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A Pictorial Guide to Useful but Unfortunately Well-Hidden Windows 7 Options and Features

written by: MatthewA•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 10/15/2011

Windows 7 has a number of buried configuration menus which take a couple of extra clicks to reach. Learn how to access them in this guide.

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    MSCONFIG

    MSCONFIG 

    If the Windows OS has ever lacked anything, it's a genuine startup management tool for managing what loads with Windows. While there are a good number of startup management tools that you can install, Windows 7 does include MSCONFIG which is perhaps the closest thing Windows has to a startup management tool. However, it is also one of the more mysterious Windows 7 tools as there are no desktop shortcuts to it.

    However, you can open MSCONFIG with a Run command. To open Run press the Window key and then R, or alternatively you can select from accessories on the Start Menu. Then input msconfig to open MSCONFIG.

    From the MSCONFIG system configuration window you can select from up to five tabs: general, boot, services, startup and tools. The Windows startup tab lists the software which starts with Windows, and from here you can remove software from the startup. Of course, there are plenty more boot and service options which can be selected with MSCONFIG, and this Bright Hub MSCONFIG article includes further details for MSCONFIG.

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    Windows Task Manager

    Windows Task Manager 

    The Windows Task Manager is another one of the better hidden Windows 7 tools. There are no obvious shortcut links to this, but you can open it if you press ctrl + alt + delete. When you press this key combination, select Start Task Manager from the options that are displayed. Or alternatively, you can also open it with MSCONFIG from the tools tab where it is listed among other Windows 7 tools.

    Windows Task Manager displays which software and applications are currently running. This can be handy if one of those has frozen, or in other words ‘crashed,’ as from here you can close any Windows 7 application by selecting end task. Additional tabs on Task Manager include services and performance where you can start and stop Windows services and display performance details such as CPU usage.

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    System Information

    System Information 

    For detailed system info, System Information includes lots of data for both your software and hardware. The only way that I could find this was with MSCONFIG, from where it is listed as System Information. So open MSCONFIG as covered above, and then System Information from the tools tab.

    This displays system details for hardware resources, components and other Windows software such as drivers. The system summary will give a good basic overview of your specs, and that includes details for RAM, processor, system type, etc. A search box is also included if you cannot find a specific hardware resource or component listed.

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    Computer Management

    Computer Management 

    Computer Management is another of the handy system tools listed on MSCONFIG'S tools tab. To run it you can input the following Run command compmgmt.msc, in much the same way as you open the MSCONFIG tool.

    The Computer Management window includes a number of system tools such as task scheduler, event viewer, shared folders, performance and device manager. In addition to this, is also includes disk management options for storage, and also lists services and applications which you can either start or stop by right-clicking on the relevant service. As such, this brings together a few of Windows 7’s tools into one window.

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    Hard-disk Properties

    Hard-disk Properties 

    From Windows Explorer you can display the hard-disk properties. However, to do so you first need to select the computer icon, and then the C: drive from the left column of Windows Explorer; right-click the hard-disk icon and select properties.

    The hard-disk properties window then displays a pie chart which highlights how much of your hard-disk allocation is used up. The blue portion of the pie chart highlights how much of the hard-disk has been used up, and the purple how much is left. From the general tab you can also select the disk clean-up tool, and if you select the tools tab there are further shortcuts to other hard-disk tools such as Check Disk, Defragmentation and Backup.

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    The Shortcut Key and Shortcut Properties

    The Shortcut Key and Shortcut Properties 

    The shortcut key is a good option with which you can add a shortcut key to a desktop shortcut. As such, when the key is pressed that desktop shortcut's software will be opened. With this option any software package can therefore be opened with the press of a button.

    The option for this can be found from the shortcut properties window. Select and right-click a desktop shortcut icon and then properties, this will open the properties window. From the properties window select the shortcut key box and enter a letter for the shortcut. Note that every shortcut will also include ctrl + alt before you press the letter key. So, if you input the letter s the shortcut key will be ctrl + alt + s.

    In addition to this, there are some other handy Windows 7 customization options here. For example, you can also change the shortcut icon by selecting the change icon. Here you can select from a variety of icons, and also add and download further desktop icons to select from. For further details, check out our article on customizing Windows 7 desktop shortcuts.

References

  • The Ultimate Guide to Windows 7, Dennis Publishing