Cure an Insomniac PC and Other Tips

How to help your computer sleep without interruption, plus keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Windows 7, Word, Excel, and Outlook.

by Rick Broida, PCWorld - As you probably know by now, I just love a good keyboard shortcut. This week I've got a few new ones for you--but first I'll solve The Case of the Mysterious Waking Laptop.

Fix a Computer That Won't Stay Asleep

[ Windows 7 Desktop Management Tips ]

My buddy Doug had a problem with his laptop: After putting it to sleep (into Standby mode), he'd come back a while later to find it wide awake.

There are countless culprits for this kind of behavior: an accidental swipe of the mouse, a scheduled system task, and any number of other weird settings that reside in Windows' power options.

Doug spent considerable time poring through those options, trying to pin down the system's insomia, but none of the sleep or hibernate settings seemed to remedy the situation.

As it happens, there's another place to look: the settings for the Ethernet adapter. (Doug's machine was plugged directly into his router). Here's how we solved Doug's problem, maybe it'll help you if you've got a similar issue:

  • Open the Windows Device Manager.
  • Click the plus sign next to Network adapters, then find the Ethernet adapter for your system. (On my system, it's called Broadcom Netlink Gigabit Ethernet.)
  • Right-click the adapter name and choose Properties.
  • Click the Power Management tab, then clear the checkbox next to "Allow this device to wake the computer."
  • Click OK, then restart the computer.

That may or may not solve your problem, but it definitely did the trick for Doug. As it turned out, any kind of Internet access--either inbound or outbound--was causing the system to wake from Standby mode. But by disabling the Ethernet adapter's support for that capability, the system should stay asleep.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts for Faster Aero Snapping

[ Must-have keyboard shortcut apps for Windows ]

Did you know you can use Windows 7's cool Aero Snap feature to simplify file management? Just open two instances of Windows Explorer, then place them side by side by dragging the windows to opposite edges of the screen. Even better, you can use keyboard shortcuts to do this. Instead of dragging each window to a screen edge, waiting for it to half-maximize, letting go the mouse button, and repeating with the other window, all you need is the Windows key.

Tap Windows-Left Arrow to snap any selected window to the left side of the screen. Naturally, tapping Windows-Right Arrow snaps the selected window to the right side. (This comes in especially handy if you use multiple monitors, as you can't drag a window to the right edge of your lefthand screen or the left edge of your righthand screen.)

While we're on the subject, Windows-Up Arrow maximizes the selected window, while Windows-Down Arrow returns it to its previous location and size.

Make the Most of Your Home and End Keys

[ Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts ]

Many folks never bother to lay a finger on the Home and End keys--and that's a mistake. Here are three places the Home and End keys come in very handy:

In Outlook: While in Mail view, a tap of the End key jumps you to the bottom of your Folders list, Inbox, or individual message (depending on which pane is selected). Tapping Home jumps you back up top.

In Word: I'd wager Home and End were created with word processors in mind, as most such programs--including Word, of course--make valuable use of them. Tapping End moves your cursor to the end of a line, while Home moves it to the beginning. Ctrl-Home and Ctrl-End, meanwhile, jump you to the top and bottom of your document, respectively.

In Your Web Browser: Borrowing from word processors, Web browsers use Home and End to jump to the top and bottom of a Web page. The only difference: no Ctrl key required.

Move Paragraphs in Word Using Only Your Keyboard

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Every time I think I've mastered all the coolest keyboard shortcuts, along comes another one that somehow flew below my radar.

For example, like many folks, I spend a considerable amount of time using Microsoft Word. And I thought I knew all the best shortcuts, like using the Home and End keys to jump my cursor around a document, and, of course, the venerable cut/copy/paste commands. But here's one more great pair of shortcuts for folks who prefer to keep their fingers on their keys and off their mouse: Alt-Shift-Up Arrow and Alt-Shift-Down Arrow.

When you place your cursor anywhere inside a paragraph and press either key combination, that paragraph jumps up or down, effectively switching places with the paragraph above or below it.

Rick Broida writes the PCWorld Hassle-Free PC blog. Sign up to have Rick's newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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