Make Windows Smarter

With an ever-growing number of distractions that are fighting for your attention throughout the day, it’s more important than ever to be as productive as possible when you’re actually on the job. With that in mind, we’ve dug up the best Windows tricks in our arsenal and talked to some of the best minds in productivity to find 15 tips sure to help you get more work done with your PC in less time and make Windows smarter.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.1 – Minimize all windows (except the one that you’re working on). When your desktop becomes so cluttered that you can’t find anything, this step is a good way to re – gain focus. Grab the title bar of the window you want, and shake your mouse a little. All other windows will vanish into the taskbar. Repeat to undo and restore all of your hidden windows.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.2 – Use folders in your e-mail client. Letting your e-mail accumulate in a monolithic inbox makes it nearly impossible for you to find important messages without a la borious hunt, as well as greatly increasing the odds that you’ll forget or simply overlook e-mail that re quires urgent attention. Delete the junk, and file nonactionable e-mail messages into clearly defined folders. Getting into the habit of sorting incoming mail in this way is critical for most users looking to
enhance their productivity.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.3 – Use rules to route messages automatically. When your personal involvement isn’t necessary, e-mail rules can save lots of time. For example, do corporate newsletters from the same address arrive ten times a day? Stuff them into a folder for “later review.” In Outlook, look for a simple rules wizard that walks you through creating your rules; to find it, select Tools Rules and Alerts. Most other e-mail clients have a similar option for establishing automated rules.

Make Windows Smarter

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.4 – Customize your browser’s default search engine. Your PC builder has likely preset Internet Explorer’s default search engine to the one that’s paying it the most. Otherwise, it’ll be set to Microsoft ’s liking: Bing. Change this setting by clicking the drop-down arrow in the top right corner of the IE window (within the search box), and click Find More Providers. You won’t  find Google without a hunt, so type Google into the ‘Find addons…’ search box, and select the  first result, Google Search Suggestions. Click Add to Internet Explorer, and at the pop-up, click Make this my default search provider.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.5 – Improve Windows Search. If Windows Search isn’t  finding everything that you know you’ve saved, check the Windows Indexing Options (type indexing options into the Windows 7 Start Menu search bar), and then check the locations that are in cluded in the search index. Click Modify, and navigate through the C: drive to add more locations to index.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.6 – Drag in Outlook. In Outlook, you can drag any item to any other area of the program, and it will create a new item
there, with the dragged information as part of the new item or event. Drag an e-mail to the Contacts button, and it will create a new contact for the sender, automatically populating the Name and E-mail T elds, and putting the body of the message in the Notes  field. Drag a contact to the Calendar, and you’ll create a Meeting Invitation ready to be sent to that person, and so on.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.7 – Default to the Documents Library. In Windows 7, when you launch Windows Explorer, the view automatically defaults to the Libraries Folder, which for many users is not very useful. Busy types will typically drill straight to the
Documents Library from there. Save a click by instructing Explorer to default to the Documents Library. To do this,
right-click on the Windows Explorer shortcut (the taskbar shortcut won’t work). In the Target field, type or paste: %windir%explorer.exe ::{450D8FbAAD25- 11D0-98A8-0800361b1103} Finally, replace the icon in the taskbar with your tweaked shortcut.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.8 – Liberally use Windows 7’s Jump Lists. You can access the Jump Lists by rightclicking on any icon in the taskbar.
You’ll find recently used documents, along with certain app-specific functions (such as setting your IM client to ‘Away’). One little time-saver: You can pin a Web URL to your browser’s Jump List by dragging that URL to the browser
icon in the taskbar (do this by clicking on the mini icon in the URL bar).

Make Windows Smarter

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.9 – Give yourself more screen real estate. You can shrink Windows 7’s oversize taskbar icons by right-clicking the taskbar, choosing Properties, and selecting Use small icons. fiis option shrinks the size of the taskbar by half, giving you a few extra millimeters of vertical screen space.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.10 – Turn off Aero Snap. By now you certainly know that in Windows 7, dragging a window to the side of the screen
will auto-resize it to fill exactly half of your available space, and dragging it to the top will cause it to fill the entire display. fiis is great for some people; but if you don’t like Aero Snap, you’re stuck with having to undo the resizing, offten dozens of times per day. You can turn of this behavior with a Registry hack: Run Regedit, and then browse to HKEY_ CURRENT_USERControl PanelDesktop; there, set WindowArrangementActive to O. After completing this step, you’ll have to reboot.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.11 – Make Internet Explorer load faster. When IE loads very slowly for no clear reason, it’s usually due to an add-on clogging the pipes. Fortunately, one of IE’s best features is that it allows you to see how long each add-on is taking to load. You can find this under Tools Manage Addons. Check the ‘Load time’ column to see what has been weighing you down.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.12 – Save downloads to a different directory. The Windows 7 Downloads directory sounds convenient, but since few users ever go browsing there, downloaded files may be forgotten for days. Most browsers will default to downloading into this directory. Firefox and Chrome users can change this relatively easily, though, to something more convenient. In Firefox, click Tools Options. Under the General tab, change the ‘Save files to’ setting to the directory of your choice. In Google Chrome, click the Tools icon (it looks like a wrench), then Options. Click the Minor Tweaks tab and change the ‘Download location’ setting there. IE users unfortunately have to hack the Registry to make this change (a step that only power users should consider taking).

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.13 – Zoom faster. In Windows 7 and Vista, <Ctrl><Mouse Wheel> lets you zoom in and out in most applications. In Windows Explorer, this combo makes icons and thumbnails larger or smaller. In Web browsers and most graphics programs, it changes the font size or the zoom level up and down.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.14 – Get rid of splash screens and daily nag pop-ups. Splash screens do nothing for productivity. GNag (gnag.sourceforge.net) will get rid of many of them for you with a simple install. fie application focuses on eliminating the vanity videos that play when you launch many video games, but it also suppresses, for example, the annoying pop-up message that you get daily with the free version of the popular Avira AntiVir Personal Edition Classic antivirus soffware.

Make Windows Smarter Tip No.15 – Don’t get involved with FarmVille. This advice is obvious but crucial.