5 Time-Saving Taskbar Tricks You Should Know

You probably don’t give much, if any, thought the taskbar at the bottom of your screen. But did you know it can do some pretty cool stuff? Here are some handy tricks you can do with your taskbar.

Keep programs on the taskbar

Want your favorite apps always to be a single click away? Next time you open it, right-click it in the taskbar and select Pin this program to taskbar . Now it will always be there for you, ready for action any time you want it.


Launch apps with the keyboard

Once you’ve pinned apps you can open them with a keyboard shortcut. For example,  Press Winkey + 1, and the first program on the taskbar will open. If it’s already open, it will jump you there.


Open recent files

Right-click a taskbar icon and there’s a good chance you’ll find a jump list of files you’ve recently opened with that particular program. Select one to open it again.


Pin a file permanently to a program

The files on a program’s jump list will disappear over time…unless you pin them there. If the file is already on the application’s jump list, hover the mouse pointer over the filename, then click the pushpin icon that will appear on the left.


If the file you want to pin isn’t already on the jump list, open the folder containing that file, then drag it to the appropriate taskbar icon. When a “Pin to…” message pops up, let go.



Quick access folders and files

Right-click a blank spot on the taskbar and select Tools > New toolbar. This brings up File Explorer, where you can navigate to any folder or drive—I recommend Libraries.


After selecting the folder you want, you’ll have an on-demand  menu of folders and files always available from the taskbar.



Super Useful Windows Key Shortcuts You Don’t Know…But Should!

The Windows key is a standard key on most keyboards on computers built to use a Windows operating system. It is labeled with a Windows logo, and is usually placed between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the left side of the keyboard; there may be a second identical key on the right side as well.

Top Windows Key Shortcuts

Key combinationAction

Windows logo key +P  | Choose a presentation display mode

1-Presentation Display Mode

This one is great if you’re a presenter and need to change your display to incorporate a projector or 2nd external screen. 

Windows logo key +Shift+Left Arrow or Right Arrow  | Move a window from one monitor to another.

Super quick and useful way to swap windows to another screen.

Windows logo key  | Open or close the Start menu.

I probably use this one more than any other. 

Windows logo key +D  | Display the desktop.

Next to the one above, this one is a close second for getting the most use by me. 

Windows logo key +M  | Minimize all windows.

Another one of my favorites.

Windows logo key +Shift+M  | Restore minimized windows to the desktop.

Bring it all back.

Windows logo key +Up Arrow | Maximize the window.

Windows logo key +Left Arrow | Maximize the window to the left side of the screen.

Windows logo key +Right Arrow | Maximize the window to the right side of the screen.

Windows logo key +Down Arrow | Minimize the window.

Windows logo key +Home | Minimize all but the active window.

Windows logo key +E   | Open Computer.

Hmmm…how many of these can be a favorite? I use this one a ton too.

Windows logo key +F Search for a file or folder.

2-Find Files

I prefer Search Everything for this job, but this works well for simple searches.

Windows logo key +L   | Lock your computer or switch users.

Windows logo key +T   | Cycle through programs on the taskbar.

Windows logo key +Tab | Cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Aero Flip 3-D.

3-Cycle Programs AeroStyle

A cool alternative to the old ALT + TAB way of cycling through open programs.

Windows logo key+number   | Start the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number. If the program is already running, switch to that program.

Have I mentioned that I like keyboard shortcuts?!?

More Windows Key Tricks

Shift+Windows logo key+number   | Start a new instance of the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.

Ctrl+Windows logo key+number   | Switch to the last active window of the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.

Alt+Windows logo key+number | Open the Jump List for the program pinned to the taskbar in the position indicated by the number.

Ctrl+Windows logo key +Tab Use the arrow keys to cycle through programs on the taskbar by using Aero Flip 3-D.

Same as Windows key + tab above 

Ctrl+Windows logo key + B | Switch to the program that displayed a message in the notification area.

Windows logo key + Spacebar | Preview the desktop.

Windows logo key + Shift+Up Arrow | Stretch the window to the top and bottom of the screen.

“Read It Later” Options

How many times a day do you find something online that you don’t have time to read but definitely want to come back to it later? For me, that happens quite often and fortunately,  there are a number of ways  you can keep track of those “Read It Later” items. (And none of them involve sticky notes or ribbons around your finger!)

Here are a few apps that will help you keep track of all those things you can’t get to now, but you want to keep track of for later when you can.

These apps have different features, but in a nutshell they save pages in a central location so you can easily find them later.


This is the one I use, with a simple bookmarklet that lets me save a page with a single click. (Available for Web, Mac, Chrome App, iOS, Android, Kindle)




This one is like creating an online newspaper of things you want to circle back to. (Available for Web, iOS, Android, Kindle)




Readability turns any web page into a clean view for reading now or later on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. You can also follow people to see what they are marking to read later. (Available for Web, iOS, Android with lots of integrations with other apps.)



