Over the years, tips and tricks for all versions of Windows have taken us on a roller-coaster ride of experiences — some good and some not so good. Nonetheless, Windows 7 has now taken root and is currently on the peak of its climb having already enthralled many of the users who read articles here at LockerGnome. Given that, I thought I would share my favorite tips for Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 7. It is, therefore, not going to be a surprise to us geeks that this system is going to continue to take us for a wild spin that will be unlike any before it — including Windows Vista. With this in mind, we must all be prepared to undergo the twists and bends that this operating system has to offer as we learn to play by a new set of rules and deal with unforeseen problems and unique issues. However, I believe that each of these can best be addressed by some simple tweaks and, over all, should be non-invasive to the operating system. By this I mean that the tips I will be presenting should not, in any way, prevent you from running Windows 7 successfully on your computer. However, on any given day, anything can happen, so I always recommend that you create a System Restore point before making any adjustments to Windows.

Here are my five favorite tips for Windows 7.

Deluxe Control Panel

I personally found it annoying when Microsoft, with the introduction of Windows Vista, decided to revamp Control Panel. Even after years of using this particular feature, it still has me stumbling about looking for the options I need to make some simple adjustments. Therefore, I have a tip which will provide the user with some 250+ options, all located in one simple-to-open folder. Here is how to set up what I fondly call ‘Deluxe Control Panel.’

  • Right click on your Desktop and select New Folder.
  • Name the folder with a name of your choosing like Deluxe Control Panel, or something else you like.
  • After the name, put in a period and then the following string: {ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}
  • Your entry for the name should look like this: Deluxe Control Panel.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}
  • Once you press the Enter key, you’re all set to go. Click on the folder and you will have some 250+ options right at your fingertips, which means no more hunting around looking for an option that is hidden or buried several layers down.

Hidden Feature

When I first started using Windows 7, I could not understand why, when I inserted a blank memory card, the drive did not show up in the Computer section along with other drives. Then I discovered that Microsoft has added a new feature to Windows 7 that keeps the drive hidden when the drive is empty. Using this simple tip, you can change the necessary setting to avoid running into this issue.

Here is how to do it:

  • Open Control Panel and click on Folder Options.
  • Select the View tab.
  • Uncheck¬†Hide empty drives in the Computer folder.
  • Click OK and that’s all there is to it.

Improve System Restore

The System Restore feature has been in place since Windows XP and is either loved or hated by those in computerland. Those who hate this feature believe that the System Restore feature is a waste of system resources (hard disk space), and turn the System Restore feature off completely. These detractors choose, instead, to use third-party software to create an image of the drive that they can then use to recreate a known good state of Windows. Others, such as I, believe that System Restore is a good feature and take advantage of what Microsoft has built into Windows. In fact, I have even increased the amount of space available for this feature from the normal 2% to 5%, believing that it will provide extra protection for my system in case something goes wrong.

Here is how to improve the System Restore feature to your liking:

  • Open Control Panel and click on System.
  • At the next screen, click on System Protection.
  • At the next screen (System Properties should be auto selected; if it is not, manually select this tab), click on the Configure button.
  • From here you can select the option to Turn Off, adjust the size of Disk Space Usage using the slider, or Delete All Restore Points.

Why would you need to delete all previous restore points? Some malware corrupts System Restore points so that when the computer is restarted, your system is reinfected. This is one reason some people do not use System Restore and turn the feature off. With that being said, I have only had to use the System Restore feature twice in the last 10 years to restore my system after installing a software that actually caused issues on my computer. For what it’s worth: I use System Restore and also a third-party imaging software.

Problem Steps Recorder

For any of us who have been anointed with the title ‘guru’ and have become the neighborhood, family, friend, and acquaintance go-to-person when a Windows problem surfaces, you know how frustrating it can be. It is especially frustrating when the person on the other end of the phone, email, or forum posting is an obvious novice when it comes to Windows and their description of the problem includes words such as ‘thingies,’ ‘whatchamacallits,’ and other non-descriptive terms that are not helpful in determining a possible cause of a problem.

Microsoft has added a feature to Windows 7 that can help you diagnose a problem by actually looking at a recording of the problem. It’s called Problem Steps Recorder, and here is how to use it:

  • Press Start, type in PSR, and hit the Enter key.

The Problem Steps Recorder will appear on the screen, and it looks like this:

By simply clicking on Start Record and stopping the recording when done, the file can be emailed to you for your examination. This is one valuable tool that can help us to diagnose problems on a Windows 7 PC.

Create System Repair Disc

As simple as this might seem for the geeks who are reading this, it always amazes me that people either don’t have a System Repair disc or copies of the DVDs that should have been created when they purchased their new computer. When problems rear their ugly heads, it is at that time that the sad truth surfaces and in which the lack of foresight will come back to haunt them and hurt their wallets. To create a System Repair disc, follow these simple instructions:

  • Go to Start, Maintenance, and click on Create a System Repair Disc.

The above screen will appear and all you need to do is click on Create Disc. Either a CD or DVD will work to create the repair disc.

Comments welcome.