The magic of the middle mouse button!

The middle mouse button – also known as the scroll wheel – can help you in a couple of ways.

Most people know that you can scroll up and down a page, using the wheel on the mouse, but did you know, that if you click it, a whole new set of features abound.

Quick Scroll

Clicking your middle mouse button in most windows will give you a quick-scroll image and moving the mouse up and down will scroll quite a bit faster than if you moved the scroll wheel with your finger.

In your browser

In your browser, if you click the middle mouse button in the “new tab slot” you create a new tab. (Left clicking will do that too).

In an open tab however, if you click the middle mouse button, it closes the tab without you needing to hunt for the little X.

Task bar

Open and close instances of your applications quickly by using the middle mouse button.

You can also accomplish opening a new instance of an application by right-clicking on the application, and then clicking on the name of the application, but this is much faster.

You can accomplish closing a new instance of an application by hovering your mouse over the application, and clicking the X in the corner of the preview window, or you can click the middle mouse button anywhere in the preview window to close it.

The task bar tip is one I have unknowingly wanted to know since Windows 7 first came out with the “pin to taskbar” feature, trying to replace the Quick Launch toolbar. I like the “pin to taskbar” but creating new instances always perplexed me, which is why I always added the Quick Launch toolbar to my windows taskbar, rather than using the “pin to taskbar” feature.

The magic of the middle mouse button helps me in so many ways, I thought it might help you too.

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Windows 10 – Where are the Start Menu shortcuts?

Oh… I want to share a quick peeve with you! Oh my gosh, this annoyed me SOOOOO much! In Windows 7, I could open the Start menu and use the right-click button to drag programs from the Start Menu to the quick launch bar.

Because the Windows 10 Start Menu is actually run by a database, the app links actually aren’t shortcuts. The database pulls the shortcuts from a different folder. So, right-clicking a “shortcut” from the Start Menu does NADA! ZIP!

I went to trusty Cortana. Actually, no I went to file explorer, and searched there for Start Menu. To my relief, the sneaky people at Microsoft had not renamed the Start Menu to something crazy.

For those of you looking for them, here are the paths for your Start Menu
Windows defaults: C:\Users\Default\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
My installed programs: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

Each time after I installed a program that I wanted to add to my quick launch, I had to go dig it up out of the Start Menu folders, so finally I was fed up and added the Start Menu folders to my “favorites” within File Explorer.

Later on in the day as I was installing new programs, I just let the programs add a shortcut to the desktop, and then toward the end of the day, I just did a right-click and drag to quick launch on those and chose MOVE to Quick Launch.

Windows 10 – backwards compatibility

Coming from Windows 7, Windows 10 is different in a couple of ways. With many people skipping Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, they may not realize how different Windows 10 really is.

I found that out quite quickly, when I was trying to install a couple of programs for which a Windows 10 version hadn’t yet been created.

I had to set the programs to run in Windows 7, which is fairly easy to do, once you know how. Right-click on the program file you want to run, and choose Properties. Then under the compatibility tab, choose Windows 7. For the most part it’s that simple.

For a number of programs, I just went ahead and downloaded the new version, including DropBox and EverNote. For others, I set the compatibility mode, and it seems quite happy. Just keep that in mind as you upgrade.

Windows 10

Background: my laptop was very sluggish. We were looking into needing to a “rip and strip” – format and start over. I hate rip and strip because there’s always something I forget to back up. So, I asked the IT director at work – what do I do about my slow machine? He suggested getting an SSD hard drive (solid state drive) and replacing my current hard drive with that. OK. So I got one for Christmas from my sweety, formatted it (very important), and then purchased Windows 10 to put on the drive.

I will attempt here to list everything I did to customize the Windows 10 experience for myself. This post may get amended as we go. I should have taken notes as I was doing this, but here goes.

  • Add Quick Launch
    • this is always my first task. I love my quick launch, mainly to keep inactive icons out of my work space (task bar), and also so I can open multiple instances of an application such as NotePad
    • to add the Quick Launch, right-click on the task bar and choose Toolbars, add New Toolbar. Choose the %UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch folder.
    • once it was active, I turned off “show title” and “show text”
  • Add my most used programs to Quick Launch
    • Show desktop (well, quick launch already comes with it, but it’s one of my most-used features
    • Notepad
    • Calculator
    • File Explorer
    • Internet Explorer (which for some reason is hidden within a context menu somewhere)
    • Later I added various other programs that use most often, including Paint Shop Pro, EverNote, DropBox, OneDrive, Microsoft Office Suite, and my other browsers
  • Change the size of Cortana to be just the looking glass icon. I don’t like my task bar filled to the brim.
  • Changed the power settings for my laptop
    • Sleep settings: keep battery defaults, set sleep to never when plugged in
    • Power button: do nothing when plugged in
    • When closing lid: I initially set it to do nothing because I wanted the laptop to keep running while doing installs etc. But given that my laptop still gets hot, I set it back to sleep for now. I’ve been used to that with this laptop anyway.
  • Theme: I set it to Windows 10. Partially because I didn’t like the black screen with the blue window on it. It was too dark for me. Eventually, I am sure I will find another theme, but out of the box it only comes with 3 defaults and 3 high contrast – 3 of which feature a black background (Why??) and the white background one is a little too high contrast for me. So anyway the Windows 10 one has some pictures that it rotates through. Fairly seamless, quite pleasant.

Personalization:

  • Background: I didn’t just want a solid color – that’s too boring, but didn’t want to spend the time figuring this part out. I have it rotate through the pictures.
  • Colors: for now, I am letting Windows 10 pick an accent color. If that drives me nuts, then I will pick a color myself. I turned off task bar color: I prefer the black. I left the task bar transparent. It’s not too distracting, and gives it a little bit of interest. As a side note, I am surprised at my willingness to let Windows 10 features shine through. I used to be a Classic Windows through and through person.
  • Lock screen: I chose Background, and then the blue tunnel picture because it was the one with mostly the same colors. I may choose my own picture for that one day, but this one is pleasant. I didn’t like the default with the view of the beach from within a cave.
  • Start: I turned off full start screen – that would annoy the bejeezes out of me. Everything else I left on for now.

Desktop Icons:

I chose to turn off the desktop icons. While I was used to having them in the left corner of Windows 7, I mostly ever used My Computer, which I can find in File Explorer anyway. I may add them back at some point, but for right now, I like having a clean desktop with nothing on it.