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We probably all use our computers every day, but do you really know everything about them? There might be many simple and helpful tricks that you’re not aware of.

There’s much more to Windows than first meets the eye – you can be a power user for years and still not realise the full potential of the operating system.

Let’s run through some Windows features that aren’t highly advertised 5 Windows 7 Features You Didn't Know Existed 5 Windows 7 Features You Didn't Know Existed Windows 7 contains many little-known features. Here we highlight the more impressive ones that could boost your productivity and deepen your love for Windows 7. Read More and which can help you be more productive. Remember to share your own in the comments below!

Shake It Off

Have you got loads of windows open at once and find your screen too cluttered? In Windows 7 and up, click and hold on the title bar of the window you’re interested in and give it a shake back and forth with your mouse. All other windows will shrink to the taskbar, leaving the window you’ve made dizzy remaining open.

This feature is known as Aero Shake How To Enable & Troubleshoot Aero Effects In Windows 7 How To Enable & Troubleshoot Aero Effects In Windows 7 Read More . You can get Aero features in Windows Vista or XP How To Get Aero Shake, Aero Peek & Aero Snap Features In Vista & XP How To Get Aero Shake, Aero Peek & Aero Snap Features In Vista & XP Read More using third party applications.

Wallpaper Slideshow

Deciding on a single wallpaper to showcase on your desktop is a tricky feat. There’s so many wallpapers to choose from How To Customize Windows 8 Desktop With Wallpapers, Windows Themes & More How To Customize Windows 8 Desktop With Wallpapers, Windows Themes & More Not happy with the Windows 8 look? It only takes 5 minutes to fix that! We show you how to change the desktop wallpaper, add themes, resurrect the start menu, and more. Read More , why settle for one? Instead, right click your desktop and navigate to Personalise > Desktop Background. This will open up a window that lets you set your wallpaper. Select multiple images by holding Ctrl as you click.

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desktop-customization-wallpaper

You can then customise how often you want the image to change and whether the order of the images should shuffle. No longer will you have to see the same image every time you go to your desktop.

See our guide to Windows Customisation Your Complete Guide To Windows Customization Your Complete Guide To Windows Customization You decorate your office – why not your computer? Find out how to make Windows look just the way you want. Make your computer your own, with free tools. Read More  for more tips like this.

Quick Taskbar Open

No-one has time to move their mouse and click taskbar icons! Instead, hold down the Windows key and press the corresponding number to open up that program. For example, Windows + 1 will open the first icon from your taskbar, and so on.

Additionally, click and hold on the icons and then drag them to rearrange their position on the taskbar. As you do, their corresponding number will change too. Finally, hold down shift as you click an open window to load up a new instance of that program.

You can do even more with the taskbar The 4 Neat Tricks You Can Do With The Windows 7 Taskbar The 4 Neat Tricks You Can Do With The Windows 7 Taskbar The Windows 7 taskbar is quite swanky looking, but it also packs a wallop in terms of functionality. Sure, anyone can activate an application by clicking its icon. But do you know what happens when... Read More  or use a taskbar alternative Get More Out Of The Windows Taskbar with 7+ Taskbar Tweaker Get More Out Of The Windows Taskbar with 7+ Taskbar Tweaker Could the Windows Taskbar be more useful? You can quickly add features and keep things simple with 7+ Taskbar Tweaker. Customize your Taskbar to your needs - without the fluff. Read More like 7+ Taskbar Tweaker.

Resource Monitor Taking A Closer Look At Windows Resource Monitor Taking A Closer Look At Windows Resource Monitor Read More

If your system is running slower than usual then it’s worth checking out what is slowing it down. Do a system search for resource monitor and bring up the respective program. You can switch between different tabs, like CPU and Memory, to see what is hogging your resources.

resourcemonitor

There are also some Matrix-looking graphs that will offer a real-time look at the usage and strain that each part of your system is undergoing.

Restore Your Deletions

You probably know about Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V for copy and pasting, but there’s also the lesser known Ctrl + Z. This will undo your last action, such as restoring something that you’ve just deleted on the active window.

For example, if you’ve sent a file to the Recycle Bin you can press Ctrl + Z to bring it back to where it once was. This keyboard shortcut also works elsewhere; like in text boxes online to bring back deleted words and the majority of software to revert actions (image editors Crop, Retouch, Fill, And Create New Images With These 4 Online Photo Editors Crop, Retouch, Fill, And Create New Images With These 4 Online Photo Editors While there is simply no comparing robust photo editors like Photoshop or Gimp to online alternatives, sometimes a simple online tool is all you need to get the job done. We've put together a list... Read More , word processors, and so on).