Evernote Clearly

If you’re already an Evernote user (which we’ve covered before), you might want to check out this one. Clearly makes blog posts, articles and webpages clean and easy to read. You can easily save them to Evernote to read them anytime, anywhere.

Evernote Clearly


Lifehacker Packs: Must Have Apps

It is back to school time and a lot of people are getting ready. Part of that preparation might include setting up a new computer or mobile device. If you’re one of those folks you’ll definitely want to get hooked up with all the ‘must-have’ apps for better productivity, communication, media management, and more. The best way to do that is by checking out the Lifehacker Packs.

Every year, Lifehacker creates a list of their favorite, most essential applications for a variety of platforms including Windows and mobile devices. The best part is that all of these apps are totally free! So you’ll save time and money — and who doesn’t love that?!?

Lifehacker Pack For Windows

You can grab the entire pack as a 1-click installation here.

Lifehacker Pack for Mac

Lifehacker Pack for iPhone

Lifehacker Pack for Android

Lifehacker Pack for iPad

Lifehacker Pack for Android Tablets

Student Editions

If you’re a student or are looking to help one get set up for the school year, you’ll want to check out these student versions.

To check in with their always-updating directory of all the best apps, be sure to bookmark:

Free Online Meeting Options

When you work with people in other locations, there are some times when you simply must see each other’s screens.  A picture is worth 1,000 words after all. The good news is that there are a lot of really good options for this task.

If you want super fast and easy to use, give join.me a try. It is so easy, it is what I use with my Dad to help him troubleshoot his PC. I love my dad to death, but if he can use it anyone can – trust me! 😎 With join.me there isn’t any downloads for viewers, and you’ll be up and running in seconds from your desktop, to your tablet to your smart phone.

Google Hangouts are another great, free option. While it’s not as easy to get started as join.me it does have a few extra features to offer.  If you use other Google tools, this might be right up your alley. Video conversations are a snap and you’ll also have the option of joining from your tablet or phone with Hangouts too.

If you need something a bit more “corporate”, both gotomeeting and Webex have free versions that let you hold meetings with up to three connections.





Are you already using one of these? Or maybe something else? Let me know how you use these types of tools and what tips you’ve found that work well for you.

Need Screenshots? Try This Free Chrome Extension

If you need a good way to capture what you see on your computer screen (and who doesn’t?) you should give Nimbus Screenshot a try. You have a couple of options for how you’d like to use it. I’ve got the Google Chrome browser extension that adds a quick and easy button to my browser toolbar. There are also options to install it in Firefox, Android and as a standalone app on your PC.

I deal with screenshots almost every day and have tried a lot of ways to capture the images I want. While SnagIt is still the gold standard, (well worth the $50 ) a lot of people may not want to spend the money or don’t need all those bells and whistles.

Capture images

Nimbus handles all the basics that you’d expect by allowing you to capture and entire window or any selected part of it. The feature that really caught my eye was the ability to scroll long web pages and capture the entire page into a single image. Nimbus also has a few other SnagIt-like features including annotation tools with a super useful blur tool which for any privacy considerations for your images.


Yet another nice feature is the set of options available for what you want to do with your screenshot after you get it. Like all screenshot tools, you can save the image to your computer. Plus there are options for saving them to your Google Drive account or with a free account, to Nimbus’ own online site which lets you easily share on social media and other places. (You can see an example here.)


Of course, if you’re needs are really basic you can use the old school options outlined here including the Print Screen key and the Snipping tool that is built into Windows.

If you like Nimbus and you’re curious for even more, they also have another Evernote-ish tool that looks interesting called Nimbus Note.

Tip of the Week #436

How to Upgrade Your Copy & Paste Work With the Office Clipboard

Most people know that every time you cut or copy an item, it is saved in your computer’s short term memory  – in a place called the Clipboard. Once they’re on the clipboard you can paste them to other places like documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. This week I’d like to share a few things most people don’t know about the Office clipboard that will definitely help you work smarter, not harder.

Access the Clipboard to Work with Multiple Items

Unless you know this trick, you’ll only be able to work with a single copied item at a time. A much smarter, more efficient way to work when you’re copying, cutting and pasting a lot of things is to take advantage of the Office clipboard which can store many more than just one item. That way you only have to copy something once and it will always be available anytime you want it without requiring you to re-copy it again.

Accessing the Office Clipboard

  1. On the ‘Home’ tab in PowerPoint (or Word, Excel, etc) click  on the pop-out button in the bottom-right corner of the ‘Clipboard’ group.
  2. This opens a pane, showing you ALL the items that you’ve copied recently


High Capacity Clipboard

The Office clipboard can store up to 24 items at a time. And this includes items copied from anywhere not just Office. So go ahead and grab that info you from a website or anywhere and copy it. The Office clipboard will hold it for you until you need it.

