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.

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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.

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