I use this ShowDesktop feature all the time in Windows 7. Thankfully, it’s still there in Windows 10.
Do you know that there is a neat feature called “Show Desktop” in Windows? I use it all the time to quickly access an icon on the desktop even if my screen is choke-full of running applications.
This feature has been there since Windows XP. But somehow, I never noticed it there. It became more prominent in Windows Vista where I discovered it for the first time. Since then, I can’t live without it.
Naturally, when I logged on to Windows 7 for the first time, I thought it has been done away with. But I knew it had to exist. I did a search and found it. It’s so subtle that new users may not even know that such a feature exists.
Here is a picture that shows you where to find it in Windows 7.
Show Desktop button in Windows 7
Here is how it looks in Windows 10.
Show desktop in Windows 10
The Show Desktop button is placed on the right of the task bar. To see how it works, run a few programs so that your desktop is no longer visible. Then click on the Show Desktop button and you will see the original desktop again so that you can click on another shortcut icon.
A related feature, Peek at desktop
Another good thing to know about is the Peek at Desktop feature. In Windows 7, when you move the mouse over the Show Desktop button, it lets you peek at the desktop without actually switching to it. A peek means you see the desktop momentarily beneath all application windows that are running. In Windows 10, this feature is switched off by default because this does not make sense in a “touch” interface where there is nothing like a mouse hover action. To get this feature, you need to switch it ON on the menu that comes up on the Show Desktop button as shown in the picture above for Windows 10.
I have found that the single skill that helps most in note taking is the ability to leave out what you already know
It might sound simple but it needs practice. Whether you are attending a lecture or studying a text book, the tendency to note down everything means that you have not learned to give relative importance to stuff. As a result, you are so busy writing that you miss the opportunity to pause and ponder over what you have learnt. It often happens in a lecture. In case of text book, you end up making a copy of the text book in your notes that makes them worthless.
Being a Software developer, I ended up reading lots of product manuals and software programming books. At first, I used to make notes on anything I read. They were still useful because I wrote them in my own words rather than copying the style of the author. But they were not concise. It’s only after reading scores of books that I realized the power of filtering out what I don’t want.
Here’s the important skill that I have learned over the years. Whenever I read something new from a text book, it falls into the following 5 categories:
- It’s something that I already know. Obviously, this is not to be noted down.
- It’s something that I know but is being presented in another way. The tendency is to note this down. This should be avoided. Spend some time pondering instead to reinforce what you already know.
- It’s something new that I’m learning for the first time but I’m not likely to forget this because it’s too simple and derives from my existing knowledge. Again, this is something not to be noted down but worth pondering then and there.
- It’s something new and I will forget it if I don’t note it down.
- It’s something new but I don’t think it’s relevant to the subject I’m studying. The author or the lecturer seems to be digressing.
You see my point? The only thing worth noting is described in Point 4 above. It can easily be seen how concise your notes will become if you were to develop this skill to identify and note down only what matters.
There is another aspect to making effective and useful notes
Putting them in a sequence that is different from the author. But this is a subject of another post that I will write later.