Windows 7 beta tips, tricks and tweaks

Testing out the Windows 7 beta? Here are a handful of ways to get around the interface and make it act the way you want.

Editor's Note: This story was written while Windows 7 was in beta; several tips are now outdated. See our updated story for the latest tips and tweaks for the shipping version of Windows 7.

Running the Windows 7 beta, and want to bend it to your will? No problem. We've got plenty of tips, hacks and secrets to keep you busy for a long time, including automatically opening Windows Explorer to a folder of your choice, bringing back the Quick Launch toolbar, forcing User Account Control to act the way you'd like, keeping your Explorer searches secret from others, and more.

So check out these tips. If you like them, we'll keep more coming.

Note: A few of these tips involve editing the Windows Registry. If you don't feel comfortable creating a Restore Point, finding your way around the Registry or performing tasks such as creating a DWORD value, see "The tweaker's guide to the Windows Registry."

General tips

We'll start with a few nifty tips that can make it easier to get around and increase your computer's power efficiency.

Shake your desktop free of clutter

If you frequently run multiple programs simultaneously, your desktop can get extremely cluttered. This can get annoying if you're working on one program and want to minimize all the other windows -- you'll have to minimize them individually.

With Windows 7's new "shake" feature, though, you can minimize every window except the one in which you're currently working in a single step. Click and hold the title bar of the window you want to remain on the desktop; while still holding the title bar, shake it quickly back and forth until all of the other windows minimize to the taskbar. Then let go. To make them return, shake the title bar again.

You can accomplish the same thing by pressing the Window key-Home key combination -- although doing that is not nearly as much fun.

Kill the Send Feedback link

The beta of Windows 7 includes a "Send Feedback" link at various places throughout Windows 7, including at the top of Internet Explorer and on top of dialog boxes. Don't like the link? You can easily get rid of it, using a Registry hack.

(Important: Always create a Restore Point before editing the Windows Registry.)

1. Launch the Registry Editor by typing regedit in the Search box and pressing Enter.

2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop, and double-click the FeedbackToolEnabled entry.

3. Change the value to 0, exit the Registry and restart your PC. The feedback link will now be gone. To turn the link back on again, change FeedbackToolEnabled to 3 and restart.

Get a power efficiency report

power efficiency report

A laptop's power efficiency report.

Click to view larger image.

Have a laptop and want to get more battery life out of it? Windows 7 includes a hidden, built-in tool that will examine your laptop's energy use and make recommendations on how to improve it. To do it:

1. First, run a command prompt as an administrator. To do this, type cmd in the search box, and when the cmd icon appears, right-click it and choose "Run as administrator."

2. At the command line, type in the following:

powercfg -energy -output \<i>Folder</i>\En Energy_Report.html

where \Folder represents the folder where you want the report to be placed.

3. For the next minute, Windows 7 will examine the behavior of your laptop, and will then analyze it and create a report in HTML format in the folder you specified. Double-click the file, and you'll get a report -- follow its recommendations for ways to improve power performance.

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