Windows 7 has been out, officially, for a short time now and the sheer volume of articles about the new operating system is just staggering. I’ve been fixated on it myself. And, yes, this is another post about customizing the new operating system. There’s just so much you can do, that it is nearly impossible to cover it all in one post. Consider this a sequel to this post.
The shipping US (and other) version of Windows 7 contains themes for other locales as well. You can find them in the C:WindowsGlobalizationMCT directories. Navigate there, then, under each country, there is a theme folder. Go there and double click the theme file to add it to your themes library.
There are LOTS of themes floating around now. The number of nice themes to show up since the RC1 released is amazing. At the end of this post, there is a list of links that point to either themes or other lists of themes. At any rate, go explore them. There are some really nice themes out there. I also posted about themes earlier and you can read that here.
Also, if you are an Object Desktop subscriber, there are a ton of themes for WindowBlinds that do much more than change the background and sounds. WindowBlinds changes the windows borders, dialog boxes, buttons, start ORB and more. Pretty much every facet of the interface can be changed with WindowBlinds. There is a trial version available or you can subscribe to Object Desktop and get WindowBlinds and other nice applications as part of your subscription. Go to Stardock and check it out. (And, no, I am in no way affiliated with them, I just love their products.)
Because the task bar has changed substantially, there are, of course, many ways to change it. Below are a few things you can do to change it plus a handy tip.
One of the things that Microsoft did to the task bar when they introduced Windows XP was add the ‘Quick Launch’ bar. Unfortunately, they removed it-or, more appropriately, they removed the easy way to turn it on. Well, thanks to a Microsoft blogger, details on turning it back on are below. Please note, the tip is taken from his blog and is not mine. I don’t want to take credit for something I did not do.
How to restore the Quick Launch bar on the Windows 7 Task Bar (credit to this site):
Right-click the taskbar, choose Toolbars / New Toolbar
In the folder selection dialog, enter the following string and hit OK:
%userprofile%AppDataRoamingMicrosoftInternet ExplorerQuick Launch
Turn off the “lock the taskbar” setting, and right-click on the divider. Make sure that “Show text” and “Show title” are disabled and the view is set to “small icons”.
Use the dividers to rearrange the toolbar ordering to choice, and then lock the taskbar again.
One of the better changes Microsoft made to the task bar was to devote a small part of it as a ‘hot area’ where you can quickly get to the desktop. If you move your mouse to the far right side of the task bar and click the area, you can minimize all windows and see the desktop. Alternately, you can right click and choose a default action (either peek at the desktop or show desktop.)
Movie Maker 2.6
While the Live Essentials Movie Maker is very nice and it works well, there are a few things that were left out, namely some of the effects and the ability to put the bloody credits over video (why, why, why was this removed?) Well, unfortunately, the Vista version of Movie Maker disappears when you upgrade and it is not downloadable from Microsoft. BUT…the non-Aero version that was released for XP and Vista Home Basic: version 2.6. It is still the old interface and retains the old effects, wipes, etc. Grab it here.
One of the things that used to accompany a Windows release was the un-official release of the Microsoft Power Toys. These were usually a collection of small applets or registry changes that altered a small part of Windows functionality or, in most cases, enhanced it. Well, for whatever reason, those power toys seemed to have ceased development. There were a few really handy ones like the Send to/Copy to any folder. I’ve never really understood why ‘Send to any folder’ is not just there in the context menu. It is an odd omission. Anyway, I am happy to say that some-not all-of those power toys still work under 7. And, with Vista, a Microsoft employee developed a few for the UAC as well. It is a lengthy article with downloads and you can go here to read it.
The marvelous Windows XP Power Toys are still available and you can get them here. Be careful, some of these do not work under 7 and a few are now better supported and there are newer versions of them (like SyncToy.) Go here for the Power Toys. NOTE: the Tweak UI on that page WILL NOT WORK and might cause you problems if you try it. Clear Type Tuner is now part of 7 and you do not need the Power Toy. The photo related toys are still useful. The HTML slide show wizard and the CD Slide Show generator are pretty handy for creating a quick slide show that you can post or burn to CD without having to start an application. They are quick and easy to use, but very bare bones. Finally, SyncToy graduated to a more full application. It works very well and is available here. I used it for a long time to keep my Zune in sync with iTunes.
Stay tuned for more tips and tricks for Microsoft’s terrific new operating system.