of cancelling services by telling you which ones are safe to stop. Follow our three-step guide to using SMART and you could quickly make a real difference to your PC.

Set up SMART

Install SMART

Description: Install SMART from the cover disc

Install SMART from the cover disc

Install SMART from the cover disc. Click ‘Start > Computer’ and browse to the folder you saved the program to. Open the folder you saved the program to. Open the SMART directory. A list of Services appears. The Startup Type column reveals if each is set start with Windows or not.

Apply automatic settings

There are three recommendations for each Service. Safe is the most conservative, but can still improve performance. Click the ‘Safe Settings’ button to apply the recommended Safe setting to each Service.

Description: Apply automatic settings

Apply automatic settings

Review and update

Description: Click the Default Settings button to restore the original settings

Click the Default Settings button to restore the original settings

Once complete, restart your PC and see whether your PC performs better than it did before. If you experience strange side-effects, open SMART and click the Default Settings button, which restores the original settings for each Service.

Taskbar speed-up tips

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

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] the second, [3] the third, carrying on up to 0 (that represents 10), so you can have items open in seconds.

Fast task-switching

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

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 [Return] to launch it. this can be easier than remembering numbers.

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.

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.

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