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Windows Vista Tips Page #2

Use the Built-in Snipping Tool for Screen Shots Return the text menu
Use check boxes to select items Quickly restore a previous file version
Adjust Your Volume By Application Check your computers performance rating
Disable the Search Indexer Vista's Memory Diagnostic Tool
Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

Speed up Vista's Start Menu Search Feature

Disable Vista UAC (User Account Control)

Common Vista Speed Tweaks

Resize Your Partition Size in Vista Create a User Account in Vista
3D Virtual Desktop Manager Shortcut to "Run as Administrator"
Change the Windows Vista Background Turn the Aero feature off
Turn Off Windows Animation Turn Off User Account Control (UAC)
Change time to International format Check Your Activation Status
Change the default power option Enable Account Lockout Policy
How can I stop Task Scheduler? Remove sensitive Metadata information from any file
Modify the Vista Blinking Cursor Slow Down Windows Animation

Take Ownership of Vista System Files

Disable the click sound in Windows Explorer
Check your hard disk for errors Turn the shadow effect text on/off in Vista
New Windows key Shortcuts in Vista Increase Your SATA Hard Drive Performance
Create a Flip 3D Shortcut on your Desktop Using Sync Center
Create Desktop Shutdown/Lock/Restart/Hibernate Shortcut Icons  

Windows Vista Tips Page 1  Back

Forward Format your Hard Drive

 

Use the Information below at your own risk.  See "Terms of Use"

Use the Built-in Snipping Tool for Screen Shots

Back in Windows XP, when I would take a screen shot of something I had to relay on a 3rd party software to snip only the portion of the screen shot that I would actually like to use. By using Vista's built-in Snipping Tool (home basic edition excluded), this can quickly and easily be accomplished without the use of a 3rd party application. Here's how to find the Snipping Tool:
  1. Go to Start
  2. In the Search field, type in: snip
  3. Click to open the Snipping Tool

If you would like to assign a shortcut key to the Snipping Tool, here's how:

  1. Go to Start>> Programs>> Accessories>> Snipping Tool
  2. Right Click the Snipping Tool entry
  3. Select Properties
  4. Click once inside the "Shortcut Key" textbox
  5. Press the letter "S" on your keyboard. It should now read: ctrl + alt + s

Note: You can make the shortcut key anything that you would like. Just be sure that you make it something that you will easily remember.

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Return the text menu

You'll notice that each built-in application in Vista doesn't include the text menu bar at the top (File, Edit, View...etc.). I suppose this was excluded in an effort to streamline the Vista interface a bit more. However, if you would like to see the text menu again, you can press the ALT key on your keyboard and it will pop right up.

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Use check boxes to select items

Windows Vista has a handy way of selecting items. This feature is not turned on by default. If you would like to see how it works, here's how:
  1. Open up any folder
  2. Select Organize
  3. Select Folder and Search Options
  4. Click the View tab
  5. Scroll the list to find an entry titled: Use check boxes to select items
  6. Select the above titled entry
  7. Click OK

From now on, you will be able to use check boxes to select multiple items without having to use your CTRL or SHIFT keys on your keyboard.

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Quickly restore a previous file version

If you make an editing error within a file and have already saved the file. You used to have to re-edit all of the work you've done to restore that file. Windows Vista uses a technology called "Shadow Copy" that allows you to restore a file to a previous version with a click of the mouse. Here's how:
  1. Right click any file or folder
  2. Select Restore Previous Versions
  3. Click to select the version you would like to restore
  4. Click Restore

Note: Once the file has been restored, all previous versions of this file will be removed.

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Adjust Your Volume By Application

I know most of you will relate to this. So, you're sitting enjoying a song on your computer with the sound turned way up. Then all of the sudden, a loud CHIME of an incoming mail message rings through loud and clear. Pretty annoying huh?!

Well, in Vista you can adjust the sound volume in each individual application. Here's how it's done:
  1. Right click the speaker icon
  2. Select Open Volume Mixer
  3. You will now see a volume control for each running application that is sound-enabled. Adjust the slider bars as needed.

