Saturday, May 18, 2024

Windows 7 Tips: Getting Started

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You’ll probably find Windows 7 to be faster and less annoying than Vista.
However, there will likely be some things you’ll want to change. This article
will cover a few tweaks. But first we’ll see how to install Windows 7 on
computers that aren’t sporting a DVD drive, like netbooks and laptops.

Install Windows 7 with a USB Flash Drive

Though Windows 7 comes on a DVD, there are ways to install it on computers not
loaded with a DVD drive, such as on netbooks. One way is to load the Windows
installation files onto a USB flash or hard drive from an installation DVD
or an ISO CD image. Then if the computer supports booting from USB, you can boot
into the installation. Alternatively, you can run setup from within the existing
Windows, but you then can’t make changes to the hard disk.

The first step is to backup any files on the USB drive to a different computer;
not the one you’re upgrading to Windows 7. This is because you’ll have to wipe
the drive clean.

Next you need to format the drive. Remember, this permanently erases everything
from the drive. You can use the simple format utility in Windows. You can do
this on the computer you’re upgrading, or on a different one, to do this
formatting and other preparation. You just need a working computer of some type
with at least Windows XP. If you’re using the installation DVD, the computer of
course needs to have a DVD drive.

When you’re ready to format the drive, open Computer or My Computer, right-click
the icon for the drive and select Format. Choose the Quick Format
option and click Start.

If you downloaded Windows 7, you need to extract the CD image file. You’ll need
a third-party utility such as WinRAR or
PowerISO. Extract the contents of the ISO
file to an accessible location.

The trick to getting the installation files onto the USB drive is to use XCopy.
This is a command-line utility in Windows that you can run from the Command
Prompt. It transfers the files over in a way that enables you to boot from the
drive. Here’s exactly how to do it:

  1. If using Windows Vista, click the Start button, type cmd,
    and hit Enter. If using XP, click Start, click Run, type
    , and hit Enter.
  2. If using a CD image file, navigate to the location of the extracted
    files. For example, enter cd c:/path_to_file. Then you need to run
    the following command and hit Enter: XCOPY *.* F: /e (replacing F
    with correct letter for your USB drive).
  3. If using an installation DVD, run the following command and hit Enter:
    XCOPY D: F: /e (replacing D with correct letter for your DVD drive
    and F for your USB drive).
  4. Wait until all the files are transferred and then you can remove the

Now you can insert the USB drive into the computer you’re loading with Windows 7
and try to boot from it. Some computers automatically recognize USB drives and
will start the Windows 7 installation. Some computers might require you to
choose it from a boot menu by hitting F1, F12,  or another function key
during the beginning of the boot. Sometimes you might even have to edit the BIOS
settings to enable USB booting; try hitting F2 or other function keys at boot.

Restore the Start Menu Internet Search

As you probably know too well, Microsoft made many major changes from XP to
Vista. One of these changes is the new search field on the Start Menu,
which adds search capabilities and serves as an alternative to using the Run
prompt. By default, Vista would search your computer for the keywords you type.
Then you could click the link, Search the Internet, on the bottom of the
results on the Start Menu to scour the web.

If you’re a fan of this feature in Vista, however, you’ll have to manually
activate it in Windows 7. If you’re using a the Business or Enterprise edition,
all it takes is a simple Local Group Policy edit to restore the Internet search
functionality. Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button, type gpedit.msc into the search
    box, and hit Enter.
  2. Using the Local Group Policy Editor navigate to User Configuration
    > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar.
  3. Then right click on Add Search Internet link to Start Menu and
    select Edit.
  4. On the edit screen select Enabled and click OK.

How-to Remove Internet Explorer from Windows 7

For many years now, Microsoft has forced Internet Explorer onto us. Finally
now in Windows 7 you can uninstall their Web browser–sort of. Though you can’t
completely banish IE, since many Windows components use the rendering engine for
web access, you can remove the actual Web browser application. Plus you won’t be
annoyed by IE errors that can pop up in previous versions of Windows. Then you
can make Firefox, Google Chrome, or another application your lone Web browser.

Uninstalling IE doesn’t even take a registry edit or hack. Microsoft added it
to the Windows Features dialog, where you can add and remove Windows components.
Click the Start button and open the Control Panel. Select
Programs and Features
and click the Turn Windows features on or off
link on the left. Then uncheck the Internet Explorer 8 option and click

Disable the InPrivate Browsing ability

If you keep Internet Explorer 8 installed, you’ll find several new features.
One of which is called InPrivate browsing. This lets users enter a protected
browsing session where no history is logged. However, this capability also has its disadvantages.
For example, when
it comes to monitoring the Internet activity of your employees. Thankfully it doesn’t
have as much impact on monitoring your children since the feature is
automatically disabled on Windows Vista accounts that have Parental Controls

You can disable the ability for users to start InPrivate browsing sessions
with the Group Policy settings. However, this isn’t available in Home editions
of Windows. Here’s how to do it in Windows 7 Business or Enterprise:

  1. Click the Start button, type gpedit.msc into the search
    box, and hit Enter.
  2. Using the Local Group Policy Editor navigate to Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates
    / Windows Components / Internet Explorer / InPrivate
  3. Then right click on Turn off InPrivate Browsing and select
  4. On the edit screen select Enabled and click OK.

Restore Quick Launch Toolbar

One of the first changes you’ll notice in Windows 7 is the new taskbar–and
if you’re a fan of the quick launch toolbar, like me, you’ll notice that it’s
gone. Though the new taskbar is something like a quick launch toolbar on
steroids, it’s just not the same. The shortcuts aren’t separated from the icons
of opened programs and windows. Plus shortcuts to folders and drives shortcut
can’t be pinned directly on the new taskbar.

Lucky, there is a way to restore the Quick Launch toolbar. Right-click on the
taskbar, select Toolbars and then click New Toolbar. Then type in
the following folder location: %AppData%MicrosoftInternet ExplorerQuick
. Then click Select Folder.

Now you can move the toolbar to the desired location. Plus you can remove the Quick
Launch label by right-clicking on it and selecting Show Title; and click Show
Text to remove the shortcut names. If the taskbar is locked, right-click on it
and deselect the lock option.

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