Five Top-Secret Windows 7 Features


By Miguel Leiva-Gomez for

With Microsoft’s new interface adjustments in the Windows franchise, the company put a lot of features into Windows 7 that it might have forgotten to mention. After having a really close look at the infrastructure of the operating system, I’ve noticed a couple of things that might startle you a bit about the operating system, including features that make you wonder where they’ve been your whole life. While you might know some of them, I doubt you knew them all, so let’s get started and discover together what Windows 7 had in store for you but wasn’t in a hurry to let you know about.

1. Open Folders in a New Process

If you understand processes, you might realize how this is a monumental feature for you. If you don’t understand how processes work, let’s just say that every single folder you open adds up to “explorer.exe” and doesn’t open a new instance of the application. That means that everything you’ve opened is governed by that same “explorer.exe” application. What if “explorer.exe” crashes? This would mean that everything you ever opened will have to be closed, including the taskbar, within the task manager application included in Windows. Believe me when I say that it’s an enormous hassle. So, what do you do?

While holding the “Shift” key, right-click “Computer” within your “Start” menu. Now, click “Open in new process” and you’re done! You should have the following result:

As in the image above, you should see two processes named “explorer.exe.” If you didn’t, re-read the instructions. Perhaps you missed something. Don’t forget to hold “Shift” while right-clicking “Computer.”

2. Reduce Volume of Other Applications When You Get a Call

This one comes handy when you’re an office user and you depend on Skype or other applications to complete calls in your daily life. Instead of lowering the sound volume manually for each other application you use, you can easily configure Windows to reduce the volume of everything else to give you better call quality. You can even mute everything else if you want complete silence – something handy when you’re conducting interviews. The whole shebang is in the “Communications” tab of your “Sounds” menu. For those of you who don’t know how to get there, just right-click the speaker icon in the bottom right corner of your screen and click “Sounds.” It takes you to a window like this:

In the above window, the “Communications” tab has already been selected. Notice how you have the option to either reduce the volume of other sounds by 80% or 50%, or even the option to mute everything else currently playing on your PC/Laptop/doohickey. Once you click “OK,” the settings will apply automatically.

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