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Make Windows 7 faster

Get more done with Windows 7

The best Windows 7 shortcuts
Securing Windows 7

Windows 7 may be Microsoft's most anticipated product ever. It builds on Windows

Vista's positives, and eliminates many of that OS's negatives. It adds new
functionality, tooâ all in a package that is less resource-hungry than its
predecessor. And whether or not you're upgrading from Vista or skipping it
altogether and moving up from Windows XP, you'll need to know how to make the most
of it in your environment. Here are 77 tips and tricks to get you there.

01. Pick Your Edition. Most business users do not need the more expensive Ultimate
Edition; stick with Professional unless you specifically need BitLocker.

02. Upgrading? Go 64-bit. As the second major Windows release to fully support 64-
bit, the x64 architecture has definitely arrived on the desktop. Don't buy new 32-
bit hardware unless it's a netbook.

03. Use Windows XP Mode. Yes, it's only an embedded Virtual PC with a full copy of
WinXPâ but it's an embedded Virtual PC with a full copy of Windows XP! This is the
first profoundly intelligent use of desktop virtualization we've seenâ and a great
way to move to Windows 7 without giving up full Windows XP compatibility.

04. Use Windows PowerShell v2. More than just a shell, this is the administration
tool you've always wanted: Parallel, distributed processing for administrative
tasks! Manage 100 machines literally as easily as you manage one with the new
Remoting feature. Windows PowerShell v2 ships for the first time in Windows 7, and
within six months will be available for older versions of Windows.

05. Use AppLocker. We've been fans of Software Restriction Policies since Windows
XP, and AppLocker finally makes application whitelisting possible. Use it to
enhance or even replace your anti-virus software, ensuring that only the software
you want to run will run.

06. Shift to and from Explorer and CommandPrompt. The classic Windows power toy
Open Command Prompt Here is now an integral part of Windows 7 Explorer. Hold down
the shift key then right-click a folder to add this option to the property menu.
While you're in a command prompt, if you want to open an Explorer window with the
focus of the window on the current directory, enter start.

07. Record Problems. The Problem Steps Recorder (PSR) is a great new feature that
helps in troubleshooting a system . At times, Remote Assistance may not be
possible. However, if a person types psr in their Instant Search, it will launch
the recorder. Now they can perform the actions needed to recreate the problem and
each click will record the screen and the step. They can even add comments. Once
complete, the PSR compiles the whole thing into an MHTML file and zips it up so
that it can be e-mailed for analysis to the network admin (or family problem so
lver, depending on how it's being used).

08. Make Training Videos. Use a tool like Camtasia to record short, two to three
minute video tutorials to help your users find relocated features, operate the new
Taskbar and so forth. Get them excited about Windows 7â and prepared for it.