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Check your computers performance rating

To get a good idea of your device capabilities within Vista. You can run a small diagnostics utility that will measure your individual devices performance. Each device will be assigned a number. The higher the number, the better its performance rating. Here's how to use this program:
  1. Go to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System and Maintenance
  4. Under System, select the entry titled: Check your System Performance Rating

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Disable the Search Indexer

After Vista is installed, you may notice your hard drive blinking like crazy. This would be an indication that the Instant Search feature is actively indexing the data on all installed drives. After the indexer is finished, you shouldn't notice anything abnormal as it is designed to keep everything indexed behind the scenes. However, there are those that do not intend to use the search feature and would like to recover a little system performance by disabling this feature. Here's how to disable it:
  1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> System and Maintenance>> Administrative Tools
  2. Open Services
  3. Scroll the list to find an entry titled: Windows Search
  4. Right click the above titled entry and select Properties
  5. Select the "Stop" option
  6. Open the drop down menu next to "Startup Type"
  7. Select "Disabled"
  8. Click OK

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Vista's Memory Diagnostic Tool

Bad memory modules can create many system errors and possibly rebooting issues. If you need to rule out possible bad memory modules in your troubleshooting efforts. This tool should save you some time. Here's how to use it:
  1. Go to Start
  2. In the Search box, type in: memory
  3. Click to open the Memory Diagnostic Tool
  4. You will have two options listed:
     
    • Restart now and check for problems
    • Check for problems the next time I restart my computer
       
  5. In either case, once you reboot your computer Vista will boot in to the Memory Diagnostic utility.
  6. Once the diagnostic utility is finished, Vista will restart.

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Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

Using Virtual PC is a great alternative for dual booting. As many people now know, if you have XP and Vista in a dual boot scenario, each time that you boot in to XP (unless it is encrypted or hidden), XP will clear out all of Vista's restore points. Having XP or Vista in a Virtual PC environment is a quick and easy method to use both operating systems on one physical computer system. You can switch between multiple operating systems just like when you switch between applications on your computer. One single mouse click is all it takes! Best of all, the download for Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 is free. For more information and the free download, click the link below:

Microsoft Virtual PC 2007

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Disable the Vista Sidebar

If for what-ever reason you would like to disable the Windows Vista sidebar, here's how you can accomplish this:
  1. Right click the sidebar icon
  2. Select Properties
  3. Uncheck the entry titled: Start Sidebar when Windows starts
  4. Right click the sidebar icon and select Exit

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Speed up Vista's Start Menu Search Feature

This popular feature of Windows Vista is extremely handy. However, if there are a huge amount of files on your hard drive the search process can be a little sluggish. In order to speed up the process without taking away from its usefulness. You can limit the results that will be displayed. Here's how:
  1. Right click the Start button
  2. Select properties
  3. Select the Customize button
  4. Scroll the list until you find the "Search" entries.
  5. Uncheck the Search entries to fit your needs.
  • First, you will need to keep the "Search" entry checked to keep the Search feature enabled.
  • Uncheck "Search Communications" if you have no need to search for files within your mail programs.
  • Uncheck "Search favorites" if you have no need to search through your Internet Explorer favorites.
  • The "Search files" entry has three radio buttons:
     
    • Don't search for files
    • Search the entire index
    • Search the users files

    Select the one that will best suit your needs.
     

  • "Search programs" is the last option. Keeping this enabled will help you quickly locate applications in your start menu.

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Disable Vista UAC (User Account Control)

If you would like to disable the UAC feature, here's how:
  1. Go to Start
  2. In the Search field, type the following: secpol.msc
  3. Open the Local Policy Editor
  4. In the left pane, expand Local Policies
  5. Expand Security Options
  6. Scroll the list to locate an entry titled: "Behavior of the elevation prompt for administrators in Admin Approval Mode", located under User Account Control.
  7. Right click the above titled entry and select Properties
  8. Select "Elevate without prompting" from the resulting menu
  9. Exit Local Policy Editor

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Common Vista Speed Tweaks

If you would like to speed up Vista's performance and don't care to have the following two features, here's how you can recover some resources:

Disable the Transparent Glass Effect:

  1. Right click an empty area of the desktopClick on the Desktop
  2. Select Personalize
  3. Select Windows Color And Appearance
  4. Uncheck the entry titled: Enable Transparency

