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Windows 7 Desktop Gestures and Tweaks

written by: •edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 5/12/2011

Why use the minimize button on all of your open apps when you can use the Aero tab to minimize them all with one click?

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    Managing the Windows 7 Desktop

    Many Windows 7 users have upgraded from Windows XP, and the latest Microsoft OS has been a remarkable success compared to that of its predecessor, Windows Vista. Many converts to Windows 7 spend much of their time typing and moving the mouse about the desktop as if they were still using XP, however, generally finding the long away around in performing certain tasks.

    One of the (few) great things about Windows Vista was how the Windows desktop was enhanced, and many of these improvements were carried through to Windows 7.

    It’s worth casting an eye over some of these gestures and shortcut tips in order to save time and make the most out of this popular OS.

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    Clear the Desktop with the Windows 7 Aero Tab

    Set Up an Aero Desktop Tab: Windows 7 Tweaks There are a couple of cool ways with which you can clear the desktop in Windows 7. The easiest is to use the Aero desktop tab that can be found in the system tray beside the clock. This should appear as a slim rectangle, and when left-clicked you can clear the desktop completely.

    If you right-click the tab, however, Windows 7 will give you two options: Show desktop and Peek at desktop. With the second option chosen, you can simply mouse-over the tab to view the desktop, with any open windows becoming translucent.

    Another way in which you can tidy your desktop is to minimize all other open windows via the current window. Easily do this by left-clicking the top of the application window and “shaking” your mouse – you should notice that any other open windows quickly minimize to the system tray!

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    Switching Programs in Windows 7

    Switching Programs in Windows 7 There are various ways in which you can switch between applications in Windows 7. The most obvious way is to use your mouse to select a different open program from the Windows taskbar, but most popular is the ALT+TAB keyboard shortcut, which when used (by holding ALT and tapping TAB) will display an overlay featuring a list of all open applications which you can cycle through by repeatedly tapping TAB.

    A more visually impressive tool is available in Windows 7, accessed by holding the WINDOWS key and tapping TAB. Again, this allows you to cycle through the open applications by tapping TAB.

    Finally you can switch programs via the Task Manager, accessed by right-clicking the Windows Taskbar and selecting Start Task Manager. On the Applications tab, select the program you wish to use and click Switch To.

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    Controlling Minimized Applications

    In Windows 7 there are various new menus and views that can prove confusing if you have recently upgraded from Windows XP. In particular, the way in which similar windows are stacked might seem unusual, and they can certainly be tricky to control if you don’t know how to find the right options.

    For instance by simply hovering your mouse over these items in the Taskbar you will see a thumbnail of what he window contains, but by right-clicking this thumbnail you will get a menu option with options to minimize, move or close the window.

    Similarly by holding SHIFT and right-clicking the item on the Taskbar you will see the option to display the windows side by side, cascaded, stacked and other views.

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    Author's own experience.

    Screenshots by author.