The Windows Power User Guide 1
Automation and ease of use are
all well and good, but Mike
Williams believes you can get
more from your PC by taking
control with advanced features
icrosoft has done Windows 7’s hidden options and
a fine job with tools, which will enable you to
Windows 7. All you tailor the operating system around
need do is pop in your personal style of computing.
an installation disc Take your PC knowledge to a whole
and provide the installer with some new level as you learn how to make
internet access information, then Windows work your way!
you can leave the room and make
a cup of tea. When you come back Unlock your apps
you’ll have a fully working PC, Let’s start our quest for hidden
replete with features that make power in a familiar and frustrating
working and playing easier. place – program lockups. One
Windows 7’s Taskbar makes it moment your application is ticking
quicker to find, launch and manage along nicely and the next it’s
your apps. There are also Libraries, completely unresponsive. In the
which help you locate related files past there was nothing you could
so you can view your work without do other than wait an aeon and
spending ages browsing your hard then close the program manually,
drive. You get improved security, a often losing valuable data. 1 Find out why a program else, you’ll see it here. You’ll be able
host of new and revamped applets, If this happens to you, launch has locked up – and to close that process in a few clicks.
low-level tweaks that improve Windows 7’s Resource Monitor maybe get it going again If you opt to close a process, be
performance and much more. (resmon.exe). When it’s running, – in a couple of clicks. careful. Kill a critical component
However, for PC power users you’ll see a list of processes that are and you’ll bring your PC to its
like us, there’s a lingering question: plodding along happily. Look down knees. Conversely, if you know the
life might never have been easier, the list and you’ll probably see one process in question isn’t important,
but could it be better? With a little process highlighted in red. This shut it down and your locked PC
effort, some digging and a bit of is likely to be your troublesome might start working again.
clever tweaking, could we squeeze program. Right-click it, select There you go – proof that a little
more from our machines? With this ‘Analyse Wait Chain’ and if the digging and taking control of your
in mind, we’ve gone on the hunt for program is waiting for something PC can save time and future hassle. 3
The Windows Power User Guide 3
The Windows power user guide
Fix problems on a friend’s PC without stepping away from your desk
3 eing a Windows 7 power working. However, this relies on
user is generally a Windows 7 being able to work with
very good thing. You both your routers, and it’s prone to
understand how being disabled for other reasons.
everything works, A more reliable option is to ask
know all the shortcuts and can them to click ‘Use email to send an
freely bend Windows to your will. invitation’. This will launch their
However, with this power comes email client with an invitation file
responsibility. As news of your attached, and they’ll need to send
guru-like status spreads, friends this to your email address.
and family will start expecting you
to solve their computer problems. Taking control
Heading next door to fix your Either way, Windows Remote
neighbour’s PC isn’t too much of Assistance should open a new
a hassle, but if the system is much window on your friend’s PC with a
further away then you’ll want an 1 Wizards make it easy to connect to and control a remote PC. You
12-character connection password.
easier alternative. That’s where can also use text chat to communicate with the PC’s owner.
They’ll have to pass this to you
Windows Remote Assistance can separately, and you’ll then have
help. This tool enables you to see computer to be controlled remotely’ everything you need to log in.
the desktop on a remote computer, box must also be checked. If you’ve opted for the email
run programs, find the problem Once its core functionality is approach, wait for the email
and make the tweaks needed to fix enabled, your friend can launch attachment to arrive, open the
it, all from the comfort of your PC. Remote Assistance (msra.exe). They file with Windows and Remote
should click ‘Invite someone you Assistance should fire up. Enter
Preparations trust to help you’ to do this. If both the password that your friend is
The configuration process starts on of you have Windows 7 then, in looking at and you’ll be connected.
the remote PC – the one that you’re theory, they can click ‘Use Easy If you’re trying Easy Connect,
trying to view. First, ask your friend Connect’ to get Remote Assistance you need to launch Remote
to click ‘Start’, then right-click Assistance (msra.exe) manually.
