(Wednesday edition)

In honor of getting my computer up and running with a brand new operating system, I’m naming Windows 7 today’s cool tool.

I wrote earlier about what I did to get it up and running.  Today I will talk about how to use it.

Windows 7 is “Vista done right”.  I have used Vista before, and I hated it for all the “are you sure you want to do that?” questions that happened whenever a significant event happened.

(thanks to Yakko Warner for the ultimate error message)

Win7 understands that (a) you need power, and so want to run as administrator, and (b) running only as administrator can be dangerous.  So they let you log in as admin, run as a regular user, and only ask you for important things whether or not you want to do it.  Works for me.

Other goodies included in Win7: there’s a lot shaking in the desktop.  If you have multiple windows open and you want to get rid of the others (minimize them), just grab the title bar and shake it.  The other windows go away.

If you’re copying files from one place to another, or comparing documents, you can easily set up two windows side-by-side.  Grab a window and move it to the left side of the screen.  It will pop into filling the left half of the screen.  Do it again on the right side.  No more stretching, positioning, and resizing.  Pretty sharp.

I think Win7 was made for older people, the ones with old eyes that can’t see micro-images.  If you’re using alt-tab to switch tasks, each window pops up to its normal size.  XP lets you see the icon for the running program (“Yes, I understand that the X means Excel.  I want to see what I was working on!”), but Win7 gives you your window in full-screen.  If you land on the window you want, let go of the alt-tab.

This usefulness is continued in the minimized buttons in the taskbar.  If you hover your mouse over a button, it pops up a picture of what the whole screen looks like.  And when you move your mouse up onto that little image, it puts the whole screen up, with your task the only thing showing.  If you want to stay there, click on it.  If not, move your mouse off the little window and your original screen comes back.

Speaking of the taskbar, Win7 allows you to order the little “running application” tabs any way you want.  With XP, you were stuck with the order you opened them in (unless you use the cool tool Taskix, which I wrote about almost a year ago.  I think Microsoft is reading my blog.  Actually, I know they are, because I get a hit from them whenever I write about Windows 7.  But enough of the in-parentheses comments.  This is turning into a bad imitation of a bad joke.).  Win7 lets you slide those puppies around any which way you want.

Finally, libraries.  Not only are libraries useful in the “real” world, they’re useful in Win7.  A library is a collection of places that you decide are similar.  You might have some jokes saved in C:\text\humor\ReallyGood, some funny pictures saved in C:\users\saubrey\save\LOL, and a copy of the Most Useless Machine saved in C:\Temp\Keep\videos.  You can create a library called Funny and drop all those directories in there.  You don’t have to change the physical location of your stuff – this is a logical collection, and a pretty cool idea.

Oh, yeah – in case you haven’t seen it yet, the “machine” video is only 19 seconds long.