Control User Account Control

Some people find User Account Control Stop Annoying UAC Prompts - How To Create A User Account Control Whitelist [Windows] Stop Annoying UAC Prompts - How To Create A User Account Control Whitelist [Windows] Ever since Vista, we Windows users have been pestered, bugged, annoyed, and tired of the User Account Control (UAC) prompt telling us a program is starting up that we intentionally launched. Sure, it has improved,... Read More quite useful, but for others it is more hindrance than help. If you’re not aware, UAC is the feature that pops up every time you’re making an important change to your system.

This feature was introduced in order to better protect users and make them aware of their actions, but if you don’t need it then you can turn it off entirely. Perform a system search for user account control, select the result and the User Account Control Settings window will open. From here you can drag a slider to customise your notification settings.

user-account-control-enabled-on-windows-7.png

The default option is the second highest, but drag the slider all the way to the bottom if you never want any notifications. The information section on the right-hand side will tell you what each notch represents in more detail.

BitLocker Drive Encryption Free Military-Grade Privacy For Your Files: How Bitlocker Works [Windows] Free Military-Grade Privacy For Your Files: How Bitlocker Works [Windows] Ever heard that quote about trying to explain how a television works to an ant? I'm not calling you an ant, even though you are hard-working and enjoy the occasional sip of aphid milk. What... Read More

This one is for those of you using Windows 7 Ultimate/Enterprise or Windows 8 Pro/Enterprise. Those of you running a different Windows edition, try one of these disk encryption alternatives TrueCrypt Is Dead: 4 Disk Encryption Alternatives For Windows TrueCrypt Is Dead: 4 Disk Encryption Alternatives For Windows Read More .

Data protection is crucially important and BitLocker is a utility that is on hand to help you encrypt your drives. Right click your drive, select Turn on BitLocker and then follow the instructions to get your files secure. It’s simple, quick and easy – no third-party tools required.

bitlocker-encryption-windows-8.1.png

Please bear in mind that it is vital you never lose or forget the encryption key to your drive. If you lose this then there’s absolutely no way of getting your data back. Use this feature with great care.

Customise Start Menu Shutdown

Click the Start menu and you’ll see that the default option on the bottom right is to Shut down Is Windows Taking Forever To Shut Down? Try This! Is Windows Taking Forever To Shut Down? Try This! You’re just turning your PC off; how hard can it be? Shutting down is a complex process and much can go wrong. If your Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 gets stuck, check out our troubleshooting... Read More , with the arrow next door allowing you to extend your options, like restart or log off. It’s possible to customise this if shutting down isn’t the choice you primarily use.

poweraction

To do so, right click Shut down, select Properties and this will bring up a taskbar customisation window that will let you choose your own power button action. For example, you might want to default to sleep if that’s the choice you usually go for.

Launch Programs With Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

If you have programs that you’re constantly accessing then there’s another way to load them up quicker without clogging up your taskbar.

ProgramShortcutKey.png

Right click on the program’s icon (often found from the Start menu or your desktop) and select Properties. This will open up the program’s properties and from here you should switch to the Shortcut tab. The field called Shortcut key is the one we care about.

Click in the field and press a key of your choice. This key, along with Ctrl + Alt combined, will now become your customised shortcut to opening this program in a flash.

Add Taskbar Toolbars 7 Useful Toolbars You Can Add To Your Windows Taskbar 7 Useful Toolbars You Can Add To Your Windows Taskbar The Windows desktop can be a super productive work space. Native toolbars can help you make it even more efficient by placing shortcuts and information at your fingertips. Let's have a closer look. Read More

The word ‘toolbars’ has a slightly negative connotation 4 Annoying Browser Toolbars & How To Get Rid Of Them 4 Annoying Browser Toolbars & How To Get Rid Of Them Browser toolbars just don't seem to go away. Let's look at some common nuisances and detail how to remove them. Read More in the tech world. It brings about images of third-party junk clogging up browsers, usually accidentally installed from other programs. But toolbars can also be great things, in the correct place.

Your taskbar, for example, can do more than just store program icons. Right click the taskbar, hover over Toolbars and then tick the ones you want appearing. The best inbuilt one is Address, which will give you a text field that allows you to navigate to any website through your browser or load any path or search in your system.

taskbartoolbar

You might find that some programs offer their own toolbars, like iTunes – this will mean that when you minimise the music player it’ll provide a neat music control panel from your taskbar, saving you loading the window each time you want to pause or change track.

Share Your Own

Okay, so you might know about some or all of these already, but hopefully you’ve learnt something new. Nevertheless, this list is just a small selection of what’s possible with your operating system 4 Ways To Copy Files (Faster) In Windows 4 Ways To Copy Files (Faster) In Windows Windows 7's file copy dialog is okay. It isn't the fastest when copying a large number of files. However, there are faster ways to copy files. The traditional Windows file copy dialog's worst problem is... Read More .

We know our readers are full of useful ideas, so be sure to sound off in the comments with any tricks that you couldn’t live without.

