Tag Archives: Windows

Increase the number of pinned items allowed in the Windows 7 taskbar jump lists

If you right-click a program on the Windows 7 taskbar, a box pops up with a list of actions.  This is the “jump list” for the program.  If your app stores history or “recent items”, you can right-click an item and pin it.

You may notice that there is a limit to the total number of items in the “recent” and “pinned” lists.  If you start pinning things and reach this limit, you won’t see the recent items anymore.  For me, I was running into this limit at 15 items in the pinned list.

It turns out that the number of items allowed in the list is determined by the height of your Start Menu (for some reason).  To increase the number of items, increase the height of the Start Menu.  You can do this by right-clicking the Start Menu and choosing “Properties”, and then the “Customize” button.  Increase the “number of recent programs to display” to make the Start Menu taller.

Once this is done, you can add more items to the “pinned” section of the jump list.  If you pin more items and then go back and reduce the height of the Start Menu, the pinned items will remain (but you won’t be able to add any more without repeating this trick).

Cygwin/X causes NVIDIA Optimus to run all of the time

NVIDIA Optimus is a technology that is used in systems with both an integrated Intel GPU and a discrete NVIDIA GPU.  Speaking of modern systems, this is pretty much any system with an NVIDIA GPU, as all Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPUs from Intel contain an Intel GPU on the chip.  Naturally, the Intel GPU is less capable than the NVIDIA GPU, but it uses considerably less power and is completely adequate for all but the most demanding graphics tasks.  So, Optimus allows the Intel GPU to run most of the time, kicking in the NVIDIA GPU only when it is needed for games or graphically-intensive applications.  Since the NVIDIA GPU is able to be powered off most of the time, the system uses less power, less heat, and lasts longer on battery.

NVIDIA will automatically guess which apps should be used for which GPU based on profiles that are managed by NVIDIA and updated regularly.  However, you have the choice to override this behavior and decide on an app-by-app basis which GPU should be used.  I have my machine set up to use the integrated GPU for everything by default, and have a list of just a few apps that will kick in the NVIDIA GPU.

Cygwin/X, or XWin, is an X server that you can run on Windows that allows you to run X applications (locally, or remotely via SSH tunnel).

I was recently poking around and discovered that Cygwin/X causes Optimus to activate the NVIDIA GPU (regardless of what is set in the NVIDIA control panel).


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Move a Windows install from one machine to another using in-place upgrade

Update, May 17, 2016: With Windows 10, and maybe Windows 8/8.1 as well, you don’t need to jump through these hoops.  Just move or clone a drive to your new system and boot it up.  Windows detects that it has been moved and does a new device scan.  If your new system needs a disk controller driver that is not built into Windows (i.e. some kind of RAID device), you’ll want to make sure that the driver is installed before the move.

Windows usually isn’t very happy when you try to move it to a different PC. If you were to take the hard drive out of one PC, install it in a different PC, and try to boot it up, unless the system components were identical or very similar, you would probably be presented with a BSOD right after the boot begins.

There are a few different ways to prepare your Windows installation to be moved to a different machine. One way is to use Sysprep to generalize your installation. This will make it forget about a lot of the hardware-specific information that it has and allow it to be booted on different hardware. The downside is that it loses a lot of your personalizations.

I’m writing about the in-place upgrade method because I didn’t find another article explaining it in detail. This method isn’t necessarily better than the Sysprep method, but it will keep all of your settings and programs. You will lose some installed Windows updates, which you will have to install again after the switch is complete.

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Bye-bye, Windows 2000!

Today, support for Windows 2000 from Microsoft ends. Windows 2000 was released over ten years ago, on February 17, 2000. Although it may have had a shaky start as far as application compatibility goes, it is renowned as one of the most stable operating systems ever to come out of Microsoft, and it paved the way for Microsoft to merge the “home” (9x) and “business” (NT) lines of Windows with Windows XP, the following year.

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Windows – Turn off your screen NOW

One thing I always wished I was able to do is issue a command to turn off my laptop screen, but leave the computer running.  If I’m going to leave my computer for a while, it doesn’t really make sense to leave the screen on wasting power, but the computer might be busy working on something, so I’d like to be able to leave it on.

Windows, of course, lets you specify some amount of time to wait before turning off your screen.  But, here’s a utility you can use to turn off your screen right away.

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Mount an SFTP/SSH server as a drive in Windows (for $40)

Working with files between two Linux machines or two Windows machines over the network is pretty easy — in either case, you can share files on one machine and easily access them from the other.  In fact, in either case you can mount a remote share and make it appear as part of the local file system, so any application can use the files just as easily as if they were local.  This is done via SFTP over SSH (or a number of other methods) on Linux, and via Windows’s native file sharing (SMB) on Windows.

In fact, you can even mount a Windows share on Linux pretty easily using Samba, and use Samba to create shares that the Windows machines can access.

Now, a cool thing about SFTP over SSH is that it typically works even if the machines aren’t on the same LAN.  You can access files on a machine across the Internet, and still mount the share so that applications can access the files as if they were local.  This doesn’t always work with SMB, as lots of ISPs block the ports required, and even if you can get a connection over the Internet, performance is usually poor.

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