656925.inddThe book you’ve all been waiting for, Windows 7 Inside Out, Deluxe Edition (ISBN 9780735656925; Page count 1360), by Ed Bott, Carl Siechert, and Craig Stinson is now available for purchase.

The Deluxe Edition of the ultimate, in-depth reference to Windows 7 has been fully updated for SP1 and Internet Explorer 9, and features 300+ pages of additional coverage and advanced topics. It’s now packed with even more timesaving solutions, troubleshooting tips, and workarounds from the experts—and includes a fully searchable eBook and other online resources. Topics include installation, configuration, and setup; network connections and troubleshooting; remote access; managing programs; controlling user access and accounts; advanced file management; working with Internet Explorer 9; managing security features and issues; using Windows Live Essentials 2011; performance monitoring and tuning; backups and maintenance; sharing networked resources; hardware and device drivers.

You can find the book’s table of contents in this previous post

Enjoy this book excerpt from Chapter 4, “Personalizing Windows 7”.

Chapter 4

Personalizing Windows 7

Working with the New Taskbar and Start Menu
Personalizing the Taskbar and Start Menu
Mastering Window Management with Windows 7
Tricks. Personalizing Theme Elements: Visuals and Sounds.
Configuring Your Display
Using and Customizing Desktop Gadgets 
Setting Power and Sleep Options
Working with Fonts
Adjusting Ease of Access Options

 

One of the most obvious changes that Microsoft made in moving from Windows
Vista to Windows 7 is the taskbar, which has a bold new look, lots of new functionality,
and new ways to customize, all of which we explain in this chapter. We also
cover the many new techniques that make it easier to perform various window tasks, such
as maximizing, resizing, and so on.
A subtler change is the inclusion of the word Personalize prominently in the user interface
of the new operating system. Certainly, earlier versions of Windows could be tailored, customized,
and modified to suit a user’s needs and preferences—in a word, personalized. But
the P word itself was missing. Now, when you right-click your desktop, the shortcut menu
that pops up features an icon-festooned Personalize command. Personalize
Windows is also
one of the items that appear in the new operating system’s Getting Started task list.
So the message is clear: It’s your operating system; make it reflect your tastes, your needs,
your style. Make it work for you. More than any previous version of Windows, Windows 7
provides myriad tools for doing just that—tools that we survey in this chapter.

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Working with the New Taskbar and Start Menu

The taskbar is that strip of real estate along one screen edge (bottom by default) that contains the Start menu button, program buttons, and status icons.
The taskbar made its first appearance in Windows 95. In the years since, it has slowly evolved: installing Internet Explorer 4 in Windows 95 also
added a Quick Launch toolbar and other toolbars; Windows XP reduced clutter by introducing taskbar grouping; and Windows Vista added
taskbar previews, small window representations that increased your chances of clicking the correct taskbar button for the program you wanted to bring to the front.


The evolution continues in Windows 7, but at a generation-skipping pace. The Windows 7 taskbar (see Figure 4-1) continues to serve
the same basic functions as its progenitors—launching programs, switching between programs, and providing notifications—but in a way
that makes these basic tasks easier and more efficient.

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Opening and Monitoring Programs from Taskbar Buttons


As in previous Windows versions, the taskbar houses the Start menu button, a button for each running program, and the notification area.
You can use these task buttons to switch from one running program to another. You can also click a task button to minimize an open window
or to restore a minimized window. But in a departure from earlier Windows versions, which had separate bands dedicated to a Quick Launch
bar (from which you can open programs) and to taskbar buttons (which represent programs that are currently running), the Windows 7 taskbar
combines these functions. That is, buttons between the Start button and the notification area can be used both for opening programs
and for switching between programs.

 

Adding and Removing Pinned Programs, Documents, and Folders

Programs that you use often (the ones that you might’ve had on the Quick Launch toolbar in the past) can be easily pinned to
the taskbar so that a single click launches them. To open a program that is pinned to the taskbar, you don’t need to open the Start menu
or dig down to find a desktop shortcut. To pin a program to the taskbar, simply drag its icon or a shortcut (from the desktop,
from the Start menu, or from any other folder) to the taskbar. Alternatively, right-click a program icon wherever you find it and choose Pin To Taskbar.


To remove a pinned program from the taskbar, right-click the pinned icon and choose Unpin This Program From Taskbar.
This command also appears on other shortcuts to the program, including those on the desktop and on the Start menu.


You can also pin frequently used documents and folders to the taskbar by using similar methods:
●To pin a document to the taskbar, drag its icon or a shortcut to the taskbar. If the taskbar already has a button for the program
associated with the document, Windows adds the document to the Pinned section of the program’s Jump List.
(For more information about Jump Lists, see “Using Jump Lists on the Taskbar and Start Menu” on page 119.) If the document’s program is not on the taskbar,
Windows pins the program to the taskbar and adds the document to the program’s Jump List.
●To pin a folder to the taskbar, drag its icon or a shortcut to the taskbar. Windows adds the folder to the Pinned section of the Jump List for Windows Explorer.
●To open a pinned document or folder, right-click the taskbar button and then click the name of the document or folder.
●To remove a pinned document or folder from the Jump List, right-click the taskbar button and point to the name of the document or folder to be removed.
Click the pushpin icon that appears.

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Opening Programs


To open a program, click its taskbar button. A few simple (but not obvious) tricks let you do more:
●To open a new instance of a program, Shift+click its taskbar button. This is useful for programs that are already running,
for which an ordinary click switches to the existing instance or, if you already have multiple open instances, displays the window thumbnails.
(If you have a wheel mouse or other three-button mouse, middle-click serves the same purpose as Shift+click.)
●To open a new instance with administrative privileges, Ctrl+Shift+click a taskbar button.

Switching Tasks


When you open a pinned program, the appearance of its taskbar button changes to indicate that the program is running, as shown in Figure 4-2.
The icon for a running program has a buttonlike border, and when you mouse over the button, the background color becomes similar to the
program’s window colors. A program that has more than one window or tab open appears as a stack of buttons. Opening other programs adds a button for each program to the taskbar.

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As in previous Windows versions, you can switch to a different program by clicking its taskbar button. Much of the guesswork
required to pick the correct taskbar button in previous versions is gone in Windows 7, however. Now, when you hover the
mouse pointer over a taskbar button, a thumbnail image of the window appears next to the taskbar button. If a taskbar button
represents more than one window (because the program has multiple open windows), hovering the mouse pointer over the taskbar
button displays a preview of each window.


Still not sure which is the correct window? Use another new Windows 7 feature, Aero Peek. Hover the mouse pointer over
one of the preview images, and Windows brings that window to the fore and indicates the location of all other open windows with outlines, as shown in Figure 4-3.

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When the preview (or the title bar, if you’re not using Aero) of the window you want is
displayed, simply click that preview to switch to that window. You also have the option
of closing a window by clicking the red X in the upper right corner of the preview or by
middle- clicking anywhere in the preview image. Other basic window tasks are available on
the context menu that appears when you right-click the preview image.

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As you use Windows 7, you’ll notice other enhancements to the taskbar. Some taskbar
previews do more than simply show a thumbnail image of the window; for example, the
preview for Windows Media Player includes basic player controls (Previous, Pause/Play, and
Next). And with some taskbar buttons, you don’t even need to display a preview to know
what’s going on with the program; windows or dialog boxes that show a progress bar, for
example, indicate their progress with a colored background in the taskbar button itself.