09. Start Thinking About Windows Server 2008 R2. Some of Windows 7's more
compelling features, like BranchCache, work in conjunction with the new server OS.
The R2 upgrade path is pretty straightforward, so there's little reason not to take
advantage of the synergies if you can afford upgrade licenses.
10. Prepare Those XP Machines. There's no in-place upgrade from Windows XP to Wi
ndows 7, so start planning to migrate user data now, in advance of a Windows 7 u
pgrade deployment.
11. Consider Clean Installs. Even when upgrading Windows Vista machines, conside
r a clean install rather than an in-place upgrade. Yes, it's more hassle, but it
'll produce a more trouble-free computer in the long run.
12. Consider Upgrade Assurance. Even if you've never bought it before, consider
it for your new Windows 7 licenses. Access to the Microsoft Desktop Optimization
Pack (MDOP), which includes App-V, MED-V and other cool technologies, is worth
the premium.
13. Find New Tools. Within Control Panel is a single Troubleshooting link that l
eads you to all of your diagnostic tools on the system. There are additional too
ls, however, not installed by default. Selecting the "View all" link in the top
left-hand corner will help you to see which troubleshooting packs are local and
which ones are online. If you find a tool that you don't have, you can grab it f
rom here.
14. Understand Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Windows 7 plays an importan
t role in Microsoft's VDI strategy, where virtualized Windows 7 machines are hos
ted on a central virtualization server using a special blanket "Enterprise Centr
alized Desktop" license. Read up and figure out if you can take advantage of thi
s new strategy.
15. Prepare for DirectAccess. DirectAccess makes it easier for users to remotely
access their office-based resources, without a VPN. DirectAccess also opens up
remote computers more fully to Group Policyâ but it requires Windows 7 and Windows
08 R2.
16. Employ Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM). If you quickly want
to list or manage Windows packages, features or drivers, use the command-line u
tility DISM. The "image" in the name may fool you into thinking that this is sol
ely a deployment tool. An online command-line switch lets you manage the feature
s in the currently loaded OS. To get a list of the loaded Windows features, ente
r dism /online /get-features /format:table. To enable a feature, enter dism /onl
ine /enable-feature /featurename:<name>.
17. Embrace Troubleshooting Packs. Designed to help users troubleshoot and solve
problems on their own, you need to update your support procedures to acknowledg
e these Packs. For example, don't force users to repeat steps the Pack already w
alked them through, and consider developing your own Packs (in Windows PowerShel
l) to support in-house systems.
18. Check Reliability. The Reliability Monitor was introduced in Windows Vista a
s 'The Reliability and Performance Monitor." In Windows 7 it has been separated
from Performance Monitor and moved to a new location under the Action Center. Yo
u open the Action Center in Control Panel and then look under the Maintenance op
tions for the "View reliability history" link. You can also just type in Reliabi
lity Monitor from the Instant Search.
19. Accept Diversity. Not every organization will be ready to move entirely to W
indows 7 right away. That's fineâ but that shouldn't mean the entire organization
ys on Windows XP, either. The myths of the cost savings of having only one OS ha
ve been largely disproven or downplayed, so use Windows 7 where it makes sense t
o do so.
20. Get Snippy. The snipping tool has also been around in various incarnations b
ut it's even easier to use in Windows 7.
part of your screen. The tool will snip
phic file or annotate with basic drawing
this tool so they can grab the snapshots
help desk. Or create your own library of

Launch the tool, then drag and drop any

the selection. You can save it as a gra
tools. Teach your end users how to use
of their problems and send them to the
visual notes.

21. Presentation Nirvana. Press Windows+P to access the new Presentation mode, a
nd easily turn on your projector and laptop screen at the same time. No more mes
sing with vendor-specific utilities and arcane keystrokes. (Windows+X accesses t
he Mobility Center, with additional presentation options.)
22. Cut the Clutter. Press Windows+Home to minimize all but the current window,
removing background clutter and letting you focus on that report your boss has b
een bugging you about.
23. Be a Mouse-Click Administrator. Windows 7 makes it easy to gain admin rights
with a keyboard shortcut. Click on Ctrl+Shift on a taskbar-locked icon, and voi
la! You've launched it with appropriate admin rights.
24. Faster Installations. If your computer is capable of booting from USB, try t
