Obsessed with technology?
Subscribe to the latest tech news as well as exciting promotions from us and our partners!
By subscribing, you indicate that you have read & understood the SPH's Privacy Policy and PDPA Statement.
Feature Articles
Are you Ready for Windows 7?
By Aloysius Low & Alvin Soon - 21 Oct 2009,12:00am

Three's the Charm - Power Tips

Three's the Charm - Power Tips

There's plenty more in Windows 7 that will rock your socks - so here are seven power tips that you should know for a better experience with the OS. Of course, the usual caveats apply, so if you're not comfortable with changing some settings, it's best that you don't. However, the items listed here are simple enough that should be easily doable for almost everyone.

1. Calibrate Windows 7

Windows 7 helps you calibrate your monitor to get your colors looking right. Go to the Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Display, click Calibrate color and follow the easy instructions. Instead of messing with the wrong color settings, it's now a much easier process with minimal fuss.

2. Open Folder in New Processes

Windows Explorer opens new folders in the same process, this saves resources but if one folder crashes so does Explorer. Open Explorer, click Organize > Folder and search options, go to View and check 'Launch folder windows in a separate process.' This time, if one should fail, the other folders won't - similar to how some browser windows work. Note that this will take up more resources, so don't use this if you have a low-end computer.

3. Encrypt your Files

Not many folks know about this, but if you want to keep the info on your thumb-drive for your eyes only, you can do so with the built-in BitLocker application. Right-click your thumb-drive, click 'Turn on BitLocker' and it will now be encrypted. It can now be read on Windows PCs only with the right password (even on PCs without BitLocker installed). The only problem though, is that the BitLocker option is only available on Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Windows 7. But if you're a security freak, then do give the Ultimate edition a shot.

4. No Annoying UAC

Windows 7 comes with User Access Controls which you can set it to distinguish between user-initiated and software-initiated actions. So now you can set Windows not to ask if you want to let yourself to do what you just did. That sounded weird, didn't it? But that's exactly the silly intervention Vista users had to deal with and instead resorted to completely disable this function that was meant to protect users. Finally, we have a change we can believe in, and it's something we actually like compared to what was available on stubborn Vista.

5. Built-in GPU Transcoding

Windows 7 supports hardware GPU transcoding - in English, this means that Windows 7 can take advantage of your graphics card (GeForce 8 series or ATI Radeon HD 2000 series and newer) to convert a video into another format that's suitable for playback on a compatible portable media player. There's no need for additional third party software as this works by a simple drag and drop. It's quite a limited (though useful) feature that sadly doesn't extend to converting video files without going through the portable media player device.

Still, it's a decent enough enhancement that makes better use of your computer's horsepower and is a simple enough procedure that works to understand the connected device's capabilities when connected and automatically does the required conversion. Power users would definitely want to have all the control they need, so Microsoft left the advanced options out and just kept it to the basics. Exactly when would a typical end-user require transcoding? Why, it's when you need your audio/video to be ported to your portable media devices. So that's exactly when this transcoding functionality kicks in!

If you don't have a compatible discrete graphics card for GPU enabled transcoding to take place, well fret not, the automatic transcoding would still work, but it will just take a longer time since it will then be taxing your system's CPU.

6.Jumping and Pinning from the List

Jump Lists offer a ton of time-saving quick access options, just right-click on an application's taskbar icon and a list of options appear. Clicking on a recently opened document on the list for example, opens the exact document you want and launches the related application, all at the same time. You can also pin files, folders and URLs for quick access by right-clicking them and dragging them to the taskbar, doing this with a folder for example, will automatically pin it to the Windows Explorer icon. Yes, there's no more Quick Launch feature, but you can easily create your own Quick Launches.

7. Quick Access with Libraries

New to Windows 7, Libraries are a way for you to group similar types of files even if they reside in different folders. Add files and folders to your Libraries so you can reach and share them all from one easy location. Which means even if you're the messiest person on the planet, finding where all your music or videos are stored shouldn't be an issue anymore. Use this feature well, and you'll never be one to waste time trying to locate 'missing' files anymore.

Obsessed with technology?
Subscribe to the latest tech news as well as exciting promotions from us and our partners!
By subscribing, you indicate that you have read & understood the SPH's Privacy Policy and PDPA Statement.