Special Vista Edition: Part 3

This is the third and last part of our special Vista Edition of CyberNotes this week. We’ve already reviewed all of the various applications and features that are included in Vista, as well as covering some add-ons that can be used to make Internet Explorer 7 even better. I wanted to wrap up today by offering some tips and tricks on using Vista.

Here are the tips and tricks listed in this article:

–Checkboxes and Dragging Files/Folders–

Vista makes you very aware of when you are doing things with files and folders to prevent accidents from happening. I’m sure it’s happened to all of us at some point or another, where we accidentally dragged a folder or file somewhere and didn’t realize it.

First, go to the Folder Options in Vista, then the View tab, and check the box that says “Use check boxes to select items.” Now when you’re selecting multiple items, Windows Explorer will place a checkbox on that item so that you can easily see what items you currently have selected:

Checkbox selection

The other thing that I wanted to mention was dragging files around in Vista. If you have multiple files selected it will show you how many items you are actually dragging which can be really helpful at preventing accidents from occurring:

Dragging Files


–Taking Full Advantage of Flip3D–

Flip3D is one of Vista’s new ways to switch between running applications. It angles all of the open windows so that they can all be seen at the same time, but there are some things you may not realize you can do with it:

Note: To activate Flip3D press the Windows Key + Tab

  • Use your mouse’s scroll wheel to quickly flip through the open windows.
  • Use the arrows to flip through the open windows
  • Click on any portion of a window with your mouse to quickly switch to it without having to flip through them.



–Quick Calendar View–

By left-clicking on the clock in the System Tray you’ll get a nice calendar popup. Once you get used to having quick access to a calendar like this you’ll take it for granted. Also, if you observe Daylight Savings Time it will notify you one-week prior to setting your clocks back so that you don’t forget.

Vista Calendar


–Slow Down Aero Animations–

The Aero Glass interface is pretty nifty, but the animations happen so quickly that there just isn’t enough time for you to savor them. :D

No problem! It requires a little Registry work to tweak the timing, but it might be worth the extra “wow” factor. ;)

  1. Click on the Start button and in the Search field type regedit. Press Enter.
  2. Click Continue if you see a User Account Control Prompt.
  3. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM
  4. In the right hand pane, right click on an empty space and from the context menu that appears choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  5. Give the new DWORD (32-bit) Value a name of AnimationsShiftKey
  6. Double click on the AnimationsShiftKey value and give it a value of 1.
  7. Close the Registry Editor and logoff of Windows and log back in to see the effect.

You’ll only see the effect of the slow animation when holding down the Shift key, so it doesn’t completely hinder your productivity. :D The source of this tweak also found out that the coolest animation has to be when starting Windows Flip3D by pressing CTRL+WinKey+Tab and then holding the Shift button while clicking on a window. It’s just something you gotta see at least once.

Source: Windows Now


–Scale Desktop Images to make them Larger or Smaller–

While on your Desktop hold down the Control button on the keyboard and start scrolling with the scroll wheel on your mouse. You’ll notice that you can make the icons on the desktop very small or very large. Here is the smallest and largest that you can make the icons:

Desktop Icons


–Keyboard Shortcut to Launch Quick Launch Apps–

Open any of your applications or documents in the Quick Launch bar by simply pressing the Windows Key + Num where “Num” corresponds to the position of the shortcut. Here is an example of how the numbering scheme works (for example, Internet Explorer would be Windows Key + 3):

Quick Launch Bar


–Customize the Location of User Folders–

The most important things on your computer are probably your documents, music and pictures. The custom locations option is something you’ll love if you happen to place these things on a separate drive just incase the Windows hard drive fails. That’s what I do and now I can point the My Music, My Pictures, and My Documents folder to the location on a different hard drive. Then whenever I click a link to one of those locations it will immediately pull up the results from that other drive.

Custom Document Locations


–Open Command Prompt Here–

 You can easily open a command prompt window pointing to any directory by simply right-clicking on a folder while holding down the Shift key. That will reveal the “hidden” option that says “Open Command Window Here“:

Open Command Window Here


–Modifying Vista’s BCDEDIT the Easy Way–

Microsoft changed how users modify the boot entries available when starting your PC. If you want to do something simple like modifying the name of the operating system that appears, you’ll be forced to go to the Command Prompt because Vista uses BCDEDIT. However, there is an alternative that I have talked about before called VistaBootPro that makes this chore a lot easier.



–Disable User Account Control (UAC)–

 If you get tired of those User Account Control prompts always popping up wanting to get your permission, just disable them. To do this just go to the Control Panel -> User Accounts and Family Safety -> User Accounts -> Turn User Account Control On or Off. After doing this you will have to restart your computer though.

User Account Control


–Get a Report on your System’s Health–

It’s always nice to know that your computer is up to par when it comes to its’ health. That’s why you can generate a health report in a few minutes that analyzes a bunch of different aspects of your system. Pulling up the report is pretty simple, just go to the Control Panel -> System and Maintenance -> Performance Information and Tools -> Advanced Tools (located in the left sidebar) -> Generate a system health report.

If something is not quite right this report will be sure to tell you after it is done analyzing your system. Who knows, a health report might be just what the doctor ordered. ;)

Health Report

Source: ZDNet


–Temporarily View Menu Bar in Windows Explorer–

The Menubar (File, Edit, View, Tools, etc…) is hidden by default in Vista when using Windows Explorer. It can be enabled by going to Organize -> Layout -> Menu Bar but I think you’ll find that you hardly need it. If, however, you do want it real quick just press the Alt key while in Windows Explorer to temporarily reveal the Menu Bar. It will disappear immediately after making a selection in one of the menus.

Menu Bar



That completes our first Vista tweak guide. If you found any of these interesting you should make sure to follow future postings closely because I’m sure we’ll find other great things to tweak as we are able to play around with Vista a little more.