February, 2012: At first glace the Windows 7 Calculator is deceptively simple – you can add, subtract, calculate percentages and generally perform all the functions that you would expect on any calculator. Much more is hidden – want to do a quick mortgage payment calculation? Interested in your gas mileage? Need to convert gallons to liters or kilograms to pounds? Number of days between two dates? We could go on and on!
Starting from the beginning, to bring up the Windows 7 calculator:
Left-click on the Windows State button in the lower left of your screen. Enter “Calculator” where it says “Search Programs and Files” You should see Calculator appear as shown below:
You can then either click on Calculator to open it or drag it down to your taskbar so that it will always be there for you.
Select View and you’ll begin to see some of the many options that are available:
Play around and you’ll discover many uses for the Windows 7 Calculator. If you want to learn more here are some sites to check out:
The default option for powering down is “Shut down” which closes all of your programs and completely powers down the computer (or more commonly laptop.) This is shown below (note that this screen capture was taken on a desktop so does not show all the options found on a laptop):
It is very easy – too easy – to accidentally select “Shut down” even though you are trying to select another option (sleep, hibernate, etc.) To change the default right click on the “Shut down” button and select “Properties” as shown below:
Select “Properties” and “Start Menu” and then the option that you want to most commonly use. Then select “Apply”:
You’ll now see this option as your default:
With Windows 7 you can easily personalize your Desktop Background. Right-click on the Desktop and you’ll see the option to personalize, as shown below:
Select “Personalize” and you’ll see a screen something like this:
One of the options that you see as a “Background Theme” is United States – this is a series of photos of state parks, beach scenes and other representative photos. United States is chosen because that was the location selected when this computer was set up. But what if you’re from the UK, or you just want a little more global exposure on your desktop?
Following are instructions for accessing photos from other areas of the world that are already stored in Windows:
- Browse to C/Windows/Globalization
- Search for “mct” as shown below:
- Decide which country you’d like – or you can take a look at each one (ZA=South Africa, US=United States, GB=Great Britain, CA=Canada, AU=Australia) (Note: this selection must be a Windows default of English-speaking countries. We are sure there are more and will work on finding that for a future tip.)
- Once you’ve decided, open up the MCT folder and select the folder with the country name. See the following example of Australia:
- Open up the “Australia” folder and you’ll see the screen below. Right click on the desktop background you want to select and choose “Set as desktop background”.
- Your desktop will now be the photo that has been selected. See the gorgeous photo of Sydney Harbour below!
Sometimes you’re working along and realize that your desktop is far too cluttered – the situation below is far from unusual!
Windows 7 has two easy ways to close all windows EXCEPT the one you’re currently working in:
- The “Traditional Approach” – Windows Key + Home
- The “Fun Approach”: Shake – to do this just click on the title bar of the window you want to keep open and drag (or shake) the title bar back and forth quickly. To restore the minimized windows, shake the open window again. Here is a quick video you can watch if you’d like a demonstration.
Formally known as the Windows 7 Problem Steps Recorder, this feature lets you record your actions on the computer step-by-step. This is useful when you are having problems and want to capture something that is happening so you can send it to your IT staff. But it is also great for showing someone how to do something. The Problem Step Recorder is a small program that comes with Windows 7 – to launch it click on the Windows icon in the lower left corner of your screen and type “psr.”
You’ll see psr.exe appear in the programs list – click on it and this small taskbar will appear:
Now click on “Start Record” and every action you take on the computer will be recorded with a screen shot and details of the action you took. Click “Stop Record” when you are done. You will then be asked to save the resulting recording. It will be a .mht file embedded in a zip file. Give the file any name you like and save it in a place you’ll remember. You can then simply open the zip file, double-click the .mht file and review the steps that were recorded, view them as a slide show or view additional details. You can also email the zip file to your IT support people to show them something that is happening (like an error message that pops up after you do certain things.)
Yesterday, Microsoft announced a new version of its operating system for smartphones called Windows Phone 7 (the name, of course, is meant to convey a connection to the recently released Windows 7 operating system for desktops and laptops). In the past, Microsoft has done a very poor job in the smartphone space and has had its butt kicked by Apple, Google and Blackberry. But now, it seems as if they may have caught up. Is it too late? Only time will tell. Windows Phone 7 has lots of features that should appeal to both business and home users.
