Window Tips: Windows 7 Shortcuts and More

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Regular Hassle-Free PC readers know of my penchant for keyboard shortcuts, and I'm especially enjoying the new ones in Windows 7. This week I start off with a string of Windows 7 shortcuts, then give you some more general Windows tips.

Six Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts

Windows 7 adds some new keyboard shortcuts to the mix, all of them based on the Windows key. Here are my favorites:

Win-Home: Minimize all windows except the one that's currently active. Hit it again to restore the windows.

Win-Space: Makes all windows transparent so you can see through to the desktop.

Win-Up Arrow: Maximizes the active window.

Win-Left/Right Arrow: Docks the active window to the left or ride side of the screen.

Win-[+/-]: Enables the magnifier and zooms in/out.

Win-P: Opens Windows' presentation settings so you can quickly adjust display settings to include a second monitor or a projector.

Instantly Create Folders in Windows 7

Here's one straight from the What-Took-Them-So-Long Department: A keyboard shortcut for creating new folders: Ctrl-Shift-N.

I know, I'm excited too. You can use this on the desktop or in an Explorer window: Just give a tap and presto, you've got a new folder ready for renaming.

Back Up Your Windows XP Service Packs

If you're running Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or even Service Pack 3, what happens if you have to perform a system recovery using your original XP CD? Hassles, that's what.

Reader Ralph recently experienced that exact scenario, resulting in an awful lot of Windows Updating after the installation. That's because the old CD doesn't have all the patches and updates you've downloaded over the years. It could take hours or even days to re-download and reinstall all that extra stuff, during which time your PC is more vulnerable to viruses and outside attacks. (A lot of those patches tackle security issues.)

Consequently, Ralph wanted to know if there was some way to back up the Windows Service Packs so he wouldn't be in the same boat next time.

There is--you can download the Service Packs as standalone installers directly from Microsoft (here's SP3, for example)--but I propose a different solution: slipstreaming.

Slipstreaming is the process of combining your existing Windows XP CD and the latest Service Pack into a new CD. When you're done, you can install Windows XP with SP3 outright.

This is easier to accomplish than you might think, provided you've got your original CD and the aforementioned standalone Service Pack. However, I'm not going to repeat the details here; check out Lincoln Spector's "Slipstreaming Service Pack 2 on an Old Windows XP CD." Just substitute SP3 for SP2 and you're golden.

Can you do likewise with Vista? Digital Inspiration has instructions on slipstreaming Vista with SP1 (you'll need a DVD for that), but I suspect you could just as easily swap in the new SP2.

Add Fly-Out Menus to the Start Menu

How do you routinely access, say, your Documents folder? Or your C: drive? Or the Windows Control Panel? Whatever your method, there's an alternative you might find more convenient: fly-out menus.

Specifically, it's possible to tweak the Start menu so that options like Documents, Pictures, Computer, and Control Panel produce fly-out menus when you mouse over them. I find that preferable to opening those items in new windows, which is the default setting. That just involves extra clicks and more searching.

With fly-out menus, I just mouse over the desired option, then choose the item I want. Here's how to configure your system accordingly. (This example is for Vista, but it's virtually identical in XP. A few of the Start menu items have slightly different names.)

  1. Right-click the Start button, and then click Properties.
  2. In the Start Menu tab, click the Customize button. (XP users should then switch to the Advanced tab.)
  3. You'll see entries marked Computer, Control Panel, Documents, Games, Music, and so on. For any or all of them, enable Display as a menu.
  4. Click OK twice to exit.

Now, when you venture into the Start menu, you'll see that these items have little arrows. Mouse over one (or click it outright) and you'll see the associated options in a fly-out menu.

Rick Broida writes PC World's Hassle-Free PC blog. Sign up to have Rick's newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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