his: XCopy the Windows 7 installation DVD to a sufficiently large USB drive, boo
t from that drive, and install Windows from there. It's faster than a spinning p
25. Burn Discs with a Click. Or two; double-click an ISO file to burn it to your
CD or DVD writer.
26. Restore Point Previews Many of us used to shut off System Restore because we
were terrified to actually use it; under Windows 7, we can be much calmer. Afte
r selecting a Restore Point, Windows will now offer to show you which files and
folders will be affected by restoring to that point.
27. Sync Time Zones. If you work with offices in different time zones and freque
ntly find yourself missing meeting times because you are not in sync with their
time zone, try the "Additional Clocks" feature that was first introduced in Vist
a. Within your Date and Time settings is a tab called Additional Clocks, where y
ou can add two or more clocks to your taskbar time, and set them to provide diff
erent time zones from your current time zone.
28. Configure User Account Control (UAC). Even if you're a UAC hater, give it an
other try. Go to the Control Panel to configure its behavior to something slight
ly less obnoxious than what Windows Vista had, and see if you can't live with th
e extra protection it offers .
29. RoboCopyCopyCopy. The always-useful Robocopy.exe can now run multi-threaded;
run Robocopy /? to review its new parameters (like /MT for multithreading) and
make your copies go faster.
30. Remote Desktop Console. Windows 7 Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT)
does not include a console-based remote desktop utility. And even if it did, the
standard remote desktop console has some nagging limitations: It can't move con
nections around in the list; it can't sort by folders and so forth. If you manag
e lots of servers from your Windows 7 workstation, try downloading a copy of mRe
mote from This donation-requested utility allows you to mix togethe
r a variety of remote control applications, including Citrix Independent Computi
ng Architecture (ICA), Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), Virtual Network
Computing (VNC), Secure Shell (SSH) and rlogin. All host names are displayed in
a standard tree control that can be divided into folders, sorted alphabetically,
and allow you to assign different logon accounts and secure passwords to each c
31. Multiple Monitors. Windows 7 makes working with multiple monitors intuitive
and flexible. There are a variety of shortcuts and mouse motions that flick wind
ows from monitor to monitor. To make the most of this, you need lots and lots of
screen real estate. Try one of the new QWXGA monitors from Samsung (
/qwxgasamsung) or Dell ( These 23-inch monitors have a 20
48x1152 resolution, making it possible to put two full-sized pages on the same m
onitor. Pair them together and you'll get enough space to have all your admin to
ols open along with Office, Visio, your intranet sites and a little note to your
mom in Live Mail. Move your taskbar to the left or right side of the window ins
tead of along the bottom to free up even more real estate.
32. Windows PowerShell Scripting. If you want to make the most of Windows PowerS
hell on Windows 7, you'll need a quick way to build and debug scripts. Windows 7
comes with an interactive editor that allows you to try out cmdlets and test fu
nctions on the fly.
33. Drag-and-Drop Notification Icons. The redesigned notification area displays
only a minimum number of icons; all other notification icons are moved to a side
window. Rather than using the Customize option to select icons for the main dis
play, you can drag-and-drop icons from the side window to the notification area.
34. Add Unindexed Shared Folders to Library. You can add UNC paths such as \\ser
vername\sharename to a Library, but the server must index the folder. If you wan
t to add a UNC path to an unindexed server, you can create a symbolic link to th
e UNC path, then add the link or links to the library. Use the mklink command. F
or example, mklink HomeFolder \\ServerName\Homefolder.
35. Simplify Cloned Machine Setups. You can't run Sysinternals' newsid utility t
o change the identity of a cloned Windows 7 machine (either a virtual machine or
imaged PC). Instead, create a template installation then run sysprep /oobe /gen
eralize /reboot /shutdown /unattend:scriptfile. Clone or copy this virtual machi
ne file. When it launches, it will get a new SID and you can fill in the name. T
he reference for building unattended script files is at
36. Snap That Aero. The Windows key is great for all your shortcuts. Now you can
use it to work with the new AeroSnap feature in Windows 7. Select a window, hit
the Windows key and a left or right arrow to snap the window to that half of th
e screen, or use the up arrow to snap it to the top of the screen.
37. Shortcut the
the Windows key
(for example) is
you can hit the

