WindowsNetworking.com Newsletter of April 2008

WindowsNetworking.com Monthly Newsletter of January 2010 Sponsored by: ManageEngine

Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP. Each month we will bring you interesting and helpful information on the world of Windows Networking. We want to know what all *you* are interested in hearing about. Please send your suggestions for future newsletter content to: dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

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1. Tips for Increased Productivity with Windows 7

If you have not had a chance to work with Windows 7 yet, well, where have you been for the past year?  As a corporate IT guy, or even if you are just the neighborhood IT guru, you might be thinking that Windows 7 is just another release of Windows, and that your Windows XP or Windows Vista computer is working just fine, so why deal with the hassle of upgrading? What I would like to tell you today is that you should upgrade because the hassle will be really worth your while. With Windows 7, we can finally say with confidence that Microsoft "got Windows right". And I am not the only one who thinks that it blows the socks off of Macs and the various Linux iterations. That is true from both the end user perspective and from the IT management perspective. I have all three operating systems on my network, and there is just no comparison - Windows 7 wins hands down.

If you have recently upgraded or you are considering it, you are going to want to learn about all the new and improved features. Improvements in Windows 7 run both deep and wide. A good place to start in terms of finding out what is new and improved is to check out Microsoft's technet article: What's New for IT Pros in Windows 7. There, you will find a ton of information on how Windows 7 will make your life easier, and how to make the employees in your organization more productive with the new OS.

However, there are a bunch of tips and tricks that you will not find there, and I want to share a collection of some of my favorite Windows 7 tips and tricks with you here. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is stuff that I use frequently to make my day easier and more fun.

  • Want to clear up the desktop so that only the active document is visible? Try the Win+Home key combination to minimize all but the active Window. Pressing that key combo again brings the rest of the windows back.
  • How about getting the command prompt focus where you want it without having to deal with the cd command? Just open Windows Explorer, find the directory where you want the command prompt focus to be, hold down the SHIFT key, and right click the directory. You will then see an option to open the command prompt window there. Nice!
  • Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. If your users are having problems, instead of asking them to describe what they see, have them send screenshots to you. Just tell them to enter psr in the Search box in the Start menu and click on the psr.exr file. That will open the Problem Steps Recorder. Then tell them to go through the steps that generate the problem and send you the file that PSR creates for them. You will solve problems faster and your users will be happier.
  • Drag your taskbar icons around. Did you know that if you do not like the order of your taskbar icons, you can drag them into the position where you want them? Then, if you want to start a new instance of a taskbar program, you can use the Win+1, Win+2, etc. key combinations, where the order is the order on the taskbar.
  • Do you want to see your gadgets but they're hidden behind your open windows? There's a couple ways you can do this. Use the Aero Peek feature by putting your mouse pointer after the small rectangle to the right of the click in the taskbar, or use the Win+G key, which will bring the gadgets to the front of all other applications.
  • Want to open a new instance of an application on the taskbar? Hold down the SHIFT key and then click the icon. (Note that this does not work with PowerPoint 2007 - it will not let you open a second instance, no matter what you do).
  • Put your favorite folders that you often use on the Explorer jump list. Just hold down the right mouse button and drag them to the task bar. They will then appear in the jump list for the Windows Explorer icon.
  • Bag the Live Messenger icon in the taskbar. I think most of us would prefer to use our task bar real estate for productivity applications, so we do not want Live Messenger taking up space there. You can move it to the system tray by closing Live Messenger, and then going into the start menu and changing the properties of Live Messenger to Vista SP2 compatibility mode. Nowrestart Live Messenger and you will find it in the system tray - where it belongs!

Those are just a few tips and tricks. Do you have some favorites of your own? Let us know! Write to me at dshinder@windowsnetworking.com and I'll publish your favorite Windows 7 tips and tricks and productivity enhancers.

Thanks!
Deb Shinder
dshinder@windowsnetworking.com

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Quote of the Month - "Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless." - Thomas A. Edison
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3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest

4. Administrator KB Tip of the Month

Modifying UAC Settings with Group Policy

User Account Control has its place in some scenarios, but you may find it best to disable it in certain situations. This can be done globally with Group Policy.

User Account Control is one of Windows Vista's most touted and noticeable (and some might say most annoying) features. Originally designed to alert users when an action is being performed that makes a modification to the system, UAC is very useful in a number of situations. However, you may run into occasions where application compatibility issues require that UAC be disabled.

Rather than painstakingly changing this setting on each individual computer, the change can be made in Group Policy. In order to do this, create a new Group Policy Object and browse to Computer Configuration/Windows Settings/Security Settings/Local Policies/Security Options. On the right hand side of the screen there are a few options we want to configure that will disable UAC.  They are:

  • User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt for administrators - Elevate without prompting
  • User Account Control: Detect application installations and prompt for elevation - Disabled
  • User Account Control: Run all administrators in Admin Approval Mode - Disabled 

You will notice there are quite a few other configurable options for UAC here. When possible, you should try to toy around with these configuration options rather than completely disabling UAC when dealing with an application compatibility issue. One last important note, once these settings are applied a computer restart will be required.

Find this admin tip over here.

For more admin tips, check out the entire database here

5. Windows Networking Tip of the Month

This is not really a tip, but it is something that you will like and can add many hours of productivity to your work life. In previous versions of Windows, you were always careful about whether you wanted to allow Windows Updates to automatically install and restart your computer because you might have lots of applications and Web site windows open that you need in order to complete the task you are working on. When Windows restarted, all those windows were closed. It could take 15,20 or even 30 minutes to get all the documents and sites open again, assuming that you will even be able to find them. Because of this, many people would not allow updates to automatically install, with the end result that they would fall behind on their updates and put their machines in unnecessary risk.

The game has changed with Windows 7. When Windows 7 goes through a graceful restart (such as what happens when the machine restarts after updates are installed), all your applications are restarted too, and the files that were opened are reopened in those applications, and the web sites that you were visiting and opened again too. This is a tremendous productivity saver, and allows you to be both productive and secure. BTW - I tested this on my Mac, and Snow Leopard does not bring your applications and sites back. Just one more reason to stick with Windows :)

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6. WindowsNetworking Links of the Month

7. Ask Sgt. Deb

QUESTION:

Hi Deb,

I have got Windows 7 installed on my main workstation now, and I want to use this workstation to manage the servers in my domain. I used to use the Admin tools that were available with Windows Server 2003, but now I can not use those on my 64bit Windows 7 machine. How can I get my admin tools back?

Thanks! - TommyT.

ANSWER:

I have good news for you Tommy. Windows 7 includes a set of tools called the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 (RSAT) that you can use to manage the servers in your domain. These tools are used to manage machines that run Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003. If you need to manage Windows 2000 machines, you might run into some issues.

You’ll need to download the tools from the Microsoft Web site, double click the tools to install them. When you are finished with the installation, they will be accessible from the Programs applet in the Control Panel. From there, you enter the Turn Windows Features on or off section. In the Windows Features dialog box, you will see in the tree a node for Remote Server Administration Tools. Expand that and choose the tools you want. Click OK and you are done. You might also want to configure your Start menu to show the Admin tools to make them easier to access.

For more information on installing the RSAT tools, check out Microsoft's Technet site.

- Deb

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