I also write for Susan Daffron's ezine, Computor Companion. In the summer edition of Computor Companion, I wrote a tip article to help people quickly get comfy with the new version of Windows...Vista. If you're struggling to learn how to use Vista, I recommend you read that article: Get Up and Running in Microsoft Vista. It may save you some head banging!
As an update to that article, I mentioned in it that I have been unable to move my Quick Launch bar, so I guessed that it is no longer possible. However, I've since seen evidence that it can be done. So you should be able to grab it and slam it against any side of your screen, if you wish to move and elongate it. To see what I mean, you can check out this Windows XP article where I discuss this cool trick (which I use on all my WinXP systems): WinXP_01: Customizing the Look. In fact, if you want to learn more about customizing/using Windows in general, go to the TechTrax Archives and search on WINXP to find a series of other article I've written.
Back to the taskbar dragging issue...I think the reason I haven't been able to move it is either because I haven't mastered the metal touchpad on my new tablet PC, or the stylus (computer pen), for that matter. Or it might be because I'm running the tablet edition of Windows Vista on that computer. And since you can rotate the view on a tablet PC around the screen from horizontal to vertical viewing, maybe that version doesn't allow moving Quick Launch? If I ever manage to pull it off, I'll let you know. But I have done it in WinXP and love it because I can put all my most used apps on a long launch bar, as you can see in the image below.
Since I wrote that Vista tips article for Suz, I've discovered a few other things, which I'll share with you here.
Adding the Web Address Bar
I hit the web several dozen times a day. But it is usually just to check a fact or grab a quick link. So I'm continually jumping to a handful of regularly used web sites, over and over, all day long. Rather than having to open my browser all the time and then entering the web URL into the address bar, I can save time by just adding the address bar to my screen. This way, when I need to quickly jump to a web site, I can just type the URL into the address bar at the bottom of my screen and hit enter. That'll cause my browser to open right to the page I need.
To add the address bar to your taskbar, right click any empty spot on your taskbar and choose Toolbars, as shown below. There you'll see a list of various toolbars you can make visible. Or even create a new toolbar to access some commonly used folder on your system. Note that this can also be done in Windows XP.
However, I don't know if you can double up the bars in Win XP as you now can in Vista. I tried it in XP and couldn't make it work. But in Vista, it allows you to pile them up versus having to have every toolbar next to each other.
Granted, you may have to expand your taskbar to make enough room to pile things up. You can do this by grabbing the top of the taskbar and dragging it upwards. To return it to a single bar, just drag it back down. This move can also be done in Win XP. See the image below to understand how this is done.
Changing Desktop Icon Sizes
This is a really cool trick, particularly for those of you who need a little help seeing those small icons on your desktop.
Now if you don't already know—if you have a wheel on your mouse—there's a cool trick you can take advantage of, which allows you to easily change the size of your desktop icons. Hold down the Ctrl key while you roll your mouse button back and forth. Roll it up or down and the icons on your desktop will change sizes. Many people already use this trick within Microsoft Office programs to quickly zoom in/out of a page view. For example, if you wanted to enlarge the view in Word, you can click View > Zoom. But you can also just hold down Ctrl and roll that ol' mouse button to bring the view up to your face or push it back to view more pages on the screen. It works on some web sites, too, to enlarge the text. I say some web sites because the designer must allow this ability in their design.
But being able to use this feature to change desktop icons is new to Vista. Too Cool!
Want bigger icons so you can see them better...no problem. You can make them huge! See below for a sample
Have lots of junk on your desktop and want the icons smaller? Roll it the other way and you'll get tiny icons as shown below.
Or stop rolling the mouse wheel anywhere between these two extremes to get your icons sized just the way you want them.
Customizing Your Start Menu
If you right click the Start button and click Properties, you'll see a tab for the Start Menu. On that tab there's a button marked Customize. Click it and you'll see several options you can change choose how you want various icons to display on your Start menus, as well as which items you might want removed or added.
One option in particular that I unchecked is the one near the bottom to use Check Boxes to select items. This is a new visual feature that was added to Vista. If you open your Windows Explorer and start selecting files, as if you were going to copy, move or delete them, you'll now notice that tiny checks are displayed to show you which files you've selected thus far.
This is actually a good feature for newbies as it helps them better see what they are doing. But if you've been using computers for some time now and understand which files you've highlighted, you may find those added checkboxes as annoying as I did. So uncheck that option, as shown below, to turn those checkboxes off.
While you're in the Windows Explorer, you may also want to take a moment to do a little customizing regarding what information is displayed when you display your file details. If you move your mouse up to the top column names, i.e., Name, Date Modified, Type, Size, etc, you can right click on any of them to display an option menus, as shown below.
As you can see in the image above, there are other stats you can display. But if you click the More... option at the bottom, you'll find a whole list of additional stats you can have displayed for your files and folders. Just check those items you want displayed. If you realize you no longer want that data displayed, just go back into the list and uncheck the data you no longer want displayed.
Stay tuned...additional tips for using Vista coming soon...some that also work with WinXP.