Do you use any of these tricks? Do you have your own that has altered your computer use forever?

Image Credits: red magic Via Shutterstock

  1. Matthew
    January 20, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Great tips, great shortcuts mentioned!

    I agree that some of those are used every single day and makes our lives a lot easier. I don't know how did not anyone here mention the thing I could not live without - Win + E = Windows Explorer.

    My next most used ones:
    Win + R = Run (as a programmer I often have to use the Command Prompt, and whenever I type Win + R, there is already written 'cmd' which brings me the Command Prompt straight ahead)
    Ctrl and + for zooming in, Ctrl and - for zooming out and finally Ctrl and 0 for zooming back to 100%. Works in many many applications, even in those where Ctrl + scroll doesn't work (i.e. PDF)

  2. mr X
    December 31, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Also, select a file and shift+delete so you just completely delete the file so you don't have to go to the recycle bin and delete it again to completely delete it.

  3. sls
    December 29, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Winkey + Home is the keyboard shortcut for Aero Shake.

  4. Talbs
    December 17, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Right Click on the Windows symbol on the task bar to get quick access to things like Control Panel in Windows 8.1

  5. Batter Pudding
    December 16, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    CTRL+SHIFT+N creates a new folder (Win7 onwards)

  6. Roert Gagné
    December 13, 2014 at 11:34 am

    FoldersPopup is an application that enables you to add folders to a quick access menu and speed up navigation through your computer's directory tree.

    I'm an inconditional user.

    code.jeanlalonde.ca/folderspopup/#features

  7. scbb
    December 13, 2014 at 10:52 am

    CTRL+MouseWheel to zoom

  8. scbb
    December 13, 2014 at 10:49 am

    CTRL+X to cut to clipboard.

  9. Dan
    December 13, 2014 at 3:47 am

    win+right arrow / win+left arrow - snaps the current window to the right or left side, splitting the screen. win+up to snap it to maximize.

    if you have multiple Excel windows open, CTRL+Tab cycles through them similar to ALT+Tab cycles through programs

  10. heydelray
    December 12, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    When trying to start BitLocker, how come I get "A compatible Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Security Device must be present on this computer, but a TPM was not found.

    I have Win 7 Ultimate

  11. bolgwrad
    December 8, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Ctrl+Esc = start menu

  12. Torumbo
    December 7, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    I really feel like MakeUseOf is better than the clickbait titles that Gawker is so well-hated for.

  13. SoftGil
    December 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Alt + PrtScn only will do. CTRL does not add anything else.

    • Pravin
      December 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

      hi there is another option to visit the desktop homescreen directly by pressing Windows (left/right windows) key + D. Pressing it again will bring all the windows on the desktop which were minimised to the Taskbar. I prefer Windows + D instead of Windows + M as its easy to get to all the windows back with one click.

    • Pravin
      December 29, 2014 at 11:38 am

      hi there is another option to visit the desktop homescreen directly by pressing Windows (left/right windows) key + D. Pressing it again will bring all the windows on the desktop which were minimised to the Taskbar. I prefer Windows + D instead of Windows + M as its easy to get to all the windows back with one click.

  14. Ashok Khatri
    December 7, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Ctrl + Alt + Up/Down/Right/Left to rotate Screen.

  15. mike h
    December 6, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Another keyboard shortcut I use quite often is Ctl + Alt + prt scn. This will copy an image of the active window. If you plan ahead, you can pre-size the window to show just what you want at smallest size . Then paste into any Office program, for example.

    • Joe
      December 6, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Awesome one, Mike. It's definitely one of the lesser known shortcuts, but I reckon loads of people will benefit from knowing it. I make use of it all the time, especially for MUO articles.

    • Niel
      December 7, 2014 at 2:13 am

      Also, in Win8 and up, Win+PrtScr prints the screen directly to an image in the Screenshots folder in Pictures

    • Robert
      December 7, 2014 at 3:34 am

      I thought that was simply Alt + PrtScn. Does adding the CTRL do something else?

  16. Elvis
    December 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I like alt + F4 for closing out of the program that is currently in focus.

  17. tim
    December 6, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Windows+Pause/Break brings up the System menu with direct access to the device manager. In Windows 8/8.1 it brings up the classic System menu with classic device manager, instead of the crappy Metro version.

  18. xhark
    December 6, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    CTRL + Tab is known to show the next window, but :
    CTRL + Shift + Tab the previous :)

    very useful for all macros !

    • Joe
      December 6, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      This is a really useful one that I didn't know! Thank you for sharing it.

  19. Jonas Eikeland
    December 6, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Win+X opens Windows mobility center, or in Win 8 and 8.1 an (kind of) alternative to the Windows start menu

  20. Xoandre
    December 6, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Are the Icons on your desktop too large/small? By default, the desktop icons in Windows 7 have a setting choice of SMALLER, MEDIUM or LARGER and even the SMALLER seems a bit large.