‘Computer’ or ‘My Computer’, Click ‘Help someone who has
select ‘Properties’ and view their
Remote Settings. The ‘A llow
Friends and family will start invited you’ and select ‘Use Easy
Connect’. If this works, Remote
Remote Assistance connections’
box must be checked, and if they
expecting you to fix all their Assistance will then ask for your
friend’s password. If it doesn’t, try
click ‘Advanced’, the ‘A llow this computer problems the email method instead.
Set up a Virtual Private Network
1 Open the door
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a secure
way to connect PCs over the internet. First,
2 Make the connection
On the other Windows 7 PC, go to ‘Network
and Sharing Centre | Set up a new connection
Can’t connect? Configure your firewalls to
open the Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol
configure a PC to accept incoming connections. | Connect to a workplace’. If you’re asked if you (PPTP) port 1723. If you have a router, turn on
Go to the ‘Network and Sharing Centre | Change want to use an existing connection, choose to ‘PPTP’ or ‘VPN’ (or ‘VPN pass-through’), and
Adaptor Settings’, press [Alt] + [F] and select create a new one. Click ‘Use my internet...’, enter ‘Generic Route Encapsulation’. You may need to
‘New Incoming Connection’. Choose the user the remote computer name or IP address, then create a port forwarding rule to pass port 1723
account belonging to the remote person, or click ‘Next’. Enter the username and password traffic to your PC’s local IP address. Check your
add one now. Click ‘Next’, check ‘Through the for your account on the other PC, click ‘Connect’ firewall/router logs – they may report incoming
internet’ and click ‘Next | Allow Access | Close’. and watch the connection dialog. connections and reveal where any problem lies.
4 The Windows Power User Guide
The Windows power user guide
Your copy of Remote Assistance
can’t simply log in to your friend’s
That’s the first stage complete.
You should now be able to see the
Fact file relying on descriptions, which they
may give you later, and could be
If you can’t make a
PC, even if you have the necessary remote desktop. It may not look enough for you to figure out exactly
password – that could be a security very pretty – the background will connection to a Windows
where they’re going wrong.
issue. Instead they’ll receive an have been removed and colour 7 PC, ask your friend to If you need to take charge, click
alert, warning them that someone will be set to 16-bit for bandwidth run the Problem Steps ‘Request Control’ on the Remote
is trying to use Remote Assistance. reasons – but it’s adequate. Recorder instead (psr.exe). Assistance toolbar. Your friend will
This alert asks whether they’re If you simply want to watch It records everything then be asked if they’ll allow you to
they’re doing and sends
willing to allow you to connect to and understand what your friend take control, and if they say yes,
you zipped-up screen
their PC. This dialog will display is doing, then you can use the ‘Chat’ grabs, which are useful for
you’ll be able to run programs on
your account username for button to tell them so (it’s text chat diagnosing problems. their PC yourself. You can browse
reassurance that it’s you, although – no microphones required). Your the Start Menu, launch Control
if your username is something friend can then fire up whichever Panel, check their Registry, open
anonymous like PowerUser then application is causing them the command line and generally
it’s best to tell your friend this in problems and attempt whatever apply whatever tweaks are
advance. They’ll need to click ‘Yes’ they’re trying to do, while you necessary to get their system back
to permit this connection. observe. It’s far more effective than into full working order.
Share files easily with IIS
1 Getting started
Install Windows 7 and you get a functional
copy of Microsoft’s internet Information Services
2 Welcome screen
Click ‘OK’ and Windows will install IIS and
configure its settings. When it’s done, confirm
3 Directory browsing
The default folder for your site is C:\inetpub\
wwwroot. You’ll see two files there: iisstart.htm
(IIS) – a web server that you can use to share files that it’s working by entering http://localhost in and welcome.png. Copy these to a backup folder
over the internet, or locally on your network. your browser. If all is well then you’ll see the (or delete them – they’re not important), then
IIS can be enabled in a moment. Click ‘Control IIS welcome page. The same applies to other drag and drop some files into the wwwroot
Panel | Programs | Turn Windows features on or PCs on your network. If they can access you folder. Click ‘Start’, type IIS and click ‘Internet
off’, check ‘Internet Information Services’, then normally, they should be able to see the same Information Services (IIS) Manager’. Click ‘Default
expand and select all the boxes for FTP Server screen by entering http://, followed by your Web Site’, double-click ‘Directory Browsing’ and
and Web Management Tools. PC’s network name: http://MyPC, for instance. click ‘Enable’ in the right-hand Actions pane.
