Get More Out Of Windows 7 (Part 3)

9/15/2012 3:04:24 PM

Difficulty: 1 Star

If you have a folder that you want to keep confidential files in but share a PC with other users, you can keep prying eyes - even other admin accounts - from accessing it by changing the security options. Right-click on the folder and select 'Share With' >   'Nobody'. This will prevent anyone from seeing what's inside unless they're logged in using your user account.

  1. Add the Group Policy Editor to Windows

Difficulty: 2 Stars

The Group Policy Editor can help you change a huge range of behaviors in Windows, whether that's disabling something entirely or restricting it to certain users. Normally, the Group Policy Editor is only available in Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise, but you can add this feature to Windows 7 Starter, Home and Home Premium editions by using this unofficial installer: (however, we must stress that you do so at your own risk!).

  1. Quickly lock your PC

Difficulty: 1 Star

If you're planning to leave your PC for any length of time, it's a good idea to lock it up, just in case anyone else feels like wandering over. Rather than going through the Start menu or using Ctrl-Alt-Del, you can just tap Windows key and 'L' to immediately lock the system until the correct login password is entered.

Hidden Features And Shortcuts

They're hidden on purpose, but admit it: even if you've been using Windows 7 for years, you didn't know about all of these...

  1. Quickly browse running tasks without using the mouse

Difficulty: 1 Star

The application thumbnails Windows 7 can show you are fantastically useful, but having to use the mouse can make the process slow and laborious. Luckily, you can use the keyboard! Hold down the Windows key and then tap T to browse through the items on your taskbar. After pressing T once, you can also use the arrow keys to browse, and you can then switch straight to an application by hitting Enter.

Description: 21. Quickly browse running tasks without using the mouse

  1. Turn your PC into a Wi-Fi hotspot

Difficulty: 3 Stars

The so-called 'Virtual Wi-fi' feature in Windows will turn your computer into a Wi-Fi hotspot that any other Wi-Fi enabled device can connect to and share your internet connection. It's especially useful if your wireless router breaks, or if you want to bolster a weak signal somewhere in the house.

It depends on hardware support, but to find out whether your software supports it, simply try to enable the feature. Type 'cmd' into the search box, then right-click cmd. exe and select 'Run as Administrator'. Then type the following, replacing 'yourname' and 'yourpass' with the appropriate words:

netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=yourname key=yourpass

If that works fine, then still in the command line type the following and press Enter:

netsh wlan start hostednetwork

If you get an error, either your hardware or drive is too out of date. Otherwise, the service will begin running. Now all you need to do is go into 'Control Panel' > 'Network and Sharing Centre' > 'Change Adapter Settings', then right-click your internet connection and select 'Properties' > 'Sharing'. Check the 'Allow other network users to connect' box and choose your virtual Wi-Fi adaptor from the drop-down. Your PC will now be its own Wi-Fi hotspot!

  1. Run multiple copies of an application

Difficulty: 1 Star

The Windows 7 taskbar can be a little confusing. Where in earlier versions of Windows, clicking a program icon on the taskbar would launch a new instance, it now only does so if the program isn't already open, so starting extra instances of IE or Notepad becomes a chore. You can get around this two ways: either hold down Shift when you left-click, or alternatively, if you have a three-button mouse/mousewheel button you can middle-click on the taskbar item (no shift required).

As an added bonus, you can also middle-click an application thumbnail to quickly close that instance of the program. Neat!

  1. Search the contents of a file

Difficulty: 1 Star

The apparent lack of a specific 'find inside files' function in Windows 7 has been a significant annoyance since the OS was launched, but it turns out it is there if you know how to get to it. To search the contents of files, begin your search with the 'content:' filter. This will search for any document, indexed or otherwise, containing any subsequent terms.

  1. Restore missing context menu items

Difficulty: 2 Stars

In order to protect yourself from your own stupidity, Microsoft has added a rule that prevents you from selecting options like 'open' or 'edit' when you've selected more than 15 files or folder items. If, however, you're the sort of reckless individual who might want to open more than 15 files at one, this feels a little insulting.

To restore the option, run Regedit and browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer. Look in the right-hand pane for a DWORD called 'Multiplelnvoke PromptMinimum'. If it doesn't exist, you can create it yourself. Its default value is 15, and this is the number that causes the options to disappear when you've selected multiple files. Change it to something higher (or, if you prefer, lower) and then once you've rebooted, your menu items will persist as long as you've selected fewer files than the value you entered.

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