Get the most out of Windows Vista

Get the most out of Windows Vista

Reaping file menu benefits

Many Vista users will recall the classic little Windows File/Edit/View menu ribbon that emblazoned every window top. This rather inconspicuous but ubiquitous menu was—is—a natty way of getting things done faster. Those of you who rue the fact that Microsoft has scrapped it, do not despair. Here’s an elementary method to get it right back into your life. You can conjure up this old menu in a trice by merely tapping the Alt key—both in Windows Explorer windows as well as Internet Explorer (IE). This gives you direct and immediate access to File, Edit, View, Tools, and Help in Windows Explorer; and File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools, and Help in IE. Hitting Alt in Microsoft Office 2007 applications cleverly superimposes the relevant short cut keys over the existing menu offerings in the command ribbon selections, thus making it easier to access any of these functions via the keyboard.

Tagging multiple files easily

To select (or tag) multiple, non-consecutive files in a directory, we are so accustomed to the ancient Ctrl+left mouse click routine that we forget to explore any further. Vista actually offers a much easier way of tagging files. In a Windows Explorer window, press the Alt key to invoke the classic Windows File menu (see the aforementioned “Reaping File Menu Benefits" tip). From Tools here, open Folder Options and in the View, tab and check the box “Use check boxes to select items". Click on the Apply to Folder button to implement this setting across all Explorer folders. Now as you mouse over various files in an Explorer window, you can “check" or mark the ones you want them to delete, copy, or move as a group easily, with the click of a mouse.

Uncluttering your desktop

Some of you love your desktop littered with icons and files. Others want it clean. Well, here’s how you can do that. Right- click on your desktop. Click on View and then Show Desktop Items. Zap.

If you want to restrain the default Windows icons displayed (say, just an important file, computer and network icons), follow these steps. Ensure that Show Desktop Items is selected, right- click on your desktop and then on Personalize. Click on the Change Desktop Icons link in the upper left hand corner of the window. In the resultant Desktop Icons Settings window, check/uncheck what you want displayed/don’t want displayed. And click OK. To restore, backtrack.

Enhancing your right-click options

Not many know this yet but Vista’s context menus support a neat surprise in the form of two separate modes: Standard and Expanded. Try holding the Shift key down even as you right-click on a file in Windows Explorer. The context menu will open in Expanded mode, giving you several additional options. These allow you to “pin" the file to the Start menu, add the file to the Quick Launch bar, open as read only, or even copy the file’s path to the clipboard. Right-click on a file without the Shift key pressed and you’ll find fewer options because you’re using the Standard mode context menu.

Exploiting Windows Mobility Center

Those of you who are unaware of this valuable convenience in Vista called Windows Mobility Center (WMC), heed this: WMC is a one-point location for several commonly used laptop settings—settings that you often need to adjust. Right from tweaking speaker volume to tuning your battery power plan, to tampering with screen display brightness, to testing the status of your wireless network connection, to rotating the orientation of your tablet PC’s screen from portrait to landscape, etc— it’s all possible here. Therefore, rather than scrambling all over the place, wading in and out of menus, why not use a surefooted cinch such as WMC? However, remember that the actual contents of your WMC window depend on the version of Vista you’re running. So you may or may not have all options available in the lower end Vista versions.

If you can’t spot WMC in your Start Menu, you can always invoke it clicking Start > Search and typing “mobility" in the search box. In fact, if you can use the Shift-right-click routine (as described in “Enhancing your right click options" above) on WMC here you can pin the program into your Start menu, or add it to the Quick Launch bar for easy access. Else, commit to your grey cells the Vista shortcut key for this—Windows key+X.