Okay, so this isn’t directly related to what I normally write about (WordPress, websites and web development), but if you use Microsoft Windows, these tips may increase your productivity, giving you more time for other things. For me, that’s more time for WordPress, websites and web development!
I should point out that I’m just passing these tips on. They are things I’ve read recently, that have helped me. I decided to put them into a post in case it helps others, and also to remind me what they are, in case I forget!
Tip 1 – Keyboard ShortCuts For Windows
I recently read IntelliAdmin’s Windows keyboard shortcuts you never knew existed! article. It’s two and a half years old, but it’s still well worth it. The tips should work for Vista, although I’m using XP. Let me know if they don’t!
I’ve been using Microsoft Windows for 17 years and have even taught how to use Windows, but there were some shortcut gems in here that even I didn’t know! The really useful ones, that I wasn’t aware of, are:
- Alt+Esc (Cycle through windows in the order they were opened): Faster than Alt+Tab, because it doesn’t display the icons, it just changes the window.
- Windows+Shift+M (Restore all minimised windows): I often use Win+D to bring up the desktop and minimise all windows. I restore them manually, one by one, as needed. This shortcut restores all of them at once.
- Shift+F10 (Brings up the context menu): I use the context menu all the time. I’m always right clicking! This will save me from having to leave the keyboard to go to the mouse.
- Windows+L (Locks the computer): Probably my favourite. I lock my computer at work every time I leave my desk. I use Ctrl+Alt+Del, wait for the dialogue, then press Enter. The problem is waiting for the dialogue as my computer is slow and there’s often a lag. This gives me an instant lock.
- Windows+Pause (Opens System Properties): A neat alternative to right-clicking on My Computer, but I guess it’s not something that would be used very often.
I found the IntelliAdmin article through @comment.net’s Essential Shortcuts for Geeks: Over 21 Software & Web Services post. It has links to many shortcut lists for most operating systems, web browsers and several other applications. It’s worth checking out – it might save you some time.
Tip 2 – Taskbar Shuffle Utility
I also recently learnt of the Taskbar Shuffle utility through Sergio Pereira’s Software I can’t work without article. Taskbar Shuffle is a free Windows utility, which allows you to drag and drop the items on your taskbar.
Why would you want to do this? Well, I use it to reorder the taskbar items so that related windows are next to each other. I often work on many different tasks, each of which has several windows open. If I open a new window, I want it to appear with the other taskbar items related to that task, not at the end of the taskbar.
I did without this functionality for years. In the last two years however, it’s become a real pain. Why? I have the same issue with a huge number of tabs in Firefox and I can drag the tabs around so they are grouped logically. Now I’m used to that, it drives me crazy that I can’t do it with taskbar items.
I’m very surprised that this hasn’t made it’s way into Windows core functionality. As more and more people get used to tabbed browsing, this is a logical extension for Windows.
Don’t Ask Why I’m Using Windows!
I know there will be some people out there asking why I don’t move to Linux or even a Mac. I have considered switching to Linux. The idea appeals to me because I’m a fan of open source software. However, I have some pretty good reasons not to (for me):
- Satisfaction: I’m happy with Windows XP SP2! Windows XP wasn’t so good in it’s early days, just like Vista isn’t so good at the moment, but it’s now a good operating system.
- Work: I use Windows at work and have done so for the last 14 years (apart from about a year on OS/2). Yes, I could use a different operating system at home, but it’s just added complexity. I like to have a standard desktop environment wherever I’m working.
- Choice: When it comes to choice of applications to use, Windows has it over the other operating systems. Although they have decent software for most situations, there is greater depth of applications for Windows.
- Experience: Because I’ve been using Windows for so long, I can pretty much bend it to my needs. I can’t think of anything I need a computer to do that I can’t make Windows do.
I’m not likely to switch any time soon. I won’t rule out experimenting with Linux (I’m thinking about getting an Eee PC for the train), but that’s purely because I like the idea of Linux. For practicality and productivity, I’ll be sticking with Windows XP for the moment.
I hope some of you out there find these tips useful. They are certainly making my life easier and giving me that little bit of extra time to spend on what I really want to do.