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Back to May 2012 Newsletter

Search, Jump and Snap - Windows 7 Features

by Ryan Coyle

Chances are if you're a Windows user, these days you're using Windows 7. This year we will be replacing almost all of our Windows XP machines with Microsoft's newest OS.  To celebrate that milestone we'd like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the features of Windows 7 that help us get things done faster and easier.

One of the items in Windows 7 that got the most attention was search. Windows Vista was the first Windows OS that featured the redesigned search interface and Windows 7 has improved upon that. To use it, just open up your Start menu and start typing.  Windows will look for files, documents and applications that have the search text in it.  Windows will also train itself to more quickly recognize items that you search for more frequently, making those searches faster the more that you use them.  In this way, the more that you search for a given thing, the faster and more accurately the results will come in.

Another feature that could shave a few seconds off looking for frequently used files is jump lists. Jump lists are localized copies of your recently used files which are common to one application. They are a great way to quickly get to files that you use frequently or if you need to quickly pop open a copy of a file and forgot where you put it. To access a program’s jump list, right-click on the program's icon on your task bar.  When you do, a small window will open up that highlights the last few files that you had open with that program. You can also pin a file to a jump list if you use it frequently, for example, a report or document that you frequently update. To pin a file to a jump list, mouse over the file and click on the pin icon on the right.

Last but not least, is snap.  Snap allows you to quickly shuffle windows around and automatically resize them.  This is great if you have multiple windows open at any time and need to compare things side by side.  To compare to windows side by side, click on the title bar of one window and drag it all the way to the left side.  This will automatically resize it to take up half the screen on the left.  Take another window and drag it all the way to the right and it will resize itself so that it fills up the right hand side of your screen, giving you equal screen size to both windows without having to fiddle with the window handles to get them right.  Let’s say you have a few windows open but you want to minimize all the ones you’re not working on and focus on one.  Click on the title bar of the focus window and quickly shake it back and forth.  This will minimize all your other windows and leave focus window alone.  Need to quickly expand a window vertically?  Move your mouse to the top of the window until it turns into double arrow and then drag it to the top of your screen.  The window will remain the same width but resize itself vertically to meet the bottom.

Hopefully these little tips and tricks will help you shave a few seconds off some common tasks that you use your computer for and help you get more enjoyment out of your Windows 7 computer.