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Fine tuning Windows 7 on netbook

It’s now becoming standard for netbooks to have Windows 7 installed on them. WINDOWS looks at how you can adjust the features with your fresh install of Starter Edition to get your netbook performing at optimum.

You were one of those who went out in 2009 and bought a netbook, especially one with the much-vaunted Windows 7. Netbooks are great as secondary PCs, and Windows 7 performs well on these systems, but as with every other computer you own, there are ways to tweak what you have to get the best out of it.

WINDOWS has researched some of the most talked about tweaks you can make to Windows 7 starter edition in particular, and we list them here.

Fine Tune Visual Settings

The Graphic User Interface (GUI) is a big culprit when it comes to slowing down the Windows Seven experience, especially on netbooks that don’t have the greatest graphics cards. There are ways you can tweak the performance of the interface, and the following would be suggested for users.

Click on the Start Button and type in adjust the appearance and hit Enter. This will load the Visual Effects performance options.

On this screen you can disable the following settings by removing the check:

• Animate controls and elements inside windows

• Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing

• Enable transparent glass

• Fade or slide menus into view

• Fade or slide ToolTips into view

• Fade out menu items after clicking

• Show shadows under windows (this may be worth the performance hit for some)

• Show thumbnails instead of icons

• Show translucent selection rectangle

• Show window contents while dragging

• Slide open combo boxes

Click OK when you are finished.

Remove Startup Programs

The oldest trick in the book when it comes to boosting up your startup speed on a Windows based system is the ‘msconfig’ command. Nothing wastes resources more is startup programs that you don’t need. Click on the Start Button and type in ‘msconfig’ and hit Enter.When the System Configuration utility is loaded click on the Startup tab and remove the check next to any applications you don’t need.

Disable Services

If performing the ‘msconfig’ command is the first trick in the book when it comes to speeding up your computing experience, the next would be disabling unnecessary services. Click on the Start Button and type in services.msc and hit Enter.

When the Services management console is shown you can stop and disable services by selecting the service, right clicking and selecting Properties. Then change the Startup type to Disabled and hit the Stop button. Finally click OK to return to the Services management console.

You can disable the following services on a netbook:

• Block Level Backup Engine Service

• Bonjour Service (from iTunes)

• Certificate Propagation

• Group Policy Client (if not on domain)

• HomeGroup Listener

• HomeGroup Provider

• Offline Files

• Portable Device Enumerator Service

• Security Center*

• Software Protection (make sure you activate Windows first)

• SSDP Discovery

• Windows Defender*

• Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service

• Windows Search

Keep in mind that if you use any of these services or applications that depend on them they will no longer function. So, if you are a homegroup user don’t disable the Homegroup Provider. Also make sure you use other security software if you disable these services.

God Mode

To enter “GodMode” on Windows 7 is very easy and one of the biggest tweaks you can make to your netbook. It’s just a matter of creating a new folder and then renaming that folder to the following: GodMode. {ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}.

Once that is done, the folder’s icon will change to resemble a control panel and will contain dozens of control options. (It is advised that one should only do this with a 32-bit version of Windows 7, as it has been known to cause problems on the 64-bit version of this operating system.)

Install More RAM

Buying yourself a 2Gbyte stick of RAM and installing it yourself will immediately boost your netbook’s speed. You would need to check with the make of your netbook as to what kind of RAM you would need to put into your netbook. Bear in mind when doing it yourself that you should not have your feet touching a carpet so as not to generate static electricity.

Turn off Aero Snap

Aero Snap is a feature in Windows 7 that causes your application windows to automatically snap into a preconfigured place when you move them to the edges of the screen. If you drag a window to the far right, it will size itself to fill exactly half the screen, and if you drag it to the top corner, it will maximise to fill the whole screen. You can easily turn snap off to simplify your ‘windows’ experience. Here’s how you can do it:

1. Click Start and select Control Panel.

2. Click Ease of Access Center.

3. Click Make the Mouse Easier to Use.

4. Select the Prevent Windows From Being Automatically Arranged When Moved To The Edge Of The Screen check box and click OK

Get your apps

Netbooks typically come with the bare minimum of software when you buy them. Instead of searching the internet for open source and freeware software to download the most popular programs, you can, instead, get it all from one place: Ninite.com. This site has in the region of 70 apps, and it’s as easy as check-marking the ones you want. The service offers the most current versions of nearly every popular mainstream program, including Firefox, Skype, OpenOffice, iTunes, Picasa, Steam and Revo Uninstaller to get you on your merry way.

Calibrate your screen

Most of us use the same default Windows colour profile, but the colours you see on your screen will vary depending on your monitor, graphics cards settings, lighting and more. Windows 7 does provide a ‘Display Colour Calibration Wizard’ that helps you properly set up your brightness, contrast and colour settings, and a ClearType tuner to ensure text is sharp. Click Start, type DCCW and press Enter to calibrate your screen.

Extend your battery life

Windows 7 includes new power options that will help to improve your notebook’s battery life. To see them, click Start, type Power Options. Then click the Power Options link, and click Change Plan Settings. For your current plan and select Change Advanced Settings. If you expand Multimedia Settings, for instance, and you’ll see a new “playing video” setting that can be set to optimise power savings rather than performance. You can browse through the other settings and ensure they’re set up to meet your needs

Parallel defrags

The standard Windows 7 defragger offers more control than we saw in Vista, and the command line version also has some interesting new features. The /r switch will defrag multiple drives in parallel, for instance (they’ll obviously need to be physically separate drives for this to be useful). The /h switch runs the defrag at a higher than normal priority, and the /u switch provides regular progress reports so you can see exactly what’s going on. Enter the command defrag /c /h /u /r.

Keyboard shortcuts

Windows 7 supports several useful new keyboard shortcuts.

Alt+P
Display/ hide the Explorer preview pane

Windows Logo+G
Display gadgets in front of other windows

Windows Logo++ (plus key)
Zoom in, where appropriate

Windows Logo+- (minus key)
Zoom out, where appropriate

Windows Logo+Up
Maximise the current window

Windows Logo+Down
Minimise the current window

Windows Logo+Left
Snap to the left hand side of the screen

Windows Logo+Right
Snap to the right hand side of the screen

Windows Logo+Home
Minimise/ restore everything except the current window

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