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

Show Desktop button in Windows 7

Here is how it looks in Windows 10.

Show desktop 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.

How to take notes effectively

December 20, 2016 (850)

in Note Taking

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:

  1. It’s something that I already know. Obviously, this is not to be noted down.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. It’s something new and I will forget it if I don’t note it down.
  5. 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.

Can you organize notes with the sticky notes program in Windows? Not really. You need a different kind of program for that.

December 20, 2016

If you are just using a Sticky Notes program or a Mind Map program to manage your notes, think twice. There is no way to classify or categorize notes in them. Read this article to know what kind of programs helps you manage your notes and ideas better. Other articles related to Note Taking Sticky [...]

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“Open file location,” a nice feature in Windows

November 23, 2016

I will show you all the instances where the feature “Open file location” is useful in Windows. This feature allows you to open the parent or containing folder of any file quickly to look at all other files in that folder. Let’s see two examples where “Open File Location” menu in Windows can be useful. [...]

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Free Program CatchChar–make a custom menu to insert favorite Unicode characters in Windows

Insert unicode characters with customized popup menu June 19, 2016

Get a custom menu that consists of only the characters that you use often and add to it. This is different than using Charmap or Keyboard programs that show you the whole character set. Custom menu saves time. See the sample menu on the right that is installed with the program. You need to click on “Edit Menu” to replace with your own favorite characters.

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Free Program Sticky7List–view Windows Sticky Notes in a convenient, zoomable two-pane list

Save Windows 7 Sticky Notes in a list for easy viewing September 19, 2014

Get Sticky7List, a free add on for Windows Sticky Notes. It gives you a nice, zoomable two-pane view of the Windows Sticky Notes. Moreover, you can save an archive of the notes, zoom to see a note better, perform search on the list or start a search on live sticky notes, all from within the same program.

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A Free Viewer for Note files made with WhizFolders

February 11, 2013

WhizFolder Viewer is a viewer or reader that allows you to view WhizFolder notes without installing WhizFolders Notes Organizer from whizfolders.com. A sample note file is included.

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CatchChar can now run from a portable drive

August 29, 2011

We just updated our Unicode Character Insertion utility CatchChar to version 1.5. This version supports running from a portable drive. But to get that capability, please do not install to a portable drive. It won’t work that way. Instead, follow the steps given in the product page of CatchChar. That means, you can now run [...]

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