We’re pretty Mac friendly at BluMoon, but we find that Windows 7 is probably the best Windows ever. So we decided to put together a list of tips, and quick tune-up secrets to keep you busy and make your new computer YOURS! And the best thing is that these tips apply to both Macs and Windows 7.
This is Part I, check back later for Part II.
Un-Clutter your Desktop
If you’re like most of us and usually run a bazillion programs and windows simultaneously, your desktop can get extremely cluttered. This can get particularly annoying, especially when you need to get to that one particular program and you have to minimize a bunch of windows just to find it.
Windows 7 has a cool little feature called Flip 3D. It allows you to quickly preview all of your open windows (such as open files, folders, and documents) without having to open them from the task bar. Flip 3D allows you to display all of your open windows in a neat stack. At the top of the stack, you can find one open window. To see other windows, you can flip through the stack.
The easiest way that we find to use Flip3D is by pressing the CTRL+Windows logo key +TAB. (all together). You can then press TAB to cycle through the windows. (You can also press RIGHT ARROW or DOWN ARROW to cycle forward one window, or press LEFT ARROW or UP ARROW to cycle backward one window.) Press ESC to close Flip 3D.
You can also click a window in the stack to display that window, or click outside the stack to close Flip 3D without switching windows. You can also rotate the wheel on your mouse to quickly cycle through the open windows.
On a Mac
Macs take un-cluttering the desktop a little further by dedicating a whole portion of the desktop to the task! It’s called Exposé and it’s a system built into Mac OS X that’s designed to help you find your way around windows and applications more easily. Exposé makes seeing all of your windows easier by momentarily displaying all of them, shrunk down a little so that they will all fit into your desktop view.
These little thumbnail sized windows are just enough to see what’s going on in every window. Usually, you’re able to see the one you want right away.
This is similar to the Windows Flip feature found in Vista or Windows 7, except the Mac alternative displays all your windows simultaneously, rather than putting them in a stack and only showing the frontmost one fully.
Using Exposé fairly is easy, simply hit the F9 button on your keyboard, or F3 on some older Macs. Most importantly, Exposé comes in three different iterations, which do slightly different things. Here’s a short screencast that briefly explains them, check it out:
How to use Exposé from Giles Turnbull on Vimeo.
Stop that crashed program!
Ok, by now we’re pretty used to the old Ctrl+Al+Delete when you want to stop a misbehaving program in Windows. It actually goes way back to the ancient pre-Windows DOS days!
So what about on a Mac?
If you’re used to clicking that well known combination to see your RAM and network usage or see what applications are running, then on the Mac, go to the Applications menu, then Utilities, then Activity Monitor (or simply type and then click Activity Monitor at the Spotlight icon – the magnifying glass icon at the top right of the desktop). If you have a pesky app that needs the boot then just click Option+Command+Esc(the Command Key is the one to the left of the spacebar with an Apple on it) to bring up the Force Quit menu and you can quit any application that isn’t responding. You can also get to the Force Quit Menu by clicking on the Apple icon at the top left of the desktop then clicking Force Quit.
Getting a quick file preview
On a Mac
My favorite feature of Snow Leopard’s Finder, that I find super-useful, is called Quick Look. It allows you to get a quick and easy preview of most common document and file types with a simple tap on the keyboard. Simply select a file then tap the spacebar key and boom, you’re looking right into the contents of the file. This works for most common file types such as Word documents, PDF files, or pictures. Quick Look will even peer into a multiple sheet Excel document almost instantly and it even works on multiple documents that you have selected simultaneously.
In the Windows 7 Explorer you can hit the Alt+P keyboard combination to preview the contents of a file in an embedded panel inside the Explorer interface. I find this to be a bit too small to be all that useful, but at least it’s there. Also, this preview feature doesn’t support nearly the amount of filetypes that Quick Look does and it also lacks Quick Look’s separate window effect along with resizing and paging capabilities.
Make sure to check back later this week for Part 2!