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Navigate Windows

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Add the Address toolbar to the Taskbar.  If you know the path and name of the folder you want to go to, typing it in the Address toolbar can get you there faster than pointing and clicking.  To make the toolbar available, right-click on the taskbar; choose Toolbars and then Address.  Windows will add the toolbar just to the left of the system tray in the taskbar.  You can then open files and folders by typing in their paths.  Windows folders, such as My Documents and My Computer, can be opened simply by typing their names.

You can also launch a program from the Address toolbar or open Internet Explorer and go to a Web site by entering its URL.  Type winword and Microsoft Word will launch.

If a program doesn't launch from the Address bar, you can fix this by placing a shortcut on your desktop.  Then you can open the program by typing the shortcut name (not the program's filename).  If you have a shortcut named Lotus Notes, for example, enter the name as lotus notes, not as notes or notes.exe.

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Search Better and Faster with Indexing.  Windows XP can index your files when your computer is idle, enabling the search process to work more quickly and flexibly.  In addition to the text in files, the index also includes file properties, which means that you can search for things like author names or titles.  If you don't use the search feature very often, you might want to turn the Indexing Service off, because the indexed files take up space on your hard drive.  But the more you depend on the search feature, the better off you'll be with the Indexing Service active.

To check the current settings in Windows XP, choose Start | Search, and then select Change preferences from the choices on the left.  Look for the option With Indexing Service, which means the feature is currently off, or Without Indexing Service, which means the feature is currently on.  (We realize it sounds backwards.)  To change the current setting, choose the option and click on Yes.

You can access this dialog in Windows 2000 by Start | Search | Files/Folders | Search Options | Indexing Service.

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Organize Your Start Menu.  You can find things a lot faster if you're not overwhelmed by too many icons.  So take the time to do some housecleaning.  In particular, delete the icons you don't need.  While it's common to clean up and arrange your desktop, many people never think to organize and remove unnecessary icons from their Start menus.

Take all the read-me files, for instance.  Open your Start menu, go to All Programs, and look in the AOL Instant Messenger folder.  Do you really need a shortcut to the license agreement?  If not, right-click on it and select Delete.  You can do the same with all the folders and files you don't need to access through this menu.

While you're at it, you might want to rearrange the items on the Start menu: You can drag and drop icons and folders to where you want them and even move them into submenus.  Or you can right-click on a menu and select Sort by Name to alphabetize its contents.  Windows XP lets you pin icons to the first level of the Start menu (located in the top-left portion), either by right-clicking or simply by dragging them there.

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The Desktop Cleanup Wizard,  Having too many icons on the desktop is not only distracting but also can take a toll on system performance.  The Desktop Cleanup wizard is a convenient feature that moves unused icons to a folder so that you don't have to do it manually.

By default, the system prompts you to run the Desktop Cleanup wizard every 60 days.  If you can't wait, just right-click on the desktop and choose Properties.  Under the Desktop tab is a Customize Desktop button.

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StickyKeys,  The Windows StickyKeys feature lets you type Shift, Ctrl, Alt, and Windows keys as individual keystrokes.  You can, for example, press Ctrl and then another key consecutively, rather than having to hold the Ctrl key down while typing the other key.

To make this feature available, go to the Control Panel and choose Accessibility Options, then the Keyboard tab, and add a check to the Use StickyKeys check box.  You'll also want to explore the available settings.  In particular, note that by default, the feature turns off if you press two keys at once.  You may want to check the Use Shortcut option, which lets you turn the feature back on by pressing Shift five times.

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MouseKeys,  Another accessibility feature that you may want to explore is MouseKeys, which lets you control the mouse pointer with the numeric keypad.  This gives you much finer control over the mouse pointer.  To turn this feature on, go to the Accessibility Options applet, choose the Mouse tab, and check the Use MouseKeys check box. Here again, you'll want to explore the available settings.

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Use the Keyboard.  We often tout the advantages of knowing your keyboard shortcuts.  The fact is, you can do things faster with a keyboard than with a mouse.  Here are some particularly useful keystrokes.

Ctrl-Esc: Display the Start menu (if you have a keyboard with no Windows logo key).

Alt-Esc and Alt-Shift-Esc: Cycle forward and backward through all open program windows. Hold Alt or Alt-Shift down and keep hitting Esc.

Alt-Tab: Cycle through the icons of open program windows to select an application.  Hold the Alt key down and hit Tab to move from one program to the next.  Release both keys to go to the program.

Ctrl-F6 and Ctrl-Shift-F6: Cycle forward or backward though all the open document windows in a single program, like Microsoft Word.

Shift-Del: Delete files rather than just sending them to the Recycle Bin.

Shift plus any of the arrow keys: Select multiple contiguous items in a list or file folder.

Ctrl-A: Select all.

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Rename Multiple Files.  Windows Explorer in Windows XP lets you rename multiple files with one command, but alas, only in a limited way.  First highlight the files you want to rename.  For noncontiguous files, hold down the Ctrl key as you click on the filenames.  Then press F2 and enter the new name.  The files will all be given the same name, with consecutive numbers appended to differentiate them.

You can also undo the renaming, one file at a time, with Ctrl-Z.  Note that you cannot rename the extensions on multiple files at once, only change each file's name to the left of the extension.

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Use Shortcut Keys to Launch Your Applications,  Using this mostly overlooked feature of Windows, you can launch folders and applications with keyboard shortcuts.  Create an icon shortcut to any application or folder you want.  Right-click on the shortcut and choose Properties.  Note the Shortcut keys text box. Click on it and hold down the Ctrl key, the Alt key, or both, and strike another key (for example, Ctrl-Alt-J).  Click OK.  To use the shortcut, just press the key combination.

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