How to Use Windows Laptop Utilities
Portable computing has always had its drawbacks. The screens and keyboards tend to be smaller. But there are Windows utilities that make using your laptop a tad easier. They are called Ease of Access tools and are only included with newer versions of Windows, not in Windows XP.
Win+X conjures forth the Windows Mobility Center. The Windows Mobility Center offers quick access to popular laptop features in Windows, including battery status, wireless networking, external monitor, and other features.
Magnify the screen
One of the Windows Ease of Access features is the Magnifier program. It has two parts: a control window where you can set various options and the main magnifier window.
The magnifier window is what you use to better see a portion of the display. The window follows the action ― either the mouse pointer or the location where you’re typing. That part of the screen appears as much as 16 times larger.
To start the Magnifier, from the Start menu choose All Programs→Accessories→Ease of Access→Magnifier. The screen blinks and blanks for a second, and then you see the two windows. If you’ve used the Magnifier before, the control window may not appear.
To use the Magnifier, first make settings in the control window. In Windows 7, summon the window by clicking the mouse in the Magnifier. Click the Gear icon to see more options and settings.
In Windows Vista, the control window might be minimized to the taskbar; click its button, named Magnifier, to restore it. After making any necessary adjustments, you can minimize the control window to better use the magnifier window.
To close the magnifier window, right-click its toolbar button and choose the command Close Window or Close.
The magnifier window remains on top of all other windows, allowing you to see what you’re doing, but in a larger size.
Try undocking the magnifier window. Remove the check mark by the Docked option in the control window. Then you can resize and move the magnifier window.
You can increase the magnification size by choosing a new value from the Scale Factor button in the control window.
Type on the On-Screen Keyboard
Unless you have a laptop with a wide screen, your laptop probably lacks a full-size keyboard. At those times when you’re desperate for a full-size keyboard, summon the On-Screen Keyboard (OSK) utility.
The OSK gives you mouse pointer access to full-size keyboard luxury on your laptop’s screen. Because it’s really an Ease of Access tool, it’s not a rapid or sneaky way of doing things. Nope, it’s just a handy alternative.
To view the On-Screen Keyboard, choose All Programs→Accessories→Ease of Access→On-Screen Keyboard from the Start menu. The On-Screen Keyboard window shows up, floating atop all other windows on the screen.
Use the On-Screen Keyboard by plucking out keys with the mouse pointer. Clicking a shift key (Shift, Alt, or Ctrl) locks the key for one keystroke.
You can still use the laptop’s keyboard while you use the On-Screen Keyboard. In fact, you can press and hold a shift key on the laptop’s keyboard to affect the OSK display.
To ensure that the OSK window always stays on top of other windows, choose Settings→Always On Top. The Magnifier will always trump the OSK in the battle to be on top. You can bring the OSK forward, however, by clicking its window. Hover the mouse pointer outside the OSK window to pop the magnifier upfront again.
Internet Explorer 8–compatible add-ins that provide quick links to needed additional information on the spot without requiring a whole bunch more browsing.
Windows 7 uses the Action Center to keep you informed of security and maintenance issues that need attention.
An account for the manager of a computer or network. An Administrator account offers significantly more privileges in managing the PC compared to a Standard account.
A Windows color scheme that changes the way Windows itself looks and behaves on your screen.
A combination of the Aero color scheme and the Glass effect that creates a transparent effect in Windows
A Windows 7 tool that allows you to quickly view all open windows and programs in either thumbnail or full screen mode.
A Windows 7 feature that minimizes all windows except the one. Click on the title bar of the window you want to keep open and then drag it back and forth quickly.
A Windows 7 feature that lets you resize a window to half size just by dragging it to a side of the screen.
A test that Microsoft uses to determine how quickly a computer's graphics card can blend colors.
A kind of software used for productivity or to create things (the software that does the work).
A file that piggybacks onto an e-mail message.
Appears when you plug a memory card into your PC.
Microsoft's term for large-network business clients who qualify to receive upgraded support.
A wireless technology for adding devices to your computer.
Recording content to a CD or DVD.
Also known as the temporary Internet files, the cache contains all Web pages and their components that are downloaded when you subscribe to Web sites or channels.
An Internet browser developed by Google.
A special anti-aliasing tool developed by Microsoft to improve the appearance of fonts in high-resolution LCD flat-screen monitors.
A small program that converts data from one form to another so that the data can be played on a media player.
A traditional DOS-like text interface that allows you to input instructions to the computer.
A program option that allows you to trick an older program into thinking it is running in a previous version of Windows.
A folder containing multiple files that have been packed in such a way that all excess space is eliminated.
In Windows Explorer, these files are shown one right after another.
Tiny files that are used by Web sites to track your online activity and recognize you whenever you access the site.
