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Quickly adjust the settings on your Windows 7 laptop / netbook with Windows Mobility Center

Have you ever needed to change a setting on your Windows 7 laptop / netbook quickly? Maybe change the screen brightness or turn on/off your wi-fi? You can do just that and more with Windows Mobility Center inside of Windows 7.

Windows Mobility Center in Windows 7
Windows Mobility Center inside of Windows 7

Windows Mobility Center displays the most commonly used laptop / netbook settings, such as brightness, volume, battery status, and wireless network status. Different tiles are displayed depending on your system, and some tiles are added by your laptop / netbook manufacturer.

Here are some of the settings you might find in the Windows Mobility Center. Remember, not all settings are available on all laptops.

  • Brightness. Move the slider to temporarily adjust the brightness of your display. To adjust the display brightness settings for your power plan, click the icon to open Power Options.
  • Volume. Move the slider to adjust the speaker volume of your laptop, or select the Mute check box.
  • Battery Status. View how much charge remains on your battery or select a power plan from the list.
  • Wireless Network. View the status of your wireless network connection or turn your wireless network adapter on or off.
  • Screen Rotation. Change the orientation of your Tablet PC screen from portrait to landscape, or vice versa.
  • External Display. Connect an additional monitor to your laptop, or customize the display settings.
  • Sync Center. View the status of an in-progress file sync, start a new sync, set up a sync partnership, or change your settings in Sync Center.

How to access Windows Mobility Manager on a Windows 7 based laptop or netbook

  • Click on the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then Windows Mobility Manager.
  • Or
  • Click Start, and then type mobility center in the Start Search box.

Geek Tips:

    Windows Mobility Center on the Taskbar in Windows 7
  • Pin the Windows Mobility Manager to the Taskbar for even quickier access to it.
  • Click an icon to quickly open options for that setting. For example, click the Battery Status icon to open Power Options, and from there select a power plan.

Notes:

If the Turn wireless on button is unavailable, you might need to use the hardware switch on your computer to turn on the wireless network adapter. For more information about turning the adapter on and off, check the documentation that came with your computer.

If a setting doesn't appear, it might be because the required hardware (such as a wireless network adapter) or drivers are missing. For example, if the Turn wireless on button is unavailable, you might need to use the hardware switch on your computer to turn on the wireless adapter.

Free up more disk space with Windows 7 Disk Cleanup

During the normal use of your computer, you will accumulate a number of unnecessary files (temporary setup / internet files, recycle bin, etc.). You can remove these files with the built-in Disk Cleanup (cleanmgr.exe) utility inside of Windows 7. And it can be run a couple of different ways and with different options.

Running Disk Cleanup (cleanmgr.exe) on demand

There are a couple of different ways to run Disk Cleanup on demand. The following procedure cleans up files associated with your user account. You can also use Disk Cleanup to clean up all the files on your computer.

Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with standard options
Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with standard options

  1. Click Start, and then type Disk Cleanup in the Start Search box.
    or
    Click Start, then All Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools, then Disk Cleanup
  2. In the Drives list, click the hard disk drive that you want to clean up, and then click OK
  3. In the Disk Cleanup dialog box, on the Disk Cleanup tab, select the check boxes for the file types that you want to delete, and then click OK
  4. In the message that appears, click Delete files

The More Options tab is available when you choose to clean files from all users on the computer. This tab includes two additional ways to free even more disk space:

Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with more options
Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with more options

  • Programs and Features. This option opens Programs and Features in Control Panel, where you can uninstall programs that you no longer use. The Size column in Programs and Features shows how much disk space each program uses.
  • System Restore and Shadow Copies. With this option, you can delete all but the most recent restore point on the disk.
    System Restore uses restore points to return your system files to an earlier point in time. If your computer is running normally, you can save disk space by deleting the earlier restore points.
    In some editions of Windows 7, restore points can include previous versions of files, known as shadow copies, and backup images created with Windows Complete PC Backup. These files and images will also be deleted.

Running Disk Cleanup (cleanmgr.exe) as a scheduled task

You can also run Disk Cleanup from a command prompt. This gives you a few more options, like predefined settings for running Disk Cleanup as scheduled task in Task Scheduler. First we need to bring up a command prompt.

Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with sageset options
Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with sageset options

  1. Click Start, and then type cmd in the Start Search box.
  2. In the search results list, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as Administrator.
  3. If you are prompted by User Account Control, click Continue.

You can start the Disk Cleanup tool by running cleanmgr.exe. Disk Cleanup supports the following command-line switches:

  • cleanmgr /d driveletter: - This switch selects the drive that you want Disk Cleanup to clean. Note that the /d switch is not used with /sagerun:n.
  • cleanmgr /sageset:n - This switch displays the Disk Cleanup Settings dialog box and creates a registry key to store the settings you select. The n value is stored in the registry and allows you to specify different tasks for Disk Cleanup to run. The n value can be any integer value from 0 to 65535. To get all the available options when you are using the /sageset switch, you may need to specify the drive letter that contains the Windows installation.
  • cleanmgr /sagerun:n - This switch runs the specified tasks that are assigned to the n value by using the /sageset switch. All drives in the computer will be enumerated, and the selected profile will be run against each drive.

How to run Disk Cleanup (cleanmgr.exe) on demand and as a scheduled task inside of Windows 7.

Disable Windows hibernation and free up disk space

If you're a hard core computer user like me, you have your system running 24/7. No screen saver or power saver options (I just turn off the monitors when not in use). I need to be able to walk into my office and have it ready to go. So when I noticed that my version of Windows 7 still had the Hiberfil.sys file and I am not using hibernation, it was time to remove this file and regain that hard drive space back (in my case, 8 Gb).

