Photo: Associated Press
Setting up a new PC can be confusing.Every new PC is different. There are three versions of Windows 7, dozens of anti-virus suites, and loads of crapware loaded by the manufacturer.
We spoke to the PC experts at our local computer repair shop to get their tips for setting up a new computer.
Check out our picks for the best settings, applications, and shortcuts to make your new PC run smoothly. (Note: If you own a Mac, we have tips for setting that up too.)
The easiest way to get your files to your new PC is to drag them over to an external hard drive. That way you can transfer all your music, movies, photos, and documents all at once. You can also use Microsoft's Easy Transfer, which is built in to Windows 7.
Alternately, you can hook your two computers together with a USB cable. If your old computer is running XP or Vista, you'll need to download Easy Transfer here before you can begin. It only transfers files and settings, so you'll have to reinstall your applications the old fashioned way.
Microsoft has a great suite of security software. If you don't want to mess with whatever came bundled with your PC, delete it and download Microsoft's Security Essentials instead. It will protect your system from viruses, spyware, malware, and all that nasty stuff. Just make sure to keep it updated.
PCs tend to come bundled with a ton of trial versions and other crapware from the manufacturer or reseller. Chances are you will never need it, and they'll just continue to annoy you with registration reminders. Drag the shortcuts to your recycle bin then uninstall them from the control panel.
Start good habits early and set your computer to automatically backup. Windows 7 comes with a backup and restore feature (found in the control panel) that will do all the work for you. Select which files and folders you would like backed up. Plug in an external hard drive and let Windows do the rest.
Gadgets are tiny programs that run on your desktop. Many display news and information such as weather, social network updates, or your RSS feeds. There are tons to choose from. Click here to browse Microsoft's library and find the ones that work best for you.
Here are some of our favourites:
- Dropbox: Store, sync, and share your files online
- Evernote: Take text, photo, and audio notes and sync with your mobile devices
- Picasa: Simple photo album program that rivals Apple's iPhoto
- OpenOffice: Open source alternative to Microsoft Office
- VLC Media Player: Plays any video format
Windows 7 allows you to pin applications to your taskbar for easy access. You can do this by opening your Program Files folder and dragging the programs you want to the task bar. Another option is right clicking the program and selecting 'Pin to Taskbar' from the drop-down menu.
Microsoft packed in a ton of shortcuts for Windows 7. Lifehacker has an amazing master list, but here are a few of our favourites to get you started:
- Drag your window to the top of the screen to automatically maximise it. Drag it to the left or right to make it fill half your screen.
- Control + Shift + N will create a new folder in your explorer.
- Windows Key + F will let you search files on your computer.
- Alt + Tab will open Aero Flip 3D, which lets you cycle through a 3D list of open applications
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