Disable Windows Minimize/Maximize Animation:

  1. Go to Start
  2. In the Search field, type in: SystemPropertiesPerformance
  3. Press Enter
  4. Select the Visual Effects tab
  5. Uncheck the entry titled: Animate Windows When Minimizing/Maximizing
  6. Click OK

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Resize Your Partition Size in Vista

  1. Go to Start
  2. Right click My Computer
  3. Select Manage
  4. Expand "Storage" in the Computer management Console
  5. Select Disk Management
  6. Right click any of the available volumes or partitions in the right pane of the Disk Management Console
  7. Select "Expand" to increase its size or "Shrink" to reduce its size
  8. Enter the size (in MB) that you would like to modify the volume or partition to.
  9. Click Expand or Shrink to activate the modification

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Create a User Account in Vista

Introduction:

Once you've installed Vista, it is very important to the security of your network that you create individual user accounts so that you can control the permissions of these different users. Not creating user accounts will open up your network to viral pests and can compromise your personal and confidential data.

How to create a user account:
  1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> User Accounts and Family Safety
  2. Select Add or Remove User Accounts
  3. In the Accounts Management Screen, select Create New Account
  4. Here, you can create a Standard User or an Administrator. Obviously, selecting the Administrator option is going to be a person that is trusted to make correct configuration changes to your network as they will be able to install software, change settings etc.
  5. Once you have created the account you will need to create a password for this account. This can be done by returning to "User Accounts" (step #1) and selecting "Manage Another Account".
  6. Select the user name that you've just created.
  7. Select "Create Password and Assign a Password".
  8. Once the password has been inserted, select "Accept Changes".
  9. Repeat the above steps to add additional users at any time.

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3D Virtual Desktop Manager

If you enjoy having a bunch of stuff on your desktop but it seems to be getting a little crowded, even for you <smile>. How would you like to install four desktops that are controlled by toggling a small 3D cube? And for free? Yes, you can download this free program and find out more information by clicking the link below:

Yod'm 3D
(Stands for: Yet another desktop manager)
Works in: Windows 2000/XP/Vista
DirectX 9 required

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Shortcut to "Run as Administrator"

If you are opening a program that you would like to "Run as Administrator" from the Search in the Start Menu. This can easily be done by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + ENTER all at the same time. When the program that you're requesting opens, it will open in an elevated state.

Or, you can right click any application and select "Run as Administrator" from the resulting menu.

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Change the Windows Vista Background

If you would like to change the Vista background from the default one that came with your system, here is how:
  1. Right click an empty area of your Desktop
  2. Select Personalize
  3. Click the Browse button
  4. Locate the wallpaper in C:\windows\web\wallpaper
  5. Select the one that you would like and click OK.

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Turn the Aero feature off

Microsoft's new Aero & flip 3D features that come with Premium, Business and Ultimate editions is a great new look. However, if you don't have the latest and greatest graphics card it can be annoyingly slow. If you would like to turn this feature off, here's how:
  1. Right click an empty area of your desktop
  2. Select Personalize
  3. Select Windows Color and Appearance
  4. Click the "Open classic appearance properties for more color options" link.
  5. Select a non-Aero theme
  6. Click OK

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Turn Off Windows Animation

If you're tired of seeing windows zoom in and out every time you switch between applications but you would like to keep the Aero feature in tact, it is simple to turn off only windows animation. Here's how:
  1. Click Start
  2. In the Search field, type in:

    SystemsPropertiesPerformance
     
  3. Press Enter on your keyboard
  4. Uncheck the option titled:

    Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing
     
  5. Click Apply

Now, when you switch between applications using the ALT and TAB keys, they will instantly switch.

