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Top 10 Things to Do with a New Windows 7 System | September 12, 2010

10. Change Up Your Theme

Top 10 Things to Do with a New Windows 7 SystemUnlike its predecessors, Windows 7 offers a lot of non-hacker-ish ways in which you can change the entire look of your desktop, not just the wallpaper. Microsoft checks in occasionally to provide more themes at its site. If you’d like to keep your wallpaper fresh, but don’t want to hunt down the widescreen-friendly pics yourself, set up Bing’s backgrounds as a auto-rotating wallpaper feed.

9. Take Advantage of the Better Printer Setups

Top 10 Things to Do with a New Windows 7 SystemWhen Vista came out, it broke a lot of printer compatibility. Now that most manufacturers have had time to update drivers (and users had time to replace old printers), we can get the most from Windows 7’s better printing tools. You can, for example, make your computer change its default printer based on network connections, which can be a real boon to laptop warriors. You can also keep your XP systems connected on your network happily, as Windows 7 and XP can share printers, as explained by the How-To Geek’s own site.

8. Extend Your Activation Period, If Necessary

Top 10 Things to Do with a New Windows 7 SystemYou swear that you’ve never used this copy of Windows 7 before, or thought you’d deactivated the license on the system you did use it on. For whatever reason your activation code isn’t working, you can give yourself 120 days to purchase one or get your act together otherwise.

7. Set Up XP Mode and Make It More Convenient

Top 10 Things to Do with a New Windows 7 SystemIf you’ve got apps that just don’t play nice with a newer Windows, even with some compatibility mode tweaks, you’ll want to set up XP Mode for free and learn how to make the most of it. If Microsoft’s own virtualization tools for Virtual XP don’t impress you much, go ahead and run the XP Mode image in VirtualBox for full control over states, hardware usage, and other variables.

6. Get Your Old “Show Desktop” Button Back

Top 10 Things to Do with a New Windows 7 SystemTo preview or show the desktop in Windows 7, you need to hover or click on the little translucent bar—that tiny strip there, in the far bottom right. Missing the old puffy-corner icon and a taskbar button to click on? The Tweaking with Vishal blog shows us how to bring it back—kinda/sorta, actually, since you’re really creating a small toolbar with just one button. Still, it’s a popular tweak, and it helps ease the transition from Windows XP.

5. Integrate Dropbox with Your System

Top 10 Things to Do with a New Windows 7 SystemOn its own, Dropbox is a must-install app—it syncs your files, starting at 2 GB, from a folder that just magically keeps itself up to date across all your systems and devices. But you can make it a more helpful part of your Windows system. You can sync folders outside your main Dropbox, for starters, then change the location if need be. There are plenty of other clever Dropbox uses, but in Windows 7, something as simple as adding Dropbox to your Start menu can pay off in long-term time savings.

4. Organize and Customize Your Libraries

Top 10 Things to Do with a New Windows 7 SystemWindows 7’s Libraries are one of the OS’ neatest, most helpful features, but they don’t go out of their way to explain themselves. Luckily, writer Mysticgeek at the How-To Geek’s own site wrote up a helpful Libraries how-to, detaling the adding and removing of files and folders and getting a grip on how to make them more convenient. If you’d rather handle your folders all by yourself, you can simply disable libraries, too.

3. Set Up a Dual-Boot System

Top 10 Things to Do with a New Windows 7 SystemWhen your Windows system’s new and just-installed, that’s when you want to set it up to run another system. In fact, you’ll almost always install Windows first when you’re dual-booting Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux. If you’re adding Windows 7 in as a companion to XP, we’ve got a system for doing that, too. Finally, if you’re running a Mac and want to add in Windows 7 as its own OS, you can get that done with Boot Camp.

2. Learn the Shortcuts

Top 10 Things to Do with a New Windows 7 SystemWindows 7 has not shortage of shortcuts, like its predecessors, but this newest version of MIcrosoft’s operating system does a lot more to put control of the windows, the new Taskbar, and other really great features into the tips of your fingers. Here’s the master list of new Windows 7 shortcuts. Read up, test them out, and learn them. Your fingers, hands, and emptying supply of free time will thank you.

1. Get Your Must-Have Apps Installed Quickly with Ninite

Top 10 Things to Do with a New Windows 7 SystemYou’ve probably got a set of free, downloadable apps you install on every system. Each of those apps has a license agreement, a usually redundant series of options to click through, and a wait while the app installs. Ninite lets you pick out your apps from a web form, then download a customized installer that plugs all those apps into your system at once, no extra clicks needed.

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