10 Advanced Windows 7 Tips

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 8, 2010
Updated • Jun 7, 2016
Windows, Windows 7

Windows 7 has been out for a few months years now and it is already clear that it will not become a second-Vista for Microsoft. The operating system's market share has already climbed to respectable levels and it is only a matter of time when it will surpass its predecessor Windows Vista.

Microsoft has build in lots of new features in the operating system, some visible on first glance like the new taskbar, others under the hood like better troubleshooting support or power management options.

The following article lists ten advanced tips for Windows 7 that make the operating system faster, more reliable, or speed up daily tasks.

10 Advanced Windows 7 Tips

Tip 1: Opening a new instance of a pinned program or folder in the Windows 7 taskbar

Pinned items are opened with a left-click in the Windows 7 taskbar. Another left-click will bring the window to the front but does not open a new instance of the program or folder. This can be done by either middle-clicking on the icon or by holding [shift] and left-clicking on it.

Tip 2: Extend the options of the right-click menu in Windows Explorer

windows 7 tips right-click

A right-click on a folder or file in Windows Explorer opens a menu with options like copying, opening or renaming the file or folder. Holding [shift] while right-clicking extends that option.

New options that are displayed are for instance to open the file or folder in a new process or to open the command window from that location.

Tip 3: Enabling AHCI to speed up hard drive operations

The Advanced Host Controller Interface needs to be enabled in the computer's bios before the operating system can make use of it.

Windows 7 will not load if this is done without ensuring that the AHCI driver is loaded by the operating system (which it is not by default).

The benefit of enabling AHCI is that it will speed up read and write operations of the hard drive if the hard drive supports AHCI. It is therefore recommended to check the hard drive first to ensure that it is supporting AHCI.

Here is a step by step guide to enabling AHCI in the Windows 7 Registry.

  • Press [Windows R], enter [regedit] and hit [enter].
  • This opens the Windows Registry editor.
  • Move to the path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Msahci
  • Locate the parameter [Start] on the right side and double-click it.
  • Change its value from 3 to 0
  • Restart the computer and enable AHCI in the bios

Windows will install the AHCI drivers on the next start and prompt for another reboot afterwards. Once done, enable AHCI in the BIOS/UEFI and you are good to go.

Tip 4: Run as keyboard shortcut

Several programs require administrative rights to work correctly in Windows 7. This is usually done by right-clicking the program and selecting the run as administrator option in the menu. An alternative to that is to press [ctrl] and [shift] while left-clicking on the program which will have the same effect.

Tip 5: Display the old context menu in the taskbar

A right-click on an icon in the Windows 7 taskbar opens the new jumplist menu. The old menu that displays options like moving, minimizing or maximizing the program windows can be displayed by holding down the [shift] key while right-clicking on the icon.

Tip 6: New Keyboard Shortcuts

Microsoft has introduced several new keyboard shortcuts in Windows 7. Here are some of the more practical ones:

  • [Windows]+[t] Switch through the icons in the Windows taskbar
  • [Windows]+[g] Display the gadgets
  • [Windows]+[+] or [Windows]+[-] Zoom in and out of the selected part of the screen.
  • [Windows]+[arrow key up] or [Windows]+[arrow key down] Maximize or minimize the active window
  • [Windows]+[arrow key left] or [Windows]+[arrow key right] Place the active window in the left half or right half of the computer screen

Tip 7: Configure the volume of applications individually

Windows 7 offers the feature to configure the volume for each application individually. It will automatically list the applications using sound in their own mixer making it possible to configure these individually. Even better is the fact that these settings are saved so that they are still available after system restarts.

Tip 8: Configure Cleartype for better readability on lcd monitor systems.

The Cleartype text tuner is a new configuration tool in Windows 7. It allows the computer user to enable Cleartype and configure it so that it offers the best readability. The easiest way to start the Cleartype Tuner is by typing in [cleartype] in the Windows 7 start menu form.

Tip 9: Change the shut down button in the start menu

Windows 7 displays a shut down button by default in the start menu which will shut down the computer when it is activated. Some users might prefer a different default action. This can be configured by right-clicking the shutdown button and selecting properties from the menu.

