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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Vista Tips and Tricks
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10/23/2008 10:44:41 PM · #1
I am getting more and more into my new Vista system, so I thought I'd start a Vista tips and tricks thread for anyone that's interested.

Partly motivated by the fact I found out something cool today to share.

TIP:

You can use Windows Media Center (as opposed to Windows Media Player) to play your music collection. If you do, you can also select "play slide show" and then while it's playing, the window will show a Ken Burns effect based slide show of any folders of photos in the library (see Library setup to add a folder to watch). I think it also, at least by default, includes any folders you've set Windows Photo to watch.

I have it running in a window (not full screen) so I can both enjoy the music, slide show, and get some work done!

Likewise, you can set your screen saver to run from this same set of watched folders.

It's a pretty awesome addition to Windows!
10/23/2008 10:46:25 PM · #2
The Alt+Tab trick still works to shift between running apps. Not really a new Vista trick, but one I didn't know about until recently...
10/23/2008 10:48:49 PM · #3
Another TIP:

I didn't realize until a bit ago that there are actually two versions of the MS utilities supplied in Vista 64, and that the default on your menus is not necessarily the 64 bit ones!

Windows Media Player was set up on my menus to show the 32 bit version (the ones in C:\Program Files (x86)). Just pin the 64 bit version to your menu and remove the other!

CORRECTED: The original version of this tip mentioned WMP and WMC. Windows Media Center (WMC) does not link to the Program Files folder at all. It goes to the Windows folder, program "ehome".

Message edited by author 2008-10-23 23:01:46.
10/23/2008 10:51:01 PM · #4
Associate it with Xbox 360 and you're sharing your Photos, streaming your Music, watching Live or recorded (HD)TV (if you have a Tuner in your system), Streaming Internet TV to where ever your XBox is.

Type in Snipping Tool in the run line and check out that cool feature, but don't use it for bad things ;)

Got a pen tablet attached? make sure you got the cool stuff on...check up built in Pen Flicks very cool, handwriting recognition works well. I use it to hand write values in Corel PSP (and all apps actually) when resizing and such... never have to touch mouse. All the cool stuff for Tablet PCs is built in and available.

Oh and if you haven't converted slideshows and videos to DVD check out Windows DVD Maker... some really cool stuff (menuing) and easy to do.

My number one tip is use the heck out of the run line... don't go looking around through menus... want to run word, start typing word it will float to the top of the menu press enter. Want to run lightroom start typing in lightroom... etc etc. Looking for a song, file or email to Neil start typing a keyword for that item... and you will see all references to that keyword.

Techy Stuff: speed up file xfers.

Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn Windows Features on or off (this is where your turn pen tablet optional features on as well)

Uncheck Remote differential Compression

MS's fancy terminology for checking duplicate files when copying/moving files to different devices...They believe that if they find dups and not copy those dups they are making the xfer faster... but the checking for dups on a networks adds time.



Message edited by author 2008-10-24 00:03:51.
10/23/2008 11:29:57 PM · #5
Good tips Andy--thanks for joining in (EDIT: oh, didn't mean to leave you out BRENT! Thanks!). I do prefer typing to finding something on the menu, and I've been using that feature a lot already!

And I discovered the snipping tool yesterday. Very cool. But I made a shortcut to it on the desktop and set the shortcut to Ctrl-Shift-4, because I got a lot of use out of those keys on the Mac (well, Cmd-Shift-4 on the Mac, but on my keyboard, I mapped Cmd to my control key).

I haven't tried the DVD Maker yet, but I will!

Message edited by author 2008-10-24 00:07:41.
10/23/2008 11:32:02 PM · #6
Originally posted by awpollard:

My number one tip is use the heck out of the run line... don't go looking around through menus... want to run word, start typing word it will float to the top of the menu press enter. Want to run lightroom start typing in lightroom... etc etc. Looking for a song, file or email to Neil start typing a keyword for that item... and you will see all references to that keyword.

