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Windows Productivity Tips

List your tips for streamlining everday routines.

6:37 pm on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Windows Print Screen

One of my most used keys is the Print Screen key. Yes I know, there are various programs out there that allow you to do all sorts of neat things with screen captures. What I'm referring to is the bare bones functionality of Windows along with Outlook 2003 and other Office products.

What happens when you press the Print Screen key? You save a "snapshot" of your screen saved to the clipboard. You can now paste that snapshot into any Office product by positioning your cursor at the position where you want to place the snapshot, then Ctrl + V to paste. Its that simple.

There is also an advanced function for the Print Screen key and that is to capture just the "active window". Press Alt + Print Screen.

Do you need to visually explain a process to someone? Perform your Print Screen or Alt + Print Screen function. Open up a new email in Outlook. You must be using HTML email for this function to work. Now, position your cursor where you want the image to appear, Ctrl + V to paste, done.

I'll send emails throughout the day to various team members. Those emails may contain snapshots of various visuals I provide to explain a process, provide an instruction, etc. I'll write some copy, do an Alt + Print Screen then Ctrl + V and paste the capture into the html email message. I may end up with a few paragraphs of copy with an equal number of snapshots. I'll minimize the active windows (the captures) to the point where the scrollbars disappear so that I am sending just the area being referenced. I keep the width the same for clean formatting and adjust heights when needed.

The above process works with all Office products.

What are some of your Productivity Tips that help streamline your everyday routines?

1:11 pm on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Tip 1: is more of a hardware tip: a widescreen rotatable monitor.

1680 wide by 1050 high pixel resolution is nifty right? Rotate that the other way and make it 1680 high, and suddenly the ability to view text docs is significantly enhanced. I run three monitors with two in the wide format and one in the middle rotated to the tall format. The middle one with my email and text editor up all the time is my fav.
There are several commercial utils on the market that will rotate your screen.

Tip 2: Remote viewing from ultra or real vnc.
It is the ultimate sync system. View your desktop from any computer in the world. People complain about keeping email in sync - and some even stoop to lowly ;-) online web email to solve it. With realvnc or ultraVnc setup (both freeware open source), you are always working with "the real deal" and never have to worry about syncing your email...

Tip 3: another hardware one.
Take a screw driver and pry the caps lock key off all your keyboards. What a time saver that turns out to be. In 25+ years of computing, I have never needed to intentionaly press the caps lock key. (if you are feeling frisky/risky, you might pop off that windows logo key while you are at it). If you keep the windows key, it has one (and only one), good use - windows-D to show your desktop. You know, like pressing the desktop icon on the quick launch bar...

8:16 am on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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  • How to customize the My Places bar in both the Open and the Save As dialog boxes in Office
    KB article 826214 [support.microsoft.com]
    This article describes how to customize the My Places bar in Microsoft Office. The My Places bar appears in the left pane of both the Open and the Save As dialog boxes in Microsoft Office programs.

  • How to Add The Safe Mode Option To The Boot Menu
    1. Press [Windows][Break] to open the System Properties dialog box.
    2. On the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Startup And Recovery section.
    3. the System Startup section, click the Edit button.
    4. When the Boot.ini file opens in Notepad, locate the line that ends with the /fastdetect switch.
    5. Highlight and copy that line, and paste it in the line below.
    6. Change the section on the line that reads WINDOWS=”Microsoft Windows XP Professional” to WINDOWS=”Safe Mode.”
    7. Add the following to the end of the line:
      /safeboot:minimal /sos /bootlog

  • Make Windows Explorer open to My Computer
    In Windows Explorer shortcut change the target to:

    %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /n,/e,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}
  • 1:38 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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    Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP [microsoft.com]

    Have a look through the list and see if any are useful to you. The RAW thumbnail viewer is invaluable to me, and I find TweakUI, Image Resizer and the Virtual Desktop Manager all pretty useful.

    [edited by: bill at 1:41 pm (utc) on Mar. 22, 2007]
    [edit reason] fair use [/edit]

    2:13 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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    Empty Temporary Files

    Batch file:

    echo y¦ del /S /Q "%SystemRoot%\temp\*.*"
    echo y¦ del /S /Q "%USERPROFILE%\recent\*.*"
    echo y¦ del /S /Q "%USERPROFILE%\locals~1\temp\*.*"

    Standby Shortcut

    %windir%\System32\rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState

    Open Windows Explorer to specific folder

    %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /n, /e, /select, C:\folder

    IE default search to Google

    Registry Entry:

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchUrl]

    Add "HTML Document" to "New" context menu option

    Registry Entry:


    HTML file at C:\WINDOWS\Shellnew\webpage.htm

    <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
    <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
    <title>Test Page</title>

    Placesbar Shortcuts for Open/Save Dialog Window

    Registry Entry:


    System Performance Monitor

    %SystemRoot%\system32\perfmon.msc /s


    8:29 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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    I use the Quick Launch toolbar for all my main apps, including links to Computer Management, IIS, ODBC, web browser, email, ftp, instant messenger, notepad and the calculator.

    Do you use the Quick Launch bar and what apps do you put in it? Or if you don't, which way do you manage the launching of applications?

    8:35 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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    I should also mention that the Google Desktop has revolutionised the way I manage my calendar and 'to do' lists. On the sidebar I have (from top to bottom) Clock, Google Calendar, To Do, BBC News Headlines (minimized), Google Search and Wikipedia Search.
    1:25 am on Mar 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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    I know Brett isn't a fan of the Windows key, but I like Windows key + e.
    It launches Windows Explorer without expanding the C:\ drive.
    10:36 am on Mar 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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    Lilliabeth - that's a great tip. I didn't know there were other shortcut combinations that you could do with the windows key. You prompted me to look for others and found:

    • Windows Logo: Start menu
    • Windows Logo+R: Run dialog box
    • Windows Logo+M: Minimize all
    • SHIFT+Windows Logo+M: Undo minimize all
    • Windows Logo+F1: Help
    • Windows Logo+E: Windows Explorer
    • Windows Logo+F: Find files or folders
    • Windows Logo+D: Minimizes all open windows and displays the desktop
    • CTRL+Windows Logo+F: Find computer
    • CTRL+Windows Logo+TAB: Moves focus from Start, to the Quick Launch toolbar, to the system tray (use RIGHT ARROW or LEFT ARROW to move focus to items on the Quick Launch toolbar and the system tray)
    • Windows Logo+TAB: Cycle through taskbar buttons
    • Windows Logo+Break: System Properties dialog box