Windows 7 Tips and Tricks

Making Windows 7 Faster

Most folks find that Windows 7 runs considerably faster than Vista, but with any operating, there are tweaks you can perform and routine tasks you should do to keep your system running as fast as possible. Brand new computers from OEMs are often loaded up with "crapware" that bog everything down, and computers you've been using for a while sometimes accumulate unneeded programs and files that can slow them down. This article offers some tips on how to speed up your Windows 7 computer:

Protect against keyloggers

Keyloggers record what you type, but you can use KeyScrambler, a free plug-in for your web browser (IE or Firefox) to encrypt your keystrokes at the level of the keyboard driver. Keyloggers will record the encrypted version of the keystrokes, which will be scrambled and not able to be read. You can read more about it and download it here:;txt

Connectivity and/or performance issues with certain wireless hot spots

If you find that you get poor performance, or the network connection is dropped altogether when you connect to certain wi-fi hot spots with your Vista or Windows 7 computer, this may be because the wireless access point or router does not support 802.11 power save protocol. There are a couple of methods you can use to work around the issue. Find out about them in KB article 928152 at:

Troubleshooting Homegroup printing problems

If you've set up a homegroup for networking your Windows 7 computers, and you're having trouble printing to a printer in the homegroup, this page offers some possible causes and troubleshooting tips. For example, did you know that if the printer has a non-USB connection, you'll need to share it using the Devices and Printers applet in Control Panel? Find out more about homegroup printing problems here:

The sidebar from Windows Vista is gone in Windows 7 - or is it?

Actually, it still runs in the background to display your gadgets. What if you don't use gadgets? Chances are, the sidebar service is still running and using up system resources. You can get rid of it for good if you don't need it. Here's how:

  1. Open your registry editor.
  2. Navigate to the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Run
  3. In the right pane, right click the Sidebar value and select Delete.
Close the registry editor.

How to fix problem with Windows 7 refusing to boot unless DVD is in the drive

Several people have reported a problem whereby they don't boot into Windows 7 unless the installation DVD is in the DVD drive. Try this:

  1. Boot from the Windows 7 DVD.
  2. Click Next and then click the "Repair your computer" link.
  3. In the System Recovery Options menu, select "Command Prompt."
  4. Type Bcdedit /export C:\BCD_Backup
  5. Press Enter.
  6. Type ren c:\boot\bcd bcd.old
  7. Press Enter.
  8. Type Bootrec /rebuildbcd
  9. Press Enter.
  10. Close the command window and reboot the computer.

Note: Check your BIOS settings and ensure that the boot device is set to be the hard drive.

Some function keys or keyboard shortcuts don't work correctly

You might find that some of the function keys and keyboard shortcuts don't work correctly on your Windows 7 computer, in that the computer behaves as if the key or key combination was pressed twice. This is due to a timing issue, and there is a hotfix available to fix it. Find out how to get it in KB article 975741 at:

Using the Windows.old folder to recover data

If you upgraded an XP or Vista computer to Windows 7, you probably have a folder on your hard drive called Windows.old. It's a copy of your former Windows installation and can be used to roll back to the older version of Windows. But that's not the only thing it's good for; it can also be used to recover files and settings to be used with the new Windows 7 installation. Find out about using Windows.old to recover documents, music and email in this article over on

How to use the Bootrec.exe tool to repair startup problems

If you have problems starting your Windows 7 or Vista computer due to problems with the master boot record, a boot sector or a boot configuration data (BCD) store, you can use the bootrec.exe tool in the Windows Recovery Environment to troubleshoot the issue and repair the problem. Find instructions in KB article 927392 at:

Microsoft Agent-enabled programs don't work in Windows 7

If you've upgraded to Windows 7 and you find that programs that use Microsoft Agent don't work (and may even crash), it's because Microsoft Agent is not included in Windows 7. This can be a problem because such applications as Microsoft Office 2003 and Office XP use Microsoft Agent. Don't worry, though - there is a hotfix that will install Microsoft Agent on your Windows 7 computer. Find out how to get it in KB article 969168 at:

Safer surfing with SmartScreen

The SmartScreen Filter is a feature in Internet Explorer 8 that helps you avoid socially engineered malware phishing websites and online fraud when you browse the web. The SmartScreen Filter checks websites against a dynamically updated list of reported phishing and malware sites, checks software downloads against a dynamically updated list of reported malicious software sites and helps prevent you from visiting phishing websites and other websites that contain malware that can lead to identity theft. Find out more about the SmartScreen filter and how to report phishing web sites here:

Turn your Windows 7 computer into a wi-fi hotspot

Want to share your Windows 7 computer's Internet connection with other computers? If it and the other computers have wi-fi adapters, you can do it easily with Connectify. For example, if you pay for a wi-fi connection at the airport, your traveling companion can share that connection without also having to pay (of course, you should check the terms of service to be sure that's not prohibited). Or you can share your wired Ethernet connection on your laptop with iPads, Android tablets, smart phones or other devices that don't have Ethernet ports. Find out more about it here:

How to get rid of the "This device can perform faster" message

When you plug an older USB device into your Windows 7 computer, you might get a pop-up message that says "This USB device can perform faster if you connect it to a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port. For a list of available ports, click here." You probably just ignore the message or close it with the X, but you can prevent it from bugging you every time. Here's how:

  1. In the pop-up, click to view the list of available USB 2.0 ports.
  2. At the bottom of the dialog box listing the ports, you'll see a checkbox (checked by default) that says "Tell me if my device can perform faster." Uncheck the box.
  3. Click Close.
Now you don't have to deal with the pop-up again.

