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.

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 https://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 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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If you are using Samba Server on your network, you will want to create users that have access to use it. There’s a very simple command structure on how to do so.

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When you install a dual-boot of Ubuntu, one of the frustrating things that you’ll immediately notice is that Ubuntu is now set as the default operating system in the Grub loader. There’s an easy way to switch back to using Windows as the default.

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Back in the old days, there were a lot of places an application could hook itself to run at startup. You had to check the registry in more than one place, as well as your start menu. With Windows Vista, there’s a built-in panel that handles all that for you.

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If you are using the linked clone feature in VMware (and you should be), then you might be annoyed that you can’t move the base virtual machine around without breaking all of the linked clones.

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One of the new changes in Windows 7 and Vista is that each user has a “Home” directory that is actually accessible and meant to be used. In XP and 2k, you had a hidden home directory that you weren’t meant to muck around in.

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Windows Vista includes a built-in calendar application that’s pretty slick, but as an addict to Google Calendar, I’d like to just view my Google calendar in a desktop client. This is where Vista’s “Subscribe” to calendar feature works out pretty well.

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