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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Start programs with the attributes you want

Almost everything you need to do in Windows can be done by pointing and clicking, but there are still some things that are only possible from the command prompt. This is similar to the old MS-DOS command prompt, but it's not DOS of course, just a look-alike. If you open a command prompt window by clicking Start and entering cmd into the search box, you'll find that you have access to some useful commands. For example, you can run regular Windows programs by typing start xxxxx where xxxxx is the name of a program, such as notepad.exe. Running programs from the command prompt like this enables access to some hidden features that are not available when simply clicking the program on the Start menu.

You can modify the way that programs are run by using command line switches. For example, if you want to start Notepad with the window maximised, you enter start /max notepad.exe and if you want to start it minimised then enter start /min notepad.exe.

Programs are given a priority, which determines how much processor time they are given. Using the start command you can run programs with low, normal, high, realtime, abovenormal or belownormal priority. For example, if you wanted to run Notepad with a low priority you would enter start /low notepad.exe. You don't normally need to assign priorities to programs and Windows can be left to handle them. However, it certain circumstances you might want to adjust them. For example, if you were running a video editor and processing lots of large video clips, you might want to run it in a high priority mode so that it does the job faster. You could continue to use your computer by running low priority programs so they don't interfere with the video editor.

Notes: When running a program, you might need to enter the full path, like "c:\program files\some folder\program.exe". Notepad was used in the example and Windows knows its location so we didn't have to enter a path. To close the command prompt window, you enter exit.

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