Windows Computer Tips

8:40:00 PM |

Here’s a list of my best Windows computer tips and tricks to help you optimize your PC, save time, and learn new ways of tackling Windows annoyances.
Having been in the IT business for so many years, I'm usually hip to most Windows tricks. It's so great when I find new ones to add to my bag and share around.
Most of these work for both Windows XP and Windows Vista, but keep checking back because I'll also add specific tips for Windows Vista and will continue to update these as I learn more about Vista's quirks.
I hope these computer tips make you say "Oh, cool!”


Put the Programs You Use the Most On the Taskbar.
I put the programs I use the most on my Windows taskbar, so I can get to them without having to return to the Windows desktop
Here’s an animated picture to give you the idea. (Press F5 to start the animation if it stops).
See how I drag and drop the Firefox icon onto the Task bar?
Adding an Icon to the Taskbar
Here are the written steps to go with the picture (works for Windows XP):
  1. From the Windows desktop, first turn on the Quick Launch taskbar. Right click on the Start button and left click on Properties. Click on the Taskbar tab, and check the box that says Show Quick Launch. Click Ok.
  2. Now back to the Windows desktop. Find the program icon for the program you want to put on the taskbar.
  3. Drag the icon to the taskbar and hold it there until you see a black cursor line appear.
  4. Let go of the mouse button. The icon will “drop” into place where you held it.
  5. Repeat for any other programs. Once you are done, lock the taskbar.
  6. Right-click the Start button, then click Properties.
  7. On the taskbar tab, check the box next to Lock the Taskbar. Click ok.

Tweak the Start Menu Display
  1. Right-click the Start button, then click Properties. You’ll see a Start menu tab.
  2. Click on the Start menu tab, then click on the Customize button. On the Advanced tab, make the modifications you want. When you are done, click Ok, then Apply, then OK.

Set Windows to Show All Files and File Extensions
  1. Right click on your Start button and click on Explore to open Windows Explorer.
    In Windows XP:
  2. Click on Tools, Folder Options, View.
  3. Check Show hidden files and folders.
  4. Uncheck the boxes next to Hide extensions for known file types and Hide protected operating system files. Click Ok.
    In Windows Vista:
  1. Click on Organize, Folder and Search Options, and the View tab.
  2. Put the green circle next to Show hidden files and folders.
  3. Uncheck the boxes next to Hide extensions for known file types and Hide protected operating system files. (Vista will ask you if you are sure - click Yes.) Click Ok.

Make Sure System Restore is On
System restore allows you to “go back in time” to recover from a change that damages your Windows system. It takes “snapshots” of the Windows system at various time points, and holds them. You can basically “roll Windows back” to a previous time to get rid of any change that caused the problem.
From the Windows desktop, hold down the Windows key and press the Pause/Break key. This will open Windows System Properties. Click the System Restore tab. Uncheck the Disable System Restore box if it is checked.
Note: If you are using Windows Vista, System Restore is turned on by default.

What do the LED lights on my laptop battery indicate?
The lights on laptop batteries help you determine the battery charge. To check the battery charge, press the button and the number of LED lights that appear will tell you charge status. If all lights appear, you have a fully charged battery. Each light that appears accounts for approximately 20% charge.

Turn off the "Automatically Restart On Failure" Error
If this feature is on, and your machine crashes, you won’t be able to find out why, because it will just keep rebooting.
  1. From the Windows desktop, hold down the Windows key and press the Pause/Break key. This will open Windows System Properties.
    In Windows XP:
  2. Click the Advanced tab.
  3. Under Startup and Recovery, click on the Settings button.
  4. Under System failure, uncheck Automatically Restart.
    In Windows Vista:
  1. Click on Advanced System Settings.
  2. On the Permission window, click Continue.
  3. Under Startup and Recovery, click on the Settings button.
  4. Under System failure, uncheck Automatically Restart. Click Ok and then Ok again.


Turn Off Error Reporting
    In Windows XP:
  1. Left click on your Start button in Windows and go to Control Panel.
  2. Double click on the System icon.
  3. On the Advanced tab, click the Error Reporting button, and then check "Disable error reporting". (You can leave the check box for critical errors checked.) Voila, no more nag note about sending Microsoft a report.
    In Windows Vista:
  1. Left click on your Start button in Windows and click on to Control Panel.
  2. Click on System and Maintenance and then Problem Reports and Solutions.
  3. Click on Change Settings and then on Advanced Settings.
  4. As you can see, Vista takes error reporting to a whole new level. You can choose to turn it off or on, or choose different levels of reporting.

This next computer tip is one my favorites..
Turn off the Windows XP Desktop Icon Cleanup message
  1. Right click on your Windows desktop, and left click on Properties.
  2. Go to the Desktop tab.
  3. Click the Customize Desktop button.
  4. Uncheck the box that says Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days.
Note: This feature was removed in Vista.
Re-Sort your Start Menu in Windows XP
In Windows XP, installed software is listed in the All Programs menu in the order it was installed, instead of being alphabetized. Here's a computer tip on how to sort your start menu alphabetically:
  1. Click on Start, All Programs.
  2. Point your mouse to any folder in the Programs menu and RIGHT click on it.
  3. Choose Sort by Name from the menu that appears.
(A sort option is not available on the Vista Start menu).

Your Thumbnail Pics Don't Match Your Pictures in a Folder:
You have copied some pictures into a folder. When you set the view mode to thumbnail pics, however, you notice that they don’t match the actual picture after you open it. Here's how to fix it.


Another of my favorite computer tips for Windows XP:
If you have a tendency to accidentally drag items around in the Start menu, you can turn off the ability to drag and drop menu items. Here's how:
  1. First, make sure items on the menus are in the order you want by using the sort feature I just described. Then right-click the Start button and select Properties.
  2. Click the Customize button next to either the 'Start menu' or 'Classic Start menu' option.
  3. Click on the Advanced tab.
  4. Scroll down and find Enable dragging and dropping in the list of options. Uncheck it. Click OK twice.
Well there they are! The coolest Windows computer tips that I know. I hope they help. Don't forget to check back! I'll add more Vista and XP computer tips as I find them.