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10 quick and easy tips for Windows Vista

1. Calendar subscriptions

Windows Calendar in Vista is a handy utility for organising meetings, appointments and events. Did you know that you can subscribe to calendars and see the events they contain? Open Windows Calendar and then go to iCalShare in Internet Explorer. Browse the calendar categories and find a calendar that you like and then click the Subscribe link. Agree to the pop-up message and Windows Calendar automatically comes to the front and the Subscribe dialog opens.

2. Customise the Send To menu

Right click the mouse on a file on the desktop or in an Explorer window and there is a Send To menu. You can add your own items by going to C:\Users\YourName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo in Explorer. You can create shortcuts here, for example, right click Notepad on the Start menu and select Copy. Right click in the SendTo window and select Paste. Now when you right click a file in Explorer you can send it to Notepad.

3. Show hidden files

Sometimes you need to access hidden files or folders in Vista, such as with the last tip. To do this, click Start, Documents to open an Explorer window. Press the Alt key to display the menu and select Tools, Folder options. Select the View tab and select the option to show hidden files and folders. It's also useful to clear the tick against Hide extensions for known file types. It's useful to be able to see file extensions like .doc and .txt.

4. Change the power scheme

If you are working on a laptop, click the battery at the right side of the taskbar to switch power schemes. You might want to change to a power-saving mode if you're running on the battery or a performance mode if you're plugged into the mains.

5. A better boot screen

Vista's startup screen is a bt old fashioned and dull, but you can easily brighten it up. Click Start and type msconfig to run the configuration editor. Select the Boot tab and then tick No GUI Boot. Click OK and restart Windows to see the effect.

6. Add photo details

When you are browsing through your digital photos, can you remember exactly where and when each photo was taken? Can you find photos easily? If not, add information to your snapshots to remind you. All you need to do is to right click a photo and select Properties. Then click the Details tab click in the Value column to enter the photo's title, subject, tags, comments, and rating.

7. View and edit photo info

At's all very well entering lots of information about a photo, but how do you actually view it? Just select a photo in an Explorer window. Then let the mouse hover over the border of the bottom pane of the Explorer window and drag it up to enlarge it. You'll have a large bottom pane in which all the photo details are displayed. Click the title, rating, authors, comments and so on to add or edit the information.

8. Do you need User Account Control?

If you find that the pop-up User Account Control messages are getting on your nerves, disable it.Click Start, Control Panel and switch to Classic View. Double click User Accounts and click Turn User Account Control on or off. Clear the tick box and click OK. Now restart Windows. It has to be said that Vista is a bit less secure if you do this.

9. Select the audio input

Some computers have multiple inputs for recording audio, such as sockets on the front and rear of the case. If you want to record something, which inputs should Windows use? Right click the speaker icon at the right-hand side of the taskbar and select Recording Devices on the menu. Choose the audio input device you want.

10. Squeeze more on the Start menu

The left side of the Start menu shows the programs that you use the most. It's not a very long list, but it is quite big. Why not shrink it down or even shrink it and add more of your favourite applications? Right click the Start button and select Properties. Click Customize on the Start menu tab and select the number of recent programs to show on the Start menu. Scroll down the settings and clear the tick against Use large icons.

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