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Summary:

I am getting more respect for Windows 7 the more I use it on the HP Mini 5101 netbook. The GUI changes made to Windows 7 are tailor-made for small netbook screens, although they are not limited to use on netbooks. Here are my favorite ones: […]

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Windows 7 on the HP Mini 5101 netbook

I am getting more respect for Windows 7 the more I use it on the HP Mini 5101 netbook. The GUI changes made to Windows 7 are tailor-made for small netbook screens, although they are not limited to use on netbooks. Here are my favorite ones:

Window maximize- just dragging a window to the top of the screen maximizes it. Dragging it back down restores it to its previous size. This is incredibly useful on the netbook.

Show desktop- hover the cursor over the far right of the taskbar and all windows disappear until you move the cursor away. This is an easy way to hide the windows and get at the desktop to check something.

Aero peek- hover over an icon in the taskbar and see a thumbnail of the program’s window. This is even more useful if you have multiple instances of something running, the “peek” shows thumbnails of all instances. These thumbnails are live, you can even close them from the thumbnail.

Window shake- when you have multiple windows open at once and need to bring your attention to one of them, “grab” that window’s title bar and shake side-to-side. All other windows will disappear to the taskbar and your window will have your undivided attention. Shake it again when you want all the other windows to come back.

Dock to left or right side of screen- if you need to move a window to the left or right side of the screen and resize it to half the total screen width, just drag it to the appropriate side of the screen.  You can do the same thing with the Windows key + left/ right arrow key.

Make the taskbar smaller- go to the taskbar properties (by right-clicking it) and select “small icons”. The whole taskbar shrinks to fit the smaller icons.

These are nothing new but are the Windows 7 changes that I am finding to be particularly useful for netbooks. Share your faves in the comments.

  1. Do you use a mouse with Window Shake? Not sure how it’d feel on a smaller touchpad. (I haven’t really used a mouse in a few years. Which is why I unloaded my MSI Wind and tiny touchpad.)

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  2. Window maximize-
    Does this have any advantages to good old doublecklick on titlebar? I’d rather have a vertical docking option instead.

    Make the taskbar smaller-
    Sadly this is not true if the taskbar is on the side of the screen. ATM it uses too much space this way, but it is hard to have it somewhere else after many years of using it that way.

    Btw. am I the only one who does not like the new GUI font and set it back to tohama?

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  3. Dock to left or right side of screen: Nifty little feature, but the implementation is a bit flawed.

    What do I mean, “flawed”? If you have two windows docked to each side, when you try to resize the border between the two, the other window isn’t also resized to fill the empty space. Thus, you have to do twice the work.

    I wish there was a largely tiled windowing interface where every open application took up some desktop space in a resizable window, the borders between windows are what are resized, and overlapping windows would only happen for settings or confirmation windows.

    Combine that with the old virtual desktop/Spaces concept and the ability for applications to make the most out of what screen space they have at the moment, and we’ll have a very efficient interface where no pixel or screen area is wasted.

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  4. James,

    On a 12.1 inch tablet PC with a 1400 x 1050 display, I’m enjoying the same features that you mentioned. There’s also the jump lists, but for some reason, I always forget to use those.

    Also, I find that when you hover over a taskbar icon and the minutures of the instances appear, hovering over an instance makes all other windows on screen disapper so that you can see if you’ve selected the right window. Neat!

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    1. The latter paragraph is what Aero Peek is about, and it’s a brilliant feature…but it requires Aero, so it’s just not happening on my TC1100. (I could really use something like a Dell Latitude XT for Win7’s sake.)

      On my desktop, though? It’s great, and especially useful for taking a quick peek (hence the name) at a window without actually having to switch to it. As soon as you see the info you were looking for, you just move the mouse cursor away from the window thumbnail, and you’re back to where you were.

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  5. I guess I am a fan of NextStep where I learned to love the “bar” on the right hand side. It has become even more reasonable now that there are all these “wide” range of screen resolutions.

    I agree with nameless to the point that you have to adjust two windows to get the fit. However knowing that not every possible option is addressed with the OS how would they know which two windows you want to see side by side.

    Chrome on my 2048×1152 monitor is almost the right size to see two side by side web pages. Firefox and IE8 are just a little too wide. I got rid of my 2133 a while back and am looking forward to a HP5101 to use win 7 on.

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  6. For non-touchscreen/non-tablet PCs, I’m personally a huge fan of the taskbar auto-hide.

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  7. I’m also enjoying the same features on my tablet PC.

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  8. I found some other tweaks for small screens:

    Move the taskbar to the left or right hand-side of the screen to maximize viewing and screen realestate on a 16:10 landscape laptop screen. Especially useful on lower resolution screens.

    Minimize toolbars and UI bars. I found that minimizing toolbars in programs like Outlook and your favorite browser gives you more screen. F11 in your browser helps too and you get your toolbar back just by bring your mouse up to the top of the screen. You gain about 1/2 inch to a full inch in viewing depending on how many toolbars you have. :)

    Also to maximize screen area I have found changing the zoom level of say your browser to 75-80% gives you a bit more on your screen as well.

    :)

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  9. You’re crazy if you don’t Autohide the taskbar on the HP Mini’s small screen.

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