#332 Go Beyond Maximize With Full Screen View

What do you do when you need a really as much screen space as possible for viewing? Don’t just maximize it: go full screen!

In many applications, going full screen will hide the menus and tool bars giving you more usable space. For example, on my laptop, going full screen gives me access to 10 additional rows of data in Excel.

Excel: Maximized

Excel: Maximized

Excel: Full Screen

Excel: Full Screen

Microsoft Excel & Word

To use the full screen view in Excel and Word go to the View tab and click Full Screen.

Turn off full screen in Office, click Close in the upper-right corner of the screen, or press the ESC key.

Photos and videos in Windows Explorer or Windows Media Player

To open any photo in Windows Explorer, or open a photo or video clip in Windows Media Player in Windows 7 and Windows XP, press the F11 key at the top of your keyboard.

To undo full-screen mode and restore the window to its normal view, press the ESC  key.

Web Browsers

In most web browsers the F11 key will toggle you between the full screen view being on and off.


#305 Linking to Network Locations

Most of the time creating links to other things and places is pretty simple. The one exception is when you want to link to something on a network.

Linking to Network Locations

The biggest thing to remember when you are linking to network locations is NOT to use the drive letters. Why? Because the location of your H:\ drive is often not the same as my H:\ drive.  Mapping network locations with drive letters is helpful for getting ourselves to the right place but not for getting others there too.

If you want to link to a network location you should use the full Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path.  The UNC path will give you an exact location of a folder or file and takes the following format:


For example,


These UNC addresses are not case-sensitive and don’t forget they need to have permissions to access the place you’re linking them to or all of this is irrelevant.


Amazingly, Microsoft has never given us a good way to get the full UNC path information we need. Enter PathCopyCopy – an add-on for Windows Explorer that will.

With PathCopyCopy, right-clicking will give you a number of new choices including two that are relevant for us here today.

First, the “Copy Long UNC Path” option automatically includes all the details you need including the server name, etc. which works just fine if the person receiving it knows to manually copy and paste it into Windows Explorer…and that’s a significantly big “IF”!

The best option is to use the “Copy Internet Path” option which will allow you to provide a click-able link and looks something like this:


Notice the slashes are leaning the opposite direction and the text “file:” has been automatically added to the front. These changes are what makes this link work in a web browser, as well as most other places too.

Have you ever run into this problem? Give this a try and I’d love to hear how it goes.

Here are a few previous link-related tips you might also be interested in:

#243 A Better Way to Switch Windows?

As with most computer-related tasks, there are a variety of ways to switch between the windows you have open on your computer. Some people reach for the mouse, point to the Taskbar, and then click the button for the window they want.. While that works perfectly fine, it’s definitely one of the slower options.

If you’re keyboard person, like me , you are probably very familiar with the [Alt] + [Tab] trick. That’s better but sometimes hard to tell which window is the one you actually want and you wind up in the wrong place.

If you’d like to learn a new, potentially better trick, try using [Alt] + [Esc] to instantly jump to the next open window. Just hold the [Alt] key and tap [Esc] once and bingo: the next window appears. Not the one you want? Tap again and off you go to the next window.

Did you already know about [Alt]+[Esc]? What is your method of choice for switching between windows?


Thanks to Fred Schell for sharing the [CTRL] + [TAB] trick which will cycle you through open windows/tabs  of the same program.  For example multiple web browser tabs or Word documents, etc. Give it a try!

#193: Quick Launch Bar

Last week we saw how you can take control of  your start menu to access your programs and documents. This week I’d like to share another option – the Quick Launch toolbar. The Quick Launch toolbar is a section of your taskbar near the Start menu where you can add shortcuts that are always visible, even when you have a window open.

By default, Windows XP links to your Internet browser and your e-mail application in the pinned items list and can have as many as 30 shortcuts to the programs you most frequently use  (The default number is six.)

This week we’ll see how you can take advantage of the Start menu as a launching area for all the programs you use most often, you can configure the entire left panel as a pinned items list.

Displaying the Quick Launch toolbar:

1.   To add the Quick Launch toolbar to the task bar, right-click the task bar, point to Toolbars , and then click Quick Launch .

Changing Items on the Quick Launch toolbar:

1.   To add a shortcut to the Quick Launch toolbar, drag an item to the Quick Launch toolbar.

2.   To remove a shortcut from the Quick Launch toolbar, drag the shortcut from the toolbar to the Recycle Bin.

Resizing the Quick Launch toolbar:

Depending on how many shortcuts you add you may want to make this toolbar bigger.

1.   To resize it, move your mouse pointer over the vertical dotted pattern just to the right until it changes into a double arrow and then click & drag.