Taskbar. The Windows key is great for shortcuts. You can select
and a number to correspond to items on your taskbar. So, if IE
the third icon on your taskbar (not counting the Start button),
Windows key and the number three to launch or open IE.

38. Manage Passwords. Control Panel includes a new application called Credential
Manager. This may appear to be a completely new tool that allows you to save yo
ur credentials (usernames and passwords) for Web sites you log into and other re
sources you connect to (such as other systems). Those credentials are saved in t
he Windows Vault, which can be backed up and restored. However, you might see th
is as similar to a tool we have in XP and Vista. From the Instant Search, type i
n control /userpasswords2 and you will be brought to the Advanced User Accounts
Control Panel, where you can also manage passwords for your account (see Figure
39. Trigger Actions. Event Viewer is closely tied into Task Scheduler. You have
the ability to take an event (select it in Event Viewer) and then from the Actio
ns pane, select the option "Attach a Task" to have that event, when it appears,
trigger an action. That action can be: launch a program; send an e-mail; or disp
lay a message. This feature may be very helpful in troubleshooting a problem.
40. Browse InPrivate. A new feature in IE8 is the ability to open the browser in
an InPrivate Browsing session that allows you to perform banking and so forth f
rom a public location without fear of leaving behind any residue. IE will not re
tain anything you do in an In Private Browsing session. You can perform this act
ion if you are already within IE by selecting the Safety button and then InPriva
te Browsing. This will open another IE window altogether. However, you can save
a few steps by using the shortcut. Right-click the desktop IE icon, click InPriv
ate and the windows will open in an InPrivate session already.
41. Go Live. Many applications installed on past versions of Windows have been r
emoved. Starting with Windows 7, these applications (and a few others not typica
lly installed with Windows) have been moved into the Live Essentials downloadabl
e applications, at These applications include Messenger, Mail
, Writer, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Family Safety and a few others.
42. Remove Apps. Although some applications have been moved off of Windows to be
come an optional download, other apps, such as IE8, Media Player, Media Center a
nd DVD Maker are still included. In times past, especially when it came to IE, t
he applications were tied into the OS. However, in Windows 7 you can easily remo
ve them if desired. Head to the Program and Features applet in Control Panel and
select the "Turn Windows features on or off" link in the top left-hand corner.
Then you can select the checkbox of the features you want to lose or add for you
r system.
43. Are You Windows 7 Experienced? System properties has a rating called the Win
dows Experience Index (WEI). This rating is a collection of five different ratin
gs that are determined by the Windows System Assessment Tool (WinSAT). The highe
st rating score is 7.9 (compared to 5.9 in Vista), using the categories of Proce
ssor, RAM, Graphics, Gaming Graphics and Primary Hard Disk. The final rating is
not an average of all the ratings, but the lowest of the subcomponent scores.
44. Analyze Processes. One of the coolest new features in the revamped Resource
Monitor (resmon) is the ability to see the "wait chain traversal." An unresponsi
ve process will be shown in red in the Resource Monitor; right-click the process
and choose Analyze Process. This will show the threads in the process and see w
ho holds the resources that are holding up the process itself. You can then kill
that part of the process if you like.
45. Create Virtual Worlds. Virtualization capability has been added to the Disk
Management tools. If you open Computer Management, go to the Disk Manager tool a
nd then click the Action button at top, you will see the options Create VHD and/
or Attach VHD. This allows you to create and mount a virtual hard drive directly
from within the GUI. Note: With Windows 7 you even have the ability to boot a W
indows 7 VHD.
46. Encrypt USB Sticks. Use BitLocker To Go. Maybe you've managed to never mispl
ace or lose a USB key, but for the rest of us mere mortals, it's a fact of life.
Most of the time it's no big deal, but what if it contains sensitive data? BitL
ocker To Go enables you to encrypt data on removable storage devices with a pass
word or a digital certificate stored on a smart card.
47. Lock with Group Policy. Take control through AppLocker application control.
AppLocker intercepts kernel calls that try to create new processes or load libra
ries and ensures the code is allowed to execute. Practically, that means you can
eliminate unknown and unwanted software by implementing AppLocker through Group
48. Be Our Guest. Guest mode proves a convenient method to give a guest or child
access to your computer with limits on making system changes, installing softwa
re, or writing to the disk outside the user profile. After the user is done and
logs off, data saved inside of the user profile is deleted. You cannot use Guest
mode in an AD environment.
49. Restore from Backed up Restore Points. You can choose to include restore poi
nts in your backups and restore from them when using System Restore. This is con
venient if you want to create a baseline of a working configuration and be able
to restore to it in the future without overwriting other data on the hard disk.
50. Benefit from BranchCache. BranchCache helps you save on round trips for requ
ested files in remote branch scenarios. If one person requests a file over the W
AN, it's cached locally and either distributed across computers at the remote br
anch or stored on a central server at the remote branch.
51. Disable Search Suggestion Popups. As you type in the Search Box, Windows 7 m
akes suggestions based on past queries by pulling past queries from the Registry
. You can disable this in the Local Group Policy by enabling User Configuration
| Administrative Templates | Windows Components | Windows Explorer | Turn Off Di
splay Of Recent Search Entries In the Windows Explorer.
52. Pin Control Panel to Taskbar. If you use the Control Panel frequently, you m