    Simple fix (that works in browsers, Acrobat, Word, and other programs - AND the desktop!

    Hold down CTRL and scroll your mouse wheel up or down. Icons will stay in place, but grow or shrink as needed.

  21. John Nicole
    December 6, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Ctrl + E is one of the best keyboard shortcut ever. :)

  22. Nathanael
    December 6, 2014 at 4:04 am

    That shaking one is pretty cool. I like the snap feature best, though. Push a window to the edge top, and it'll snap maximized. Push it to the left or right edge, and it'll snap half of the screen maximized on its respective side.

    • Joe
      December 6, 2014 at 10:58 am

      Snapping is brilliant, I agree. It's something I use every day. I couldn't go back to manually resizing windows to get them side-by-side!

  23. George
    December 6, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Lots of people still don't even know the cool switch, alt-tab.

    • Leo
      December 6, 2014 at 8:41 am

      win+tab more fancy :)

    • Leo
      December 6, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Explorer shortcuts:
      F2 - rename
      F3 - search
      F5 - refresh folder content
      ctrl+L - select address link
      shift+[arrows, home, end, pg up, pg down, mouse click on file] - selecting files in a row easier and faster. It also works in text processing apps.

      Win8: win+x - advanced start menu

      All Win: win+pause/break - system properties

    • Joe
      December 6, 2014 at 11:01 am

      Great one, George. Windows + Tab is the more visually fancy version of that, but I think Alt + Tab is the better choice for productivity.

    • Pravin
      December 29, 2014 at 11:28 am

      hi there is another option to visit the desktop homescreen directly by pressing Windows (left/right windows) key + D. Pressing it again will bring all the windows on the desktop which were minimised to the Taskbar. I prefer Windows + D instead of Windows + M as its easy to get to all the windows back with one click.

  24. Saiful Zaree Johar
    December 6, 2014 at 12:15 am

    Windows+Left/Right arrow keys will snap active window to your left or right screen side, and even works for multi monitor

    • Tom
      December 6, 2014 at 2:17 am

      And Win+M will minimize everything and show the desktop.

    • MIke
      December 6, 2014 at 5:18 am

      ... And, Shift+Windows+Left/Right will snap the active window straight to the "next" multiple display (in the "same" left/right/etc. position) ...

      ... Warning: in my case, "snapping" to the 2nd display may screw up the window size/geometry when it gets "back" - I'm guessing b/c my 2nd display is smaller than my "main" so that it is forced to resize in order to maintain the relative "position" ...

  25. Colin Odom
    December 5, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Windows+D to instantly return to the desktop is one that I show people all the time.

    • kk
      December 6, 2014 at 9:02 am

      thks tat s amazing dud

    • Jef Tobias
      December 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Hey, Colin. My brother grew up with a Colin Odom in SC. Are you he?

  26. John P
    December 5, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    %appdata%/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Quick Launch

    replace / with

    Arg

  27. John P
    December 5, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Should include "" eg.

    "%appdata%MicrosoftInternet ExplorerQuick Launch"

  28. John P
    December 5, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Under Toolbars, select New and enter:

    %appdata%MicrosoftInternet ExplorerQuick Launch

  29. Doug
    December 5, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Windows task manager:
    CTRL + SHIFT + ESC

    • Doc
      December 9, 2014 at 12:24 am

      Another shortcut to Task Manager: Right-click an empty spot on the Taskbar and select Task Manager from the popup menu.

    • Doc
      December 9, 2014 at 12:30 am

      I've never found much use for the Aero "tweaks," but some other useful goodies:
      Shortcut to the "System" page of Control Panel: Win+Pause/Break (you may need to also press the Fn key on some laptops if you don't have a dedicated Pause/Break key); from here you can launch Device Manager, Advanced System Settings, and a few other control panel applets.
      Win+L: lock the PC, if you have a password set, this will lock the computer.
      Win, Right, Enter: Shut down (or sleep/log off/etc, depending on what is set as the Power Button action).
      In Windows 7's Explorer (not sure if this is true in 8.x), you can click the "breadcrumbs" in the Explorer Address Bar to move to a higher folder, or click the right arrows to navigate to subfolders of the folder to the left. Going all the way to the left will bring you back to the Desktop, or, if there is a double left arrow there, go back to "root" folders of the PC (Desktop and drives).

    • Ankit
      January 4, 2015 at 3:06 am

      ctrl+alt+delete....also..

  30. jamieg
    December 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Don't forget about Ctrl + Y to redo an undo.

    • Joe
      December 6, 2014 at 11:02 am

      Thanks for that, jamieg! A great one that perfectly compliments Ctrl + Z.

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