Quick Guide to the New Aero Features in Windows 7

Windows 7 has released to manufacturing and TechNet and MSDN subscription holders already have the ability to download the bits. Enterprise customers should also be able to download the operating system for testing purposes and obtain licensing from their licensing providers.

The intent of this short article is to give an overview of three of the newer features of Windows 7. Through feedback and as time permits I plan to go back through at least some of these features in this and other entries and write them out in additional submissions in a little more detail.

Aero Peek

One of Windows 7 new features is called Aero Peek which is available on Home Premium Edition, Professional Edition and Ultimate Edition SKUs.

Aero Peek allows the end user the ability to “see through” all of the currently open windows on the display so that they can see straight to the items on the Windows 7 desktop. This is done by pointing the mouse to the right edge of the Windows taskbar (which is actually the Show desktop button) which forces all of the open windows to become transparent, allowing the user to “see through” them and review icons and other items on the desktop background

Another way to do this is to hit the Windows logo key on the keyboard clip_image002 and the Spacebar to temporarily preview the desktop. To restore the desktop you would release the Windows logo key clip_image002[1] and the Spacebar.

If you need to minimize open windows so that they remain minimized you would click the Show desktop button and “D” or you could press the Windows logo key on the keyboard clip_image002[2] and “D”. To restore the open windows all you would need to do is click the Show desktop button again or press the Windows logo key clip_image002[3] and “D” again.

If you don’t want the desktop to fade when you point to the Show desktop button you can turn off the functionality by going to the Open Taskbar and Start Menu Properties page in the Control Panel and selecting Appearance and Personalization. From there you would choose Taskbar and Start Menu. Under Preview desktop with Aero Peek you would need to clear the Use Aero Peek to preview the desktop check box and then click OK.

Watch this video to learn how to preview the desktop using Aero Peek.

Aero Snap

Another of the new Windows 7 features is called Aero Snap which is available on all of the Windows 7 SKUs.

Aero Snap is a quick way for users to resize open windows by simply by dragging them to the edges of the desktop.

If a user has two Word documents open (as an example) in “restore” display mode (where they are not maximized on the screen) and wanted to compare them side by side all they would need to do is leverage Snap by clicking and dragging one document to the extreme left of the screen which snaps it into the left 50% of the view able space. To get the other one in a similar view they would just need to drag it to the extreme right side.

Aero Snap

At that point both documents are shown side by side.

You can also use keyboard shortcuts to snap an active window to the side of the desktop by pressing either ‌Windows logo key clip_image002[4] and the Left Arrow or‌ Windows logo key clip_image002[5] and the Right Arrow.

Snap also allows to you quickly maximize your “restored” window as well. All the user needs to do is drag the open window to the top of the screen and release which expands the window to the maximum display view.

There are other ways to maximize an open window that is in “restored” size.

One of the ways to do this is to double-click the top of an open window just below the top edge. To restore a maximized window to its original size, double-click the top of the window again.

You can also do this on the taskbar by pressing Shift and right-clicking a taskbar button or a preview of an open window, and then selecting Maximize.

Users can also expand a “restored” window quickly to the top and bottom of the screen by grabbing the lower portion of the open window and dragging it to the bottom of the screen and pausing. Releasing the mouse at the point the window outline appears forces the window in focus to the top and bottom of the screen while maintaining the current width.

Watch this video to learn how to arrange windows side-by-side on the desktop using Snap.

Aero Shake

The last of the new Windows 7 features that I’ll overview in this write up is called Aero Shake which is available on Home Premium Edition, Professional Edition and Ultimate Edition SKUs.

This interesting little functionality of the Aero group allows you to quickly clear a desktop of cluttered opened windows by clicking the active window that you want to keep opened. Once you have the top bar of that open window you shake it. That action minimizes all the other open windows. If you want to restore all the other windows back to the desktop you can just grab and shake that window a second time to bring them all back.

You can leverage keyboard shortcuts as well by selecting the Windows logo key clip_image002[6] and the Home key to minimize all windows except for the currently active window. To restore all the windows you would press Windows logo key clip_image002[7] and the Home key again.

Watch this video to learn how to minimize windows on the desktop using Aero Shake.

This concludes my Quick Guide to the new Aero features of Windows 7 article. I hope you found it informative.

I am looking forward to any feedback you have on the article and I would also welcome any suggestions for topics of interest that you would like to see covered. Based on demand and column space I’ll do what I can to deliver them to you.

Best of luck in your studies.