4 Share freely
Return to a network PC, enter http://MyPC
(using your host PC’s network name) and you’ll
5 MIME Types
IIS only allows you to share files for which
it has a MIME type – a mapping standard that
6 Going global
If you’d like to share your files over the web
then IIS must be allowed through your firewall.
see an HTTP folder and the files it contains. Click tells the system what it is. Place an MP4 file into You’ll also have to enable port forwarding in your
on these to view or download them. This isn’t your wwwroot folder, for instance, and people router, passing http traffic (port 80) through to
attractive, but it lets you share files locally with will be able to see, but not download it. To fix the internal IP address of your PC. Then anyone
any http-capable device that can connect to this, return to the IIS Manager and double-click can enter your connection’s IP address into their
your network: Linux systems, Macs, phones and ‘MIME Type’. To add support for .MP4 files, click browser and view the files. Opening your PC in
more. To make it look better, you could create ‘Add’, then type .mp4 in the ‘Extension’ box and this way does constitute a security risk, so launch
an iisstart.html file that provides links to the files. enter video/mpeg as the MIME type. IIS Help and read the IIS checklists first. 3
The Windows Power User Guide 5
The Windows power user guide
Optimisation & calibration
Improve your PC’s reliability and performance with help from these little-known tools
3 indows 7 will
generally do its
looks out for processes that are
particularly unstable, detects
Fact file inconsistent. From your point of
view, a program will seem horribly
best to work fully those that seem to crash due to If Windows 7 won’t load, unstable, then start working again
you may not need to
automatically, memory issues and applies several for no apparent reason. Or, if you’ve
resort to using your
managing your real-time fixes that may help solve system disc. Press [F8] made some tweak yourself, you
PC with no intervention. There are, the problem. If these work, great; as your PC starts, choose may think you’ve fixed the problem
however, situations where a more if not, it reverses the changes. ‘Repair Your Computer’, when the FTH deserves the credit.
hands-on approach pays dividends. Although it’s an excellent tool, and Windows will load To check for a situation like
The Fault-Tolerant Heap (FTH), FTH can be confusing because it and display its selection this, run REGEDIT, go to HKEY_
of recovery tools.
for example, is a smart feature. It makes application behaviour seem LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\
1 Launch the wizard
If you use your monitor’s default settings,
there’s no way to be sure it’s displaying images
The program is a straightforward wizard,
albeit in the slightly odd Windows Vista/7 style
The next test is for brightness. You’ll need to
access and tweak the brightness control on your
accurately. Your photos may look great to you, (the ‘Back’ button is top-left on the screen, monitor so that you can distinguish the man’s
but appear washed out or with poor colour making it easy to miss). Read the instructions black shirt from his black jacket, while keeping
balance to everyone else. The solution? Calibrate and keep clicking ‘Next’ until you reach an the ‘X’ in the background at a point where it’s
your display. Use any software that came explanation of the first test: the gamma check. only just visible – it shouldn’t stand out, as it
with your monitor first, otherwise launch the You need to use the slider on the next page to does here in the right-hand ‘too bright’ picture.
Windows Display Calibration Wizard, either minimise the visibility of the dots in the centre Click Next and adjust your brightness, clicking
from Control Panel or directly (it’s dccw.exe). of each circle. Click ‘Next’ to give this a try. ‘Back’ to remind yourself of the sample images.
4 Compare and contrast
Click ‘Next’ and you’ll be presented with
the contrast test. Turn your monitor’s brightness
5 Colour balance
The colour balance test follows. Click ‘Next’
after this explanatory screen and you’ll see a
6 Tune your text
Windows 7 now displays the ClearType Text
Tuner, which checks that your PC is displaying
setting up so that the two colours in the range of grey bars – or at least that’s the idea. text as clearly as it can. A range of text samples
background are a bright white and deep black If your colour balance is incorrect then you may is displayed and you need to click the ones that
(neither should be tending towards grey). Go see a slight colour tint to the greys, which will look best. Windows should now display images
too far, however, and the creases in the man’s also influence colour images. Use your monitor’s and text accurately and clearly. Bear in mind that
shirt begin to disappear. You need to turn colour balance controls to correct this. Click this calibration is affected by variables such as
the contrast up as far as you can, but stop just ‘Next’, and if you’re happy with what you’ve room lighting, and you should calibrate the
before the point where you start to lose detail. done, click ‘Finish’ to recalibrate your display. monitor again if there are any dramatic changes.
