Windows Tips & Tricks (Part 1)

5/10/2012 3:32:05 PM

Windows XP / Vista / 7

Set up the start menu in such a way that you have everything at hand

The shareware tool Start Menu 7 offers a good alternative to the standard start menu; this can be downloaded from

According to the developers, Start Menu 7 runs on both XP and Vista in addition to Windows 7 as its name suggests. For installation, double-click on the downloaded file in Windows Explorer and follow the instructions given by the setup wizard. You have to have a user account with administrator rights during the process as the setup routine involves accessing important system files. Once the installation is complete start the Program using the command 'Start | All programs | Start Menu 7 | Start Menu T.

Description: a more flexible and useful version

Replace the standard Start Menu with a more flexible and useful version

Now, when you click on 'Start' you will not see the usual start menu provided by Windows, but instead, a menu that has an extensive collection of links: It has a different visual effect and enables direct access to all the programs and files on your system in an alphabetically sorted sub-menu format, for instance 'Programs', 'My Documents' or 'Computer'. In addition to this, the various entries use additional sorting and display tools. Thus, for instance 'Program' offers the structure known as 'All programs' as seen in the usual Windows Start menu and on the other hand, the 'Program' links can be found under headings such as 'Quick start' and 'Autorun'. You can add your own menus and commands using the option 'Add entries to the menu'.

Click on 'Options' and 'Configuration' so as to complete the experience as per your own taste. Use the option 'System integration' and remove the tick in front of 'Start the Start Menu 7 with Windows' if you do not wish to activate the tool automatically at every system start. You can add more power management buttons in Start Menu 7 using the option 'Buttons'; this is done to turn off the computer, to restart it, or to enable the use of power management commands in a time-controlled fashion. For this, click on the corresponding button in the Start menu, select the desired function in a menu, for instance 'Turn off the computer', and define the period for action in a simple and an intuitive dialog. Finally, click the 'Start' button to save the settings.


Open the control panel option you want directly

With the number of possible options increasing exponentially, it is becoming difficult to find exactly what you need in the Control Panel.


Description: Control Panel

This view gives you quick access to a huge variety of options buried within the Control Panel

Instead of clicking several icons and buttons to find the option you need, simply go to 'Start' and then type in a small C ('c') in the 'Search program and files' field. Windows will immediately present the results of your search query in the start menu, subdivided into various categories. Now click on the category name, ie Control panel'. With this, Windows will open a window which offers you more than 250 options in the Control Canel—you can have direct access to any one of these from here. The operating system further categorizes this list in different groups for instance 'Windows Firewall' and 'Maintenance Center'.



Give your PC a new look with a secret windows theme

Microsoft includes a number of local touches which are also interesting for people in other parts of the world.


Description: Type in the name manually to navigate to this hidden folder

Type in the name manually to navigate to this hidden folder

Surprisingly, Windows 7 does not show all the themes in the 'Customize' dialog (which can be reached by right-clicking on any point on the desktop) that Microsoft offers with its operating system. There are various themes for specific geographic regions hidden in the file system. You just need to play a small trick to be able to use these anywhere else. For this, start the Windows Explorer and go to the 'Globalization' folder available under the Windows installation directory. At first glance you might think that this directory contains only two folders called 'ELS' and 'Sorting'. But when you click in the address field and manually type in the '\MCT' path—the whole path for instance would be 'C:\ Windows\Globalization\MCT'—you will see a hidden directory that will remain visible in the customary Explorer only if you activate the option for displaying hidden files and folders. The folder 'MCT' contains folders for Australia ('MCT-AU'), Canada ('MCT-CA'), Great Britain ('MCT-GB'), USA ('MCT-US') and South Africa ('MCT-ZA'). You will find all the additional themes, which can be activated by doubleclicking on them, in the subfolder of each region, called 'Theme'.

NOTE: As soon as you have activated a theme once, it will be available for future use in the 'Customize' dialog described earlier.

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