Tech Geek: 2 Windows 7 Hacks

Mad props to the developers of Windows 7, as this particular operating system has survived three whole new versions of Windows and is still going strong. Released in 2009, Windows 7 remains incredibly popular, with another five years (at least) left to go with Microsoft Extended Support. While development has officially stopped on this product, it’s about as reliable, feature-packed, and useful as an OS is going to get.

Still, if you love your technology, chances are that you love learning about hacks that can make a really good product a really great one. So, you’ll be glad to know that after all these years, Windows 7 still has some surprises to share. Here are some hacks you probably never knew about:

First, A Word of Caution

First, a word to the wise. Most of these hacks involve poking around in Windows Registry, which is a dangerous place to be if you don’t truly know what you’re doing. Even if you do know what you’re doing, a slip of the finger or mental error here can mean certain doom. Back up your system before you start. Then, no matter how hideous an error you make, you can restore the system and there’s no (unfixable) harm done.

1. Keep Windows From Rebooting Your Computer by Force

It’s happened to you: you’ve been working away when Windows Update pops up, demanding to reboot your computer. This always happens when it is least convenient and most troublesome to stop and reboot. There are ways to stop this evil madness. You can open up the Windows Registry using the search box on the Start menu. Search for “regedit.exe”. From there, create a new 32-bit DWORD value, and call it “NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers”. Establish a value of “1” to keep it from automatically rebooting while you are logged into Windows. If you want to restore it as it was, just delete the value.

2. Cause the Task Bar Buttons to Bring Up the Last Active Window

When you’re working with numerous windows open, but are mostly using just one or two of the windows, you have to click the button on the task bar, select the one you’re working with, and then do this every time you need to switch back and forth. Windows 7’s Aero Peek feature gives you thumbnails of each Window, but if you want the ability to click the task bar to get the last open window to pop-up, there’s a hack for that.

Type “regedit.exe” into the Start search bar. Find the registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced . Establish a new 32-bit DWORD value and call it “LastActiveClick”. Set the value to “1”. Now you must log out and log back in or kill Explorer.exe using the Task Manager. Now reopen it and your changes will be made.

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