6 The Windows Power User Guide
The Windows power user guide
Microsoft\FTH and examine the
State key. Any executable protected
by FTH will be listed there. 5 Relocating your search
To turn off FTH monitoring, set index to a faster drive
the ‘Enabled’ value to 0. Your PC can improve
will probably be less stable, but if performance.
there are crashes you’ll be able to
spot the program responsible –
FTH won’t be masking things.
Experimentation is key here
– you need to change the FTH
monitoring algorithm to suit your 1 The Resource Meter provides an
needs and computing style. Drop in-depth view of what’s running.
the ‘CrashVelocity’ value from 3
to 2, for instance, and increase be essential drivers or Windows
‘CrashWindowsInMinutes’ from 60 components, but if a program
to 120. FTH will now intervene if you’ve installed seems to be causing
an application crashes twice in two regular system slowdowns, consider
hours, rather than three times in uninstalling or updating it.
one hour. This will make it more If you want a more in-depth look
likely to detect and fix problems. at how your PC is being used, the
The system does have its limits. upgraded Windows 7 Resource
If the crash isn’t heap-related it’ll Monitor is a useful tool. To access,
do nothing, but there’s no harm in it, click ‘Start’, type resmon.exe Find the files you need quickly and easily
trying and tweaking further. Find and press [Enter]. You’ll find tabs with our Windows tuning tips
out more about FTH by visiting that detail your running processes
Microsoft’s Ask The Performance and their use of CPU, RAM, hard Click ‘Start’, type Index and click ‘Indexing Options’ to see
Team blog at www.bit.ly/d1JStu. drive and network bandwidth. the locations indexed by Windows 7’s Search tool. Some
Windows 7 has many other Do you want to know which programs are added automatically, so click ‘Modify’ and
weapons in its fault-finding programs are accessing the uncheck the box next to any you don’t need. Add any other
arsenal. Chief among these are the internet? Click ‘Network | TCP folders you’d like indexing so they can be searched quickly.
management and monitoring tools. Connections’ to view them all. Is Next, click ‘Advanced’ and select the ‘File Types’ tab.
These do a great job of monitoring your hard drive thrashing for no If there’s a file type that you’re sure you’ll never want
your PC’s boot and shutdown apparent reason? Click ‘Disk | Disk indexing, clear the box to its left. If you’ve more than one
processes, and will alert you to any Activity’ to spot the culprit. Perhaps hard drive, click ‘Index Settings’ and ensure ‘Index Location’
programs that are slowing things a file is locked, making it impossible is pointing at a folder on your fastest storage device.
down. Launch the Event Viewer to move or delete. If this happens, This should yield some speed improvements, but there’s
(eventvwr.exe) and browse to you’ll need to know which program more scope for increased search performance. To advance
Applications and Services Logs\ is to blame. Click ‘CPU | Associated things further, it’s necessary to tweak the Registry. Launch
Microsoft\Windows\Diagnostics Handles’, type the file name in the REGEDIT and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\
– Performance\Operational to take Search box and press [Enter]. Microsoft\Windows Search\Gathering Manager.
a look. Scroll down the list and The more you use Resource If you want indexing to be as unobtrusive as possible,
you’ll see many services, programs Monitor, the more you’ll grow to even if it’s relatively slow, set ‘RobotThreadsNumber’ to
and processes that are listed as love it. It gives you a great handle 1 (one worker thread only) and ‘PerformanceLevel’ to 1.
compromising your computer’s on what’s happening under the
performance. Many of these will hood and is an indispensable tool.
Windows Search syntax
isn’t commonly exploited,
but can pay dividends
If you’d prefer indexing to be as fast as Windows can make
it, set ‘PerformanceLevel’ to 5 and ‘RobotThreadsNumber’
to 0. The indexer will decide how many threads it needs.