Choosing What You Want to Paste

The most recent item you copied appears at the top of the clipboard pane. When you press ‘Ctrl + V’ to paste an item, it always pastes the last item copied. If you want to paste any of the other items you’ve accumulated on your clipboard, just click the drop-down next to the item you want and choose Paste.


..Or Paste Them All

Depending on how you’re using it, you can even paste everything you’ve added to your Office clipboard by clicking the Paste All button.

Remember, the clipboard is temporary storage and whenever you shut down or restart your computer your clipboard will be emptied.

Tip of the Week #421

#417 Use Simple Forms to Collect Information the Easy Way

There are a lot of us who at one point or another need to collect information from a number of different people. Traditionally, you send out an email asking for the information you want. Then the ‘fun’ begins…a flood of email replies overwhelm your inbox…at some point you have to take a trip to the copy & paste rodeo so you can consolidate everyone’s answers into a single place so you can make sense of it all.  It is painful and time consuming.

Today, I’ll tell you how you can say good bye to those overloaded inboxes and the copy & paste-apalooza and make the whole process quick and painless. The secret is to use a web form that will automatically collect all the responses for you in a nice, neat spreadsheet. Once you’ve setup your questions all you have to do is sit back and watch the data roll in, while sipping a nice, warm cup of coffee (or whatever drink you prefer). Easy peezy – here are a couple nice, free options.

These online survey tools let other people fill out a form—like a sign-up sheet or questionnaire—where you can see it all in one place online. You can create a survey, send everyone a link and all the responses are compiled for you, automatically in an online spreadsheet.

Google Docs Form

1. Go to Google Drive at drive.google.com.

2. In the new Drive, click New in the top left, hover over More, and choose Google Forms.

( In the older version of Drive, click the Create button in the top left, then Form.)

In the form template that opens, you can add any questions you’d like. You can also organize your form by adding headers and dividing your form into several pages. Learn more about editing your form.

One of my favorite things about Google forms is that you can set it to notify you when people respond.  Choose Tools – > Notification Rules and select the option that says Notify me when “a user submits a form.” You can also set how frequently you would like to be notified – if you have created a “Contact Me” form, the “email right away” may be a good choice but for mass polls and surveys,  the daily digest option might be a better choice.

See it in action and take this sample form for a test drive


Excel Online

You’ll need a free Microsoft One Drive account

1. Sign-in to One Drive

2. Near the top of the screen, click Create, and then click Excel survey. You’ll get a form that walks you through creating your survey.


3. Anytime you want to work with your survey to edit or share it, just click the Survey button on the ribbon.


See it in action and take a sample Excel form for a test drive


#416 Use ‘Snap To’ to Stop Chasing Buttons Around Your Screen

Do ever get tired of dragging your mouse all over the screen or across monitors to click a button on a dialog box? If so and you’re a Windows user, you’re in luck. Windows has a mouse setting that will jump your mouse pointer to where it needs to be automatically.

The feature is called “Snap to” and it is a quick and easy fix.

How to Turn On The Snap To Mouse Option

1. Open the Control Panel and click Hardware and Sound


2. Then click on Mouse


3. On the Pointer Options tab check the Snap To box labeled “Automatically move pointer to the default button in a dialog box”.


Now you can start enjoying all that time and energy you save by not needing to chase those pesky buttons all over your screen!

#415 The Unknown Windows Tool for Automatically Capturing Screen Activity

At some point, everyone who works with computers needs to share the steps for doing something on a computer. Whether it is training for how something works or getting help from a support person when it doesn’t, capturing the steps involved is often very helpful.  There are about a zillion ways to do this including taking screenshots and recording video of your screen actions. If you want a super quick and easy way to capture the steps for some operation on your Windows computer, you should try out the Problem Steps Recorder.  It is free and there is nothing to download because you already have it. (Bet you didn’t know that! I didn’t.)

Problem Steps Recorder

The cool thing about the Problem Steps Recorder is that it will  automatically capture the steps you take, including a text description of where you clicked and a screenshot from each time you click. Then when you’re done, you can save them to a file and send it off to someone else.


To record and save steps using the Problem Steps Recorder

  1. To open the Problem Steps Recorder click the Start button and type psr. In the list of results, click psr.
  2. Click Start Record. Then walk through the steps you want to capture. You can pause the recording at any time, and then resume it later.
  3. When you’re done click Stop Record.
  4. You can use the Save button to save your stpes as a .zip file.

You can even email it directly from the PSR application. Once you’ve saved it, click the help down arrow Picture of help down arrow and then click Send to E‑mail recipient. This will open an e‑mail message in your default e‑mail program with the last recorded file attached to it.

Who knew that such a handy little tool was hiding right there in Windows all along? Learn more about it here.