Archive for category Windows 7

Excel/Windows: Change default date display format

By default, the “short date” display format for Windows (and thus Excel) is “M/d/yyyy.” For example, June 1, 2011 would be displayed as 6/1/2011. For varying reasons, you may want to zero-fill your dates and have June 1, 2011 read as 06/01/2011. Doing this actually involves a Windows setting, not an Excel setting. So, be prepared to have your dates displayed accordingly across the whole operating system and many other programs.

To change the default date format in Windows:

  1. Go to Start –> Control Panel and select “Regional Settings” or “Region and Language,” depending on your operating system.
  2. In the Short date format list, select the desired format:
  3. Click OK.

Now, unless the dates in Excel were formatted using the format menu, they should now display as you’ve defined them.



Windows 7: Dual screen keyboard acrobatics

keyboardI have become a huge fan of keyboard shortcuts as they seem to shave precious milliseconds off the time taken to perform certain tasks with the mouse. A colleague of mine shared with me some cool keyboard shortcuts for managing windows in a multiple monitor environment:

  • Windows Key + Left/Right Arrow:maximize the current window to the left/right pane of the screen
  • Windows Key + Left/Right Arrow (repeated):move the window to the other monitor
  • Windows Key + Shift + Left/Right Arrow:move the window to the other monitor (without an intermediary step)
  • Windows Key + Up Arrow:maximize the window to the full screen
  • Windows Key + Down Arrow: restore the window from being maximized/minimize the window

This post at has a few more useful shortcuts in this category.


Windows 7 and Vista: Quick screen zoom with keyboard shortcut

imageThis tip is courtesy this Lifehacker post and applies to all Windows 7 and Vista users. There may be times when zooming in on a program or item on the screen is desirable. In my daily life, I often zoom in when I am showing something on my screen to another person. These keyboard shortcuts make it really quick and easy to zoom in and out using the Magnifier tool in Windows 7 and Vista:

  • Windows key and + will zoom in in 100% increments
  • Windows key and – will zoom back out

With the Magnifier tool up, the following shortcuts are available, according to Lifehacker:

  • CTRL + L to bring up the lens display view
  • CTRL + D to dock the magnification area.
  • CTRL + F brings you back to the full screen mode.

For many other applications (regardless of your Windows version):

If I am using Word, Excel, Acrobat, or any number of other applications, I use CTRL + scroll wheel to zoom in and out of a document. This shortcut does not work on ALL programs, but it is very useful when it does.


Launch programs faster with Windows 7, or Download: Launchy

Windows 7 Start menu search

For those no longer tied down to Windows XP, the Start menu in Windows 7 (and Vista) allows for unsurpassed efficiency in launching programs and searching for files.

Microsoft has dramatically improved the functionality of the Start Menu with Windows 7. By incorporating search capability, it is possible to very quickly find and launch programs and documents. Not only can you more quickly launch frequently-used programs, but it also means no more searching through a large tree of folders looking for a program you haven’t used in a year.

To start, click the Start menu button or hit the Windows Key. Notice that at the bottom of the menu a search box sits, waiting for your input.


If you start typing as soon as the menu appears, the Start menu will list programs and documents matching your search terms. For example, typing “smart” will list the programs “Sprint SmartView” and “PPC’s SMART Practice Aids” as well as any file or folder with “smart” in the name.


From here, you can select what you want with the mouse or use the arrow keys and hit enter. I like to hit the Windows key, type the first few letters of a program, and hit enter.

For XP users, try Launchy

For those still running the tried-and-true Windows XP, a free third-party application handles the task of indexing and quick-launching programs and files. The elegant Launchy performs the task admirably.


Setting up and using Launchy is very easy and straightforward. Visit Launchy’s help page for a quick primer.

As an added bonus, I have been able to eliminate 99% of my desktop icons due to tools like this. Now I only keep bare essentials and the recycle bin on the desktop, giving me a nice clean, stress-reducing look:


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Windows 7: Taskbar: Features, change the size of the icons, AND how to make it look more like Windows XP

The new taskbar in Windows 7 has many new features and advantages over the old Windows XP taskbar.

Some new features:

  • Preview an item with Aero Peek by hovering over the icon with your mouse
  • Rearrange icons by clicking and dragging
  • Pin a program to the taskbar for quick access later. This will keep an icon for that program on the taskbar that will launch with a single-click.

Change the size of the icons, or make it look more like Windows XP:

Do you find the small icons to be too small, or the large ones too big? Here’s how to change the size:

  1. Right-click on the taskbar and select “Properties.”
  2. Check or uncheck the “Use small icons” box
  3. Click OK

Do you want the taskbar to look more like the familiar Windows XP taskbar? Here’s how:

  1. Go to the same properties window from the steps above
  2. Select “Combine when taskbar is full” from the Taskbar buttons drop-down menu
  3. The taskbar should now appear as shown below:

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