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Add context option to open file in administrator level Notepad

It works in Win 10 too!
(Image used under: Creative Commons 3.0 [SRC])

One of the more irritating oversights in Windows 7 is that when you open configuration files from Windows Explorer (txt, ini, etc), they open in Notepad as expected, but when you go to save, only then do you realize that you didn't have admin rights and your work is wasted.

Sick of wasting my time this way, I found a little hack that adds a context option to the right-click menu in Explorer so you can open any file in an Administrator-level version of Notepad. You still get a UAC warning, but that's fine. At least it works.

Here it is

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5 Things I Love and 3 Things I Hate About Windows 7

Windows7
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

The new Windows is actually very good. Some of the new features are huge time savers and make work faster and more efficient than ever. Here are a few:

Things I Love about Windows 7

Program search

Navigating through a series of menus, no matter how well organized causes a delay in launching programs. For the stuff you use the most, you can just make desktop or taskbar shortcuts, but every now and then you want to run a program you haven't used in a while (and may not remember where it is).

Click in the white text box and type what you want

Using the program search feature of the start menu, you can click the windows button, type a few letters in the search box and up come any matches. Using it, I can find my programs much faster than hunting around in the start menu. It's even better when using someone else's computer where there may be little to no organization to the programs at all!

Matching program names or menu items will appear.

Alt+Tab

The Alt+Tab menu in Windows XP

One problem with having many windows open at once in XP is when you hit Alt+Tab to scroll through the open programs, you only see the program icon which isn't very helpful if you have many browser windows open.

Improved Alt+Tab function in Windows 7

Windows 7 fixes that by using thumbnails of the windows making it far easier to tell WHICH browser window is the one you want. You can very easily see which one you want visually particularly ones that are animated, games, or movies. The thumbnails for these types of windows will be animated too instead of just static images!

Note! If a movie/game is minimized, the thumbnail will not be animated.

Win+Tab

This is a completely new feature from Windows XP, but if you press the windows key and tab, you'll get a scrollable series of large thumbnails. While still holding the windows key, continue to press tab and they'll file forward similar to flipping through a roladex.

The main difference between this and Alt+Tab is that it looks way cooler and the "thumbnail" is actually about half the size of the screen making it even easier to identify the window you want.

Bonus: Both Alt+Tab and Win+Tab include the desktop as one of your windows.

Grouped Taskbar Icons

This is actually a feature I really hated in XP. When it grouped my windows on the taskbar, it made it impossible to quickly click from window to window since I'd have to find the group and then figure out which in that group was the one I wanted.

With Windows 7, all windows for the same program (multiple Explorer windows or Firefox windows etc) will be next to each other on the taskbar. The default is to group them if the taskbar gets full (just like XP), but now, when you hover over a grouping, it shows you a series of thumbnails. When you see the one you want, you can just click it to open that window.

Instead of reading each title, you can tell in an instant which one you want. Even better, the function still works even if you turn grouping off. Just hover over any Firefox window for example and you'll still get a thumbnail list for all open Firefox windows.

Windows Explorer Thumbnail Size Control

Click this on the upper right...
... and you get this menu

For someone who uses images a lot in graphic and web design not even counting the thousands of family photos lying around, I often found myself using the old hack to increase the size of thumbnails in explorer.

Now, thumbnail size is built right into the view options of Windows explorer. You can select medium, large, and extra large (there are some other options, but they don't produce thumbnails):

Medium Thumbnails
Large Thumbnails
Extra Large Thumbnails

Things I Hate About Windows 7

And while there are some great new things about Windows 7, there were certainly bound to be a few things that aren't as good. Here are a few:

User Access Control

Ok, granted this doesn't bother you near as much as it used to in Vista and that's a HUGE improvement. BUT! Why, oh why, is it necessary to be prompted EVERY time a program opens? Firewalls have had a "remember my choice" function since they were created so, what? Microsoft hasn't noticed? They didn't think perhaps I don't want to be asked every single time!?

I'm sure the Microsoft programmers are smart enough to have been able to put a "always allow" and "always deny" option on their UAC prompts. I mean, seriously What excuse do they have for making this kind of mistake after all this time?

Driver Signature Enforcement

In the 64 bit versions of Windows 7, certain programs and hardware will no longer work because they can't afford to purchase Microsoft certification. Either that or it's an old program of yours that you really love, but isn't being actively developed. Because of this restriction, you have to say goodbye… or do you?

Fortunately, there's a workaround for this so if you can't figure out why your hardware is unresponsive or certain programs won't work while others do, try this trick.

Folders Refuse to Expand in Windows Explorer

While browsing around in Windows Explorer, you may have noticed an unpleasant change. It used to be that if you click a subfolder, the folder listing on the left would auto-expand all folders at the same level.

This is the kind of thing that you either notice becuase it bothers you as much as it does me or you don't notice at all because you don't use Explorer the same way. If so, no worries, but if you hate it like I do, here's a simple fix to make it work like it used to.

