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Monday, January 07, 2013

Vista Tips & Tricks You Didn't Know About

If you have the Business, Home Premium, or Ultimate edition of Vista, Microsoft has included one of the most critical programs you can find on any computer: one that backs up your data. Backup Status and Configuration—located off the Start menu, in Accessories > System Tools—is incredibly straightforward, with options to back up or restore individual files, groups of files, or even your whole PC. You can also set up an automated backup system, back up immediately, or change settings. The process is so simple, in fact, that setting it up should be one of the very first things you do—if a catastrophe happens, you'll be incredibly glad you did.
Your keyboard's Prt Scrn key might soon feel as neglected as its antiquated neighbors, Scroll Lock and Pause. Vista's Snipping Tool (found in the Accessories folder on the Start menu) allows you to capture only the part of the screen you want. Just start up the tool, click and drag the mouse until you've outlined the area you want to preserve, then release the mouse button. Once you've gotten your snip, you can draw on it with a pen tool, highlight certain portions or erase others, and save it as a JPEG, GIF, PNG, or MHT (HTML) file.
Not sure if your computer is operating at maximum efficiency? Vista can let you know for sure. Just check out the Reliability and Performance Monitor, which you'll find at Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Performance Information and Tools > Advanced Tools > Generate a system health report. Windows will check your disk drives, drivers, services, software and hardware configuration, and more to give you a full accounting of what might be causing you trouble. If it finds a problem, it will explain it to you in detail and suggest how to resolve it.
Whether you're looking for something on your computer or on the Internet, Vista's Address Bar can help you find it—and you don't even need to open up Internet Explorer or the Start menu. Right-click on your taskbar, select Toolbars, then select Address. The Address Bar will appear on your taskbar, looking much like the Address field in IE. You can visit a Web site or use it to start programs and open documents (just like the Run command).
Sorry, desktop users, this one's just for the notebook folks. The Windows Mobility Center, which you access by pressing Windows key+X, gives you the opportunity to tweak all sorts of settings on your laptop, all in one convenient place. You can change your display brightness, adjust the volume, check your battery status, turn off wireless connectivity, switch your screen orientation, set up an external display, and more.