Windows 7 Task-bar Tricks

In recent articles we have ventured off into other lands of the electronic world with my first computer, first robot and a few other off-the-wall ideas. This week finds us back at the heart of tech articles with some tips for making Windows 7 work harder and faster for you. Today we will focus on the often used but frequently neglected taskbar.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

Have you ever found yourself clicking around between several open programs on your desktop when you just want to concentrate on one of them? There is a little trick to easily minimize all the others without actually closing them. Mouse over the title bar of the program you want to leave open on your desktop. Click and hold the mouse button down then shake the mouse around and all other programs will minimize to the task bar. Then release the mouse button. To make them return to the desktop just shake the title bar of the open program again.

Say hello to Speedy Gonzales

A nice feature about the taskbar is getting a thumbnail preview of all open windows applications. When you mouse over each application a thumbnail viewer appears. Usually there is a slight delay but you can make them display more quickly with a quick edit in the Windows Registry.

  1. Click on the Start menu button and in the search box type “regedit”. Without the quote marks.
  2. When you see the warning dialog box appear, click the “yes” button.
  3. In the left column of the next dialog box click on the arrow next to “HKEY_CURRENT_USER.”
  4. From the sub-list that appeared, click on the arrow next to “control panel” and in that list click on the “MouseHoverTime.”
  5. In the right column of the dialog box you’ll see it has a value of 400 – which means 400 milliseconds. Double click on the line and set a new, lower value such as 100, then click OK and exit the Registry Editor.

Now when you mouse-over the application icons in the task bar, the thumbnail previews will popup much faster.

Shuffle your Taskbar Icons

Priorities, we all have them, so why not put your taskbar icons in an order that you are comfortable with. Normally these are lined up based on the sequence in which you added them to the task bar. Putting them in an order you prefer is simple. Just click and hold the mouse button on the icon you would like to move and slide it to the position of your choice. This can be done with open applications in the taskbar as well as shortcut icons in the taskbar. So click and slide until your taskbar is to your liking.

Mouse! Who needs a mouse?

For those of us who use the keyboard more often than the mouse, here’s a tip for navigating the taskbar. Instead of mousing over an icon in the taskbar simply press the “Windows” key and the letter T on the keyboard. This option will focus first on the leftmost icon. Hold the Windows key down and continue to press the letter T to toggle through the open applications.

You can also launch one or more of those applications with the keyboard. Simply press and hold the Windows key while pressing the appropriate number on the number pad. For example; the far left icon will be “1”, the next icon to the right of it will be “2” on the keypad, and so on.

Start menu boring? Customize it.

If you do more with videos than pictures or music, you can add a link in your start menu to launch the folder from there.

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Properties.
  2. On the screen that appears, go to the Start Menu tab and click “Customize.”
  3. In the dialog box that appears, scroll to the bottom, look for the Videos section, select “Display as a link,” and click OK and then OK again.

If you’d prefer that Videos display as a menu, with links to files and submenus, select “Display as a menu.” You can also do this with your pictures and music as well as other folders.

Wow! Who knew you could do so much with the start menu and task bar? Best of all, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned for future issues and learn how to completely modify your Windows and your computer to make them work more efficiently for you.

 

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