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Windows 7 hints and tips

Check out the simplified power button

Windows Vista changed the log-off and power-off functions on the Start menu and it wasn't really a change for the better. In fact, Vista is a bit confusing with its power, padlock and arrow buttons. The buttons and their function have been changed again in Windows 7, but instead of causing more confusion, the buttons and their functions are actually simpler and better.

Click Start and you will see a button labelled Shut Down and it's function is to shut down Windows and turn off the power. It's simple and straightforward and makes a welcome change. An arrow to the right of the button enables you to lock the computer, log off, switch user and so on.

Modify the Start menu power button function

Start menu power buttonYou can change the function of the Shut Down button on the Start menu and it can perform one of several different actions. Right click an empty part of the task bar and select Properties from the menu that is displayed.

Click the Start Menu tab. and you'll see a drop-down list of options for the power button on the Start menu. For example, you can use it to log off, switch users, restart or lock the system.

The setting that you choose is up to you and different people will have different preferences for the function of this button.

Modify the PC's power button function

In the last tip we saw how to modify the function of the power button on the Start menu, but what about the power button on the front of the computer's case? What happens when you press it? In fact, any one of several things could happen, For instance, the computer could shut down and power off, it could switch to standby mode, or the PC could hibernate. What would you like to happen?

Standby mode is a low power state in which the computer is still switched on, but all its functions have been temporarily suspended. It's basically asleep and is waiting to be woken up again. When you want to use the computer it can be woken up and be ready for use very quickly. It is useful when you plan to leave your computer for a short time, such as while you go and have lunch or your favourite TV program is on and you don't want to close all your programs and switch off the power. Standby mode still uses a little power and if you want to eliminate all power usage you can instruct the PC to hibernate. A snapshot of the current computer state is taken and when you wake the computer from hibernation the snapshot is restored and you can carry on doing whatever you were doing before. All your applications will be open exactly as they were.

To change the function of the PC's power button click Start, Control Panel. Click All Control Panel Items and then double click Power Options. Click Choose what the power button does in the left panel. You can now choose the action to take from the drop-down list.

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