Get More Out Of Windows 7 (Part 4)

9/15/2012 3:04:29 PM

Difficulty: 1 Star

In previous versions of Windows, if you wanted to cut out just part of the screen, you had to screenshot everything, then crop it using an image editor. Frankly, it wasn't the easiest thing in the world to do.

Windows 7, however, contains the 'Snipping Tool'. Just type 'snipping' into the search box and press Enter to launch it, and you'll find yourself able to cut out a portion of the screen and automatically save it anywhere you like. It's ideal for sharing small bits of websites or applications without spending ages slicing images up in a photo editing tool.

Description: 26. Capture part of the screen


  1. Create a self-extracting archive.

Difficulty: 2 Stars

Some of Windows' features are so deeply buried that you can be forgiven for wondering whether anyone at Microsoft even knows about them. One such feature is Express. Sound familiar? No, we didn't think so.

This little application allows you to create your own self-extracting archives. It's potentially very useful, especially if you're planning to send a file to someone who isn't that good with computers, so we can only speculate as to why it's so hard to find. To run it, simply type 'iexpress' in the search bar and watch in amazement as this highly useful tool comes out of hiding for the first time in years. Not only can you choose the destination of the files when they're extracted, you can even package a text file to display to tell people what they actually have.

Description: 27. Create a self-extracting archive.

  1. Add 'Open with Notepad' to the context menu

Difficulty: 3 Stars

No matter what file you're dealing with, a quick look in notepad can often help you find out all you need to know about it. To save yourself a couple of clicks, you can add an 'Open in Notepad' option to the top level of the context menu with the following tweak. Type the text below into Notepad and save it as 'notepad.reg':


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell\ Open with Notepad]

[HKEY_CLAS SES_ROOT\*\shell\ Open with NotepadXcommand]

@='notepad.exe %1'

Once you've done this, double-click the file in Windows Explorer and add the information to the registry when prompted. You can now quickly view any file in Notepad from the context menu.

Description: 28. Add 'Open with Notepad' to the context menu

Performance And Behaviour Improvements

We all want a faster, smarter PC. Is there a way to make Windows perform a little better without buying new hardware or software?

  1. Select a better power plan

Difficulty: 1 Star

In Windows 7, the default performance plan is 'Balanced', meaning that the hardware will give equal time to ensuring that your PC runs well without draining your batteries or sucking the national grid dry. If, however, you don't care about shaving pennies off your bill (or your laptop is constantly plugged into the mains) you can visit the 'Power Options' in Control Panel and select 'Maximum Performance' to keep your hardware running at its unrestrained best, regardless of the available power.

Description: 29. Select a better power plan

  1. Stop Windows trying to reboot your PC after an update

Difficulty: 3 Stars

Few things are more irritating than the moment when Windows tells you it's time to restart your PC and giving you a limited choice over when it happens but not whether it happens at all. If you want to make sure Windows never forgets who's boss, open up Regedit and browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\ AU. Create a 32-bit DWORD called 'NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers' with the value '1'. From this point forward, Windows will never ask you to reboot while you're still logged in.

  1. Increase your Virtual Memory

Difficulty: 1 Star

Windows uses its pagefile (virtual memory) to supplement your physical RAM for increased performance when your system's resources start to get taxed. If you only have a small amount of RAM and can't put more in due to warranty or cost considerations, then you can use your hard drive as spare memory space. This is especially worth doing if you have an SSD, because of the fast access times involved.

First, click 'Start', right-click 'Computer' then select 'Properties' > 'Advanced System Settings'. Under 'Performance' click 'Settings' > 'Advanced' > 'Change', and move the slider to increase the amount of virtual memory. Ideally, you should set it at 1.5 times the amount of physical memory you have installed, so if your system has 4GB of RAM, assign 6GB of virtual memory. If possible, set the page file to operate on a different physical hard drive to the one you store your data and programs on - this will ensure that your file access times are not slowed down by page file activity.

