Using Vista, Part 3: 13 New Vista Tips: Page 2

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As in prior versions of Windows, the Task Manager offers an easy way to see which applications are running on your system along with how much CPU and RAM they're using. To get even more detailed information, click the Resource Monitor button found within Task Manager's Performance tab.

With the Resource Monitor, you'll be able to simultaneously view data not only on CPU and RAM consumption, but disk and network use as well. The status bars will report the current and historical usage for each category, while clicking the arrows along the right edge will open up windows displaying more detailed data on a per-process basis.

» Go Directly to Task Manager

Longtime users of Windows XP Home, Professional, or Media Center (the latter two when not part of a domain) are probably accustomed to calling up Task Manager with CTRL-ALT-DEL. In Vista, however, this keystroke combo will only produce a menu from which you can launch Task Manager. To get to Task Manager without this intermediate step, just press CTRL-SHIFT-ESC.

» Micro-Manage Your Startups

Managing the various startup programs and services has been a major pain in each version of Windows, and while Windows Vista certainly isn't perfect in this respect, it does offer help in the form of a handy startup manager in the System Configuration tool. To access the System Configuration tool, simply type System Configuration in the Start Menu search bar.

The Startup Manager is accessed via the startup tab and clearly identifies the various apps and services currently set to run upon system startup. The helpful part is that no matter whether the startup processes have been set in the registry (either by machine or by user), in your user profile, or simply placed in the startup folder, you can now easily see which ones are set to run upon startup and can efficiently disable nonessential processes as desired.

Those looking for even more powerful management of startup programs and services will want to check out Autoruns from Microsoft's Sysinternals family of Windows management tools.

The Windows Vista System Configuration is worth checking out for more than just its Startup Manager, as the tool also offers numerous configuration settings for Windows and quick access to a variety of useful Windows tools such as the Performance Monitor (perfmon.exe), Computer Management (compmgmt.msc), IP Configuration (ipconfig.exe), and the Registry Editor (regedt32.exe).

» Old Help Files

When running certain older Windows applications under Vista, you may find yourself greeted by an error message when you access the application's help feature. That's because Vista lacks the winhelp32.exe file, which is required to read 32-bit help files written in the .HLP format.

If any of your programs use this kind of help, go to this Microsoft page, where you can download the winhelp32.exe file for Vista.

» Show Network Activity in the Windows Tray

In Windows XP, network connection icons in the Windows tray indicated network activity with flashing lights. Vista can do the same thing, but the option isn't turned on by default. To activate it, right-click the network connection tray icon and select Turn on activity animation.

» Get XP Systems to Appear in Vista's Network Map

Wondering why the XP systems on your network don't appear within the Network Map accessible from Vista's Network and Sharing Center? It's because the map uses a network protocol, LLTD (for Link Layer Topology Discovery), that doesn't come with XP. To fix this problem, download the LLTD responder from here and install it on all your XP systems.

We've also compiled a collection of links to Windows Vista resources that we recommend for discovering the latest Vista tips, tricks, and secrets. Enjoy, and if you have your own Vista tips and secrets that you'd like to share with others, send them to us and we'll include them in a future Vista Tips article.

Windows Vista Resources

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