Friday, June 01, 2007

Tips from TweakUI

Earlier today I was using Microsoft’s TweakUI utility for Windows XP to make some changes to the settings on my new laptop, when I started going through the utility's "Tips" section. I picked up some interesting tricks that can be filed under "things I didn't know Windows could do"! I thought a few of the tips were interesting enough to be called out here, to spread the word about them.

Tip: You can simultaneously select multiple items (running applications) in the Windows Taskbar (at the bottom of the screen) by holding Ctrl and right-clicking them.

There are a couple of interesting uses for this trick:

  • Tile 2 or more specific applications
Holding Ctrl, select 2 or more applications on the Taskbar, then right-click one of them. On the context menu that appears, select Tile Horizontally or Tile Vertically to have the applications' windows be positioned side-by-side on the screen, filling all of the screen's entire viewable area.
  • Close 2 or more applications at once
As above, select the Taskbar buttons for 2 or more applications and right-click to bring up the context menu, and select Close to close all of the applications at once. I haven't played with this a lot yet, but this may be a faster method of closing many applications (right before shutting down a machine, for example) then individually right-clicking the Taskbar button for each app and selecting Close, or clicking the "x" button on each application's window.

Tip: In Internet Explorer's address bar, press Ctrl+Enter to have the browser automatically prepend "www." and append ".com" to the typed address.

I've been using this one for a while now (as I've mentioned previously), but it's enough of a time-saver that it's worth another mention. You can, for example, type google in the Internet Explorer address bar and press Ctrl+Enter to be taken directly to http://www.google.com, instead of having to type out www.google.com. (Credit to Jeremy for originally showing me this!)

This Ctrl+Enter shortcut works in Firefox as well!

Tip: In Internet Explorer, hold Shift while clicking the "Organize Favorites" menu pick to open the Favorites folder in Explorer.

This is a lot nicer than using IE's built-in Organize Favorites dialog -- which is kind of weak from a UI perspective -- which normally gets activated when the "Organize Favorites" menu item is picked.

Tip: In Internet Explorer, hold Shift while scrolling the mouse wheel to go Forward or Back.

You can also go forward/back without using the mouse by using Alt + Left Arrow (back) and Alt + Right Arrow (forward).

(Idle speculation: Are the functionality Alt + Left Arrow and Alt + Right Arrow shortcuts reversed for users of versions of Windows installed with a right-to-left language (as opposed to a left-to-right language like English)?)

You can hold the Ctrl key while scrolling the mouse wheel to increase or decrease the size of the text on the page.

These shortcuts all work in Firefox as well.

Press Win (Windows Key) + L to lock the computer.

This is useful to do when stepping away from your desk at work. (I'm not sure what, if anything, this shortcut does when Windows is configured not to prompt for credentials at startup.)

Thanks to the folks behind TweakUI at Microsoft for these great tips!