Edit - I can get this to work for some things, but not for others - for instance, it will launch software, but not open documents.

Message edited by author 2008-10-23 23:42:44.
10/24/2008 12:04:36 AM · #7
This one got me the first time I did it.

Drag and Drop CD/DVD buring with Explorer in Vista. Vista by default uses what they call Live File System to store data on CD/DVDs when you do a drag and drop. Live File System is UDF like the old adaptec (Roxio) Direct CD or Nero's InCD where the media acts as a floppy disk or a flash drive. This is a good thing when you are writing backups or photos to CD/DVD over a long period of time. The session is left open and you can write and rewrite to it until you close the session. This is a bad thing when you just want to write a bunch of files to CD/DVD, close the session and be done as the Live File System will add a ton of time to the process.

If you use Explorer to drag/drop files on a CD/DVD and want the old speedy CDFS burn and close...

When you pop in a blank disc and choose Burn Files to disk, the Prepare this blank disc dialog opens...
Near the bottom of this dialog click Show Formatting Options > choose Mastered (this is the old way of write and close the session (CDFS)) Leaving it in Live File System you will be spending some quality time watching the thermometer go across the screen as it formats the CD/DVD. Live File System CDs can be read on any system once the session is closed.

EDIT: You like Gadgets? How bout a weather gadget with forecast, moon phases and more.... //gallery.live.com/results.aspx?pl=1&bt=1&q=proweather, I really like this one.

Message edited by author 2008-10-24 00:23:48.
10/24/2008 12:37:01 AM · #8
window key + E = Open windows file explorer
window key + R = Open Run Dialogue
window key + M = Minimize all open windows
window key + SHIFT + M = Restore Minimized windows
window key + F = Opens Search for file or folder
window key + CTRL + F = Search for Computer
window key + 1 through 0 = Will open one of the first 10 applications in your quick launch bar with #1 being closest to the start button.
window key + BREAK = Show system properties window
window key + D = Toggle Show Desktop (hitting once will minimize all open windows and hitting again will restore the windows)
window key + U = Open Utility Manager
window key + L = Locks the computer
window key + F1 = Opens Windows help (one of the more useless KB shortcuts lol)

thats all I can think of ATM that I use roughly on a daily basis, too tired...

-dave
10/24/2008 01:29:42 AM · #9
I'm trying movie maker for a slide show. I **Need** a tip:

How can I apply the same transition between all the slides without dragging and dropping the transition between each slide? That's a lot of work if I have to do that!
10/24/2008 02:58:18 AM · #10
Oo awesome hotkeys!

Anyone know if there's anything like on a mac where you can hit the button to make all open windows re-size and fit together on the screen?
10/24/2008 05:38:44 PM · #11
Here's a fantastic trick I just discovered. It will make your life much easier!

Press Shift->Right Click on a file or folder in explorer

Note the new menu item: "Copy as Path"

Now, if you're like me, you don't like having to navigate over to a file in a dialog opened by a program--especially when you likely already have a Windows Explorer (or other file manager) opened to the folder.

Now you don't have to. Just do the trick, and paste into the dialog box edit field, and you're there! (And if it's a file name, your done!)

10/24/2008 06:50:21 PM · #12
Originally posted by nshapiro:

I'm trying movie maker for a slide show. I **Need** a tip:

How can I apply the same transition between all the slides without dragging and dropping the transition between each slide? That's a lot of work if I have to do that!

It is a lot of work! The only thing I found to make it shorter is to cut and paste after you've dragged and dropped one transition. I tried to highlight, then paste, but it was just about the same amount of work because you have to scroll over for that to work.
10/24/2008 08:00:47 PM · #13
Here's a question for you... my laptop is running Vista. We also have DirecTV, and the HD DVR is connected to our home network. My laptop recognizes the DirecTV box on the network, but what can I do with that? Can I somehow view stuff that's on the DVR on my laptop?

