Windows 7 has been around for quite a while now. Most new computers are shipped with it installed and it is becoming very popular among general computer users. It is very easy to start using it if you have come straight from XP or Vista but many people who do this don’t take the time to pick up on the great new features that it offers.
I have generously taken the liberty of compiling a list of 7 great features that Windows 7 offers over it’s predecessors.
This list will act as an overview of these features and will not go in to great detail about how to use them but I have provided links to great resources on each one if you want more detailed information, all of the links will open in a new browser Window so you won’t lose your spot while you are reading. Be sure to check them out.
1. Document Libraries
Document Libraries allow you to group multiple folders from anywhere on your hard drive into one ‘virtual folder’. For example if you have music stored in two different folders on your computer you can add both folders to the Music Document Library and view and access the contents of both folders in one place. For more information on Document Libraries check out Jim Henderson’s brilliant article on the makeuseof.com blog. Windows 7 Libraries Explained – And Why You Want Them.
2. iTunes Support
Whether Microsoft likes it or not iTunes is here and it doesn’t look like going anywhere soon. It seems Microsoft have accepted that fact and have included support for the proprietary AAC file format in Media Player and Media Centre. DRM-Protected files are still off limits but Windows 7 also offers support for AVC, DivX, XVid and H.264 videos as well.
3. Media Streamer Playback (‘Play To’ Feature)
One of the coolest new features in my opinion would have to be the ‘Play To’ feature in Media Player. Play To allows Windows 7 users to play music, show photos or play videos to any compatible device on their network. Gizmodo has a great article explaining this feature in more detail.
4. Shake the desktop!
Do you have way too many Windows open? Want to tidy it up a bit? Luckily for you Microsoft have included a tricky little mouse gesture to minimise all of your open Windows except for the active one. All you have to do it left-click and hold (as if you were going to drag it) on the title bar of the Window you want to keep open and shake it around. Doing it again will restore the minimised Windows back to their original positions.
5. Native ISO Burning Support
For a long time now users have been utilising the ISO format for making carbon copies of CD’s and DVD’s. In the past ISO file types required third-party software to copy these files back on to a physical media. No longer, Windows 7 now supports the creation of CD’s and DVD’s directly from ISO files. Check out the Window’s Team Blog; Burn ISO Images Natively in Windows 7.
6. More Windows Key Shortcuts
Like this list wasn’t enough, Windows 7 adds even more shortcuts for the Windows Key on your keyboard.
- Windows Key + Up – Maximise
- Windows Key + Down – Restore/Minimise
- Windows Key + Left – Snap to Left
- Windows Key + Right – Snap to Right
- Windows Key + Shift + Left – Jump to left monitor
- Windows Key + Shift + Right – Jump to right monitor
- Windows Key + Home – Minimise/Restore all other Windows
- Windows Key + T – Focus the first taskbar entry
- Windows Key + Shift + T – Cycle backwards
- Windows Key + Space – Peek at Desktop
- Windows Key + G – Bring gadgets to the top of the Window order
- Windows Key + P – External display options (Mirror, Extend Desktop etc)
- Windows Key + X – Mobility Centre
- Windows Key + # (# = Number Key) – Launches a new instance of the application in the Nth slot on the taskbar. eg. Windows Key + 1 launches the first pinned application.
- Windows Key + + (Plus Key) – Zoom In
- Windows Key + – (Minus Key) – Zoom Out
7. Streamlined User Account Control (UAC)
Vista users rejoice. The single most annoying thing about Windows Vista has got to be the User Account Control. Those stupid nag screens that you got every single time you tried to do something on your PC that asked you if you were sure you that you were sure that you were sure you wanted to delete your shoppinglist.txt file. Ugh! It’s irritating just thinking about it.
Windows 7 features a refined version of UAC that allows the user greater control over security notifications or it can be completely turned off. See Chakkaradeep Chandran’s article on Neowin.net for some in-depth UAC tuning advice. It will keep you sane.
As always let me know about your own experiences or offer suggestions in the comments. They are greatly appreciated!
Thanks for reading.