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‚Äôs 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‚Äôt already on the jump list, open the folder containing that file, then drag it to the appropriate taskbar icon. When a ‚ÄúPin to‚Ķ‚ÄĚ 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‚ÄĒI 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

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 combination | Action

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‚ÄĎmail recipient. This will open an e‚ÄĎmail message in your default e‚ÄĎmail 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‚ÄĒwhich should be the first open tab you see‚ÄĒcheck 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! ūüėé

#357 Top Windows Shortcuts

We recently acquired a Windows 8 computer at our house and it is quite different from any of the previous versions of Windows. ¬†Here are some good tips to know if you work on a Windows 8 computer and as an added special bonus — totally free of charge today only! — a few for Windows 7 as well.

Windows 8

Windows 8 is all about the “hot corners’. ¬†The corners on your screen are hot corners and give you access to different Windows features.

Bottom Left-hand corner: ¬†The bottom left-hand hot corner of the screen will allow you to access the Start screen, if you’re in the Start screen and have the Desktop open, this corner will open the Desktop from the Start screen.

Top-left corner of the screen: Moving the mouse to the top-left corner and then down will display all the apps running on the computer. Clicking and dragging any of these apps to the left or right-hand side of the screen will snap that app to that side of the screen.

Right-hand side of the screen:  Mousing over on the right-hand side of the screen will give you access to the Windows Charms

I have found that knowing some easy keyboard shortcuts will save you a bit of sanity while trying to learn Windows 8.

  • Press the¬†Windows key¬†to open the Start screen or switch to the¬†Desktop¬†(if open).
  • Press the¬†Windows key + D¬†will open the Windows Desktop.
  • Press the¬†Windows key + .¬†to pin and unpin Windows apps on the side of the screen.
  • Press the¬†Windows key + C¬†to open the¬†Charms.
  • Press the¬†Windows key + I¬†to open the Settings.
  • Press and hold the¬†Windows key + Tab¬†to show open apps.
  • Press the¬†Windows key + Print screen¬†to create a¬†screen shot, which is automatically saved into your My Pictures folder.

If you’d like even more, jump over and grab this listing of 100 Windows 8 shortcuts.¬†¬†[PDF]

Windows 7

And for most of everyone else who is still working in Windows 7 here are a few for you too.

  • Press the¬†Windows key+Home: ¬†Clear all but the active windowP
  • Press the¬†Windows key+Space: All windows become transparent so you can see through to the desktopP
  • Press the¬†Windows key+Up arrow: Maximize the active windowP
  • Press the¬†Windows key+Down arrow: Minimize the window/Restore the window if it’s maximizedP
  • Press the¬†Windows key+Left/Right arrows: Dock the window to each side of the monitor
    (If you’ve got dual monitors, adding Shift to the mix (e.g., Win+Shift+Right arrow) will move the window to the adjacent monitor.)
  • Press the¬†Windows key+T: Focus and scroll through items on the taskbar.P
  • Press the¬†Windows key+P: Adjust presentation settings for your displayP
  • Press the¬†Windows key+(+/-): Zoom in/outP
  • Shift+Click a taskbar item: Open a new instance of that application

#350 Burn baby burn! (CDs & DVDs that is)

If your computer has a CD or DVD burner, you can copy files to a writable disc. This process is called burning a disc.

Burning a disc like this is useful for storing, archiving, and sharing files among different computers.

Picture of a Play button Watch a video: Video: Burning a CD (4:14)

If you want to create other types of discs, such as a DVD-Video disc (to play in a regular DVD player) or an audio CD (to play in a regular CD player), you’ll need to use a different program or feature of Windows.

How to burn a disc:

1. Insert a writable disc, such as a CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, or DVD+RW disc, into your computer’s CD, DVD, or Blu‚ÄĎray Disc burner.

2. In the AutoPlay dialog box that appears, click Burn files to disc using Windows Explorer.
AutoPlay
If the AutoPlay dialog box doesn’t appear, click the¬†Start¬†button¬†Picture of the Start button, click¬†Computer, and then double-click your disc burner.

3. In the Burn a Disc dialog box, type a name for this disc in the Disc title box, click Like a USB flash drive, and then click Next.

burn-disc
4. Open the folder that contains the files you want to burn, and then drag the files into the empty disc folder. As you drag files into the disc folder, they are copied automatically to the disc.  You can copy files (or entire folders) to the disc folder by dragging them to the disc icon or to an open disc folder.
5. After copying the files and folders, you might need to close the disc session. For more information, see Close or finalize a CD or DVD.

Tip:

Instead of dragging and dropping files as described in the procedure above, you can select the files you want to burn in Windows Explorer, right-click one of the selected files, point to Send to, and then click your disc burner drive.

Want to learn more about burning different types of discs? Check out these Disc Burning Tips.

#333 Pin a program to the taskbar

Did you know that you can pin your favorite applications and/or files to your taskbar so you can quickly access them any time?

In Windows 7, you can also pin shortcuts for favorite or frequently used files, folders, and websites to the Jump Lists for each of those programs to the taskbar.
Learn more about Jump Lists here.

To pin a program shortcut to the taskbar, do one of the following:

  • If the program is already running, right-click the program’s button on the taskbar (or drag the button toward the desktop) to open the program‚Äôs Jump List, and then click Pin this program to taskbar.
  • Or if the program isn’t running, click Start, find the program‚Äôs icon, right-click the icon, and then click Pin to Taskbar.
  • You can also pin a program by dragging the program’s shortcut from the desktop or Start menu to the taskbar.
Pinning a program to the taskbar

Pinning a program to the taskbar