Off-the-wall tech tips


In past issues we have discussed tips, tricks and shortcuts that are pretty commonplace and somewhat easy for the novice computer users. This week we are going for some off-the-wall things you may not know you could do and how they can save you time and money.

Increase performance / save money

If you want to get more battery life from your laptop or want to modify performance to save energy costs, then you might want to look at one of Windows 7’s hidden (built-in) tools. The program ‘powercfg’ is designed to do just that.

  • First, let’s create a folder for our report to be saved in. Double-click on My Computer then double click on drive C and choose New Folder from the menu at the top. Name the folder whatever you choose such as ‘Report’.
  • Open a command prompt as administrator. To do this, click on the Start menu button, type ‘cmd’ in the search box. When the ‘cmd’ icon appears, right-click it and choose ‘Run as administrator.’
  • When the command prompt appears (a black box with some white text) type in the following exactly how you see it here without the quotes. “powercfg -energy -output \Report\Energy_Report.html” Remember, this is case sensitive. Press the ‘Enter’ key when done. You can change the name of the report and the folder to whatever you choose.
  • Windows 7 will take about a minute to examine the behavior of your computer while it analyzes and creates the report. Once it’s done, type “exit” to exit out of the command prompt. Now, simply double click the html report to open it and follow the recommendations to improve your computer’s performance.

Hide your computer search history

Searching through your computer using Explorer (double-clicking on My Computer) saves a history of what you have searched for in the past. This is a time saver if you look for the same type of documents frequently. However, if you share your computer with others, you may not want them to see what you search for. Here is how to turn off the ‘recent search feature.’

  • Click on the Start button and in the search box, type “gpedit” (without the quotes) and press ‘Enter.’
  • Double-click on User Configuration à Administrative Templates à Windows Components à Windows Explorer.
  • In the dialog box that appears, double-click “Turn off display of recent entries in the Windows Explorer search box” and click to select “Enabled” on the screen that appears.
  • Click “Apply” then click “Okay” and your search history is now turned off.

Customize the Shut Down Button

The default action of the Start Menu’s Shut Down button, as we all know, is to turn off your computer. What if you rarely shut down your computer but often switch users or just simply log off?

You can change the Shut Down’s default action to ‘Switch User’ or ‘Log Off’ or several other options provided by default in Windows 7.

  • To change your default, right-click the Start button and select Properties.
  • On the Start Menu tab, click the “Power button action” drop-down menu and select which action you want to be the default. Then click OK, and OK again.


As a general rule, it is not a good idea to leave a computer or monitor running for long periods of time between uses. Turning off your computer and monitor at night and for the weekend will save a bundle in electricity over a year’s time.

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