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Lowell Heddings

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

If you are running a dual-boot setup with more than one Windows operating system, It’s pretty easy to configure the default boot operating system with the GUI interface. Note that if you are using Windows 7 or Vista as one of the operating systems, you will need to make this change from 7/Vista, not XP.

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If you are worried about privacy, you’ll probably be worried about 3rd party cookies. Those are the cookies placed on your computer by doubleclick and all those nefarious places. Internet Explorer makes it easy to block them.

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The Windows 7 / Vista System Restore feature will make sure that software installations, drivers, and other updates can be rolled back. The only price to this feature is some disk usage. If you want to disable System restore, which is a bad idea, it’s really pretty simple.

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If you are an overclocker, or are just suspecting a memory problem with your computer, you should probably run some memory tests. Rather than spending money, you can use the free tool included in Windows Vista.

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If you want to speed up browsing around in explorer, you might think about disabling thumbnail previews in folders.  

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When you install Windows Vista as a dual-boot with your regular Windows XP partition, Vista is always set as the default OS. If you want to set XP as the default OS instead, there’s a quick command you can run to change it back.

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I know what you are thinking. You want to open http://www.howtogeek.com, but it’s such a hassle to type in the http:// and the www and the .com. Here’s your shortcut method.

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The Quick Launch menu is one of the most useful features in Windows, and Vista makes it even easier to add a program to the menu.

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Windows Vista lets you use hotkeys for the first 10 items in the Quick Launch menu. These hotkeys are assigned automatically, so there’s no need to do anything other than understand how they work.

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Windows Vista uses large icons by default in the start menu, and it hides the setting for small icons pretty well. No matter, we’ve located it. (Thankfully Windows 7 is a bit easier)

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How often have you opened an Open dialog and wished you could just quickly paste in the path of the file you are already looking at in Windows Explorer? Well… now you can, in Windows Vista.

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In Windows 7 or Vista, the screen goes dark when the User Account Control window comes up, which is extremely annoying. They call it the “Secure Desktop”, but I think it’s obnoxious.

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Rainlendar is a calendar application that doesn’t take up much space on your desktop. You can use it to keep track of events and tasks, and with the pro version you even can sync with network calendars.

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Windows Vista or Windows 7, will have problems running some older versions of applications, just because so much has changed under the hood from Windows XP days. Thankfully there is a compatibility mode that can be easily set per application.

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Windows Vista has a new built-in searching engine that is completely integrated into the operating system, but not all directories are indexed by default. To add a new directory to be indexed, you just have to follow a couple of steps.

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Windows Vista has a new built-in searching engine that is completely integrated into the operating system, but not all files are indexed. To add a new file type to be indexed, you just have to follow a couple of steps.

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Windows Vista’s network connected icons that live in the system tray have a new feature: They let you know if you are connected to the internet, or just your local network. These new icons are especially useful when you are connected to a wireless network.

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I can never remember which key to hold down to copy or move a file when I drag a file from one location to another. Vista comes to the rescue with visual clues when you drag a file.

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Windows Vista has a new feature in Windows Explorer that is very useful.. checkboxes! Instead of holding down the Ctrl key and clicking a bunch of different files to select them, you can just click the checkboxes… no more accidentally copying the files or getting to the bottom and losing the selection. The only caveat is that it isn’t turned on by default.

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Windows 7 and Vista has a feature called System Restore that automatically backs up registry and system files whenever you install new software or drivers. This feature is useful when you install evil software that makes your computer run really slow. But don’t worry, System Restore won’t remove Windows Vista.

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Windows Vista includes a new feature called ReadyBoost that lets you plug in a flash memory stick or SD card to store commonly used files for quicker access than off the hard drive.

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If you are in a folder and would like to quickly resize the icons, there’s a shortcut you can use with your mouse wheel to resize the icons. This is a great way to show off the beauty of the new vector icons in Vista to your friends.

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Let’s be honest: If you are reading this article, then you probably think the Windows Sidebar in Windows Vista is cheesy and useless. Thankfully it’s also easy to disable.

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If you want to share files between your Ubuntu and Windows computers, your best option is to use Samba file sharing.

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Samba Server allows you to share the home directories of users automatically. This can be useful so that you don’t have to manually create every share for every user.

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