Is this blog turning into a tech-blog, you ask?

Not really, no.

A windows fan-site? Nah. (Life is too short. And OSX is also just, er.. human.)

The reason for writing this post is simple: A few days ago I was working on a Windows 7 machine and stumbled onto a built-in solution for an every-day problem.

I was amazed that I hadn’t found out about this solution to something as obvious! I was shocked and relieved at the same time. This needed to be shared! (If it’s an old hat to you,  I salute you).  On top of it, I did some further research and found two other tricks that might also be helpful.

Here we go…

1. Parallel Windows

THE ISSUE: Did you ever have to review or edit two documents side by side?

It happens to me a lot when I implement reader feedback and improvements into my books.

On the left side I want to have the text with the comments, on the right without, so that I don’t have to switch windows all the time but can just transfer all the changes easily. See screenshot below:

For the past I-don’t-know-what years the only way to do this was to painfully drag the windows into the right size by tugging around at their corners. It was rather annoying so I didn’t use this parallel window mode as often as I really wanted to.

THE SOLUTION:

Windows 7 lets you arrange windows side by side easily. Here’s how it works:

Drag a window to either the left or right edge of your screen. The moment your cursors hits the border, you’ll see a grey outline covering the left or right half of your screen. Release the mouse button and your window snaps into place. Voilá.

If you’re on a Mac, there’s a little app called Cinch which does exactly the same.

No matter what system you’re using, though – having the option to display windows side by side can be a great advantage, not just while working with texts, even while in online broadcasts, lessons or any other situation where you want to have multiple things on your screen without having to jump between windows.

Especially if you have a wide-screen this is very effective.

2. Kill The Clutter

THE ISSUE: Too many windows open.

What you see below is a mild version of this problem. You open and click and open and click things until you find yourself with a gazillion of cluttered windows.

And while I trained myself to keep the number of open windows at an absolute minimum, there is another trick to deal with this problem in urgent moments.

THE SOLUTION:

Simply press the Windows key together with the “Home” key on your keyboard and all other windows will minimize, leaving you with only one in focus. Then, if you miss the clutter, you can press the same combination again and the chaos returns.

I can think of situations where a person might have hundreds of windows open, engaging in a variety of unhealthy multitasking activities while suddenly the boss calls on Skype and wants a specific piece of information.

Now the cubicle drone can take a deep breath and hit Windows+Home, minimizing both the windows and the danger of having the boss linger at his ear for any second longer than absolutely necessary.

3. Same Same But Different

THE ISSUE: Sometimes you are browsing through your files and folders and one of these windows is not enough.

Maybe you want to compare two directories.

Clicking once on the libraries icon, for example, will open your library.

But when you click on the icon another time you don’t get a new window with your precious files. Not, it closes!

THE SOLUTION:

Click on the icon with the third mouse button. That’s the mousewheel by the way. Just push it down over any shortcut and you’ll get another instance.

Note: It only works with programs that allow multiple instances, of course. Example: When Skype is open you can’t open it another time. But you can have endless instances of Chrome or Mozilla windows, explorers or whatnot