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Turn Off User Account Control (UAC)

The UAC was created to protect users from any malicious attempts to alter the Vista operating system. However, the constant prompts asking if you would like to do 'this' or 'that' can become annoying after awhile. If you would like to turn the UAC feature off, be sure that you have a capable anti-virus and firewall installed on your system. There are many free alternatives that provide excellent protection. I recommend using Zone Alarm as your firewall and AVG-Free as your anti-virus. It is also recommended that you have a good anti-spyware program installed too. You can use AdAware as a good freeware alternative. Be sure to keep these programs up-to-date and use them regularly when having the UAC disabled. Here's how to disable the UAC:
  1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> User Accounts and Family Safety
  2. Click the "Add or remove user accounts" link
  3. Select the user account that you would like to apply this change to
  4. Click the "Go to the main User Account page" link
  5. Under the "Make changes to your account" category, select "Change security settings"
  6. Uncheck the option titled: Use User Account Control (UAC) to help protect your computer
  7. Click OK

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Change time to International format

If you would like to change your time format to International time, here's how:
  1. Click Start
  2. In the Search field, type in: intl.cpl
  3. Press Enter on your keyboard
  4. Select the Time tab
  5. Configure the time format to: H:mm:ss
  6. Click OK

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Using Vista System Restore

To access Vista's System Restore feature:
  1. Go to Start
  2. In the Search field, type in: rstrui
  3. Press Enter

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Check Your Activation Status

  1. Right click an empty area of your desktop
  2. Select Properties
  3. The activation status is located at the bottom of the screen

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Change the default power option

By default, Vista will have the 'Sleep' mode as its power option. I believe the reason for this is because Vista wakes up much faster when put to 'sleep' rather than having to boot a system back up. This allows people to resume working much more quickly. I would still recommend rebooting the system every couple of days.

If you would like to change the power setting from 'Sleep' to 'Shutdown', the change can be made in Power Options. Here's how:
  1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> Power Options
  2. Select "Change Plan Settings" from the right pane
  3. Select "Change advanced power settings"
  4. Expand the entry titled: Power buttons and lid
  5. Expand the entry titled: Start menu power button
  6. Select the desired setting for both expanded entries. There are three available selections: Sleep, Hibernate or Shut Down
  7. Click OK

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Enable Account Lockout Policy

If you would like to increase the security of your Windows Vista account. You can enable the Account Lockout Policy in Group Policy. Once this feature is enabled, a person that attempts to guess your password a certain number of times will automatically be locked out of the system for a preset time period. During this "lockout" period, the system will not respond at all. Here is how to configure this feature:
  1. Go to Start>> All Programs>> Administrative Tools>> Local Security Policy
  2. Open Account Policies
  3. Select Account Lockout Policy
  4. Select Account lockout threshold from the details pane
  5. Modify the number of failed attempts that you wish to allow
  6. Click OK when finished
  7. Click OK once again to accept the changes

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How can I stop Task Scheduler?

I have been trying to stop the Task Scheduler from running in Vista. It seems that all of the buttons to disable this feature are grayed out. I was able to stop the service from running in XP but I can't seem to stop it in Vista. can you help?

Yes, but you will need to disable this feature within the Windows registry. here's how:
  1. Go to Start>> All Programs>> Accessories>> System tools>> Run Command
  2. In the Run Command dialog box, type in: regedit
  3. Navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Schedule
     
  4. Click once on the "Schedule" value to empty its contents in to the right pane
  5. Double click the "Start" entry in the right pane.
  6. Change the "Start" entry value from "2" to "4".
  7. Click OK and then restart your computer.

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Remove sensitive Metadata information from any file

Metadata is defined as:

Metadata is actually data about data. It generally describes when, how and who created a piece of data. It also can include information such as when the file was last accessed or modified. A Metadata generating algorithm can be produced by the software maker to collect any specifics about the data.

In Windows Vista, metadata is used to describe files for faster keyword searching. However, using certain private metadata to describe employees or customers can result in embarrassing and harmful situations. For instance, let's say you use a metadata keyword phrase to describe "Slow Paying" customers. When searching a particular company using this keyword phrase and you then print and send the document, this keyword search tag could still be (unknowingly) attached to the printed document and could result in a damaged business relationship.

Since there is no current way of incorporating some sort of metadata management for who can see this private information, it is at least possible to remove such information from any file. Here's how:
  1. Go to Start>> All Programs>> Accessories>> Windows Explorer
  2. Find the file in question and right click the file.
  3. Select Properties from the resulting menu.
  4. Select Details
  5. Select "Remove Properties and Personal Information".
  6. Select "Remove the following properties from this file".
  7. Check any of the available checkboxes next to the metadata information you would like to remove.
  8. Click OK.

