We’ve been quite busy designing living documents like PowerPoint templates, proposals, reports, and tab-able forms that are both attractive and easy to use. Designers often shy away from Microsoft Office, partly because professional Office documents must be not only attractive but easy to work with and change. We’re up for that challenge--we’d rather work hard to ensure flexibility up front so that our clients never have to waste time fixing formatting issues in the eleventh hour.
Over the course of a day we all continually switch between applications. Thousands of times every day I press Alt+Tab and Alt+Shift+Tab to ease the process. If you aren't using this shortcut, then please stop what you're doing right now and try it. The trick is to hold down Alt (with your thumb) while tapping the Tab key (with your middle finger) until you get to the right application. To go backwards through the list, hold Alt+Shift and press Tab. This will change life on your computer.
For those of you who like me have been Alt+Tab fans since Windows 3.1, in the Tool of the Month section below I have a link that improves this functionality. However, you don't need this tool if you have Windows Vista. Here's how this looks different in Vista:
Another neat way to switch applications in Vista is to use the Flip 3-D View. This is activated by pressing the Windows key + Tab:
Windows PowerToys have been around for a long time. They’re a series of free utilities, provided by Microsoft, that make Windows XP a little quicker and more customizable. For instance, the Alt Tab utility lets you see what’s happening inside programs when you’re using Alt+Tab (see the tip above) to cycle through them:
My other two favorites are Image Resizer, which lets you quickly resize images (by right-clicking) when you’re browsing in Windows Explorer, and Tweak UI. Tweak UI is only for advanced users, but it lets you customize numerous Windows settings such as the default size of thumbnail images and which folders are displayed when you open and save files.
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