Windows is a beautiful operating system but it also packs a punch when it comes to making our daily tasks efficient. If you do want to save more precious time though, this brief guide will give you even more opportunities to do so. Whether you’re aware of these handy tricks before and simply forgotten them, or not at all, we hope that this short tutorial can make you an even Windows power user than before.
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Trick #1: Open apps in your taskbar using keyboard shortcut
Putting shortcut icons of commonly used apps in the taskbar is a good way to open programs fast but did you know that there’s an even faster way to launch them? While many users would rather just click on the icons themselves, a simple keyboard combination is available to open them. This can save you a precious second everytime you want to open your favorite program by not moving your hand from your keyboard at all.
To do this trick, you should know first that each program you placed in the taskbar is assigned its own number by the operating system. The first program starting from the right of the Start button is assigned a number “1” while the next one is given the number “2” and so on all the way to the 10th program. This 10th icon is assigned a “0.” So, in order to quickly a program using a keyboard combination, you simply have to press the Windows key and the number assigned to it. For example, if you have the Task Manager program assigned a number “1,” you just have to press the Windows key and the number 1 to open it.
Trick #2: Reveal secret right-click options
Windows has a lot of undisclosed options but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them. One such not-so-obvious options is the addition of many other available folders when right-clicking on a file and using a “Send to” option. Normally, Send to option only shows 6 or 7 folders or paths where you can send a file or folder to.
However, if you hold down the Shift key as you right-click on a file or folder, a whole lot of additional folders and paths will become available for you. Try it and you’ll be amazed.
If you don’t think the Send to folder options are lacking or should contain the location of your favorite folder to send files to, you can actually customize it. Adding your desired folder destination in the Send to menu is easy. Here’s how to do it:
Create a shortcut folder and put it in the desktop folder. Here’s how:
- Right click the folder.
- Select Send to > Desktop (create shortcut).
- Now that you have created a shortcut folder and put it in the Desktop, open Windows Explorer.
- Go to the location bar at the top and type “shell: sendto” (without the quotes).
- Press Enter key so you’ll be directed to the Send To options.
- Drag and drop the shortcut you created earlier.
Trick #4: Undo errors with Ctrl + Z
Sometimes, moving files from one folder to another can become messy, especially if you’re not careful. You don’t have to worry though as the undo option found in most programs also works within Windows itself. If you happen to drop a files in the wrong folder, you can simply hit the Control (CTRL) key and Z and you immediately correct the mistake you’ve done.
It’s also worth noting that the copy (ctrl+c) and paste ()ctrl+v) commands also works within Windows so you might want to try using them again if you haven’t yet.
Trick #5: Using Windows search engine in Windows Explorer
Microsoft recognizes the fact that sometimes, users may want to look for specific items. To make it available, Microsoft added an advanced search engine in Windows Explorer.
If you’re running Windows 8 or Windows 10, more refinements in your search can be achieved by using the Search Tools section of the File Explorer’s Ribbon UI like the one below.
You can also create a shortcut of a customized search by dragging the magnifying-glass icon in the File Explorer location bar to the search location. Once you click it, more updated results will be shown.
Trick #6: Use Jump Lists to open commonly searched item
Jump list is a list of links that you recently opened using a particular program in the taskbar. For example, when I check my Jump List for my Steam program, I get the following:
Jump lists can be accessed by simply right-clicking on a taskbar icon. If you tend to use one program more often than others and you wish to quickly load a previously worked on job, using a jump list is very handy.
Keep in mind that you can modify the jump list and even add a file or template that you open most often. You can do that by dragging the said file to the jump list of a particular program in the taskbar, or by clicking the pin icon to the right of the file in the jump list itself.
The default limit to the number of items in a jump list is only 10 but if you want to increase it, you can do that by doing the following:
- Right-click on the taskbar.
- Select Properties.
- Open the Jump List tab in the dialog box that appears. In this one, you’ll find some basic tools that let you fiddle with how Jump Lists behave such including the number of items you want displayed when you open a Jump List.
- Set the number of items you desire (more than 15 to 20 gets unwieldy).
- Click OK to save your changes.
Trick #7: Limit the number of programs that load at boot
The more programs you allow to run during the boot up process, the longer the time you wait in order to use your computer right away. By default, most installed programs are configured to run at boot so if you don’t usually care to minimize the programs at boot, the number can significantly consume a lot of memory and slow down the boot process. Windows allows users to customize the list of programs that can run during the boot up process so you’re in luck.
To customize the list of programs at boot, you can do the following:
- Pull up the Task Manager by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL buttons.
- Once Task Manager is up, click on Start-up tab. You’ll then see a list of start-up programs.
- Disable programs that don’t need to run initially.
Trick #8: Turn off UAC
User Account Control was introduced in Windows Vista up until today’s Windows 10 versions to obviously provide another layer of protection from malware.
While it does offer a certain level of protection, you may find its pop up annoying at times, especially if enabled its highest protection level. If you’re wondering how to turn UAC off, you will it find easy to do. Here’s how:
- Open Control Panel.
- Click User Accounts and Family Safety.
- Go to User Accounts.
- Click Change User Account Control Settings.
Trick #9: Be aware of other useful Windows hotkeys
Aside from the usual dose of Windows hotkeys, you may find other least-known once equally useful to you. Below are some of the hotkeys that Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 users can also try:
- Win + (left or right arrow) to pin current window to respective screen edge
- Win + m to minimize all desktop windows
- Win + R to open the run command
- Win + X to open Windows 8’s powerful Quick Access Menu
- Alt + Tab to switch between open programs
- Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager
If you’re running a Window 10 machine, you can try these additional set of hotkeys based on Brandon LeBlanc’s blog:
- Snapping window: WIN + LEFT or RIGHT (can be used with UP or DOWN to get into quadrants)
- Switch to recent window: ALT + TAB (unchanged) – Hold shows new Task view window view, let go and switches to app.
- Task view: WIN + TAB – New Task view opens up and stays open.
- Create new virtual desktop: WIN + CTRL + D
- Close current virtual desktop: WIN + CTRL + F4
- Switch virtual desktop: WIN + CTRL + LEFT or RIGHT
Trick #10: Use Problem Steps Recorder during troubleshooting
We hope you’ll not come across any serious problems with your computer as to warrant third party assistance but if you do, the Problem Steps Recorder may be of help. This tool can easily take note of the step-by-step procedures you’ve done, especially if you intend to show them to a PC technician or to your company’s IT specialist.
To use the Problem Steps Recorder, just type “psr” in the Start menu or Start screen. To being using it, simply click the Start Record button.
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