7 Windows tweaks to avoid PC headaches

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 yourhands from your keyboard? You can open any app on your PC by hittingthe Windows key and typing the first few letters of the application’sname (chr for Google Chrome, it for iTunes, andso on), then hitting Enter. You can also press Windows + 1 to open thefirst 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 startplaying the moment you pop them into your PC? It’s controlled byWindows AutoPlay. Go to the Control Panel, AutoPlay, and you can tellWindows exactly what you want it to do every time you insert a CD orDVD, plug in a camera or smartphone, and so on.

3. Turn Off Automatic WindowManagement

By default, Windows 7 automatically changes the size of your openwindows if you drag them to the edge of the screen. Drag a window toone edge of the screen and it “docks” there while resizing to fill halfthe screen, drag it to the top to make that window go full-screen, andso on. It can be handy, but it can also be annoying. You can turn itoff by going to Control Panel, Ease of Access Center, click Make themouse easier to use, then uncheck Prevent windows from beingautomatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen and clickOK.

4. Troubleshoot Windows With a SpareUser Account

When you’re having problems with Windows or your everyday applications,try using those apps with a User Account different from the one youusually use and see if you have the same problems. If your spareaccount doesn’t have the same problems, whatever is causing the problemmost likely isn’t that deeply rooted in your system-it may just be acorrupt settings file somewhere, for example. If both accounts have thesame problem, you may need to reinstall the application itself, orpossibly even reinstall Windows.

5. Reveal File Extensions in WindowsExplorer

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. Thesedays, Windows Explorer hides the fileextension by default, but you can show them by pressing Windows + E tobring up Windows Explorer, clicking Organize, Folder and searchoptions, selecting the View tab, and unchecking Hide extensions forknown file types.

6. Disable Your Laptop TrackpadWhile Typing

Don’t you hate it when you’re typing an email and your wristaccidentally brushes across your trackpad, moving your cursor far fromwhere you’re typing? DeSofto’s TouchpadPal1.2 can fix that–just download and install it, and it willautomatically disable your touchpad when you’re typing. 

7.Stop Desktop Icons From Moving Around

Windows is really bad about restoring your desktop layout when itswitches resolutions, which is why you’ll find that your files aren’talways where you left them on your desktop. A free third-party appcalled DesktopOKlets you save and load desktop layouts. So if a resolution changemesses up your carefully arranged icons, you can reload them with aclick.