Windows 7 Secrets (Part 2) : Use Checkboxes To Select Files

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Encrypt Individually

Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate include BitLocker, which is designed to fully encrypt the disc. However, if encrypting the entire drive sounds a little drastic, you can instead encrypt individual folders or even individual files. You may choose to encrypt just your Documents folder, for example, which will mean that nobody without your login password will be able to access the tiles - even if they remove the hard disk and attempt a forensic analysis.

The sipher.exe utility

The sipher.exe utility

To encrypt a tile or folder, right-click it and select Properties from the menu that appears. Click the Advanced button and then put a tick alongside Encrypt Contents to Secure Data. If this is the first time you’ve done this, a pop-up will appear near the system tray asking if you want to back up the encryption key. This is a very good idea because without the key your data is lost forever. It you haven't got Windows 7 Enterprise or Ultimate, try using TrueCrypt (, which works just as well – if not better!

Scrub Free Space

Talking of encryption, the command-line equivalent of the encryption tool is called cipher.exe. You can use it at the command-line, but it has one feature that its GUI brother doesn't have – it can securely clean free space on your hard disk.

When you empty the Recycle Bin, the actual file data isn't eradicated. Instead, the space it occupied is simply marked as being available. It might be overwritten immediately by new data, or the old data might stick around for years - it all depends on how the disk is accessed. However, the possibility is there that somebody might come along and un-delete the file using one of many utilities available for the job.

To use cipher.exe to wipe the free space, start by closing as many open apps as possible then opening a command-line window (click the start menu and type cmd in the search field) and type the following, replacing C: if necessary with the letter of the drive whose free space you wish to clean-up:

Cipher /w:C:\

Don't close the command-line window until it's finished, which might take some time depending on the size and speed of your hard disk.

Use A Desktop Omnibar

Right-click the taskbar and then select Properties. In the dialog box that appears, click the Toolbars tab. Then put a tick alongside Address and click OK. You should now see an address field on your taskbar into which you can paste or type the usual web addresses, to have them open in the system default browser. You can also type phrases that will automatically be searched in Bing (there doesn't seem to be a way to switch to Google), and also enter hard disk paths to open a file browsing window at that location (i.e. something like C :\users\keir).

Use Checkboxes To Select Files

If clicking-and-dragging to select files has never been your cup of tea, you can activate a cool feature that lets you click a tick box alongside each file and folder it order to select it. This can also be useful for those with limited motility. To activate the feature, open a file browsing window, then click Organize at the top left. Then select Folder and Search Options from the menu that appears, and click the View tab of the dialog box that appears. Then in the list beneath the Advanced Settings heading, put a tick alongside Use Check Bones To Select Items.

Use Checkboxes To Select Files

Use Checkboxes To Select Files

Click OK and there'll be a new thin column at the left of all file browsing windows if you’re using one of the list views, although not if you're using one of the icon view modes. Regardless of which mode you're using, it you hover the mouse over a tile or folder a box will appear that you can click to tick.

Windows Essentials 2012

Windows Essentials 2012

Alternatively, if using one of the detailed list view mode you can select al files and folders shown by clicking the tickbox alongside the Name heading at the top of the listing.

Get The Essentials

Although Windows reminds you of it when you install, you might have forgotten that a range of free and official add-on programs are just a click away. Referred to as Windows Essentials 2012, the software pack includes an email client, a parental control panel, a word processor for blogging, photo gallery and movie creation software, and Microsoft Skydrive. The package also includes Messenger, although Skype has now superseded this. To download and install the software, head off to

Launch with 1-2-3

It you pin things to the taskbar, such as apps or file system shortcuts, you can launch each with a quick keyboard shortcut - just hold down the Windows key and tap 1, 2, 3 and so on for each of the icons, numbered from the left-hand side of the screen. You can also use this trick to switch to apps that are open and which have an icon on the taskbar, even if they aren’t pinned.

Work With projectors

If you regularly use a projector or second display with your computer, here’s a God-send of a keyboard shortcut: Windows+P. This will bring up a simple selection tool that lets you choose whether to mirror the main display, switch to it, or share the desktop across the two. Considering the number of people I’ve seen struggling to setup a projector in meetings, this tip should be tattooed on foreheads: Windows+P. Don't forget!

Quickly Start A New Doc

If you’re working on a document and want to quickly start a new one, there‘s no need to bother with that File > New nonsense. Instead, just hold down Shift and click the program’s icon in the taskbar. Alternatively, if your mouse has a wheel, click it when hovering over the icon. Doing so will open a new instance of the application, which in case of something like Word or Excel will also open a new document.

Just hit the Windows key and P to easily setup projectors or secondary displays

Just hit the Windows key and P to easily setup projectors or secondary displays

In the case of a web browser you'll simply open a new window, rather than open a new tab.

Click Up For Menus

You can right-click any icon on the taskbar to open a menu showing various options. However, another way of doing this is to left-click and hold then quickly drag the mouse upwards. This can feel more intuitive and quicker than right-clicking, although it’s a tricker procedure to undertake if you’re limited to using a notebooks touchpad.

Elevate Quickly

Any app can be run with full administrator rights by clicking it icon on the taskbar or Start menu while holding down Shift and Ctrl. This can be particularly useful if you want to open a file browsing window with the ability to delete anything - just hold down Shift and Ctrl while clicking the pinned folder icon near the Start menu button. In each case you’ll have to click to clear an authentication dialog box that’ll remind you of the immense powers you now have.

Tune Cleartype

How Windows displays fonts onscreen is a love-it or hate-it affair-particularly if you’ve ever used Mac OS X or Linux. However, you can tune the display of fonts easily by opening the Start menu and typing Adjust ClearType into the search field, and then selecting the option that appears. Then follow each step of the wizard, making the selections that look best to you. Note that the changes might not take effect in program windows until you restart them. Remember that this only affects how text appears on-screen and has no effect on printed output.

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