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Modify the Vista Blinking Cursor

By default, the blinking cursor in Windows Vista is very thin. So thin that it can be difficult to find at times. If you'd like fatten up the cursor a little to make it easier to find, here's how:
  1. Go to Start>> Control Panel>> Ease of Access>> Optimize visual display
  2. Scroll the screen until you find an entry titled: "Make tings on the screen easier to see".
  3. Next to the entry titled: "Set the thickness of your blinking cursor", you'll notice a drop down menu. Open the menu and select a number. The higher the number you select, the thicker your cursor becomes. A preview of your selection will be displayed in the preview box.
  4. Once you're happy with the thickness of your cursor, click Save.

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Slow Down Windows Animation

If you have nothing better to do today and you would like to have your Shift key on your keyboard control the speed of your Windows animation, here's how this is done:

Warning: Prior to editing the Windows Registry, be sure to either make a backup copy or create a restore point.
  1. Go to Start
  2. In the search field, type in: regedit
  3. Press Enter
  4. Navigate to the following registry key:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM
     
  5. Click once on the DWM entry to empty its contents in to the right pane.
  6. Right click an empty area of the right pane and select "New".
  7. Select DWORD from the resulting menu.
  8. Name the DWORD: AnimationsShiftKey
  9. Double click the new DWORD and give it a value of 1.

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Take Ownership of Vista System Files

When tweaking Vista, at some point you will probably run in to a situation where you need to modify, move or even delete a system file. In Vista, system files are protected by the TrustedInstaller service and Windows File Protection by default. Below, I will show you how you can take ownership of system files and grant yourself the necessary permissions so that you can get your task done.

Warning: Modifying, moving or deleting system files on Vista can have adverse effects on your operating system and in some cases render the system inoperable. Be sure that you know what you are doing prior to proceeding with these instructions.
  1. Go to Start>> All Programs>> Accessories>> Command Prompt
  2. Right click Command Prompt
  3. Select Run as administrator (click continue at the UAC prompt)
  4. At the command prompt, type in: takeown /f c:\windows\system32\sysfile.exe

    Note: Use the correct path to the system file. "sysfile.exe" is an example only.
     
  5. Press Enter

You should receive a message that states your user name now has ownership of the file. However, you still lack the permissions to modify the file so lets continue.

  1. Back at the command prompt, type in: icacls c:\windows\system32\sysfile.exe /grant username:f

    Note: Substitute "sysfile.exe" with the correct file name and "username" with your user name.
     
  2. Press Enter
  3. You should receive a message that the command completed successfully.

At this point, you have taken ownership of the file and you have the necessary permissions to modify, move or delete the file. If any of the above instructions did not complete successfully, you can try executing the commands in safe mode.

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Disable the click sound in Windows Explorer

If the constant clicking sound as you navigate windows explorer is annoying you. It is simple to disable it. Here's how:
  1. Go to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select Sounds and Audio Devices
  4. Select the Sounds tab
  5. Scroll through the Programs list until you find "Start Navigation"
  6. Select Start Navigation
  7. With Start Navigation selected, open the drop down menu under the "Sounds:" category and select "None"
  8. Click OK

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Check your hard disk for errors

The following tip shows you how you can manually check your hard disk for errors:
  1. Go to Start
  2. Select "Computer"
  3. Right click the drive that you would like to check
  4. Select Properties
  5. Select the Tools tab
  6. Select the "Check Now" button
  7. Be sure that both options listed below are checked:
  • Automatically fix file system errors
  • Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors
  1. Select the Start button
  2. When you receive a popup window notifying that you cannot check the disk while in use, select the "Schedule disk check" button. This will schedule the disk check for the next time you restart your computer.

Note: Depending on the size of the disk you are checking, this could take some time to complete.

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Turn the shadow effect text on/off in Vista

By default, Vista adds a text shadow effect under each icon. If you're using a background that would look better with this feature turned off, here's how:
  1. Go to Start
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Select System
  4. Select Advanced System Settings
  5. Select the Advanced tab
  6. Under the Performance category, select Settings

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New Windows key Shortcuts in Vista

Winkey + G: This command will cycle through the Gadgets.
Winkey + U: This command activates the Ease of Use Center.
WinKey + X: This command cycles through the Mobility Center.
Winkey + Tab: This command activates Flip 3-D.

