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Ever wondered what that little button in the lower left-hand corner of the Windows Vista logon screen is? If you’ve clicked on it, you know that it’s the Ease of Access button, useful for people with disabilities (or if your keyboard breaks)

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If you’ve started noticing that your sound is disabled in Windows Vista after you wake your computer from Sleep mode or hibernate, then you are in luck, because Microsoft has a hotfix for this issue.

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One of the most popular articles around here has been the article I wrote a year ago about using different wallpapers on each desktop using Active Desktop in Windows XP. The problem with that article is that it didn’t work in Windows Vista… but now we have a great solution that is also free.

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Green Computing is all the rage now, I thought I would share some useful tips on saving electricity with PC’s.  I manage around 100 PC’s where I work and I set each new PC I roll out to utilize XP’s power management.  Since our company still utilizes XP Professional the following examples are using Windows XP.  The process if fairly similar in Vista as well.

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The same programmer that created yesterday’s Tabbed Explorer plugin also has another add-in that will give you Vista-style breadcrumbs in Windows XP. This application should be really helpful for those of you that aren’t ready to switch to Windows Vista yet, but want to get some of the new features.

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A popular feature in previous versions of Windows was the ability to dock a toolbar to the side of the desktop. Most people used this for an auto-hiding quick launch or address toolbar, or both.

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I’ve been hoping for a Tabbed explorer add-on to Windows Vista ever since I made the switch, but what most of you have been talking about is the lack of an Up button like XP used to have. Reader Shawn wrote in with a solution for both of our problems: QTTabBar, an add-on for Explorer that gives you a ton of functionality for either Vista or XP.

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One of the most popular topics among our readers is installing Windows XP on your new Windows Vista computer – sometimes for compatibility reasons, but also because a lot of people just don’t like Vista very much.

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If you don’t use the built-in Windows Calendar or use it to display your Google calendar, you might be interested in removing the application from Windows Vista.

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A reader on the forum asked yesterday why his password kept expiring on his Windows Vista installation, so here’s the answer for everybody: Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate all have a built-in feature to allow user accounts to have a password expiration.

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As an avid user of the Sleep function on my laptop, I’ve been more than irritated with Windows 7 or Vista’s habit of changing the Sleep/Shutdown button into an “Install Updates and Shut Down” button whenever there are updates from Windows Update.

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In prior versions of Windows before Vista, you could always open control panel items by passing control.exe the name of the *.cpl file that represented the item you were trying to open. For instance, if you wanted to open the display properties you could run the command “control.exe desk.cpl”.

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Instead of re-typing long, painful error messages whenever you are trying to Google for a solution, did you know you can simply use Ctrl+C to copy the text of the message to the clipboard?

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The Scheduled Tasks feature of XP and Vista often seems to be overlooked.  This is a great tool to use for Automating Maintenance tasks for the OS.  There are a lot of things you can do with this handy utility.  In the following shots I demonstrate scheduling a Disk Cleanup in Windows XP.  Later this week I will feature the extra settings and features included in Task Scheduler in Vista.

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Windows 7 and Vista have all the same Windows+X shortcut keys as other versions of Windows, such as Win+E for explorer and Win+D for the desktop, but adds in all of the Win+<num> keys to launch the shortcuts in the Vista Quick Launch menu (or switch to apps in Windows 7), as well as Win+X for mobility center, etc. But what if you want to disable all these extra keys?

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Windows Mobility Center is a fairly useful tool for those of us using Windows 7 or Vista on a laptop computer, but might not be for everybody, especially since it takes over the Win+X keyboard shortcut.

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If you use the built-in file encryption in Windows 7 or Vista, you might be interested in adding an option to the right-click menu to more easily encrypt and decrypt your files, rather than having to use the file properties dialog.

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If you’ve experienced a problem where Windows Explorer in Vista decides to suddenly stop showing the file names in certain folders, you are in luck, because it’s an easy fix.

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If you’ve got drives in My Computer that you never access, such as a USB Flash drive that you are using solely for ReadyBoost, a floppy drive, or a network drive only used for a particular piece of software, then you might want to simply hide the drive from your computer.

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Many people have reported problems with synchronizing their clocks with the internet time servers, especially time.windows.com, which seems to have a ton of problems with uptime. We’ll go through a few workarounds to fix this issue.

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Windows Vista’s AutoPlay options are a great improvement over Windows XP in terms of flexibility, but unfortunately there are so many options that it can be confusing, especially since there’s no specific mention of USB Flash drives in the options.

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A freeware tool I use many times in IT is System Info for Windows.  This small lightweight utility comes packed with a lot of power.  No need to install anything on the local hard drive … just run it from a jump drive or pop it on a disc.  If you need detail about a computer you’re working on, SIW will give you everything including the kitchen sink!

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A very useful feature in Windows is the ability to automatically hide system tray icons when they are not in use. The problem is that over time, Explorer caches a list of every single icon that it’s ever seen, and your list might grow to hundreds of items that Explorer knows about.

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In my quest to get rid of every useless tray icon wasting memory, I was very annoyed when Vista’s automatic updates installed a new driver and the icon for the touchpad ended up in my system tray again. There’s almost no benefit to this icon, so it needs to go.

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After writing the article yesterday about how to restore the show desktop icon, I received a number of emails asking if I could post the shortcut for Flip3D as well, so I’ve zipped up a copy of that shortcut as well.

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