I think a couple months ago I figured out how to view some photos from my laptop on the TV that the DVR is hooked up to... maybe that's all I can do with it?
10/24/2008 10:08:32 PM · #14
Originally posted by nshapiro:

I'm trying movie maker for a slide show. I **Need** a tip:

How can I apply the same transition between all the slides without dragging and dropping the transition between each slide? That's a lot of work if I have to do that!


Hey Neil,

The only way I know of is to import your media, select all of the media files and goto the Tools menu and pick Automovie. This will allow you to choose from a list of styles or pre-determined transition effects. It will put a transition between each photo. Then you can go back and replace those that you don't like. I tried for days to figure this one out. If you want the same effect or transition between each photo, you gotta do it yourself. I put together a movie for a wedding reception I did and it had over 100 photos. I finally just used auto movie.
Hope that helps you out!
10/25/2008 02:24:43 AM · #15
I'm a Vista noob as of last week myself. I have a system with the 64-bit version on it and I'm still learning the ropes. I'm not having too much trouble, but there is one annoyance that I have come across. I can no longer right click on a file and choose 'open with' from the flyout menu. Does anyone know if there is a workaround for this?
10/25/2008 03:03:57 AM · #16
it should be there it is on mine
10/25/2008 09:03:03 AM · #17
Two more tips:

1) While in a folder in Windows Explorer, shift-right click opens an menu with the very useful option of "Open Command Window Here" (replaced the XP Power Toy).

2) (This isn't Vista specific) You can copy shortcuts into your "Send To" folder ("C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu" on Vista) which will then show up under "Send To" in the right-click menu. I use this all the time as I have a text editor there so I can bring up any file easily, even ones that aren't .txt.

Paul
10/25/2008 09:23:15 AM · #18
Left click on the desktop then, whilst holding down the ctrl key scroll with the scroll wheel on your mouse change to change the size of the icons on your desktop.

You can also use this to change the size of icons in file browser windows and change the size of the content (text and pictures) in web browser windows. If you are using Firefox (3 only?), your computer will remember the size of each site you change, so you can have 'zoomed in' Google window and a 'zoomed out' DPC window. Which is great for viewing larger pictures on a smaller screen, or making small text bigger on a very high resolution screen.

You can also use the ctrl/scroll wheel in other programs such as Outlook, Word, Excel etc.

Message edited by author 2008-10-25 09:26:22.
10/25/2008 10:35:24 AM · #19
Originally posted by jmsetzler:

I'm a Vista noob as of last week myself. I have a system with the 64-bit version on it and I'm still learning the ropes. I'm not having too much trouble, but there is one annoyance that I have come across. I can no longer right click on a file and choose 'open with' from the flyout menu. Does anyone know if there is a workaround for this?

I know it sounds dumb, but are you sure you're clicking on a file, not a folder? The item shows up for files but not folders.
10/25/2008 10:36:30 AM · #20
Use the Preview Pane in explorer to quickly view photos (for RAW to be viewed you will need the proper codec installed).

Open explorer, navigate to the folder with your pictures...

From the Organize drop-down menu click Layout and then click on Preview Pane to turn it on (it is a toggle so clicking again will turn it off)

You can do the same with Videos, Music and documents (pdf, doc, rtf) folders to quickly preview those as well.

Message edited by author 2008-10-25 10:40:00.
10/25/2008 10:39:44 AM · #21
Does it drive you nuts when you resize the Windows Explorer window, only to have it back to its tiny default the next time you open it? The solution is to hold down the shift key when you close the window. This forces it to remember its dimensions. You only need to do it once, unless you want it to remember a new size.
10/25/2008 10:52:33 AM · #22
The "Favorite Links" pane in Windows Explorer is a handy way to get to frequently used documents quickly, without having to navigate the document tree below it. It's got the standard user folders like "Pictures" and "Music". To add your own, create a shortcut in C:\Users\YourUserName\Links. Shortcuts in this folder are not overlaid with the little arrow, so they look more like filesystem folders. You can also get there by right-clicking inside the panel, but not on an icon (could be tricky) and selecting "Open Favorite Links Folder". From this context menu, you can also reset the panel to its defaults.

