While there are tons of software that can extend Windows’ functionality, there are also several hidden features/unknown tricks in Windows that many are unaware of. The good thing is that these hidden features can be triggered without using any third-party software. Here are three tricks which can do wonders for your productivity, saving lots of time and frustration.
1. “Send to” menu and other right-click context tricks
Whenever someone wants to move or copy a file or a folder in Windows, the usual method is to use the “Copy” and “Paste” command, either with the shortcut keys or the options in the context menu. If you are always copying/moving files to one particular folder, you might want to place that folder in the right-click context “Send to” menu so you can copy/move files easily and quickly.
To add a particular folder to the “Send to” menu, run (Win+R) or type the following address:
Now you just have to delete the items you do not want on your “Send to” menu and add shortcuts to the ones you want. In the screenshot below you can see what my “Send To” folder looks like (be advised that Windows automatically adds a “Send To” option for your CD/DVD drive):
The relationship between the Shift key and the right-click
The “Shift” key is actually an important tool to use with the right-click context menu. If you right-click a folder and, with the left mouse button, click an item in the “Send to” menu, that folder will be copied to that destination. If you use it together with the “Shift” key, the folder will be moved instead (this also works for files, of course).
The “Shift” key is also useful to the right-click context. As you can see in the screenshots above, if you press the “Shift” key while right-clicking a folder or a file, you get an expanded “Send to” menu with lots of possible destinations like Documents, Pictures, and also the folders you have in your Home folder (hidden on the right screenshot). Also, if you right-click a folder while keeping the “Shift” key pressed, you will get an “Open command window here” item in the right-click context, which can be quite useful.
Wrapping up this section:
- In order to change the items from the “Send to” menu, navigate to “C:\Users\[YourUsernameHere]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo;“
- Press the “Shift” key while left-clicking a “Send to” menu item in order to move the file/folder rather than just copying;
- Press the “Shift” key while right-clicking a file/folder in order to bring up an extended “Send to” menu;
- Press the “Shift” key while right-clicking a folder to add an “Open command window here” item in the right-click context.
2. Reset your printer spool when printing errors occur (without rebooting your machine)
Printing is insanely useful, but in Windows, it can also be a nightmare. We have all had the nerve-racking experience of having to cancel a printing job and, when we want to print another document, the job we stopped is still on the printing spool, blocking all the new jobs. The usual solution is to reboot our computers, but there is an easier way to solve this problem.
The first step is to stop the “Print Spooler” service. Simply open the Start menu and type “
services,” or open a Run dialog (Win+R) and type “
services.msc.” Scroll down until you reach the “Print Spooler” service, right-click it and hit “Stop” – do not close this window. Now go to the following directory:
and delete all its contents (you need administrator privileges to reach it).
Head to the Services window, right-click the Printer Spooler service and start it again. That is it; your printing queue should be completely clear now.
3. Override User Account Control (UAC) for known and trusted apps
User Account Control (UAC) is a security technology that works by limiting application software to standard users. While it can be naggy some times, I strongly advise you not to disable it. There is a way to surpass UAC for known apps with a small app.
ElevatedShortcut is a tiny piece of software developed by Sergey Tkachenko, and it doesn’t require any installation. ElevatedShortcut uses the Task Scheduler to create “elevated shortcuts” that do not trigger UAC. You can create a completely new elevated shortcut from an existing shortcut, or you can convert an existing one directly to an elevated state.
In the screenshot above, I turned a UAC triggering shortcut (you can see the little shield on top of the icon, meaning that opening it triggers UAC) into an “elevated” one which does not trigger UAC. ElevatedShortcut is really easy to use, making it a great tool in order to surpass the UAC dialog for known apps.
Were you aware about these Windows tricks? Do you think they are useful? Let us know in the comments.