To choose a portion of an existing photo and make that portion into the entire photo, omitting the rest of the photo.
A cable that allows two computers to connect to each other as a network without having to set up an actual Windows network.
The blinking icon on the computer screen that shows you where the characters you type appear; also called an insertion pointer.
The score that the Windows Experience Index gives to your computer's ability to replicate 3D images.
The primary printer that Windows uses automatically.
The process that your computer uses to rearrange the pieces of files and applications on your hard drive so that they are positioned next to each other on the drive, improving performance.
Windows 7’s main screen that shows your program icons, the Start button, and the taskbar.
A collection of settings that control the appearance and behavior of the various appearance settings in Windows.
A small strip along the bottom of every folder that lists details about the item you’re currently viewing.
A Windows tool that shows you the status of all the hardware elements on your PC.
Windows 7 uses the Device Stage to gather all the information about installed devices into one central hub.
Digital IDs are certificates that you can use to verify the identity of the person with whom you’re communicating.
A computer that translates Internet addresses you can understand, such as www.dummies.com, into addresses that the Internet can understand, such as 184.108.40.206.
The speed at which you click your mouse button twice. This rate is set in the Mouse Properties dialog box.
To copy data (usually an entire file) from a main source to a peripheral device.
A Windows 7 feature that can make a system-wide change to the size of fonts and icons.
To click and hold a mouse button while moving the mouse.
To place an item on the desktop or in a window, after dragging it, by releasing the mouse button.
The standard connection method for certain types of video display, such as LCD monitors.
An adapter that allows you to connect an older monitor to a newer computer or vice versa.
Microsoft's products that help assist people with physical limitations get full use of their computers.
A file that is attached to an e-mail message.
The translation, or scrambling, of data into a secret code.
A Windows tool that can examine a hard drive and fix many common drive errors.
A local-area network (LAN) architecture developed by Xerox Corporation in cooperation with DEC and Intel in 1976.
External devices such as peripheral hard drives, DVD drives, flash drives, or memory card readers.
A Windows 7 feature that allows you to quickly switch between users.
The small icon next to a URL address in an Internet browser's address bar.
A three- or four-digit suffix to a filename that tells Windows 7 what program should open the file.
An Internet browser developed by Mozilla.
A software or hardware device designed to block unauthorized intruders from gaining entry to an individual computer or a network.
A keychain-size storage unit that saves files on memory cards; you can plug it into your computer and access it like any other external hard drive.
When the Aero color scheme is engaged, this tool allows you to visually scroll through all open applications.
An operating system object that can contain multiple files and other folders.
The combination of typeface and other qualities, such as size, pitch, and spacing, that can be applied to characters in a document.
A state in which your PC does not respond to keyboard or mouse commands; also called locked or locked up.
A little always-on Windows 7 desktop program, such as the Slide Show, Clock, and RSS Feeds.
A Windows Appearance setting that gives your folders a nearly transparent look
Menu options that are currently unavailable.
The technical term for when two or more pieces of electronic equipment, such as a cell phone and a Bluetooth adapter, first recognize each other.
A Windows 7 Help and Support Center tool that runs you through the most common causes of hardware errors in a question and answer format.
A Windows tool that can search for and add hardware to the system.
A numbering system based on 16 digits that is often used for graphics.
A computer function by which it saves all the computer’s memory (everything the system is doing), then turns the computer off.
A type of Windows Registry entry that contains a number of other Registry entries.
The first page you see when you open Internet Explorer. You should set your home page to one of your favorite Web sites.
Windows 7 computers use Homegroups to simplify networking.
A keyboard shortcut that opens an application or performs a specific task.
A common connection point for devices in a network.
A small picture that represents an object or program.
A form of backup that makes a copy of all the information on a drive, including programs, data, and custom settings.
The blinking icon that appears on your computer screen at the location where characters you type appear; also called a cursor.
A company that provides access to the Internet.
An identifier for a computer or device on a TCP/IP network.
The device you type on; it’s the primary way you communicate with the computer, with input.
The Microsoft online help tool that contains information regarding Windows problems and errors
A portable computer.
Libraries enable you to group related folders and files together. Windows 7 has four default libraries: Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos.
When burning CDs and DVDs, this file system allows you to add and remove files as if the disc were another hard drive.
A computer network that spans a relatively small area. Most LANs are confined to a single building or group of buildings.
The command on the Shutdown menu that suspends computer operations and presents the login screen, but without actually logging off.
A state in which your PC does not respond to keyboard or mouse commands; also called frozen.
To identify yourself on a computer by entering a user name and password.
To tell Windows that you’re done using the computer without actually turning off the computer; you must log in to use it again.
To identify yourself on a computer by entering a user name and password.
