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Monday, January 07, 2013

Hidden Vista Tips for Laptops


One of the handiest additions to Vista is the Windows Mobility Center, which lets you view and modify plenty of laptop-specific settings, all in one convenient place. Bring it up by hitting Windows key + X, or navigating to Start > Control Panel > Mobile PC > Windows Mobility Center. There, you can adjust your display's brightness, adjust speaker volume, change battery settings, turn your wireless network adapter on or off, configure an external display, set up synchronization partnerships with mobile devices or a desktop computer at home or at the office (see Work Offline below), or control your PC's settings for presentation use in a business environment (see Presentations below).
If you're a frequent traveler who often strains to remember which time zone you're visiting, setting up Vista to display different clocks could be just what you need. Just click on the clock in the Start bar, then click "Change date and time settings"¦," and then the Additional Clocks tab. Check the box next to "Show this clock" for each additional you clock you want to add, then specify the time zone and display name for each clock. After you apply your changes by clicking OK, clicking on the clock in the Start bar will show you the clocks for every time zone you've selected.
Shutting the lid of your laptop is a natural way to end a computing session, but Vista won't know to do that unless you stipulate it first. Navigate to Start > Control Panel > System and Maintenance >Power Options, then click Choose What Closing the Lid Does (it's on the left section of the screen). Here, you can instruct your computer to hibernate, shut off, or do nothing—or prevent it from waking up without the proper password. You can even specify different settings based on whether your computer is plugged in or running on battery power. Plus, you get to decide what the power button (located in the Start bar) does when you click it.
The little battery icon in your system tray gives you an at-a-glance idea of how you're faring power-wise, but you can set it to provide more-detailed information. If you hover the mouse cursor over the icon, you'll see a small pop-up box that tells you what percentage of juice you have remaining. If you left-click the icon once, you'll get a larger version of the pop-up that lets you choose which power plan you want your laptop to follow, so you'll get what works best for you, whether you want to save energy (Power saver), maximize performance (High performance), or get something in between (Balanced).
It's helpful to be able to take files with you, so you can work on them when you don't have access to the office network. Vista (excluding the Home Basic and Home Premium versions) greatly improves your ability to keep track of everything. When you're browsing your network and you find a file or folder you want to make available on your laptop, just right-click it, select "Always Available Offline," and Windows will download the appropriate files in the background. You can also choose to grab them all at once by going to the Sync Center (via Windows key + X or Start >All Programs >Accessories > Sync Center), selecting Offline Files partnership, and then clicking on Sync. If you return to the Sync Center after you've disconnected from your network, simply double-click Offline Files partnership again to get the full list of offline files and folders.
The ability to hook up your laptop to an external projector, so everyone can view what you have on your computer, is a boon to presenters everywhere. Unfortunately, it also means that everyone can see what else you have on your computer! Fear not, because the Windows Mobility Center's presentation settings make it easy for you to determine what everyone else gets to see: Just click on the projector icon—you can adjust settings that will ensure your computer stays on and screensaver-free, has an appropriate volume level, and displays an uncontroversial background image. Once you've established your settings, you can turn them on or off with a single click of the Mobility Center button.