This opens the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties with an option to change the Power button action from Shut down to all other available actions that become available when clicking on the down arrow next to the shut down button. This includes switching users, restarting the system or entering sleep mode.

Tip 10: Change system links in the start menu from links to menus

The system links in the start menu point to the Windows control panel or Windows Explorer. Clicking those links will open the desired item in a new window. It is possible to change some or even all of the items from functioning as links to menus.

This will for instance display all Control Panel modules right in the Window Start Menu or all drives under the Computer entry. The very same configuration can also be used to remove selected items from the start menu.

The configuration menu can be opened by right-clicking blank space in the Windows 7 start menu and selecting Properties. A click on the Customize button in the window that opens will open the config for the start menu items.

Bonus Tip: Disable or enable Hibernation in Windows 7

Hibernation can be disabled or enabled from the command line. Open an elevated command prompt by right-clicking on the command prompt link in the Windows 7 start menu in the accessories folder and select run as administrator.

  • powercfg -h on will enable hibernation
  • powercfg -h off will disable hibernation

Disabling hibernation makes sense to free up hard drive space that is automatically assigned to hibernation if it is active.

Update: The majority of tips are valid for newer versions of Windows such as Windows 10 as well.

10 Advanced Windows 7 Tips Part 1
Article Name
10 Advanced Windows 7 Tips Part 1
A compilation of ten tips for Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system that improve your productivity, reveal new features, make the system faster, or more reliable.
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  1. Vaibhav said on April 3, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Nice tips Martin…Most of it new for me..Thanks for it…

  2. Genisis said on January 9, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Thanks for the tips Martin! Used a couple of them and the helped out. Thanks again.

  3. Doc said on January 9, 2010 at 9:01 am

    The ClearType Tuner was a PowerToy addon for XP, so this is not new (and is included in Vista), nor is turning Start Menu buttons into folders; the individual volume controls were originally introduced in Vista.

  4. LordDaMan said on January 9, 2010 at 6:40 am

    There’s another way to get the old right click menu on taskbar items. Simply right click on the aero peek preview (the thumbnail you get when you hover) and not the button itself

  5. Womble said on January 9, 2010 at 3:36 am

    I did my first retail Win7 install with the AHCI set and the performance was dreadful on my hard drive! Reviews & benchmarks of AHCI appear to swing both ways I would probably recommend not using it unless you have an SSD.

    Tip 2 : Using command prompt here is a great tip thx!

    1. PChammer said on January 9, 2010 at 8:06 am

      I believe it, it can slow performance. For copying files, it used to slow drives down, not enhance, however, it depends on the type of drive as well. Some drives suffer from using this while others get a slight boost but not enough to make me go through the trouble. It does work well for some though but how many people will notice a few percent difference, not many standard users could tell unless a huge difference.

  6. eRIZ said on January 9, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Huh, there’s Win+B missing (focus on tray expand button ;)).

  7. PChammer said on January 9, 2010 at 1:52 am

    Nice write up. I would like to comment though on the AHCI. There are many people who can end up without a booting hard drive (BSOD)s or other issues when this is enabled . Others report their imaging software has issues when enabling this as well. For the most part, it can improve preformance and cut down on hard drive wear and tear but there are steps people should take, like backing up their information PRIOR to enabling this. Of course there are many successes too but in my opinion, a small warning should be put there as well.

  8. Hubert M said on January 8, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Danke, sehr hilfreich!

  9. Jonathan said on January 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    On tip 3 you need to put slashes: (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Msahci) like this, also my system (7 Ultimate X64) this was already enabled by default as soon as AHCI is enabled via BIOS windows loads the drivers for it, no need to do any registry tweaks to enable it.

    1. Taomyn said on January 8, 2010 at 4:54 pm

      Also, the reason it may be disabled on many systems is simply because it’s not using the MS drivers, but the ones from the chipset manufacturer such as Intel, nVidia etc

      Use with extreme caution!

    2. Martin said on January 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm

      Jonathan you are right. If it is installed with AHCI enabled then this is not needed. But if it is not it needs to be done.

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