Fixing Windows 7 Annoyances
If you've used previous versions of Microsoft Windows there may be changes introduced with Windows 7 that you're not so happy about. Here's how to get some of those 'classic' features back again..
Every iteration of new software - especially anything Microsoft - brings changes designed to justify the 'new-and-improved' product. Sometimes the changes provide tangible benefits, but much of the time unwanted changes are made which actually detract from the functionality of previous versions.
The leviathan slug that was Windows Vista is a case in point, which slowed down systems to tranquillised-tortoise pace and made it hard to perform familiar tasks. Although Windows 7 is what Vista should have been, it still introduces changes that are a pain in the arse for many experienced Windows users. I am spending more and more time tweaking each successive Windows version to see things I used to be able to see and hide new things I don't want to see.
Here is a list of ways to get that familiar Windows functionality back..
Classic Windows Start menu
Do you have a nostalgic hankering for the speedy flickability of the classic Cascading menu of earlier Windows? Classic Shell is free, takes up very little memory and changes the Windows 7 start menu to the classic Windows XP menu.
Get it from SourceForge.net http://sourceforge.net/projects/classicshell/files
More information and other options can be seen at Petri IT Knowledgebase
Classic Control Panel
Ah the good old Windows Control Panel has certainly grown over the generations. Back in the day, the Windows for Workgroups Control Panel had all of 19 icons and some people thought that was cool (not that I'm advocating a return to those wonderful 16-colour days)..
The default Windows 7 Control Panel is represented in what's called Category View. To change this to something more like the original, click on the View by: link and select Small Icon View (or alternatively, Large Icon View).
These different views also create extra work for tech types such as myself, when trying to describe to users which Control Panel feature to use, such as on pages like this one. The user may have either category view or icon view enabled.
Stop Aero Snapping at you..
Aero is the name of that glassy, see through effect around the edges of Windows 7 dialogue boxes. Those keen on regurgitation may like to know it stands for Authentic, Energetic, Reflective and Open. I kid you not. Big selling point for Windows Vista that one (transparent dialogue edges have long been available in free open source operating systems like Linux).
Aero Snap! is the tendency of boxes to taking the unsuspecting user quite by surprise by 'snapping' to the edges of the screen, or otherwise rearrange themselves, including automatically maximising if dragged to the top of the screen (more explanation from Microsoft here). To stop Windows jumping around like a crack monkey, go to Control Panel. In Category View go to Ease of Access | Change how your mouse works (yes!) and check the box next to Prevent windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen. Obvious really..
See also Aero Peek and Aero Shake for other pointless features designed to annoy the shit out people with caffeine jitters or Parkinsons Disease. Keyboard afficionados will appreciate the simplicity of WinKey+D.
Another 'improvement' which came with Vista and has continued with Windows 7 is the so-called breadcrumb view seen at the top of Windows Explorer and other dialogue boxes. It gives a kind of 'dumbed down' view of where you are in the file system and is considered by some to be "a great thing for new users"..
Some people like it, those who hate it point to the fact that it's not an accurate representation of a file path and can lead to confusion. Clicking in the path box will temporarily change the view back to a proper system path..
For a more permanent fix you could download Breadcrumbkiller at Twig's Tech Tips or grab Classic Shell from Sourceforge.net which contains a number of classic conversions and comes highly recommended.
Navigation Pane, Removing
Lots of my own tweaks pertain to what happens in Windows Explorer, which makes sense as this is where files are managed and computers are all about file management. The navigation pane is the left part of Windows Explorer where the folders are listed; files and subdirectories are seen in the main part of the window.
In previous versions a small X appeared just above the Navigation Pane. In Windows 7, click on the Organise button | Layout and select Navigation Pane to turn on/off. Feel free to blow away the Details Pane which appears at the bottom of the screen while you're there..
File Grouping, Don't
Hate the way Windows 7 groups different file types and folders in Explorer..? This one really shits me to tears..
Click on the View menu, go to Group by and select (None).