To tell Windows that you’re done using the computer without actually turning off the computer; you must log in to use it again.
Short for Media Access Control address, a hardware address that uniquely identifies each node of a network.
A type of application that is designed to cause problems (such as file corruption and stealing personal information) to computer systems.
Digital information "cards" you send to trusted Web sites; they contain all the credit card and other personal identity information that you supply them in the course of doing business.
When burning CDs and DVDs, this setting allows the disc to be read by most computers and players, but it does restrict you to only adding files one time.
The portion of the hard drive that contains the operating system.
A piece of hardware used for making your media libraries accessible to non-computers on your home network, such as Xbox 360 and SmartMedia televisions.
A Windows tool that lets you set up networks on the fly without a hub or a router by skipping among wireless cards.
Temporary computer information storage which is emptied when you turn off the computer; also called RAM. The term "memory" also refers to the physical chips capable of holding data.
A full-featured instant messaging tool — now a part of the Windows Live Essentials pack — that works with any version of Windows as well as Yahoo! messenger.
A Microsoft-proprietary Web archive file format.
The Mobility Center contains all the main laptop settings: adjusting brightness, changing the sound volume, saving battery power, connecting to wireless networks, and setting up external displays or projectors.
Modem is a contraction of modulator-demodulator. A device that converts digital data from a computer into analog data for transmission over telephone lines by modulating it into waves. At the other end, a modem converts the analog data back into digital form by demodulating it. Cable modems also convert data but that information may stay in digital form.
To change the location of a file, deleting the file from its original location.
Microsoft's video-editing tool, which is now a part of the Windows Live Essentials pack.
A pane in Windows 7 that contains your most frequently used items. The top portion is Favorite Links; the bottom part is Folders.
An ultralight laptop built for on-the-road Internet access and word processing.
A group of two or more computer systems linked together. Components of a network include a networking adapter, cables, and a hub.
The window from which you control most of your network settings.
On the Windows 7 desktop, the collection of icons down near the clock.
The keypad that allows you to type numbers when the Num Lock key is on.
The Windows system uses a paging volume to expand the RAM and increase performance.
Let you dictate what a person can and can’t do on the Internet.
A drive partition is a way that Windows virtually separates parts of a drive.
A disk that records your authority to access your user account — if you forget your password, you can use this disk to access the system.
The primary options button on the far left in the Scenic Ribbon.
A device, such as a CD-ROM drive or printer, that is not part of the console. Peripheral devices can be external — such as a mouse, keyboard, printer, monitor, or scanner — or internal, such as a CD-ROM drive, CD-R drive, or internal modem.
The act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information.
Windows 7's redesigned photo handling tool, which is now a part of the Windows Live Essentials pack.
A group of songs with a particular theme, often created using Windows Media Player.
A technology that Windows uses to automate hardware installation.
A software module that adds a specific feature or service so that you can view a Web site.
A window that suddenly appears (pops up) when you select an option with a mouse or press a special function key in Internet Explorer.
A type of firewall exception that gives the program in question complete access to your system.
A feature of the operating system that slows or shuts down your computer after a period of inactivity to save power and extend the PC’s life.
The lineup of documents waiting to be output by your printer.
A tool that enables you to record exactly what your computer is doing so that you can show whoever you’ve asked for help.
A computer component that allows you to store data.
A technology that allows your computer to augment its memory using a flash memory drive
ReadyDrive takes advantage of hybrid hard drives — the drives with significant amounts of integrated flash memory — to boot faster.
To restart your computer.
A folder on the hard drive where Windows places the files that you delete. Until you empty the Recycle Bin, deleted files can be restored.
This condition is visible in a photo when, instead of seeing a black pupil, the camera catches the blood-red retina in the back of the eye.
A file that contains a backup of Windows Registry entries
A Windows tool that allows you to manually modify the Windows Registry.
A Windows tool that you can use to allow a user on another computer to have access your computer so that they can help you correct errors.
Software within Windows that lets you access a PC from a remote location.
Storage media, such as a CD, DVD, or flash drive, that can be taken away from your PC.
When pressing a keyboard key, this is the pause before the key repeats itself on-screen.
When pressing a keyboard key, this is the speed at which the key’s character (or function) repeats.
A Windows 7 tool that tracks how all your system's components are being used, focusing primarily on the RAM and processor.
A snapshot of your hard drive’s important settings that can be used for a System Restore.
To copy music from a CD to your PC. This is often accomplished using Windows Media Player.
Entries in the Windows Registry.
Automatically updated content that can be viewed with an RSS feed reader.
A way of entering Windows, primarily for diagnostics and repairs, that bypasses many of the drivers that can cause Windows failures.