The Hiberfil.sys is a hidden system file located in the root folder of the drive where Windows is installed. The Windows Kernel Power Manager creates this file when you install Windows. The size of this file is approximately equal to how much Random Access Memory (RAM) is installed on the computer.

The computer uses the Hiberfil.sys file to store a copy of the system memory on the hard disk when hibernation is turned on. If this file is not present, the computer cannot go into hibernation.

To delete the Hiberfil.sys file and make hibernation unavailable, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, and then type cmd in the Start Search box.
  2. In the search results list, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as Administrator.
  3. If you are prompted by User Account Control, click Continue.
    Disable Windows Hibernation at the Command Prompt
  4. At the Command Prompt, type powercfg.exe /hibernate off, and then press ENTER.
  5. Type exit and then press ENTER to close the Command Prompt window.

To recreate the Hiberfil.sys file and make hibernation available, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, and then type cmd in the Start Search box.
  2. In the search results list, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as Administrator.
  3. If you are prompted by User Account Control, click Continue.
    Renable Windows Hibernation at the Command Prompt
  4. At the Command Prompt, type powercfg.exe /hibernate on, and then press ENTER.
  5. Type exit and then press ENTER to close the Command Prompt window.

My favorite left hand Windows keyboard shortcuts

One of the most useful items I use on a daily basis are keyboard shortcuts. Especially shortcuts that I can perform with just my left hand, allowing me to keep my right hand on the mouse. You can use keyboard shortcuts to open frequently used files, folders and programs like Windows Explorer. Windows has a ton of built-in keyboard shortcuts (see links at bottom of article), plus you can create your own custom keyboard shortcuts. Here are my favorite left hand keyboard shortcuts:

Left hand Windows keyboard shortcuts
Press To
Windows logo key + E Open My Computer / Windows Explorer
Windows logo key + R Open the Run dialog box
Windows logo key + D Display the desktop
Windows logo key + F Search for a file or folder
CTRL + A Select all
CTRL + X Cut
CTRL + C Copy
CTRL+ V Paste
CTRL + ALT + (KEY) Custom keyboard shortcut (see below)

create your own Windows keyboard shortcuts

You can create keyboard shortcuts that use CTRL + ALT + (your choice of key) for frequently used files, folders and programs. You will need to have a shortcut to the file, folder or program you want to open first. You can use an existing shortcut (on your desktop or on the Start menu) or create a new one. Once you have a shortcut:

  1. Right-click on the shortcut
  2. From the context menu click Properties
  3. On the Properties box select the Shortcut tab
    The shortcut key box inside of a Windows shortcut
  4. Click inside the Shortcut key box and press the key in which you want to combine with CTRL + ALT

Note:
You can not use the following keys for keyboard shortcuts: ESC, ENTER, TAB, SPACEBAR, PRINT SCREEN, SHIFT, or BACKSPACE

For more information on Windows keyboard shortcuts, just follow the links below:

Windows logo key keyboard shortcuts
General keyboard shortcuts
Natural keyboard shortcuts
Dialog box keyboard shortcuts
Accessibility keyboard shortcuts
Windows explorer keyboard shortcuts

Stitching panoramic images for the web with Microsoft Research HD View

A while back. I wrote an article about creating panoramic images with Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE) and Photosynth. With ICE and Photosynth, you can create panoramic images and then upload them to the Photosynth website. But what if you wanted to upload them to your website? That's where HD View comes into the picture.

Microsoft Research HD View is a new viewer to help in displaying large images (gigapixels) across the internet. It allows you to create panoramic images for web pages that do not take a lot of bandwidth. When someone views the image, they are only downloading what is required for that view. It is only when they pan or zoom, that more of the image is downloaded. HD View / Deep Zoom is now included in ICE, also as a stand-alone command line utility and (here's the best), a Photoshop plug-in.

HD View / Deep Zoom export in Microsoft Image Composite Editor
HD View / Deep Zoom export in Microsoft Image Composite Editor

HD View / Deep Zoom export in Photoshop plug-in
HD View / Deep Zoom export in Photoshop plug-in

So if you're a Photoshop user, you can now export those panoramic images that Photoshop can create directly to HD View / Deep Zoom format. The Photoshop plug-in is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit. Here's a quote from the HD View website:

About HD View
HD View is a new viewer developed by Microsoft Research's Interactive Visual Media group to aid in the display and interaction with very large images. The HDView development team included Johannes Kopf, Matt Uyttendaele, Howard Good, and Michael Cohen along with Jonathan Fay of the Next Media group.

Recent advances in camera and sensor technology and software for stitching images together has led to the creation of images containing billions of pixels (gigapixels). These images are often panoramic, that is, they cover very wide fields of view. Since monitors typically contain only one to two million pixels, it is only possible to actually see 1/1000th of such image data at once. Also, viewing very wide fields of view require unwrapping of an image projected onto a curved surface (think of a map of the world) which can cause distortions.

HD View leverages current graphics hardware to allow smooth panning and zooming as well as the viewing transformation described below.

HD View was developed with a number of goals in mind. It should:

  • allow smooth panning and zooming on large images,
  • only download enough data to create the current view (and possibly look ahead to the next), and
  • always display the current field of view with an appropriate projection. This means that when zoomed way in you should be presented with a standard perspective projection providing a sense of immersion, and when zoomed out you experience a curved projection so that get a full overview of the scene. In between the projection should smoothly transition.
  • Finally, it should be easy to create your own HD View content and present it to the world via the web.

The HD View plugin currently supports all major browsers on the Windows platform. The first time that you visit a page with HD View content you will be prompted to install the HD View plugin.

For more information on HD View / Deep Zoom, just follow the links below:

Microsoft Research HD View
HD View Utilities (32 bit) - Microsoft Research
HD View Utilities (64 bit) - Microsoft Research

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