Some nice features include performing search with audio input, deep integration with Exchange and Office, and the ability to write notes and have them stored “in the cloud” for retrieval at a later time. One feature that I like is the ability to personalize the desktop. For example, my next appointment can show up on the home screen so you don’t even have to unlock your phone, or spend extra time trying to find it. As opposed to the iPhone, Windows Phone 7 will be available from a variety of carriers (T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint) and there will be lots of different models to choose from, including some with keyboards and some with just touchscreen only. Units in the US are expected to be available on November 8. There will also be an app marketplace, and Microsoft is working with developers to provide mobile applications for the platform. Consumers will also like WP7, as there is deep integration with Xbox 360. For a good review of Windows Phone 7, please see:
When it comes out (November 8 in the US), BEI will perform our own detailed analysis and advise our clients further.
Many of us live with constant sticky note reminders (stuck to a piece of paper, on the door, the refrigerator…)
Windows 7 gives us a way to bring sticky notes to our desktop – a great way to jot down a phone number, an order number you need to use in a few minutes or anything else you would typically grab a pad of paper for.
To bring up Sticky Notes: Left click on the Windows button and start typing “Sticky Notes.” Select the program icon and you should see a sticky note appear on your screen.
Once you have the Sticky Note program open you can:
- Create a new note or delete an existing one
- Change the color of a sticky note by right clicking on the sticky note
- Change the size of a sticky note by grabbing and dragging one of the corners
- Change the text formatting using the following keyboard shortcuts:
- Bold – Ctrl + B
- Italics – Ctrl + I
- Underline – Ctrl + U
- Strikethrough – Ctrl + T
- Bulleted Text – (Ctrl + Shift + L) (Press this again for a numbered list)
- Increased text size – Ctrl + Shift + >
- Decreased text size – Ctrl + Shift + <
You can close the Sticky Note application and when you open it again your sticky notes will reappear on your desktop.
Jump Lists are lists of recent items, such as files, folders, or websites, organized by the program that you use to open them. They appear on the Start menu as well as on the Taskbar when you right-click on an icon:
Information on the Jump Lists is divided into Pinned Items that are saved permanently, Recent Items (Start Menu) and Frequent (Task Bar). You’ll always see the same items in your Jump List for a program, regardless of whether you’re viewing it on the Start menu or on the Taskbar. For example, if you pin an item to a program’s Jump List on the Taskbar, the item also appears in that program’s Jump List on the Start menu.
To view the Jump List for a program: Right-click the program’s icon on the taskbar.
To open an item from a Jump List: Open the program’s Jump List, and then click the item.
To pin an item to a Jump List: Open the program’s Jump List, point to the item, click the pushpin that appears, and then click Pin to this list. You can also drag a file icon or a shortcut from the Start menu or the desktop to the taskbar. This pins the item to the Jump List and also pins the program to the taskbar, if it isn’t pinned already.
Jump Lists and Windows Explorer: Folders are considered Windows Explorer items, and appear in the Windows Explorer Jump List when pinned or opened.
To unpin an item: Open the program’s Jump List, point to the item, click the pushpin that appears, and then click Unpin from this list.
Customize number of items shown on Jump Lists: You can customize the number of items shown under Recent/Frequent Items:
- Right Click the Windows Start Button and select “Properties”:
- Select “Start Menu” and then “Customize”:
- You can then specify the number of items to display on your Jump Lists:
Many of us end up with many windows open and this can be very distracting as you try to focus on writing the perfect email or optimizing your spreadsheet. Simply hit the Windows key + Home at the same time and all the windows except the one you are working in will be minimized. When you’re ready to see them again, just do the same thing again(Windows key + Home) and they’ll be restored to their original locations.
We ran a tip about the Snipping Tool in the March BE Eye and wanted to follow it with an advanced tip on the same topic.
It is often helpful to be able to capture a snip of a menu, and using the standard snipping process this is not possible. (The menu disappears when you open the tool.) To do this:
- Open the Snipping Tool and then press Esc, and then open the menu that you want to capture.
- Press Ctrl+PrintScreen.
- Click the arrow next to the New button, select Free-form Snip, Rectangular Snip, Window Snip, or Full-screen Snip from the list, and then select the area of your screen that you want to capture.
- Proceed as you would for a normal snip