Advanced Windows 7 Productivity

Back in February, I posted an article on some basic Windows 7 productivity tips. In this article I’d like to get into some of the more advanced tips that can help you be more productive in your daily tasks when working with Windows 7.

When it comes to productivity and getting things done quickly, all of the shortcuts and hotkeys in the world won’t help if your computer’s performance isn’t as quick as you are. So the first tip is one to help reduce bottlenecking by ensuring there are no unnecessary processes and services using up valuable CPU, memory, and Hard Drive resources.

The Windows 7 Resource Manager is your window to every thread, process, and service running on your machine. Even services and processes that do not show up in Windows Task Manager show up in the Resource Manager with a wealth of extra information available to help you decide what you need, and what you don’t.

Upon opening the Resource Monitor, the first thing you’ll notice is the overview page which includes a summary for the current CPU, Disk, Network, and Memory usage.

Windows 7 Resource Manager

By visiting the different individual tabs, you can find which items are using the most resources, a quick Google search for the item name will usually let you know if it needs to be running or not. In most cases, even under new Windows installs, this can greatly increase the available resources on your PC.

Windows 7 Advanced Control PanelDuring the beta stages of Windows 7, an advanced Control Panel was available for a short amount of time before finally being scrapped in the final release of Windows 7.

Being called various names across the internet including “God Mode,” “Control Panel Plus,” “Super Control Panel,” among many others, this control panel offered up over 250 tools that, while all available in other areas of Windows 7, are not all available in one organized area, which is what this Advanced Control Panel offers.

Luckily, this extra feature is still a part of the Windows 7 install, and with a bit of code, you can give yourself quick, desktop access to the panel.

Create a new folder on your desktop and rename it to:

Advanced Control Panel.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

(Note, you can change “Advanced Control Panel” to anything you would like to call it.)

The icon should change to a Control Panel style icon. Double click and you’ll have access to over 250 organized tools to help customize your computer to your needs, making you more productive and comfortable.

Windows 7 Advanced Control Panel

Customizing User Account Control in Windows 7

User Account Control, or UAC, is a bitter-sweet feature that made waves for users of Windows Vista and prompted a wave of complaints about calling too many alerts.

Windows 7 lowers the amount of alerts, which is both a good and bad thing. UAC is made to help protect the end user from malicious and potentially dangerous programs; disabling it removes a layer of security, while keeping it on can slow down your productivity.

So where is the comfort zone? Luckily, it’s all up to you. Windows 7 lets you customize your UAC experience and fine tune what prompts an alert, and what doesn’t. Ensuring you are not only safe, but productive as well.

You can find UAC settings by going into your control panel, or advanced control panel, and clicking Change User Account Control Settings.

Customizing User Account Control in Windows 7

Quick-Searching the Internet in Windows 7

Have you ever opened your laptop to quickly search for something on the Internet? So have I. While it doesn’t seem like much, having to open up your browser and search engine is an extra unnecessary step that Windows 7 can help you with.

A quick edit to your Local Group Policy will enable an extra option in the Windows 7 Search box in your Start menu. When you want to search for something, simply type in the search term into your Start menu search box, just as you would to find an application, and click on Search the Internet. Windows 7 will then automatically open up your default browser and search for the term in your default search engine.

Here’s how to enable the Search the Internet function.

  1. Open the “Local Group Policy Editor” by typing Group Policy in Windows search
  2. Click on User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Start Menu and Taskbar.
    Quick-Searching the Internet in Windows 7

  4. Double Click on “Add Search Internet link to Start Menu”
  5. On the left, click on “Enabled” and click OK.
    Quick-Searching the Internet in Windows 7

To remove it, do the same, this time clicking “Disabled.”

Windows 7 Problem Steps Recorder

So there is something wrong with your computer, and you would really like some help from a friend, tech, or even manufacturer, but can’t seem to explain the problem to them.

This is where the Problem Steps Recorder comes in. Just run the application, click Record, and do whatever it is that causes the issue. Every time you click, a screenshot is taken. When you are done, the screenshots and comments are placed in an archive (zip folder) on your desktop.

Send this to the person helping you, and they will have a clear picture (or ten) to help visually describe the exact problem you are experiencing. This saves both you, and the tech, a ton of time in explaining and will help get to right to the next step, actually fixing the problem.

To launch the Steps Recorder, simply start tying Problem Steps Recorder in your Windows search.

Windows 7 Problem Steps Recorder

Fixing Windows 7 Problems

So you sent the file over, and they still can’t figure out what’s wrong with your Windows 7 computer. Rather than wait around wasting valuable time, try some of Windows 7’s built in Troubleshooters.

“Find and fix problems” is a great tool that not only helps troubleshoot common problems, but also offers up extras that might help you with other tasks, like configuring devices and making your computer run a bit faster.

For problems with networking, check out this article on Windows 7 network troubleshooting tips.

Fixing Windows 7 Problems

That’s all for now!

I hope this article helped you learn a few more ways to be a more productive, as well as how to speed up Windows 7 and keep it running efficiently. Stay tuned for more of my articles on Windows 7 features, programs, tips, and tricks!


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