To customize the default folder icon to make it look more like the panel's fancy onces, right-click the shortcut icon after you've created it, select Properties, and click the "Change Icon" button on the "Shortcut" tab. The default source file for icon images is good:
C:\Windows\System32\imageres.dll

You can also try this:
C:\Windows\System32\SHELL32.dll

(Change C:\Windows to %SystemRoot% if your Vista installation is in a different place.)
10/25/2008 10:54:05 AM · #23
For the tweakers and the curious that haven't found the performance monitor yet:

in the Start Search field start typing Reliability (or Performance) and Reliability and Performance Monitor will float to the top, press enter.

It's the task manager on Steriods. Can't shut anything down on this MMC but you can sure tell what is doing what in regards to CPU, Hard disks/Readyboost, Network and Memory.

Along the same lines, check out the Event Viewer. Unlike XPs Useless Event Viewer there is tons of info in Vista's Event viewer, right down to how much time each app is taking to load or shut down.

in the Start Search field start typing Event and Event Viewer will float to the top, press enter -or- my favorite way which is to Right-click Computer and choose Manage as this gives me most of the stuff I need manange on the pewter... ie. Event Viewer, Users and Groups, Disk tools and Services.

In Event Viewer > Applications and Services > Microsoft > Windows > check out the diagnostics logs to see what is causing longer then you want boot/shut down times...

Message edited by author 2008-10-25 11:18:25.
10/25/2008 11:27:13 AM · #24
I found out the hard way this week that the drag & drop copy functionality in Vista is flawed. I was copying a large amount of files (50,000 or so) from a laptop drive to my external, and Vista thought I needed Administrator privileges to copy certain files. While at least it will continue to copy (unlike XP) it skips these files. The end result is that you don't have a copy of all the files, and you're left with a mess, not knowing what files were missed. I never was able to figure out what was causing Vista to think that admin privileges were required.
In looking for a work-around, I found SyncToy (one of the Microsoft Power Toys). SyncToy still had issues with the same files, but at least I knew which files they were via the error report. Next step was to create a shortcut for SyncToy on the desktop with "Run as Administrator" checked. Now SyncToy has the necessary priviliges to copy the files and no errors are generated. SyncToy even knows when a file has been modified during a synchronizing session and will report that the file was not properly updated. All in all, a very nice tool. I plan on using SyncToy as a backup utility, running it as a scheduled task.
10/25/2008 11:35:04 AM · #25
Originally posted by kirbic:

I found out the hard way this week that the drag & drop copy functionality in Vista is flawed. I was copying a large amount of files (50,000 or so) from a laptop drive to my external, and Vista thought I needed Administrator privileges to copy certain files. While at least it will continue to copy (unlike XP) it skips these files. The end result is that you don't have a copy of all the files, and you're left with a mess, not knowing what files were missed. I never was able to figure out what was causing Vista to think that admin privileges were required.
In looking for a work-around, I found SyncToy (one of the Microsoft Power Toys). SyncToy still had issues with the same files, but at least I knew which files they were via the error report. Next step was to create a shortcut for SyncToy on the desktop with "Run as Administrator" checked. Now SyncToy has the necessary priviliges to copy the files and no errors are generated. SyncToy even knows when a file has been modified during a synchronizing session and will report that the file was not properly updated. All in all, a very nice tool. I plan on using SyncToy as a backup utility, running it as a scheduled task.


Just curious, are you Copying to/from folders under the Program Files directory? With Vista they have really clamped down the permissions on the Program Files and below directories to keep the Virus and Malware Creeps from writing/modding or copying from from that hive. That is the only time I've seen Vista ask for admin privs for a copy/move.

Message edited by author 2008-10-25 11:35:39.
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