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Windows shortcuts can boost your efficiency

Constantly moving your hands between the keyboard and mouse is not the most efficient way to interact with our computers, but most of us doggedly stick to it.

But if you take a little time to learn (or relearn) a few basic keyboard and mouse shortcuts, you can blaze through your windows faster and more easily — and possibly put less stress on your overworked hands as well.

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Quick cures for the worst Windows 7 annoyances

In its seemingly never-ending quest for a better Windows, Microsoft simply can’t resist tinkering with — and sometimes completely removing — features that many of us loved.

If you find yourself tripping over new Windows 7 features or missing favorite old ones, I’ve got some tips that will come to your rescue.

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Freeware outdoes Windows’ built-in system tools

Most standard Windows maintenance tasks can be accomplished using the utilities included with the OS itself — but that doesn’t mean those tools are your best option.

Whether you’re looking for an easier way to browse the image files in a folder, create a restore point, revert to XP’s Classic Start Menu, or customize your file associations, there’s a (free) app for that.

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The EULA you click may not be the one in effect

When you accept Microsoft’s end-user license agreement as part of Windows’ installation, that click is considered by many people to be as enforceable as a wet-ink signature — at least in the U.S.

But I’ve found that the terms in the EULA you agree to during an installation may vary from the license that’s posted at Microsoft’s Web site.

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The long wait for 64-bit PC software continues

Even though 64-bit PCs have been available for seven years, the promise of 64-bit computing has been delayed by a dearth of 64-bit software.

The situation is improving — slowly — but many major PC applications remain 32-bit affairs.

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Patch arrives for IE hole targeted by Chinese

As of this writing, Microsoft is scheduled to release on Jan. 21 an update that fixes the Internet Explorer vulnerability behind the recent, highly publicized cyberattacks on Google and other major corporations.

The sophisticated “Aurora” exploit is delivered through common file attachments or links — typically in e-mail or other messages that appear to come from trusted sources — but proven security measures and a little common sense can negate all such threats.

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Why the need to reboot after updating Windows?

Not so long ago, Microsoft promised that fewer Windows patches would require restarting the system to complete their installation.

Microsoft clearly hasn’t delivered on that promise, so PC users need to take steps to ensure that they don’t lose data due to unexpected post-update reboots.

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Make tech rebates work for you, not against you

Rebate scams can make getting a promised discount on products much more difficult — and much less reliable — than it might seem at first glance.

But if you do your homework and take a few precautions, you can minimize the risk and maximize the discounts.

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Obscure Win7 tools can save you time and trouble

Some of Windows 7′s best new features aren’t so easy to find.

These include a problem recorder to aid tech support, a list of the programs affected by a System Restore, more precise power adjustments for notebooks and netbooks, and keyboard shortcuts that open system resources.

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Our new resource is now ready for you

I promised in the Dec. 10 newsletter that I’d notify Windows Secrets subscribers this week about a free service we’ve added to our site.

You have a chance to take advantage of this resource right now, today, with a giant head start — most Internet users still can’t find it using search engines.

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