1.3 Individual Windows Tricks
A window is a window is a window...or is it? As you'll see in this section, there's a surprising number of ways you can tinker with how individual windows work.
1.3.1 Previewing Windows Before Switching to Them
When you press Alt-Tab at the same time, Windows displays a box with all your open programs and windows. To switch among them, just hold down Alt and keep tabbing until you've highlighted the one you want. This tactic is one of the biggest click-savers in Microsoft history.
But when you use Alt-Tab, you're flying blind: you can't preview a window before switching to it. This behavior becomes problematic when you have several windows open in a program and don't know which you'll be switching to.
Here's a simple solution: the Microsoft PowerToy called Alt-Tab Replacement, which you can download from http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/downloads/powertoys.asp. After you install it, whenever you use Alt-Tab, you get a preview of the window to which you're switching. You can also read its title bar, as shown in Figure 1-12.
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Figure 1-12. The Microsoft PowerToy Alt-Tab Replacement displays a preview of each window as you tab through. This program takes up much more screen space than the normal Alt-Tab feature, but the preview makes it well worth it.
1.3.2 Manage Groups of Open Windows
As you've probably figured out by now, when you have several windows open in a program at once, they group together into a single button on the taskbar when minimized, with a small arrow at the right-hand side. Right-click the button, and a listing of all its open windows pops up, as shown in Figure 1-13 on the top. To switch to any of the windows, click it.
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Figure 1-13. Top: When you have several open windows in an application, they group together in a single entry on the taskbar, which you can expand by clicking.
Bottom: Save yourself time and keystrokes by managing open windows using this right-click menu.
Don't settle for the single-window switcheroo, though. The taskbar lets you manage the entire program group and view them all at once, close them all simultaneously , or minimize them if they're open. Right-click the entry, and the menu shown in Figure 1-13 (bottom) appears. You can choose to display them in a cascade, arrange them like tiles horizontally or vertically, close them all at once, or minimize them if they're maximized.
When you cascade them, the windows appear one behind the other, offset slightly, so that you can see the front one fully while the ones behind it are partially obscured (you can still see their title bars). Cascading is best when you don't need to see the contents of individual screens, but you do want to see the title bars clearly.
When you tile windows, they spread out like tiles on a floor. No window obscures another, but each window is tiny, so you often can't see the entire name in the title bar. Use tiling when it's important to distinguish the contents of the screens, albeit in a shrunken size .