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Windows 7 hints and tips

The new Font tool in the Control Panel

The more you explore Windows 7, the more changes and tweaks you find and if you open Fonts in the Control Panel you will discover a completely redesigned tool. In Vista you see a standard Explorer window with a side panel on the left showing Favorite Links in the top half and and Folders in the bottom half, and a complete list of fonts in the main part of the window. Now you get a task pane on the left containing a number of links, a menu bar, hidden fonts, and more information in the Details pane at the bottom.

The list of fonts is different and you'll immediately notice that some of them have icons that are displayed normally, but others are very light and almost invisible. The reason is that Windows 7 can hide fonts that are not appropriate for your language. So if your language is set to English in the Control Panel then fonts like Traditional Arabic will be classed as a hidden font.

Fonts are not hidden in the Font tool in the Control Panel and you can still see them, although the icons are greyed to indicate their hidden status. Hidden fonts are hidden in applications, so if you run WordPad, for example, and examine the font list you will only see English fonts because English is your input language. It shortens the font list considerably.

If you click Font settings in the task pane on the left in the Control Panel Font tool you can tick or untick the option to hide fonts based on language settings. It's your choice whether to show or hide them.

Windows 7 Control Panel FontsAnother option in Font settings is to allow fonts to be installed using a shortcut. This would mean that you could store fonts elsewhere, such as an external USB disk drive or even a flash memory drive, and just have a shortcut to them in the Fonts folder. It avoids using up disk space and resources when you don't actually need them.

The Details pane at the bottom of the window can be resized by clicking and dragging the border up as usual, but in Windows 7 the space is used to display more information about the selected font than you get with Vista. Not that it's particularly interesting to most people.

There is a link in the Font task pane to get more font information online and this takes you to a page on the Microsoft website that provides some general information on type design, fonts, typography, and the 40 new fonts in Windows 7.

In Vista you could enable ClearType, which is a technique for making text look better on LCD screens by slightly blurring the edges. Not only do you get this option in Windows 7, you also have a ClearType Text Tuner and it can be accessed by clicking the Adjust ClearType text link in the Control Panel Font tool. This has been available on the web and to download for years, but now it is included in Windows 7's Display tool in the Control Panel. It is very simple and there are four steps. In each one you see two or more text boxes and you just click the one that looks the best. The result is crisp and clear text.

The link on the left to Find a character simply opens Character Map, an accessory that is normally run by selecting Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Character Map. The link to Change font size just opens the Display tool in the Control Panel where you can adjust the text DPI setting. Similarly, Text Services and Input Language, and Personalization links open other tools in the Control Panel.

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