Getting to know Windows 7? Here are 20 ways to get around the interface and make it act the way you want.

Just got your hands on Windows 7, but want to tweak it to suit your needs? Fear not.

We've investigated every inch of Microsoft's new OS to bring you plenty of tips, hacks and secrets to keep you busy for a long time.

An earlier version of this story was written when Windows 7 was still in beta. Now that the final version has been released, we've overhauled the story, updating some tips, eliminating others that are no longer relevant and adding seven new tips.

So check out our top 20 tips, some new and some just tweaked slightly, to ensure Windows 7 runs just the way you want.

General tips

We'll start with a few nifty tips that can make your desktop more interesting, make it easier to get around and increase your computer's power efficiency.

New: Use hidden international wallpapers and themes
When you first install Windows 7, it asks for your language, time and currency. Based on your responses, it installs a set of wallpapers and themes.

If you choose English (UK) for your time and currency format, for example, the available desktop backgrounds and themes will include a UK section with scenery from familar locations around the country.

Hidden, though, are background scenery and themes from other English-speaking countries - Australia, Canada, the US and South Africa. Normally, you can't access those backgrounds or themes, but there is a simple way you can install and use them:

  1. In the search box in the Start menu, type C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT and press Enter. (Note: If Windows 7 is installed in a drive other than C:, use that letter instead.)
  2. Windows Explorer will launch and show you a list of subfolders under C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT: MCT-AU, MCT-CA, MCT-GB, MCT-US, and MCT-ZA. Each subfolder has wallpapers for a specific country: AU for Australia, CA for Canada, GB for Great Britain, US for the United States, and ZA for South Africa.
  3. For any of the countries whose wallpaper and themes you want to use, go into its Theme folder, for example, C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT\MCT-ZA\Theme. Double-click the theme you see there (for example ZA).
  4. That will install a shortcut to the theme and wallpapers in the Personalisation section of Control Panel.


You can now use them as you would any other theme or background, by right-clicking the desktop, choosing Personalise, and choosing a background or theme. They will be listed in their own section.

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NEXT PAGE: Shake your desktop free of clutter

  1. Our favourite tweaks for Microsoft's latest OS
  2. Shake your desktop free of clutter
  3. Modify UAC
  4. Start Menu tips
  5. Windows Explorer tips
  6. More Windows Explorer tips
  7. Build your own internet search connector
  8. Taskbar tips
  9. See taskbar thumbnails without a mouse
  10. Get back the Quick Launch bar