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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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I’ve received dozens of emails asking how to restore the show desktop icon once you’ve deleted it, so I have a solution for everybody: I’ve zipped up a copy of the shortcut, and you can download it here.

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If you switch resolutions a lot you’ve probably experienced the problem with Windows moving your icons around every time it switches to a lower resolution, such as when playing a video game or hooking up your laptop to an external display.

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A number of people have written in asking about a Vista Sidebar gadget for our latest articles feed. I finally got some time today, so I’ve thrown one together that isn’t exactly feature-rich, but does get the job done.

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As you install ever more software on your computer, your startup entries become littered with applications that slow down your boot time and typically waste your computer’s memory.

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Dozens of people have written in and expressed their hatred of the new breadcrumb feature in Windows Vista’s Explorer address bar, and especially because you simply can’t turn it off… until now.

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Most of you who are running Vista should know by now that Microsoft introduced major updates for Vista.  For a full detailed summary of what is included read The Geek wrote a great article reviewing the updates.  One of the updates includes better Vista Aero performance with NVIDIA graphics cards. 

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One of the more advanced options for resizing your Windows Vista partition is to use the GParted Live CD, a bootable linux CD that takes you straight into GParted, the great linux utility for managing partitions. The problem is that if you resize your boot/system partition, you will be completely unable to boot without repairing windows.

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The Shrink Volume feature in Windows Vista has some serious limitations, which we’ll try and explain and then suggest a few workarounds that might help you out. Be careful when following these steps, because they could leave your system unable to boot… advanced geek level required.

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Microsoft has just released a set of updates for Windows Vista, divided into two separate update packs. One deals with performance and the other with reliability, and seems to fix quite a few issues with video drivers and hibernation.

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