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5 quick and easy Windows system shortcuts

12 November 2010, Nick Peers

One of the most effective ways to speed up your computer is to change the way you work. Why, for example, click the Start button and select All Programs > Accessories > Windows Explorer when you can open it by pressing the [Windows] + [E] keys together in a fraction of the time?

In this mini feature, we’ve dug out five quick tips that will help you save time when accessing key folders and hidden system tools. Familiarise yourself with these, and you’ll save time whenever you use your computer.

1. Use the Run dialogue box
One of the quickest ways to get around your system is to use the Run dialogue box, which you’ll find on the Start menu in Windows XP; Vista and Windows 7 users can add this box to the Start menu by right-clicking the Start button and selecting Properties, then click Customize, tick Run command and click OK. Alternatively, just press the [Windows] + [R] keys together – much quicker!

2. System shortcuts
There are numerous shortcuts you can type into this Run box to access hidden parts of your system. Here’s 20 of the best – just type them in and press [Enter] or click OK:

. (period) – open your personal user folder
%AppData% – opens the Application Data (XP) or Application Data\Roaming (Vista/Windows 7) folder
%LocalAppData% – opens the Application Data\Local (Vista/Windows 7 only)
calc – open the Windows Calculator
charmap – Character Map
cleanmgr – Disk Cleanup
control – open Control Panel folder
control appwiz.cpl – open Add or Remove Programs (XP) or Program and Features (Vista/Win7) Control Panel
control color – open Appearance tab of Display Properties (Window Colour and Appearance dialogue box in Windows 7)
control powercfg.cpl – Power Options Control Panel
control userpasswords2 – access hidden User Accounts Control Panel
devmgmt.msc – Device Manager
dfrg.msc – Disk Defragmenter
msconfig – System Configuration Utility
notepad – Notepad
regedit – Registry Editor
sendto – Send To folder (XP only)
services.msc – Services Management Console
wmplayer – Windows Media Player

3. Add Favourites Bar to XP
The Favourites Bar in Vista and Windows 7 is one of those often overlooked features that speeds up the way you navigate your PC for favourite folders in Explorer or via Open/Save dialogue boxes – just drag and drop favourite folders into this list to gain access to them from any Explorer folder. XP users jealous of this feature can get something similar by installing FindeXer – read the instructions before you download.

4. Quick access to the System Control Panel
Right-click the Computer/My Computer icon on the desktop or on the Start menu and select Properties – job done.

5. Add permanent clickable shortcuts
Right-click the desktop and choose New > Shortcut. Type in any of the shortcuts noted in tip 2 and click Next. Give your shortcut a suitable name and click Finish for a desktop shortcut to that tool. Drag this or pin it to the Taskbar or pin it to the Start menu for even easier access.

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