7 quick Windows 7 fixes

These tips and tricks can improve how you work in Windows.

1. Open Apps the Easy Way

Want to launch programs in Windows 7 without lifting your hands from your keyboard? You can open any app on your PC by hitting the Windows key and typing the first few letters of the application's name (chr for Google Chrome, it for iTunes, and so on), then hitting Enter. You can also press Windows + 1 to open the first app pinned on your taskbar, Windows + 2 to open the second app, and so on.

2. Tweak Windows's AutoPlay Settings

Ever wonder why DVD movies automatically start playing the moment you pop them into your PC? It's controlled by Windows AutoPlay. Go to the Control Panel, AutoPlay, and you can tell Windows exactly what you want it to do every time you insert a CD or DVD, plug in a camera or smartphone, and so on.

3. Turn Off Automatic Window Management

By default, Windows 7 automatically changes the size of your open windows if you drag them to the edge of the screen. Drag a window to one edge of the screen and it "docks" there while resizing to fill half the screen, drag it to the top to make that window go full-screen, and so on. It can be handy, but it can also be annoying. You can turn it off by going to Control Panel, Ease of Access Center, click Make the mouse easier to use, then uncheck Prevent windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen and click OK.

4. Troubleshoot Windows With a Spare User Account

When you're having problems with Windows or your everyday applications, try using those apps with a User Account different from the one you usually use and see if you have the same problems. If your spare account doesn't have the same problems, whatever is causing the problem most likely isn't that deeply rooted in your system—it may just be a corrupt settings file somewhere, for example. If both accounts have the same problem, you may need to reinstall the application itself, or possibly even reinstall Windows.

5. Reveal File Extensions in Windows Explorer

File extensions (a holdover from early DOS days, believe it or not) tell you what kind of file you're looking at. Thus, a Word file has a .doc extension; a digital photo, a .jpg extension; and so on. These days, Windows Explorer hides the file extension by default, but you can show them by pressing Windows + E to bring up Windows Explorer, clicking Organize, Folder and search options, selecting the View tab, and unchecking Hide extensions for known file types.

6. Disable Your Laptop Trackpad While Typing

Don't you hate it when you're typing an email and your wrist accidentally brushes across your trackpad, moving your cursor far from where you're typing? DeSofto's TouchpadPal 1.2 can fix that--just download and install it, and it will automatically disable your touchpad when you're typing.

7. Stop Desktop Icons From Moving Around

Windows is really bad about restoring your desktop layout when it switches resolutions, which is why you'll find that your files aren't always where you left them on your desktop. A free third-party app called DesktopOK lets you save and load desktop layouts. So if a resolution change messes up your carefully arranged icons, you can reload them with a click.

This story, "7 quick Windows 7 fixes" was originally published by PCWorld.

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