  1. Unlock a frozen application

Difficulty: 2 Stars

If a program locks up, don't just kill it and give your data up as lost - use the Resource Monitor to zero in on the real problem.

Type 'sermon' in the search box and in the CPU tab, look in the 'processes' list. The frozen process will be shown in red. Right-click and select 'Analyze Wait Chain'. This will show you which processes are locking up the application. Right-click the one at the bottom and select 'End Process'. This, hopefully, will unlock the program and allow you to save your data.

Description: 32. Unlock a frozen application

  1. Disable Windows Defender

Difficulty: 1 Star

Assuming you already have a good virus scanner installed, there's absolutely no reason to leave Windows Defender around. It'll routinely download updates, slowing down your connection, and it will take up processor and memory resources that could be better spent on an actually useful anti-virus program.

To disable Windows Defender, open Windows Defender from the Start menu (under 'All Programs'), click 'Tools' > 'Options' > 'Administrator Options' then uncheck the 'Use Windows Defender' checkbox.


  •  MSI R7970 Lightning - A Powerful Card with Some Great New Ideas
  •  Transcend's aXe RAM Does The Trick
  •  Information Station For Data Storage and Transfer Devices
  •  Konica Minolta Magicolor 3730DN
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Building an Active Directory Structure (part 4) - Managing Users and Groups - Using LDAP to create users, Delegation
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Building an Active Directory Structure (part 3) - Managing Users and Groups - Creating users and groups
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Building an Active Directory Structure (part 2)
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Building an Active Directory Structure (part 1) - The First Domain
  •  Windows Server 2003 : Active Directory Objects and Concepts
  •  Connecting To A Virtual Private Network From Your MAC
  •  Tips, Tricks And Tweaks For Microsoft's Mighty, Windows 7
  •  Maintaining Your Windows XP System : Backing Up Your Files
  •  Maintaining Your Windows XP System : Defragmenting Your Hard Disk
  •  Asus P8Z77-V Premium : Loads Up Every Conceivable Feature
  •  Brother DCP-J140W
  •  Intel 330 Series – SSD For Mid-rang Market
  •  Iomega StorCenter PX4-300D 4TB - New Small Business NAS Box
  •  Install Android on Your PC
  •  Ivy League All Stars : Acer Aspire S5, Apple MacBook Air, Samsung 900X4C
  •  Linux from Scratch
    Top 10
    Smart Phones, Smart Savings (Part 3)
    Smart Phones, Smart Savings (Part 2)
    Smart Phones, Smart Savings (Part 1)
    Oculus Rift - Virtual Reality Headset For 3D Games
    Get Yourself A Portable DAC
    Google vs Apple vs Microsoft (Part 5)
    Google vs Apple vs Microsoft (Part 4)
    Google vs Apple vs Microsoft (Part 3)
    Google vs Apple vs Microsoft (Part 2)
    Google vs Apple vs Microsoft (Part 1)
    Most View
    Writing Custom Facebook Applications - Creating Your Application with Visual Studio 2010
    Using Non-Windows Systems to Access Exchange Server 2010 : Configuring and Implementing Entourage for the Mac
    SQL Server 2008 : Transact-SQL Programming - Ranking Functions
    The Return of The iPad
    The End Of Wintel (Part 2)
    Windows 7 : Software Installation - What You Need to Know
    SQL Server 2008 : Service Broker - Message Types
    The 50 Best Headphones You Can Buy (Part 6)
    Managing Remote in Vista
    50 New Windows Secrets (Part 3)
    Huge Screen Supertest (Part 3)
    Freemake Video Converter
    Beginer's Guide To Sports Photography (Part 2)
    Samsung Galaxy Nexus: Really a star
    Winzip 16.5 Pro
    Synology DiskStation DS213air
    The drive toward DSLs : Choosing between imperative and declarative DSLs
    Printers: Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them (Part 2)
    Adding Your Own Media : Rip, mix, bum, Playing movies, Video conversion
    Windows XP : Participating in Internet Newsgroups - Working with Newsgroups in Outlook Express