Windows Vista: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions – Part II

When Windows Vista was released, I was always asked a common set of questions from end-users. So I compiled the "Tips, Answers & Solutions for First Time Users"

As a Microsoft MVP, I’ve spent the past year giving a new batch of tips – so it was time to create Part II of "Tips, Answers & Solutions" 

ADD ADMINISTRATOR ACCOUNT TO LOGIN SCREEN – By default the Administrator Account is "hidden" – to enable the built-in Administrator account
    1. From the Start Menu, type "cmd" in the Search box
    2. In the search results, <Right-Click> on the Command Prompt (CMD) program, selecting "Run as Administrator"
    3. When prompted by User Account Control, click "Continue"
    4. At the command prompt, type "net user administrator /active:yes" and press <ENTER> 
    5. Type "net user administrator Password" and press <ENTER>
      Set Password with administrator’s account’s password.
    6. Type "exit", and press <ENTER>
    7. Log off the current user account.
AUTOMATIC LOGON – Windows XP required Microsoft’s TweakUI for automatic logon, but this feature is included with Windows Vista.
    1. From the Start Menu, type "control userpasswords2" and press <Enter>
    2. Remove the checkmark from "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer"
    3. Click "OK" (you’ll need to verify your password)
    4. Click "OK" to exit
CREATE / CHANGE DISK PARTITIONS – Previously Windows XP required 3rd party programs to change disk partitions "on the fly" — but Windows Vista has this feature built-in. It’s a bit complicated, so I’ll leave those instructions to Microsoft!
USE CHECK BOXES TO SELECT ITEMS – Besides holding the <Ctrl> + <Left-Click> key while selecting items, Windows Vista can also provide "check boxes" next to each item.

    1. Open "Computer" (or specific folder)
    2. From the "Organize" pull-down on the toolbar, select "Folder and Search Options"
    3. From the "View" tab, select "Use check boxes to select items"
    4. Click "Apply"
    5. Optional: Click "Apply to Folders" to set option for entire drive
    6. Click "OK" or "Cancel" to exit
COPY AS PATH – Creating a link to a file in Windows XP is a "multi-step process" (cut-n-paste the filename, then cut-n-paste the path, then concatenate them along with a "" inserted between two quotes) Thankfully with Windows Vista it’s trivial:
    1. <Shift> + <Right-Click> and select "Copy as Path"
DISK CLEANUP – Windows Vista has a few more options than Windows XP worth learning, configuring and running.
    1. Run "Disk Cleanup" by <Right-Clicking> on your Drive Choice and select "Properties" then click "Disk Cleanup" (Command: CLEANMGR)
    2. Select “Files from all users on this computer” – wait (patiently) for disk scanning to complete
    3. From the "Disk Cleanup" Tab, select which files to delete (I have them all selected)
    4. From the "More Options" Tab, push the "Clean up…" button from "System Restore and Shadow Copies"
    5. Select "Delete" to remove all but the most recent restore point
    6. Push "OK" to complete "Disk Cleanup"
    7. Push "Delete Files" to confirm
NETWORK ICON "TRAFFIC" BLINKING – The default setting for Windows XP’s Networking Icon, displays "blinking" network traffic. By default, this animation is not displayed in Windows Vista.
    1. <Right-Click> the Network Icon in the notification area (bottom right corner)
    2. Select "Turn on activity animation"
OPTIMIZE USB HARD DRIVES – By default USB Devices are configured for "Optimize for quick removal" which is ideal for devices that are connected and removed often. However if you have USB Drive(s) that are always connected you can increase this device’s performance by changing "Optimize for performance"
    1. <Right-Click> on "Computer" selecting "Properties"
    2. From the "Tasks" pane, select "Device Manager"
    3. Locate and <Double-LeftClick> the USB Drive
    4. From the "Policies" tab select "Optimize for performance"
    5. Click "OK" to exit
NOTE: You’ll now need to use "Safely Remove Hardware" when disconnecting "optimized" USB devices.

RELIABILITY AND PERFORMANCE MONITOR – Reliability Monitor provides you with a quick, visual view of the average stability of your system. In addition,  it tracks events that will help you identify what causes reductions in reliability. By recording not only failures (including memory, hard disk,  application, and operating system failures), but also key events regarding the configuration of your system (including the installation of new  applications and operating system updates), you can see a timeline of changes in both the system and reliability, and can identify how to get your  system back to optimal reliability when it does not behave as expected. 
    1. From the Start Menu, type "Monitor" and press <Enter>
SNIPPING TOOL – With previous versions of Windows, you could only capture an entire screen pressing <Shift> + <PrtSc>. With Windows Vista’s Snipping Tool you can capture an entire screen, or any sized "snip"
    1. From the Start Menu, type "snip" and press <Enter>
WINDOWS MOBILITY CENTER – available in Windows Vista premium editions, the Windows Mobility Center puts the most frequently used mobile PC settings in  a single, easy-to-find location.
    1. Press <WinKey> + X  
So do you have a favorite Windows Vista Tip you would like to share? (^_^)

About blakehandler

BLAKE was a Microsoft MVP and award winning programmer with over 20+ years experience providing complete Windows and networking support for small to medium sized businesses. BLAKE is also Jazz Musician and Instructor for residential clients on the Los Angeles West Side.
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