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Increase Your SATA Hard Drive Performance

You can speed up the performance of your Serial ATA (SATA) drive by enabling the write caching feature in Vista. Even though Vista has built-in support for SATA drives, this feature is turned off by default. Here is how you can enable this feature:
  1. Go to Start
  2. In the Search field, type in: device manager
  3. Open Device Manager and navigate to your disk drive section
  4. Right click your hard disk
  5. Select the Policies tab
  6. Place a checkmark in the checkbox titled: Enable advanced performance

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Create a Flip 3D Shortcut on your Desktop

  1. Right click an empty area on your desktop
  2. Select New>> Shortcut
  3. In the textbox titled: "Type the location of the item:", type in:

    C:\Windows\system32\rundll32.exe DwmApi #105

    (copy and paste the above)
     
  4. Select Next
  5. In the textbox titled: "Type a name for this shortcut:", type in:

    Flip 3D
     
  6. Select Finish

Your new Flip 3D shortcut will now reside on your desktop. If you would like to change the default icon to the Flip 3D icon, here's how:

  1. Right click your new Flip 3D icon
  2. Select Properties
  3. Select the "Change Icon" button
  4. Select the "Browse" button
  5. Scroll the list in the right pane to find the entry titled: "imageres.dll"
  6. Single left click the entry to select it
  7. Select the "Open" button
  8. Single left click the Flip 3D icon in the upper left corner of the window to select it
  9. Click OK to apply the change to your new Flip 3D shortcut

Many users like to have the Flip 3D shortcut in their Quick Launch Bar. To place the shortcut in the Quick Launch Bar, simply right click the Flip 3D desktop shortcut and select "Add to Quick Launch" from the resulting menu. Alternately, you can drag and drop the icon on to the Quick Launch Bar.

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Using Sync Center

If you're a person constantly on the go and you need to access your files while traveling; Vista's Sync Center can help. By utilizing this feature, you can ensure that you have the latest contact information, business files, phone directory...or anything else that you may need onboard with you while you're away from the office computer. Sync Center will even overwrite the older versions to the newest. Sync Center will sync many different devices, which include; PDA's (personal digital assistants), mobile phones, video players and of course, mobile computers. The manufacture of the device will need to have provided support for Sync Center for this feature to work. Here's how to use Sync Center:
  1. Go to Start
  2. Select All Programs
  3. Select Accessories
  4. Select Sync Center
  5. From here, follow the on-screen instructions for syncing your information

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Create Desktop Shutdown/Lock/Restart/Hibernate Shortcut Icons

I get quite a few questions from people asking how they can create a shortcut icon on their desktop to force their system to either hibernate, sleep, lock or even restart. So instead of having many different tips for each task, I've combined them all in to one tip. Here's how it's done:
  1. Right click an empty area of your Desktop
  2. Select New>> Shortcut
  3. In the text box titled: "Type the location of the item:" Enter the Command for the particular shortcut you would like to create. I've listed all of the commands below that activate their respective shortcut:

Name

Command

Hibernate rundll32.exe PowrProf.dll,SetSuspendState
Lock Rundll32.exe User32.dll,LockWorkStation
Restart Shutdown.exe -r -t 00
Shutdown Shutdown.exe -s -t 00
Sleep rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState Sleep
  1. Once you've entered the command, click "Next"
  2. Vista will now ask you what you would like to name your shortcut. I've always just given it the name of its function (EG: Shutdown or Shutdown System).
  3. Once you have named you shortcut, click "Finish". Your new shortcut will now reside on your Desktop. Simply double click the icon to activate the command.

Note: If you do not like the look of the "default" icon that Vista has given it, you can change the icon to a different one. Here's how:

  1. Right click the shortcut icon
  2. Select Properties
  3. The shortcut properties window will now be displayed. Click the "Change Icon" button.
  4. The "Change Icon" window will now appear. Here, you can select from the many available system icons. Click the icon that you would like to use as your shortcut icon and then click OK.

Your Desktop shortcut icon will now revert to the selected system icon.

That's it! Have fun!

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