2.   If you don’t see the dotted pattern, you need to unlock the taskbar first. Right click an empty space on the taskbar and uncheck “Lock the taskbar”

Quick Launch Tricks:

Just like we saw with the Start menu, you can also add documents, websites and other items to your Quick Launch toolbar

Adding Documents:

1.   To add a document to your Quick Launch bar, just locate it in explorer and drag it into the Quick Launch bar.

Adding Websites:

1.   To add a website to your Quick Launch bar, select the URL from your browser and drag it into the Quick Launch bar.

One-click Email:

You can even use the trick to create a new email in a single click. Here’s how…

1.   Create a new shortcut on your desktop by right-clicking  an empty space on your desktop and selecting New > Shortcut .

2.   In the dialog enter mailto: then  click Next

3.   Enter a name for the shortcut, click Finish and then drag the new icon to its place in your Quick Launch bar.

I use the Quick Launch bar instead of the start menu- which method do you prefer??

#192: Pin Items to the Start Menu

You’ve probably noticed the left side of the Start menu—but do you know why it is divided in two? That left panel is a list of programs with “pinned” items showing above the separtor and your most frequently used programs below the line.

By default, Windows XP links to your Internet browser and your e-mail application in the pinned items list and can have as many as 30 shortcuts to the programs you most frequently use  (The default for list is six.)

This week we’ll see how you can take advantage of the Start menu as a launching area for all the programs you use most often, you can configure the entire left panel as a pinned items list.

Managing Your Start Menu Items:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select the Properties command to display the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box.
  2. Click the Customize button adjacent to the Start Menu radio button to display the Customize Start Menu dialog box.
  3. In the Programs panel, you can set the Number Of Programs On The Start Menu setting to whatever you want it to be or even get rid of items if you click the Clear List button.
  4. When you’re done, click OK twice—once to close the Customize Start Menu dialog box and once to close the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog boxes.

Pinning programs like NetMeeting to your Start menu can save you time and the aggravation of trying to navigate the 8 submenus necessary to launch it…if you can even find it at all!

Pinning Programs to the Start Menu:

  1. Locate and right-click on a program anywhere in the Start menu and select the Pin To Start Menu command.

You can even pin documents to the start menu. This is great if you have things like monthly reports or templates that you want quick and easy access to via the start menu.

Pinning Documents to the Start Menu:

  1. Locate and shift + right-click on a document and select the Pin To Start Menu command.

You can pin as many as 30 programs and/or documents to your Start menu, depending on your screen resolution setting.

Now that you’re in total control of your Start menu…..you can really take advantage and make it work exactly the way you want it to.

#184: Urgent Care – PC Edition

Computers are sort of like cars in the sense that over time, without a little TLC and regular maintenance their performance starts to be somewhat less than it was originally (and 99.9% of the time no matter what you do at some point they just get too old.) Since many of us are working on computers that are getting to be a little long in the tooth, you may be interested in some tips to try and wring out every last bit of juice you can from that “old beater”. (Even if you have a new computer, these will help you keep it operating at top speed.)

Until we can bring our own computers to work here’s how to maintain the one you’ve got.

1. Keep Current with Windows Updates

If you have a company issued PC this is probably already taken care of. For your home PC, it’s definitely a good idea to set this up to happen automatically.

2. Prevent Viruses & Malware

Again, if you have a company PC this is probably covered already, but for your home PC you are on the front-line of this battle. And it’s not enough to simply install them, you’ve got to keep them updated…..or it could get very ugly. Here are a few things I use at home: Free AVG Anti-Virus , Microsoft’s FREE W indows Defender and FREE Zone Alarm Firewall

3. Remove Unnecessary Software

Over time you probably accumulate at least a few programs that you either don’t need anymore or picked up somewhere and really never needed in the first place. You can remove the ones you don’t need via Control Panel » Add/Remove Programs. The built in program from removing software in Windows isn’t always the greatest so you can try the FREE Revo Uninstaller if you’re having trouble getting rid of anything.

4. Tidy Up Your Hard Drive

Both Windows and the software it runs, tend to leave a big mess of temporary files scattered around on your hard drive, wasting valuable space. Surfing the web also causes your PC to accumulate a bunch of pesky ‘temp’ files. With a nearly full hard drive your PC will probably act strange and slow considerably. Cleaning up unneeded files, scanning for disk errors and defragmenting the hard drive can help to restore some zip to your system.

How to run Scan Disk to check for errors.

How to Defragment your hard drive and How to schedule a weekly defrag

If You Do Nothing Else!

If all of this is too intimidating and you do nothing else, especially for your home PC, go get a little program called CCleaner and run it once a week. CCleaner will let you give your PC a good cleaning; nice and simple.