The indexer can consume a lot of RAM. Windows corrects
this over time, but you can recover RAM manually by
launching an elevated command line and entering net stop
wsearch and net start wsearch to stop and restart the tool.
You can find things even more quickly with Windows
Search syntax. This isn’t commonly exploited and can pay
dividends. To see how it works, enter content:taskbar.
This searches even unindexed files for the word ‘taskbar’.
Microsoft publishes an excellent guide, which can be
downloaded from www.bit.ly/9pisUz. Finally, remember
that [F3] displays the Search window at the desktop, while
1 Is your PC booting slower than usual? If so, Windows 7’s performance diagnostics shifting focus to the Search box in Explorer windows. n
may be able to tell you which processes are causing the problem. 3
The Windows Power User Guide 7
The Windows power user guide
Extend the capabilities of Windows Media Center
3 he Windows 7
incarnation of Media
good, but not perfect. However,
with a little power user trickery you
Fact file If you don’t have a TV tuner, Media
Center won’t show you much.
We’ve highlighted two
Center is streets ahead can make it a whole lot better. great Media Center Install TunerFree MCE for instant
of its Vista cousin. The TunerSalad (www.mychannel add-ons, but there are access to live TV. You can stream
interface has been logos.com/TunerSalad.aspx), many more around. Point content from BBC iPlayer, ITV
tweaked to make navigation easier, removes the four-tuner limit. It your browser at Hacking Player, 4 on Demand and Demand
and there’s a Media Center Gadget does this by modifying system files, Windows 7 Media Center Five at 720p resolution, as well as
for simpler control. But the more so although it’s well-regarded, you BBC Radio and BBC HD. Media
some of the best.
time you spend in Media Centre, should always save any work and Center may provide higher image
the more you become aware that it’s back up your PC before you start. quality than you get on your TV.
Configure your Windows PC as a media server
1 Getting started
You’ve probably built up a sizeable collection
of multimedia files, so why limit them to your
2 Sharing the right way
If your main network is labelled ‘Public
network’, but it’s only used to connect trusted
3 Tuned sharing
To share all your media across the network,
launch Media Player and click the ‘Stream’
PC? Apply a few tweaks and you’ll be able to PCs in your home, click the ‘Public network’ link button. Then click ‘Automatically allow devices
access them from anything connected to your and choose ‘Home or Work network’ instead. to play all my media’ to enable full-scale media
network. However, this will only work if your PC Make the same check on any other Windows 7 sharing. If that’s not appropriate, you can click
currently accesses your network using the Home PCs on your network. This will provide access to ‘Stream | More Streaming Options’ and decide
or Work Network type. Right-click the network shared Media Player music libraries. Open Media which devices can access your media files.
icon in your system tray and select ‘Open Player on one of the network PCs and it will Remember, this is for secure networks only –
Network’ and ‘Sharing Center’ to take a look. discover the tracks on your main computer. don’t turn it on unless you trust every system.
4 Make it available
Click ‘Stream | Allow remote control of my
player | Allow remote control on this network’.
Windows Media Player will display a ‘Play
To’ window that enables you to add other
6 Remote access
You can also access your media from a PC
not on your network. To do so, click ‘Link an
If you have any other Windows 7 PCs in your media, then push it directly to your chosen PC Online ID | Link Online ID’ and sign in with your
network, repeat this and the previous step on or device. That’s good, but there’s a better way Windows Live ID account. Then select ‘Allow
each of them. (They must be in a HomeGroup, to share a playlist. Windows Media Player now Internet Access to Home Media’. Remember,
too.) Now right-click a song, video, picture or enables you to share your media collection business networks may block the necessary
other media, choose ‘Play To’ and you’ll be able online, making it accessible from almost ports, or you might have to configure your
to send it to another PC, a DLNA-certified device, anywhere. Click ‘Stream | Allow internet access router manually. See Microsoft’s guide (www.
