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If you recently purchased a new computer with Windows 7, you may not notice too many improvements or new features. The fact of the matter is that Windows 7 is filled with great new stuff. It's just that there is no manual to point out the new features. So you have to search through and find them yourself. To give you a leg up -- here are some of the hidden treasures that can be found in Windows 7.


Aero Snap
The Aero Snap feature is my favorite new Windows 7 features. In previous versions of Windows, if you wanted to have two windows on the screen next to each other, you had to manually resize the windows with your mouse. With Aero Snap, you simply grab the Title Bar of the window with your mouse and flick the window to either side of the screen. It fills exactly one-half of the screen. Flick another window to the other side of the screen and both windows are visible and perfectly sized. This feature also allows you to click your mouse on the Title Bar of any window and drag it to the top of the screen. This will maximize the window making it fill the screen. Drag the maximized window down from the top of the screen and it will become smaller again.

Snip It
There are times when you might like to take a picture of what is on your computer screen to save or to send to someone. In Windows XP you have to use the Print Screen key to capture the image. Then you have to paste it into another program to save or send it. Windows 7 makes it much easier with a screen capture feature called the Snipping Tool. Click Start then type in snipping and press enter or choose the Snipping Tool from the top of the list. A white overlay will appear on your screen and a small Snipping Tool window will appear instructing you to Drag the cursor around the area you want to capture. You can create snips with a rectangular mouse drag or a free form pen. You can also snip the active window or the entire screen. Once you snag the snip you can save it or send it to a friend right from that window. You can also add pen and highlight markups. The Snipping tool is not completely new. It debuted in Windows Vista.

Sticky Notes
Sticky Notes have always been available as an additional program, but now the Sticky Notes program is a part of Windows. Click on Start, type in sticky and press enter or choose Sticky Notes from the top of the list. A new note will appear on your screen. Type in your note, and then go back to what you were doing. The note will remain on your computer desktop until you delete it. You can change note color, format a note's text, and resize and flip through notes as you please.

Calculator
There has almost always been a calculator in Windows, but the new Windows 7 calculator has been completely revamped. There are now four modes: Standard, Scientific, Programmer and Statistics. It is more useful than you might think. It can calculate the difference between two dates, convert ounces to grams, Celsius to Fahrenheit, and joules to BTUs. It even has templates for calculating things like mileage and mortgage payments. I write reviews for a Portuguese website, so I often use it to convert product measurements and weights into metrics. All-in-all, it's a very useful tool.

Device Stage
Device Stage is a visual interface that makes it much easier to interface with various computer-connected devices. In previous versions of Windows when you attached a printer, camera, or cell phone to your computer, it appeared as a generic device icon in My Computer or the system tray. In Windows 7 these devices appear as an icon that actually looks like the device. You can also get information about the device, services that are linked to the device, and links to informational Web pages and user manuals. The amount of information that you get depends on how much the manufacturer of the device has added, but many manufacturers are doing an excellent job with this Device Stage area. When my Nikon camera is attached I can click right from the device icon on the screen to transfer my pictures, read product manuals, and shop for accessories. It will even show me the amount of battery power left in the camera.

When a new device is plugged in to your computer, it can usually be seen on the Windows Taskbar on the bottom of the screen. Other devices can be seen by clicking Start, then Control Panel, and choosing either the icon for Devices and Printers or Devices and Printers from the Hardware and Sound area.

As you can tell, Windows 7 is filled with great features. If you already have a computer with Windows 7, you may be propelled to start using some of these features. Or you may even decide to buy a new computer just to get Windows 7. Now that's pretty exciting!

For more Windows 7 hidden treasures, check out Windows 7 Hidden Treatures Part 2.