Schedule CCleaner to run automatically

If you’ve done everything above you’re probably in pretty good shape. However, if you’re like me and that still has you at a crawl (did I mention my laptop is 6 yrs old?) here are some further options to help you out. * Duct tape and bubble gum not included.

Optimize for Performance

Turning of some Windows functions can help. I’ve recently had to tweak my Windows settings to “Optimize Performance”, which means turning off a bunch of stuff that’s normally on. This one is super quick & easy. However, there are trade offs such as things not looking as nice on your screen, etc. You’ll have to decide for yourself if this one is worth it or not.

1. Right click on My Computer and select Properties

2. On the Advanced tab click the Performance Settings button.

3. Select the Adjust for best performance option and click OK.

Don’t Launch Programs if you don’t have to

If launching programs take a long time, try not to open them. For example, choose to View email attachments instead of actually opening them. In Lotus Notes, you can right-click and choose view for many files.

Lifehacker Pack:

A great website that I regularly read, called Lifehacker, has created the “Lifehacker Pack” which contains all of their favorite, must-have Windows applications including CCleaner and Revo Uninstaller among others. (I’m running most of them at home myself.) You can jump over there and grab only what you want in a few easy clicks.

Get the full Lifehacker Pack description or just go and get it .

I hope that helps you give your computer at least a little speedier.  Do you have any speed-up tricks that have worked for you?

UPDATE: Another great site has their version of recommended software. Check out the Make Use Of pack here:http://ninite.com/makeuseof (they both have lots of apps in common)

#178: Make Your Own Application Shortcuts

Most of us have a few programs we use much more frequently than most others. For me, it’s email (despite my best attempts to the contrary), PowerPoint, and my web browser.  Wouldn’t it be handy to have a super quick way to launch those programs you’re into and out of all the time? Of course, you could drag its icon to your Quick Launch toolbar, but then you still have to reach for the mouse every time you want to run it.

If you’re a keyboard person like me there’s another great option: assign your favorite program(s) a keyboard shortcut.

How to assign a keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Right-click the desktop icon for the program in question and then choose Properties.
  2. Click inside the Shortcut key field, then press whatever key combination you want to assign to that program. For iTunes, you might use Ctrl-Shift-I or Alt-Shift-A (as in Apple). The only requirement is that the shortcut start with Ctrl-Shift, Ctrl-Alt, or Alt-Shift. (You can’t, for example, just go with Ctrl-I.)

  3. Click OK and you’re done!

Now just press that key combo and bing, bang, zoom…your software launches.  No mouse, no muss, no fuss! You can set up as many of these shortcuts you want — as long as you can remember what all the shortcuts are!  What are your “go to” apps that you use  most often?

#5 The art of the screenshot

Have you ever used your Print Screen button to take a picture of what you see on your computer? If you haven’t you are missing out on a handy way to share what you see on your screen.

If you are asking yourself, “Why would I ever want to do that?” you’ve probably never had to call anyone for technical support on your computer. ( Aren’t you lucky!)

Sometimes showing someone exactly what you see on your screen is the quickest and clearest way to communicate.

Here are a few good ideas about how you can use screenshots:

  • Capture error messages
  • Document procedures
  • Enhance training documents
  • Take a snapshot of a website
  • Include any of the above in a PowerPoint presentation
  • The possibilities are virtually endless

How does it work?

When you press the Print Screen key on your keyboard, a picture of exactly what appears on your computer is saved to the Windows Clipboard. From there you can past this picture into an email, a Word document, a PowerPoint slide, or just about anywhere else.

To capture the entire screen:

  1. Press the Print Screen keySometimes, depending on your keyboard, it may be abbreviated as Prt Scr.

  2. Open the email or document that you want to paste your screenshot into.
  3. Using your keyboard, press Ctrl + VThis will Paste the screenshot from the clipboard into your email or document.

Warning: You can only have one item on the clipboard at a time. So be sure to paste your screenshot somewhere before you copy anything else or you will lose it.

Using an ALT-ernative method:

Now, for those who’ve made it far, I have another cool little feature of the Windows Print Screen Key. Pressing these keys …

Alt + Print Screen

…will take a screenshot of the currently selected window, not the entire screen like the normal screenshot function.

This allows you to target that specific window and nothing else. No more cropping those screenshots to grab the content you were after!

Print Screen example:

ALT + Print Screen example:

Want more options?

If you need more options than this there are several more sophisticated applications that can capture items such as menus, text, objects, scrolling windows and other specific regions of your screen.

WinSnap is a good free alternative, while SnagIt probably has just about everything you’ll ever need in a screenshot tool for about $40.