ay have noticed that you cannot simply right-click the Control Panel and select
Pin to Taskbar. Instead, you must first Open Control Panel so its icon appears i
n the taskbar. From there, you can right-click the icon in the taskbar and selec
t Pin this program to taskbar.
53. Leverage Search Connectors. You can now search the Web using the search func
tionality. Windows 7 includes Federated Search to increase the search scope beyo
nd the local and network resources. Several search connectors are available, suc
h as for YouTube and Twitter, or you can create custom ones to fit your needs.
54. Use Stickier Notes. Even though this feature has existed in previous version
s of Windows in one form or another, it's much easier to use in Windows 7. You c
an stick a note on your desktop for quick reminders. It's a snap to change the f
ont or note color. If you have a note selected, use Ctrl-N to create a new one.
55. Try out Improved WordPad. You probably haven't given much thought to WordPad
lately, but the version shipping with Windows 7 has undergone a major renovatio
n. Think of it as a lite version of Microsoft Word. WordPad sports a spiffy ribb
on interface, making it a snap to create well-formatted documents. Plus, you are
no longer relegated to saving them as .RTF files. WordPad now supports the Offi
ce Open XML document (.DOCX) format. This makes it even easier to open .DOCX fil
es created in Word in WordPad.
56. Calculate. Another basic utility that received a major overhaul is the vener
able calculator. In addition to standard and scientific views, there are now pro
grammer and statistic modes. You will also love the conversion and calculation f
eatures. Want to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit but can never remember the formul
a? Use the conversion panel. You'll also enjoy the data calculation extension. Q
uickly find the difference between two dates or calculate a new date by adding o
r subtracting years, months or days.
57. Manage Services from Task Manager. The Windows 7 Task Manager now includes a
tab to manage services. You can quickly see at a glance the status of all servi
ces on your machine. Click a column heading to sort. You can even start and stop
services with a simple right-click. If you need full-blown service management,
use the Services button to launch the Services management console. You may often
have the Task Manager running in the system tray; now, having service managemen
t access means one less window to have open.
58. Get Under the Hood. Windows 7 offers more ways to peek under the hood withou
t adding third-party solutions. A terrific example is the Resource Monitor. The
performance tab in Windows Task Manager is a good start, but sometimes you need
more information. Click the Resource Monitor button to get more detailed informa
tion and performance graphs for key subsystems like CPU and Disk. You can also f
ind the Resource Monitor under Accessories | System Tools.
59. Check Vital Signs. Another new system tool you'll enjoy is the System Health
report. In the Run dialog box, type perfmon /report, which generates a system h
ealth report. This report records details about your computer's performance, res
ource usage and more. The report also includes diagnostic information about thin
gs that aren't working as they should and suggested steps to resolve. The report
s are saved and can be accessed with the Performance Monitor management console.
You can also save as an HTML file or send via e-mail.
60. Get More Windows PowerShell. Windows PowerShell v2 promises to be a game-cha
nger for many system administrators. Many will prefer to use the graphical Windo
ws PowerShell console, also known as the Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE).
You'll find this in the Windows Power Shell folder under Accessories. Add a key
board shortcut of Ctrl+Alt+I to quickly launch it. Run any Windows PowerShell co
mmand in the lower panel and see the results in the middle. Create or edit scrip
ts in the top pane. Open multiple Windows PowerShell sessions connected to remot
e computers. The ISE makes Windows PowerShell v2 easy to use and fun.
61. Put It on Old Stuff. One perhaps-not-so-obvious Windows 7 tip is that you sh
ould attempt to install it everywhere. One user has a 6-year-old laptop that ori
ginally shipped with Windows XP. He could never get Windows Vista to install on
it. But Windows 7 installed without complaint and runs extremely smooth. Granted
, there are some Windows 7 features he can't take advantage of because the proce
ssor lacks certain features, but these are minor issues considering the laptop n
ow has life again.
62. Improve Security. In Vista it was difficult to manage system protection via
restore points. The System Protection tab in Windows 7 is a vast improvement. In
one spot you can configure how much space to devote to restore points, delete a nd
create restore points or even turn off system protection altogether. This is very
useful on older systems where disk space may be at a premium.

63. Actually Use Help and Support. Much of Vista's clutter has been reduced in
Windows 7. For instance, the Help and Support page has three links, a search window
and a link back to Microsoft's Windows site. It's much less intimidating for end
users, so make sure they know about it. Search is much improved as well, making for
a better, faster experience.

List continued with 14 Best Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts..

The 14 Best Windows 7 Keyboard ShortcutsThe Windows key now performs a wide variety
of functions. Here are a handful of the most useful ones:

64. Win+h - Move current window to full screen

65. Win+i - Restore current full screen window to normal size or minimize current
window if not full screen
66. Win+Shift+arrow - Move current window to alternate screen
67. Win+D - Minimize all windows and show the desktop
68. Win+E - Launch Explorer with Computer as the focus
69. Win+F - Launch a search window
70. Win+G - Cycle through gadgets
71. Win+L - Lock the desktop
72. Win+M - Minimize the current window
73. Win+R - Open the Run window
74. Win+T - Cycle through task bar opening Aero Peek for each running item
75. Win+U - Open the Ease of Use center
76. Win+Space - Aero Peek the desktop
77. Ctrl+Win+Tab - Open persistent task selection window, roll mouse over each icon
to preview item and minimize others.