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.

Taskbar-pin

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.

Taskbar-pin

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.

Taskbar-Files

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.

Taskbar-Files

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.

Taskbar-PinFile

 

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.

Tasbkar-folders

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

Taskbar-Folders

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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.

#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

MouseSnap01

2. Then click on Mouse

MouseSnap02

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

MouseSnap03

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.

ProblemStepsRecorder

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.

#378 Tweak Your Windows Taskbar

You probably give very little, if any thought to your Windows taskbar.  We all use it differently but one thing we have in common is that usually it just sits there taking up space. Although it doesn’t take up much space if you want to maximize your screen real estate you can  set your taskbar so that its only there when you need it.

Autohide Your Taskbar

Here’s how to set it to autohide:

1. Right-click on the taskbar

2. In the menu that appears, select Properties.

3. Under the Taskbar tab—which should be the first open tab you see—check the box next to Auto-hide the taskbar.

4. Then click Apply and OK.

After you’ve done this your taskbar should disappear into the bottom of your screen. But don’t worry it is still there – it is just waiting in the wings until you need it.

To bring the taskbar back, just move your mouse to the bottom of the screen and it’ll pop back up ready for action.

Another good option, especially for those of you with wide-screen monitors is to drag it over and dock it to the left side of your screen instead of having it down at the bottom. (That’s what I do.)

Bringing back the Windows XP’s taskbar

In Windows 7, the taskbar merges all the open windows of  each program under a single icon called a taskbar button.  So ff you have four Excel worksheets open, you’ll only see one Excel button. When you mouse over that icon you’ll see four mini-previews – one for each window.

These combined buttons are a good way to keep your taskbar uncluttered, but if you  prefer the old XP approach of having individual taskbar buttons for each open window it is easy to change back. Here’s how:

1. Right-click on the taskbar and select Properties.

2. Under the Taskbar tab look for the Taskbar buttons setting. Click the drop-down menu to the right of that setting and select Never combine, or Combine when taskbar is full for a more practical approach.

3. Then click Apply and OK and you’re all set.

NeverCombine

#376 Sorting Your Files Can Help You Find What You’re Looking For Faster

Search is great when you’re looking for a specific file by name, but sometimes you  don’t know what it is. For times like that  you can use the Windows File Explorer to sort your files and find the largest video file in your collection, or the most recently modified Word document in your work folder, etc.

By default, File Explorer lists your files and folders in alphabetical order from A to Z. But let’s say you want to group all the files in your Documents folder another way. For example, maybe you want to find a particular PowerPoint presentation.  Instead of browsing among all the different types of files you have in there you can simply group them by type of document, which will put all your presentations together in a nice, neat grouping for you automatically.

In the Windows 7 File Explorer you can right-click in an empty space and get several options for organizing your files. The first one you might try is grouping. 

Grouping Files

GroupBy

This will organize everything this folder by the type document. As you can see you’ll get all your Word documents grouped together along with a count of how many of each type there are.

GroupByType

You can group your files just about any way you like. By name, date, author etc etc. Select the More… option to see a complete list of grouping options.

Sorting Files

Another helpful way to locate files is by sorting them.  This works exactly the same way as grouping does. Right-click an empty space in your File Explorer window and choose your sorting method.

You can even use Grouping and Sorting together to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

How do you use grouping and sorting to manage your files?

#358 Shake Out Your Cluttered Windows

If you ever find yourself with multiple programs open at the same time it’s easy for things to get a bit cluttered and confusing  Here is a great, and super fun, tip for when you’re working in one program and want to minimize all the other windows — before Windows 7 you had to minimize them individually.

With Windows 7’s “shake” feature, though, you can minimize every window except the one in which you’re currently working — in a single step.

Click and hold the title bar of the window you want to keep on the desktop; while still holding the title bar, shake it quickly back and forth until all of the other windows minimize to the taskbar. Then let go. To make them return, shake the title bar again.

You can also do this by pressing the Window key-Home key combination — but that isn’t as fun as the click & shake! 😎