Part 1In nearly two decades of working with and writing about Windows, one lesson I’ve learned above all others is that the best ways to enhance performance and productivity are usually fairly simple. They don’t require registry edits or custom code; instead, they involve learning how the basic building blocks of Windows work, and then rearranging those components to cut steps out of the tasks you perform most often.
Vista changed some of those building blocks, and many people are struggling because they’re trying to use the new tools with the old techniques.
In that spirit, I’ve put together this list of my 10 favorite tweaks to Windows Vista. It covers a lot of ground, so I’ve split it into two parts, each containing five entries. In today’s installment, I explain how to make the list of installed programs easier to work with, how to tweak the taskbar, the Start menu, the Quick Launch toolbar, and Windows Explorer. And I also cover the most important time-saving technique for any user of any computer: how to create an automatic backup routine that works.
Each tweak gets its own page in this post. I’ve also put together a gallery of instructions, each one annotated with step-by-step instructions so you can follow along. The two pieces are a matched set for each entry in the list; if you look only at the text or only at the gallery, you’re missing the complete picture.