5-Minute Fixes

Quick Windows Fixes

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Compress a Folder

30 seconds You can dramatically shrink folders that contain uncompressed graphics, large documents, and other file types by compressing them.

All you have to do is right-click on the file or folder, click Send to, and select Compressed (zipped) folder. Files added to the compressed folder will be automatically compressed. Just don't forget to delete the original uncompressed folder.

Disable System Tray Balloon Pop-Ups (Windows 7)

30 seconds Tired of balloon notifications popping up in the corner of your screen? Type action center in the Start menu search box. Click Change Action Center settings. Uncheck the boxes for the categories to be suppressed. Unchecking everything will suppress all Windows-originated pop-ups.

Turn Off Automatic Reboots

2 minutes Windows invariably decides to reboot itself only while you've left your computer idling with a big presentation open and unsaved. Reboots typically happen after Windows Update does its thing, often late on Tuesday nights. The easiest way to prevent automatic reboots is to change Windows Update from automatic to manual.

To do so, open the Windows Update control panel, and then click Change settings. From the drop-down menu, select Never check for updates (not recommended). The other options, including ‘Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them', sound good in theory but are not as reliable in suppressing autoreboots--and Windows is prone to making changes to your selections without permission. To keep yourself from forgetting to run Windows Update periodically, set a recurring item in your calendar to check the service every week or two.

Changing this setting to Enabled will keep Windows Update from surprising you with reboots.
You can also address the automatic-reboot problem by way of Windows' Local Group Policy Editor. Open the editor by typing group policy into the Start menu search box. Click Edit group policy. In the left pane of the window, expand the Local Computer Policy, Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Windows Update tree.

In the right pane, right-click ‘No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations' and select Edit. Change the setting to Enabled and click OK. Do the same for ‘Delay Restart for scheduled installations' in the previous pane. You can't turn off automated restart for scheduled installations completely, but you can increase the delay to a maximum of 30 minutes, giving you more time than the standard default of 5 minutes to save your work.

Open an Application in XP Mode

4 minutes A few very old applications won't run under Windows 7--but you can tweak Windows 7 to act like an older operating system with a few simple clicks.

First, right-click the application in question and click Troubleshoot compatibility. Select Troubleshoot program at the next prompt, and then check I don't see my problem listed (or choose the actual problem if one is a match).

To run older programs, tell Windows 7 to emulate an earlier OS.
The next screen will ask, ‘Which version of Windows did this program work on before?' Try selecting XP (with Service Pack 3), or venture even farther back to Windows 98 or Windows 95 if you need to. Click I don't see my problem listed or select the best match again. Windows 7 will then emulate the older OS that you selected to run the problematic application. Use the Start the program button to test if the program works, and then click Next. If everything worked, click Yes, save these settings for this program. Otherwise, click No, try again using different settings to give it another shot.

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