Work Smarter With Vista's New Productivity Tools

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Illustration: Harry Campbell
Windows Vista contains so many new doodads, gizmos, and applets that some of the more useful ones are easy to overlook. Here are the new Vista features that I find particularly nifty.

Be Safe With Shadow Copy

We all delete files by mistake on occasion, and most of the time it's no big deal: Just restore the lost file from the Recycle Bin. But what if you accidentally save over a critical file and you have no Undo option? Your data's gone, right? Not anymore. While you work, the Ultimate, Business, and Enterprise editions of Vista silently make backup copies of your work files, called shadow copies, that you can restore from earlier versions, copy, or save with new file names.

Windows makes shadow copies only when System Restore points are created, so make sure this feature is on: Click Start, type systempropertiesprotection, and then press <Enter>. (Click Continue if you're prompted.) In the list of available disks, check the ones for which you want shadow copies, and click Apply (if the only available drive is already checked, Apply will be grayed out). Each drive protected must have at least 300MB of free space for a restore point to be created. System Restore is supposed to make backups daily or during software installations, updates, and other system events. At any time, however, you can create a restore point manually in this dialog box by clicking Create. Type a name for the restore point and click Create again.

Drag and drop to restore previous versions of your work using Vista's shadow copies.
Drag and drop to restore previous versions of your work using Vista's shadow copies.
When you need a previous version of a file or folder, right-click it in Explorer and choose Restore previous versions. For a full restoration, select the version you want and click Restore. If you're not sure which version to choose, select one and click Open to see it in read-only form. To copy a previous version, select it, click Copy, and specify a location. Or drag the item out of the dialog box and drop it in a desired location.

If the file you want to restore was moved or deleted from its original location, or if it has a different name, select the folder that formerly contained the version you want to restore. If the folder no longer exists, select the next highest folder that contained the missing folder. Right-click it and choose Restore previous versions. Then double-click to navigate through the folders in the Previous Versions tab to open or copy the older version.

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