Five Top-Secret Windows 7 Features

secret-tips-headWith Microsoft’s new interface adjustments in the Windows franchise, the company put a lot of features into Windows 7 that it might have forgotten to mention. After having a really close look at the infrastructure of the operating system, I’ve noticed a couple of things that might startle you a bit about the operating system, including features that make you wonder where they’ve been your whole life. While you might know some of them, I doubt you knew them all, so let’s get started and discover together what Windows 7 had in store for you but wasn’t in a hurry to let you know about.

1: Open Folders in a New Process

If you understand processes, you might realize how this is a monumental feature for you. If you don’t understand how processes work, let’s just say that every single folder you open adds up to “explorer.exe” and doesn’t open a new instance of the application. That means that everything you’ve opened is governed by that same “explorer.exe” application. What if “explorer.exe” crashes? This would mean that everything you ever opened will have to be closed, including the taskbar, within the task manager application included in Windows. Believe me when I say that it’s an enormous hassle. So, what do you do?

While holding the “Shift” key, right-click “Computer” within your “Start” menu. Now, click “Open in new process” and you’re done! You should have the following result:


As in the image above, you should see two processes named “explorer.exe.” If you didn’t, re-read the instructions. Perhaps you missed something. Don’t forget to hold “Shift” while right-clicking “Computer.”

2: Reduce Volume of Other Applications When You Get a Call

This one comes handy when you’re an office user and you depend on Skype or other applications to complete calls in your daily life. Instead of lowering the sound volume manually for each other application you use, you can easily configure Windows to reduce the volume of everything else to give you better call quality. You can even mute everything else if you want complete silence – something handy when you’re conducting interviews. The whole shebang is in the “Communications” tab of your “Sounds” menu. For those of you who don’t know how to get there, just right-click the speaker icon in the bottom right corner of your screen and click “Sounds.” It takes you to a window like this:


In the above window, the “Communications” tab has already been selected. Notice how you have the option to either reduce the volume of other sounds by 80% or 50%, or even the option to mute everything else currently playing on your PC/Laptop/doohickey. Once you click “OK,” the settings will apply automatically.

3: Problem Steps Recorder

Have you ever had a problem that you would like to explain to someone with screenshots and concise steps? There are some things so complex that you can’t really explain them only in a couple of phrases, so you’re left with a really difficult choice: Either you bring your PC over to a technician, or you just sit there and try to put two and two together without any guidance. Fortunately, Windows 7 takes care of this issue with a little application known as the Problem Steps Recorder. The program automatically records everything you do on your computer, including keystrokes, after you press the record button, and saves a file to a place of your choosing containing all the information necessary for someone to see what’s wrong.

Just click your “Start” menu, type “PSR,” and press “Enter.” This will open this window:


It’s that simple! Be warned: Once you hit “Start Record,” everything you do will be recorded on your computer. And, by everything I mean everything. Make sure you don’t have anything private on your computer that you would not like someone else to see. There will be screenshots of every event. Make sure you take advantage of the “Add Comment” button to help make things easier for the person who’s helping you take care of the problem. Once you click “Stop Record,” the application will ask you where you want to save a ZIP file of your recording. If you open the ZIP  file and then open the recording within it, you’ll see something like this:


4: Switch Display Modes (And Calibrate Each Display)

Let’s face it: Tons of computer users nowadays need more than just one display to work efficiently. Microsoft implemented some juicy features for power users who have multiple displays that allows you to work with them quickly without moving your mouse all over the place and clicking through a labyrinth of menus. What’s wrong with indulging in the sweet, sweet taste of Windows shortcuts? That’s why you switched over from XP, right?

In order to quickly switch display modes, you only need to press the Windows key and the “P” key on your keyboard. That wasn’t so hard, was it? If you’re doing it right, this comes up:


As for screen calibration, Windows has a tool known as the “Display Color Calibration Wizard.” This can be found in the personalization menu when you right-click somewhere on your desktop, but who wants to waste time and click through a ton of stuff? There’s a simpler solution: Click your “Start” menu, type “dccw,” and press “Enter.” You’re in!


Mind you, but I think that guy looks creepy! Anyway, that’s part of the calibration process.

5: Minimize All Windows With a Wiggle

There’s nothing more frustrating when you have a bunch of windows open than, well, seeing a bunch of windows open. Sometimes, you just want to see your desktop and catch a breath of fresh air. There are three ways to do this without going through a lot of trouble minimizing each window manually. The first way is by pressing “Win + D.” That’s an easy, straightforward way, but perhaps you’re someone who’s more comfortable with the mouse.

Your second way of minimizing all windows, using the mouse, is by clicking a bar on the lower right corner of the screen. Still, you need precision and you might not be nimble enough to do this without wasting a bit of time. Here’s the bar, if you didn’t notice it:


Both of the options will get you where you want, but none of them let you explore your inner child and have a little fun. Restore a maximized window, right now, and wiggle it around a bit. Try a little more intensity. Did your computer just go nuts? Nope! It just minimized everything and led you straight to your desktop.

Let us know below in the comments section what you think about these top-secret Windows 7 features!

Miguel Leiva-Gomez
Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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