How to turn your Windows 7 laptop into a wi-fi hotspot

Want to share your laptop's Internet connection with other wi-fi devices (for example, your iPad or Galaxy Tab, or friends' laptops)? Windows 7 supports a feature called Virtual Wi-fi (if your wireless adapter driver supports it - so you might need to update the driver to make it work. Some Intel, Broadcom and Realtek adapters support the feature). Here are the steps for setting it up:

  1. Click Start and in the search box, type cmd
  2. Right click the cmd.exe link and select "Run as Administrator."
  3. In the command prompt window, type: netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=MyNet key=MyPassword replacing "MyNet" with the name you want to use for your wireless network and "MyPassword" with a password that will have to be entered on other devices to connect to it.
  4. Press Enter.
  5. Still at the prompt, type netsh wlan start hostednetwork
  6. Press Enter.
  7. Click Start | Control Panel.
  8. Click Network and Internet | Network Sharing Center.
  9. Select "Change Adapter Settings."
  10. Right click your Internet connection and click Properties.
  11. Click the Sharing tab.
  12. Check the box labeled "Allow other network users to connect ...".
  13. Select your virtual wi-fi adapter. Now other wi-fi devices should see your network name appear in their lists and they can connect to it by entering the password.

Don't want to go through all that? You can take the lazy way out and use Virtual Router, a "donationware" software program that sets up the network for you. You'll find it here:

TuneUp360: 90% of SLOW Computers are Affected by Various Hidden Windows Errors

TuneUp360 uses patented technology to auto scan and fix your computer errors with only one click. This kind of software is specially designed for home users and busy people who just want their computer to work without any effort. With just one click, you will get a fast, stable and secure computer. You can simply use it to increase the speed, minimize errors and freezes. Download the free trial and get more information here:

How to shut down all running programs with one click

When you shut down or restart Windows 7, it sometimes spends a bit of time waiting for open programs to close. You can select to force close the programs, but then Windows immediately restarts or shuts down. What if you want to close all your running programs without shutting down? Here's how you can create a shortcut to do just that:

  1. Right click an empty spot on your desktop and click New, then Shortcut.
  2. In the "Type the location of the item" box in the Create Shortcut wizard, type the following: taskill /F /FI "USERNAME eq " /FI "IMAGENAME ne explorer.exe" /FI "IMAGENAME ne dwm.exe"
  3. Click Next.
  4. Type a name for the shortcut, such as KillAll
  5. Click Finish
  6. Right click the shortcut, click the Shortcut tab and click the Change Icon button
  7. Select an icon that you want to represent the shortcut, and click OK twice to close the dialog boxes
  8. You can drag the shortcut to the taskbar so it will be visible when many windows are open

Now you can kill all running programs with the exception of Explorer.exe and the Desktop Window Manager (so you'll still have the taskbar and shell). Note that when you use this "nuclear option," programs you have open will shut down immediately without saving your work, so use it with caution.

How to delete shadow copies

Shadow copies are great - this feature in Windows lets you access previous versions of your files and restore them to an earlier point in time. However, when Windows saves many previous versions, they can begin to take up a lot of space on your disk. This is especially troublesome if you're using a modern faster (but lower capacity) solid state drive (SSD). You can delete shadow copies to free up disk space. Here's how:

  1. Click Start and in the search box, type disk cleanup.
  2. Click the link that appears in the search results.
  3. Click "Files from all users on this computer."
  4. Enter admin credentials if prompted to do so.
  5. Select the hard drive on which the shadow copies are stored if prompted (this selection will appear only if you have multiple drives).
  6. Click the More Options tab.
  7. Click System Restore and Shadow Copies, then click OK.
  8. Press the Delete key to verify that you want to delete the restore and shadow copies.

If you're really pressed for space and don't want Windows to make shadow copies, you can turn the feature off. See the instructions at

Can't play a DRM protected media file on Windows 7 computer

If you have a Windows 7 computer and find that you are unable to play DRM protected music or other media files that you've bought, and can't even purchase new DRM protected files on the computer, it may be because Windows 7 was installed using image-based deployment that affected the Windows Media DRM and Zune DRM systems. To fix the problem, you need to reset DRM systems. You can find out how to do that in KB article 976590 at:

"Copying Prohibited" error when you watch live or recorded TV in WMC

When you use Windows Media Center to watch live TV shows or recorded TV on a computer running Windows 7 that has an analog tuner, (including set-top boxes), sometimes an issue occurs whereby playback stutters and the data stores gets too large. Then you get a "Copying Prohibited" message. There is a hotfix to address this. Find out more about it in KB article 2266287 at:

How can I make the text on the logon screen larger?

My eyes aren't what they used to be and I'm just comfortable with larger text on my computer. I adjusted it so the text is fine when I'm at the desktop but I noticed this didn't increase the text size on the logon screen. I know it's not a big deal - not as if I don't already know what it says, but if there is a way to make that text bigger, I would just be more comfortable with it.

Changing the DPI setting in Windows doesn't affect the text on the logon screen, but there is indeed a way to do that. It involves editing the registry, though, so proceed carefully & back it up before you make changes, just in case. Here are the steps:

  1. Open the registry editor and navigate to the following key:
    HKEY_USERS\Default\Control Panel\Desktop
  2. Create a new DWORD value and name it LogPixels
  3. Double click the new LogPixels item and set the value data to the DPI that you want to use for the logon screen (default is 96; the larger the number, the larger the text size). Value data should be in Decimal.

That should do it!

More Windows 7 info. Click here.