3 useful Windows 7 tricks you should know

“People are creatures of habit” or so the adage goes, but sometimes we don’t make the best habits either because we don’t know of a better way or don’t care to think of alternatives.  I mean, If something works why change it up?  We like routine, change is risky and often makes us feel uncomfortable so we stick with what we know and we’re happy with that.

But this is thing: I’ve been using Windows 7 for so long that I’ve learned how to search inside files for specific text phrases, make hidden files visible, and I’ve embraced a whole bag of other tricks that I had no idea where there.  But I’m a creature of habit too so I rarely break outside of my comfort zone…

unless it’s something I think I’ll actually use.

And that’s what I intend to give you tonight. I’m going to show you three Windows 7 tricks that are not only super geeky but also pretty useful because they’ll help you squeeze a little more productivity out of your day.

Check it out.

1 Use Ctrl + z

A lot of people don’t realize this… but Ctrl + z is more than just a shortcut for undoing deletions in Microsoft Word or undoing accidental touch-ups in photo editing software.  The next time you accidentally move, rename or delete a file or group of folders just press Ctrl + z to revert the change.

Windows 7 Ctrl z

2. Super Send To Menu

If you right click any file or folder in Windows 7 you’ll see a little option called Send To.  Mouse over this to send the currently selected item to your desktop as a shortcut, an external hard drive, a compressed zip folder and more.

Windows 7 Send To menu

That’s great but did you know there is a secret Send To menu you can access that has more options?

Before you right click a file or folder, hold down the Shift key first.  While keeping the Shift key depressed, right click the item you want to send and you’ll unlock options that were previously hidden.

This kind of reminds me of the Game Genie codes for Mortal Combat on the Sega Genesis gaming console.  You would press random controller combinations to give yourself various cheats such as infinite time or super strength.  I like to think of the Shift key trick as a “cheat” to unveil hidden OS features.

Windows 7 super send to menu

Why doesn’t Microsoft tell us about gems like this?

3. Exit Explorer

So what happens when you boot your computer, login with your username and password but the desktop doesn’t really load?  You know what I mean: the background might be black or a serene shade of blue and maybe even the cursor responds to mouse movements; however, none of your desktop icons appear and the faithful Start Button is no where to be found.

You’ll probably instinctively press Ctrl + Alt + Delete to open the Task Manager or if you know the Task Manager shortcut then you’ll open it with Ctrl + Shift + Esc.  Then you can click File and choose New (Run…) and enter explorer.exe to snap Windows out of its silliness.

But there’s actually a third way to restart the Windows environment without actually rebooting your computer.

Click Start then press and hold Ctrl + Shift.

Now, right click an empty part of the Start Menu and you’ll see a new option called Exit Explorer.

Click that to kill the Windows shell — the Task Bar will vanish and the Start Menu will immediately disappear.  All you’ll have is a desktop with a mouse cursor but don’t panic!  Now we just need to bring back the Explorer process which is also known as the Windows Shell.

Windows 7 Exit Explorer

You can bring Windows back to life by press the famous three-finger salute, (Ctrl + Alt + Del) or using the Task Manager Shortcut I mentioned in the second paragraph of this section.

Windows 7 explorer exe

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