The Cleverest Geeky Windows Tricks Everyone Should Know

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The Cleverest Geeky Windows Tricks Everyone Should Know

Anyone can sit down at a Windows PC and get along fine, but with the right tips and tricks, you can get around much faster. Here’s a handful of clever tricks to boost your Windows skills (and show off to friends).

You might recognise a few of these tips (we’ve covered most of them here before), but chances are good there’s something new in the list for just about everybody. And if you know all of them already? Pat yourself on the back for your masterful geek skills.

(Note: This list far from exhausts Windows’ full slate of shortcuts and tricks; instead, I aimed for lesser-known tips. To round out your Windows 7 master class, be sure to check out our complete guide to Windows 7, the master list of Windows 7 shortcuts, and the power user’s guide to Windows 7.)

Use the Secret Send To Menu Items

All you have to do is hold down the Shift key, then right-click on a file and access the Send To folder-you’ll see a whole bunch of new items in the list, like special folders, and even an item for each one of your drives. It’s a really useful tip for quickly sending a file to the flash drive you just plugged into the PC, without having to do anything else.

Stupid Geek Tricks: Secret Items on the Windows 7 Send To Menu [How-To Geek]

Open a Command Prompt from Any Folder

This tip only works in Windows 7 or Vista, for Windows XP you’ll need to use a registry hack to accomplish the same thing. We can’t mention this tip without telling you how to do the opposite-you can open a file browser from your current command prompt directory as well.

Stupid Geek Tricks: Open a Command Prompt From the Desktop Right-Click Menu [How-To Geek]

Hide Secret Data Inside Any File

notepad SomeFile.txt:SecretWordHere.txt

The special filename with the colon and second filename tells NTFS to actually store the data in an alternate stream, instead of the regular file. You can put whatever you want into the file, and nobody will be able to access it unless they know the command to retrieve it.

Stupid Geek Tricks: Hide Data in a Secret Text File Compartment [How-To Geek]

Tile or Cascade Specific Windows

Back in the XP and Vista days this was relatively simple—you could hold down the Ctrl key while selecting multiple windows on the taskbar, and then right-click on any of them to tile or cascade them. For Windows 7, you can do the same thing, but you’ll need to open up Task Manager instead, hold Ctrl, select the open windows, and then you can cascade them from there.

Stupid Geek Tricks: Tile or Cascade Multiple Windows in Windows 7 [How-To Geek]

Undo an Accidental File Move or Deletion With the Keyboard

Readers will probably point out that you can also do this from the context menu in Windows 7, but it’s surprising how many people don’t realise the keyboard shortcut works.

Stupid Geek Tricks: Undo an Accidental Move or Delete With a Keyboard Shortcut [How-To Geek]

Navigate the Open / Save Dialogs With the Keyboard

You can use “..” without the quotes to go up a folder, use shell:desktop to change to the desktop folder, or just start typing in the full path to a file.

Stupid Geek Tricks: Navigate in the File Open/Save Dialog With the Keyboard [How-To Geek]

Use the Secret Trick to Close Windows Explorer

Hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys, then open up the start menu, and right-click anywhere on the blank space. You’ll see a new menu with an Exit Explorer item on it, which will immediately terminate the desktop shell-keep in mind to reopen it you’ll need to use Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Task Manager, and then File –> Run and type in explorer.exe.

That’s not the only right-click menu trick you can do here, however-if you want to open up the Start Menu folder in Windows 7, you can right-click on the All Programs menu item to access the old Start Menu context menu from previous versions of Windows.

Hidden Trick to Close Windows Explorer in Windows 7 or Vista [How-To Geek]

Create a Zip File with the Same Name as a Selected File

For instance, if we had right-clicked on the Readme.txt file in the screenshot and used the Send To –> Compressed feature, the resulting file would have been called Readme.zip. Since that’s not very helpful, it’s better to right-click on one of the selected HTGBack.x files, which will give us HTGBack.zip instead.

Stupid Geek Tricks: Make Zipfiles With the Same Name as a Selected File [How-To Geek]

Show the XP Alt-Tab Prompt in Windows 7

Stupid Geek Tricks: Windows 7 Easter Egg Shows the XP Alt-Tab Prompt [How-To Geek]

Pin a Folder to the Start Menu

Bonus tip: You might notice in the screenshot that there’s something different below the Downloads button-and you can easily add My Dropbox to your own Windows 7 Start Menu too.

Shrink the XP Volume Control

Sure, it could be useful if you wanted to keep the dialog up on the screen without wasting space, but it’s mostly just a fun trick to show off your skills.

Stupid Geek Tricks: Shrink the XP Volume Control [How-To Geek]

Remove Old Drivers by Showing Hidden Devices in Device Manager

SET DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1

Once you’ve done that, type in devmgmt.msc to open up Device Manager, and then you can use View –> Show hidden devices to show all the devices you couldn’t see before.

Remove Old Drivers After Upgrading to New Hardware [How-To Geek]

Find Secret Messages in Web Site Headers

Slashdot

To see them for yourself, you can install the Live HTTP headers extension for Firefox, or you can use curl –I http://slashdot.org to see them from the command line in Linux or OS X.

Stupid Geek Tricks: Find the Secret Messages in Web Site Headers [How-To Geek]

Watch Movies in Your Linux Terminal Window

mplayer -vo caca MovieName.avi

It’s not really suitable for watching movies, but it’s a fun tip that you can show off to your friends and spark a conversation about the upcoming return of Futurama.

Stupid Geek Tricks: Watch Movies in Your Linux Terminal Window [How-To Geek]

So how did you do? Did you already know them all? Do you have an even better geek trick to show off? Share your skills with your fellow readers in the comments.

The How-To Geek loves finding new Windows tricks. His geeky articles can be found daily here on Lifehacker, How-To Geek, and Twitter.

Comments

  • An even faster to way to navigate to the parent folder in the Open/Save dialog is to press the Backspace key.

    However, this only works if the input focus is on the file list, but you can press Shift-Tab after the dialog opens to move the focus if you don’t want to reach for your mouse.

    (This also works in Explorer windows)

  • So “Use the Secret Send To Menu Items” is a great trick but it ‘COPIES’ the file, it doesn’t SEND/MOVE the file. Is there a way to do this?

  • A tip for laptop users with a synaptics multitouch touchpad.If you’re using the synaptics driver for your multitouch trackpad and are using Vista/7 with Aero enabled, you can get slick window switching using the touchpad only! :
    1) open the ‘mouse settings’ in the control panel.
    2) select the ‘settings’ button under the ‘device settings’ tab
    3) open ‘application-gestures’ —> ‘three fingers press’ and enable the checkbox
    4) press ‘configure’ then ‘add’ and type “%WinDir%\System32\rundll32.exe dwmapi #105” (no quotes) under application path and “switch” under application name. (you might have to remove other entries first)
    5) save all the saved settings and put 3 fingers on the touchpad when you have multiple windows!!!

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