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Windows 7

Windows is definitely hit and miss when it comes to stability, quality, and function. While I loved XP, I thought Vista was a broken mess. Windows 7, on the other hand, is fast, functional, and good looking too. It has pluses and minuses, but is definitely a win for Microsoft.

That said, it's not perfect out of the box so read on to learn what tools and tricks you can use to make it work better or, in some cases, work the way it should have in the first place.

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks

Windows 7 changed the way folders auto expand, but here's how to put it back the way it used to be.
Windows 7 (64 bit anyway) doesn't like unsigned drivers so many of your favorite programs and devices won't work, but here's a trick to making them work anyway.
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Operating System Updates

If your Operating System has a security bug, no amount of firewalls or anti-virus programs will help you. Make sure you're keeping up to date. For Windows users, the process is mostly automatic or you can go to their update website here (but only when using Internet Explorer).

Since XP service pack 2, there is a security center where you can modify your automatic update settings. For people with fairly basic computer skills the best options is to leave the process entirely automatic. But for people who would like to review the updates before installing them (since sometimes Microsoft sneaks non-critical software updates into the security patches), try "Download but don't install" instead.

Win XP Security Center
De-select unwanted updates

The reason is that Microsoft has a nasty habit of slipping non-system updates into the downloads. It's always better to preview the stuff that's about to download before you let it install on your machine. You'll be able to choose with checkboxes which updates to accept and which to reject.

One last thing, be sure to always download and install the most recent version of Internet Explorer. Even though I don't use it and I recommend you don't either, since it's part of the operating system, it's part of the system's security (or it's weakness if it's out of date). Keep it current!


Remember that every Operating System has security problems, even Macs. Make sure to keep regular with the updates.
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Windows XP Users Beware – Small Update Window

Windowsxp
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Researchers have determined that if you were to install Windows XP and connect it to the Internet to download the security updates, your chances of getting the updates before being hacked are slim to none.

If you want to use XP (as I and other computer security experts often recommend), use the following best practices:

  1. Don't install with the network cable attached. At least one commentor on the article cites a time when his windows 2000 (the basis of XP) was hacked during installation.
  2. Get Windows Service Pack 3 which contains a cumulative patch of years worth of security updates. Download SP3 onto a second computer, move it to the new one, and install it offline [download here].
  3. Install a virus scanner and a firewall prior to connecting the cable.
  4. Download (on second computer) updates to Internet software such as Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer. While you can (and should) use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer, IE is integrated with the operating system so it's a good idea to keep it updated anyway.

You can also download incremental security patches from the Microsoft Download Center, but I couldn't tell you which ones are relevant and which aren't. I believe that Microsoft removes all security patches that are bundled into service packs already so, in theory, you should just download any security patch listed for XP on their site. If you can confirm this, please post it in comments.

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“Upgrading” To XP From Vista

Windows Vista
(Image used under: Fair Use doctrine)

A good story about a man who had terrible problems with a slow Vista computer that became so fast after downgrading to XP that it was more accurate to call it an upgrade.

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Consumers Choose Vista over XP…. NOT!

Windowsxp
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Ars Technica, usually a good resource for information ran this bonehead article today about how, despite the bad press, consumers are choosing Vista over XP.

Fact: Most (if not all) in-store computers are pre-installed with Windows Vista

Fact: Most standard consumers don't build their own computers

Therefore, if a normal person goes to a store to buy a computer, and all of their options are Windows Vista, Windows Vista, or, gosh maybe I'll take, Windows Vista, it follows that they'll "choose" Windows Vista. Dur

Last I checked, lack of options doesn't mean that they made any choice at all. Besides, most normal computer users would automatically assume that the newest version of an operating system is the best option because they normally are. Unless they've studied the news and/or read site like this one, they wouldn't know to steer clear.

So… My point is that the Ars article says absolutely nothing of value. Even if it were true that people were "choosing" Vista, it wouldn't mean anything.

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Vista Death Watch

Windows Vista
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This is funny and informative. I didn't know that the total number of Vista machines is near the same number of Macs out there. What's that? Under 5% market pentatration? Ouch.

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Refund for Preinstalled Unwanted Software

Windows7
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

A guy in Italy managed to get a refund from HP for Windows XP and Works 8 which were preinstalled on his system. Apparently, the license agreement states that if the customer doesn't accept the agreement, the vendor will refund the money.

This could be the start of a disturbing trend as far as computer retailers are concerned.

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Vista Out of Memory Bug When Copying Files

Windows Vista
(Image used under: Fair Use doctrine)

Vista apparently runs out of memory when copying over 13,000 files in one go without any warning. While that is a lot of files, this seems to be a fairly large bone-head mistake. First of all, why can't Microsoft figure out that file transfers should be pausable and resumable (same as when downloading from the Internet). Of course, even that was something they had to steal from Mozilla rather than figure out on their own.

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