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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Windows Media Center command line switches

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A long time ago, before Windows was invented and we all used Dos, we were used to running programs by changing to the appropriate directory and then typing in the filename. We would add command line switches to st options or to perform certain actions and people became quite adept at it. Now that we have Windows and we can just point a mouse cursor at an icon or a menu, we've forgotten how to use the command line. However, it is still useful and Windows programs still respond to command line switches. There are a number of useful command line switches that you can use with Windows Media Center in Vista and Windows 7, for example, and you can even turn them into desktop shortcuts to perform specific actions on startup. Here's how to do it.

Click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt. This opens a Dos-like window. It's not really Dos, but it might as well be because it's very similar. Enter the following commands:

cd \windows\ehome

The first command changes directory and the second runs Windows Media Center. Now that you know how to start Media Center from the command prompt, you can try some command line switches. Enter one, then quit Media Center and try another.

ehshell.exe /widescreen starts in widescreen mode (16:9 aspect ratio)
ehshell.exe /directmedia:general starts in full screen mode
ehshell.exe /directmedia:music starts in full screen mode with the music library
ehshell.exe /directmedia:video starts in full screen mode with the video library
ehshell.exe /directmedia:tv starts in full screen mode with the recorded TV library
ehshell.exe /directmedia:pictures starts in full screen mode with the pictures library
ehshell.exe /directmedia:discplayback starts full screen and plays the CD/DVD in the drive
ehshell.exe /nochrome starts with no window border or title bar
ehshell.exe /noshutdownui hides the controls to shut it down (party mode?)

Create desktop shortcuts

It's a pain having to type in all those commands in a command prompt window, so why not create a few desktop shortcuts for your favourites. Right click the desktop and select New, Shortcut. When it prompts you to type the location of the item, enter %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe then a space and then the command line switch you want to use. For example, %windir%\ehome\ehshell.exe /directmedia:pictures would show your photos. Click Next and then enter the name for the shortcut, such as My Pictures. Click Finish and that's it. Create more for your other favourites.

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