Serial Advanced Technology Attachment: A storage technology that tends to run faster and cooler with simpler connections.
A tab-based interface for Microsoft-based applications, such as WordPad, that contains all the primary commands.
Signifies the number of dots (pixels) on the entire screen.
A program that searches documents or the Internet for specified keywords and returns a list of the documents or Web pages where the keywords were found.
Lists Windows 7’s four main security defenses, tells you whether they’re activated, and provides handy On switches to activate any that may be turned off.
A 32-character unique identifier attached to the header of packets sent over a network that acts as a password when a mobile device tries to connect the network.
A type of backup file that automatically saves all previous versions of files.
An icon push button, typically placed on your desktop, that allows you to quickly access a program, file, or folder.
A topic-specific pop-up menu that appears when you right-click an item.
The command on the Shutdown menu that powers off the computer.
An area along the side of your screen that displays gadgets. These gadgets tell you the time, show pictures, convert money, and feed you the news, among other things.
A visual interface applied to Windows Media Player.
The command on the Shutdown menu that places the computer into a special, power-saving mode.
Windows' built-in tool for creating screen shots.
A tool within Windows Defender that can be used to control which applications run during the Windows start up process.
Any unsolicited e-mail.
Any software that covertly gathers user information through the user’s Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes.
The typical user account that is managed by an administrator.
The button in the lower-left corner of the Windows desktop. By clicking the Start button, you access the Start menu to start programs, adjust Windows settings, find help, and shut down your computer, among other things.
Allows you to start programs, adjust Windows' settings, find help, and shut down your computer, among other things.
A Windows 7 accessory that enables you to leave the electronic equivalent of good old-fashioned Post-It notes all over your Windows 7 desktop
SuperFetch keeps track of which applications are being used the most on your computer and tries to pre-load those applications so they’re available before you need them.
In networks, a device that filters and forwards packets between network segments.
The command on the Shutdown menu that allows another user on the same computer to access his or her account without logging off from your own account.
A full-featured folder synchronizer that is included in the Windows Live Essentials pack.
To coordinate a single set of data between two or more devices, automatically copying changes back and forth.
A backup file created using Backup and Recovery that can be used to restore the system to exactly the same as it was at the time the image was create — including programs, updates, drivers, and data.
A disc you create that contains all the information your PC needs to boot to the System Recovery Screen, enabling you to access repair tools.
Uses restore points to return your PC to a point where it works properly.
Part of a file's metadata in which you can give a file a reference name that can be used by Windows 7 and other programs to sort and retrieve files.
Windows tool for keeping track of the programs and processes that are currently running.
A Windows 7 theme controls all aspects of the visual workspace — wallpaper (desktop background), colors, icons, screen saver, mouse pointers, even custom sounds.
Another name for a flash drive, because many flash drives are about the size of a human thumb.
The thick blue bar that runs across the top of a window.
How movie clips are joined together.
A power strip combined with a battery to keep your computer running when the power goes out.
A computer connection that you can use to attach many different kinds of devices and peripherals to a computer.
An account that every 7 user must have on a given PC. The account defines the user’s privileges and allows the user to customize items, such as the desktop and file settings.
A Windows safety option that protects you from accidentally making changes to your system that could have a negative effect on system performance or stability.
The name of your user account.
A file that contains a person's personal contact information that can be sent to others via e-mail.
A software creation that acts and operates like a separate computer within the primary computer.
The portion of your hard drive that Windows uses to expand the available RAM.
VPNs are sophisticated encrypted networks that are far more secure than your average wireless connection.
A program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes.
Microsoft's assessment tool that analyses the hardware on your PC and determines how efficiently your system will be able to handle Windows 7.
Windows' limited outbound firewall interface.
Microsoft's software package that can be installed on a home computer or hard drive and that manages your home network for you.
A group of applications that Microsoft created to go with Windows 7, including Mail, Messenger, Photo Gallery, and Movie Maker — along with seven new applications.
Microsoft's full-featured free e-mail service — now a part of the Windows Live Essentials pack.
Software that lets you collect, play, and share your music.
Software that lets you import your video and photos, edit them into a movie, and save your creation to your PC, a DVD, or a CD.
Software that lets you easily sort through your photos by clicking different words, dates, and ratings listed on the Navigation Pane.
Software that offers nearly as many options as the drugstore’s photo counter, printing full-page glossies, wallet prints, and nearly anything in between.
A portion of the Windows system that contains a wide variety of information that instructs Windows how to handle registered applications.
Allows Microsoft to automatically send you patches for Windows 7.
A shell program that allows you to run Windows XP programs inside Windows 7.
The measurement tool that Windows 7 uses to assess your system's capabilities and to create the WEI index for your PC.
A Windows tool that automates common processes, such as adding software or setting up a network.