7 ways to work faster in Windows 7

Master these features to boost your productivity in Windows 7

In Windows 7, Microsoft added a variety of features that make users more efficient and productive than with previous versions of Windows, but there can be a small learning curve for some of them. If your job is supporting the growing number of Windows 7 users, pass along these seven tips to help them work faster and get more done -- or use them yourself to boost your own Windows 7 efficiency.

1. Get the most out of Jump Lists

Jump Lists are one of Windows 7's secret efficiency weapons. With previous versions of Windows, the Start Menu displayed a list of recently used files that users navigated to with one click. But this list linked to only certain file types, and it showed only the last 10 files, quickly cycling items off the list.

Jump List in Windows 7 Start Menu
A Jump List shows recently used files for various applications in your Start Menu.

The Jump Lists in Windows 7 take the Recent Items concept and apply it on an application-by-application basis to give you fast, one-click access to the files you've used most recently. A little arrow to the right of the application name in the Start Menu indicates the presence of a Jump List. You hover over the application to expand the Jump List and see a list of the recently opened files for that program; click the one you want to open it instantly.

The number of items maintained in each Jump List defaults to 10, but you can expand it to up to 60 in the Start Menu settings: Right-click on the Windows taskbar and select Properties, then click on the Start Menu tab in the Properties window and select the Customize button. At the bottom of the Start Menu customization area, you can set the number of items to display in the Jump List. Whatever you set it for, though, will be the setting for all Jump Lists. There is no way to customize it on an individual program basis.

More important, you can pin items to the Jump List so you don't have to worry about them cycling off. For example, if you have a file that you access on a regular basis, you can click the pushpin icon that appears next to the file name when you hover over it in the Jump List to pin it to the list permanently. Pinned files appear above the dynamic Jump List and do not cycle off. To unpin an item from a Jump List, select it in the list, click its pushpin icon, and select "Unpin from this list."

Jump Lists don't stop with the Start Menu; they also appear when you right-click an application's icon in the Windows 7 taskbar. In addition to the same list of pinned and recently used files that appears in the Start Menu Jump List for that application, you'll see a few tasks, such as "Pin this program to taskbar."

2. Beef up context menus

You are most likely familiar with the concept of the context menu. If you right-click on the Windows 7 desktop or in an application, a menu of options appears that varies based on your context -- what application you're in and what you're doing.

As they stand, context menus help you work faster in Windows 7 by providing quick access to common functions. However, by pressing the Shift key as you right-click the mouse, you can access an expanded list of context menu items that enable you to work even more efficiently. For example, if you Shift-right-click on a file or folder, one of the options that appears is "Copy as path," which copies the directory path to the file or folder location, such as "C:\Users\Tony\Documents."

Here are the extended options you can access with a Shift-right-click:

Expanded context menu options in Windows 7

Context Additional options
Desktop Open command window here
File

Run as different user

Copy as path
Folder

Open in new process

Open in new window

Open command window here

Copy as path
File or Folder "Send To" submenu Displays extended list of choices to send an item to, including Downloads, My Music, My Pictures and My Videos
Taskbar Jump List Displays classic right-click context menu that includes Restore, Move, Size, Maximize, Minimize and Close commands
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