or a media extender such as the Xbox 360. to home media’ to start setting this up. bit.ly/bpcMuP) for details on how to do this. 3
8 The Windows Power User Guide
The Windows power user guide
Features to master Command
Improve your PC productivity with these handy Windows 7 shortcuts
3 any of Windows 7’s
Work faster and more
have considerable effectively with the
hidden depths. The command prompt
Taskbar, for instance, is far more
powerful than many people realise, Every power user will use the
and mastering its secrets can make command line from time to
a real difference to your PC. time. It’s sometimes the only
Taskbar icons can launch more way to get a job done. To get
than applications. They can also the most from your command
represent folders, drives – anything line sessions, you must first
that you can place in a shortcut. ensure you’re running with
To try this, create a text file on your administrator’s rights. If you’ve
desktop, rename it to example.exe, got a shortcut to the command
then drag and drop it onto your 1 Taskbar icons can represent anything that you can place in a
line, just right-click on it and
Taskbar and delete the original file. shortcut. Left-click a Taskbar icon and drag to see its jump list.
select ‘Run As Administrator’.
Right-click the shortcut, right-click Alternatively, hold down [Shift]
its file name and select ‘Properties’.
Change the ‘Target’ and ‘Start In’
Fact file this becomes too chaotic, you can
hover your cursor over a Taskbar
and [Ctrl], then double-click on
your command line icon.
If you gave up on
boxes to point at the drive or folder button, then middle-click an Aero Essential though the
ReadyBoost in Vista, it’s
of your choice, and click ‘Change time to try it again in
thumbnail to close that application. command line is, working with
Icon’ to choose an appropriate icon. Windows 7. The operating it can be fiddly – particularly
Click ‘OK’, and that’s it – the drive system enables you to Libraries if you’re grappling with long
or folder you’ve specified is now combine USB drives with If your hard drive is untidy, try paths. Thankfully, Windows 7
accessible with a single click. larger caches for the best Libraries – another underused has a trick to make this easier.
possible speed boost.
If you prefer keyboard shortcuts, feature. Libraries aggregate the Drag and drop a file or folder
hold down the [Windows] key and contents of several folders and list onto the command line window
press 1 to launch the first Taskbar them in a single view. This enables and the associated path will be
icon, 2 the second and so on, up to you to collect related documents, filled in automatically.
0 for the 10th. Alternatively, press wherever they’re stored on your Scrolling back to find
[Windows] + [T] to move the focus hard drive. Best of all, it lets you information takes a while too,
to the Taskbar, then use the left and search only those folders, so you’ll but again there are ways to
right arrows to select an icon and always get results quickly. improve this. Right-click the
press [Enter] to launch it. To begin your exploration, Click command window title bar,
Once an application is running, ‘Start’, type Libraries and click the select ‘Properties’, increase
hold [Shift] and click or middle- ‘Libraries’ link, then double-click the number of buffers and the
click its Taskbar button to launch prompt will remember more
another instance. Holding down
[Ctrl] while you click on a Taskbar
Libraries collect related lines. Then right-click in the
window and select ‘Find’ to
button cycles through all instances documents, wherever they search for any text you need.
If you want to use text
are on your hard drive
of that application (an app-specific,
faster version of [Alt] + [Tab]). If elsewhere, you could send it
to the clipboard directly. Enter
the ‘Documents’ Library. Initially a command such as DIR “C:\
the Library says it includes ‘Two Program Files” | CLIP, for
locations’, but click that link, then instance, and the final CLIP will
‘Add’ and you can include any other pipe the files in the folder you
folders that you like. These stay in specify to the clipboard.
the same disk location – the only Our favourite Windows 7
change is that the contents will be techniques involve updated
visible in the Documents library. tools such as defrag.exe. This
To create custom locations, now includes switches to run
right-click in the Libraries folder, defrags at a higher priority (/H)
select ‘New | Library’, and add a and to defrag several drives at
library for your projects. Next, the same time, which improves
add folders from across your PC to performance. Enter defrag /?
bring all your work files together. to see what’s on offer. n
Libraries take a little getting
used to, but when you understand Learn to take control of your PC
1 Use keyboard shortcuts to move between Taskbar icons. You can their benefits you’ll wonder how with PowerShell – see p56.
reposition the Taskbar to the top, left or right of your screen. you ever lived without them. PCP
The Windows Power User Guide 9
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